When it’s time to choose what kind of rabbit you want as a pet, you’ll likely wonder if a male or female rabbit is better. Because of their differences, the choice can matter to you as an owner.
Male rabbits can be more relaxed and affectionate, but they can also be aggressive and territorial if left unneutered. Female rabbits can be less aggressive and have about the same level of affection as males, but their big personalities may lead to territorial, cold, and possessive behavior.
Read on for the pros and cons of owning a male or female rabbit.
Why You Should Get a Male Rabbit
Generally speaking, bucks do better as pets when you want high affection levels from them and can return that same affection as an owner. Their laid-back personalities allow for easier care than female rabbits—or even other pets. If you’re a first-time rabbit owner, a buck may be best for you.
Of course, all these positive traits come with your male rabbit being neutered. Having him fixed avoids a lot of problems and pains for you as his owner, as well as for him. Bad habits, such as spraying, mounting, growling, and lunging, can even be prevented if you neuter your buck between four to six months of age.
Bucks are less aloof when it comes to spending time with their owners, so you’ll likely see your male bunny inclined to be with you, receive cuddles, and, depending on the personality and breed, allow you to pick him up. This trait makes bucks great for children who want to be involved with their pet rabbit.
Their fun-loving and affectionate personalities will also give you more of a chance to bond. Nobody wants to have a pet that’s disconnected from them. Again, bucks can have individual characteristics, but they’re the safer and more sure option if you want a bunny you can be close with.
Why You Shouldn’t Get a Male Rabbit
Bucks can be very sexual toward, well, anything. Other bunnies, toys, cats, small dogs, cushions, and owners aren’t safe from their advances. Their mounting habits may not go away even after they’ve been neutered. This may be a show of their dominance as well, and they want to make sure everyone and everything knows it.
Along with mounting, bucks spray, which is them marking their territory. Cleaning up stinky urine may make you reconsider owning a male rabbit. That being said, this issue tends to alleviate or disappear completely with other sexual behaviors during the following months after a buck is neutered.
Finding an experienced veterinarian to neuter your rabbit may be tricky, however. An inexperienced vet can cause complications or death for your bunny. House Rabbit Society has a list of vets experienced with neutering rabbits in the United States.
A buck’s need to show his dominance and mark territory may worsen if he’s paired with another male rabbit. The two will constantly test the other to see if they can become or stay the superior rabbit in the pair.
Male rabbits can also act aggressively toward their bond mates, other pets, and people. Rabbits are territorial animals, male or female, and encroaching into their space may lead to them getting angry.
Consider the breed of a rabbit when it comes to temperament. Even if you get a buck, he still may be aloof, skittish, or impatient if he’s a certain breed. Check out this list of The 6 Easiest Rabbit Breeds to Take Care Of to read about six common easy-to-care-for types of rabbit breeds and their characteristics. While their personalities will vary, these are the most trouble-free rabbits you’ll find!
Why You Should Get a Female Rabbit
Just because bucks tend to be more relaxed and affectionate doesn’t mean that does are the opposite. In fact, plenty of does are lovable and cuddly. Again, it depends on their individual personalities and their breed.
Does aren’t as aggressive as bucks, and if they are, it’s not due to sexual frustration. They also won’t be as inclined to spray, especially if they’ve been fixed. And similar to bucks, once a doe is spayed, she’s likely to chill out and become much easier to litter train.
Although female rabbits may be more high-strung than male rabbits, it can mean that you’ll have plenty of playtime with them. A doe’s strong personality can also mean that you’ll have a pet with great character, and you can get to know her well because she’ll be sure to signal her likes and dislikes.
For all the bad rep does get, it’s recommended that you have a fixed male-female rabbit pair for the best cohesion. That must mean owning a doe can have plenty of benefits and satisfactory pairings. Does tend to be the dominant rabbit in a pair, so having a mixed pair keeps rabbits from fighting like they would in a same-sex pair.
If you’ve had a bit of experience as a rabbit owner and want to bond your male rabbit with a lady or test the waters with a female rabbit, then don’t be afraid to own a doe. Your relationship with her won’t be bad, just different.
Why You Shouldn’t Get a Female Rabbit
Female rabbits can still be very territorial, whether it’s over their space, another rabbit in the pair, or with a certain family member in the household. You may run into problems getting on her good side if she thinks you’re constantly bothering what’s hers.
A pair with two does can result in more fighting or false pregnancies. Nesting will occur when a doe experiences a false pregnancy, so she builds a nest as she would if she were expecting. She will gather hay and pull out her own fur to complete the nest. Nesting for a false pregnancy is more likely to happen when a doe is not spayed, but it can still occur even after she has been fixed.
If your doe experiences a false pregnancy, you will have to allow her to nest even if she will not give birth. Otherwise, it may create a stressful environment for her that can lead to lashing out.
For female rabbits, she must get spayed. An unspayed doe is highly likely to develop uterine, ovarian, or mammary cancer and die as a result. She can also have an unwanted pregnancy if she is bonded or in contact with an unneutered buck. You may then have 6 to 15 more tiny rabbits to take care of!
That being said, spaying can be expensive. It costs between 75 to 250 dollars. And like with neutering bucks, spaying female rabbits is a tricky matter when you’re trying to find an experienced vet for the operation. House Rabbit Society has a list of vets experienced with spaying rabbits in the United States.
Pairing two does together may prove to be difficult, as does tend to fight due to their desire to be the dominant rabbit in the pair. And if they constantly fight, then you will have to restart the bonding process from square one. Does work best as a pair when they’re sisters and have bonded immediately from birth.
Female rabbits, although domesticated, have the instinct to burrow. She won’t care if she’s indoors, either. This means that you may find your carpet torn up from her trying to dig a hole in your home. Hormones in an unspayed doe may exacerbate this habit.
As stated with bucks, research the rabbit’s breed to determine if a doe’s personality will mesh or clash with you and your lifestyle.
Why Rabbits Are Good Pets No Matter the Gender
Buck or doe, if you’re willing to put time and effort into a relationship with your rabbit, you’ll see great results. Like any pet or person, rabbits come with their own personalities and habits, so generalizations about male and female rabbit characteristics only go so far when it comes to owning them.
Being nervous about what you may have to deal with in your rabbit’s personality is natural, but it’s exciting to get to know how she likes to be loved.
Rabbits require more care than you may think! They require much attention and are not low-maintenance pets, but their love makes it very rewarding. Check out the Owner’s Guide I wrote here to help you decide if getting a rabbit will be the right choice for your family.
As you consider male or female rabbits, be sure that you’re prepared to handle their own tendencies, habits, and needs. Keep adaptability in mind, too, because they’ll change as the rabbit grows older and either stays unaltered or gets fixed once they reach maturity.
And although male-female pairs are the most common style of pairing, don’t be afraid to try male-male or female-female pairs. The bonds the rabbits have, the same gender or not, can still be strong and loving. There may be occasional hiccups, but as long as you’re vigilant about any changes in their relationship, you’ll have two happy bunnies.
Don’t be disheartened when your rabbit, male or female, acts in a way that isn’t what you expected. Find the best ways to bond with her that strengthens your relationship, which will build trust and let your rabbit know that you care about her needs. The most important part of a rabbit-owner relationship is ensuring your rabbit knows she is in a safe place.
If you’re unsure what to look for in a rabbit, a few rabbit breeds that have good temperaments are:
- Himalayan rabbit
- Standard Chinchilla rabbit
- Lionhead rabbit
- Jersey Wooly rabbit
- Holland Lop
Getting a New Rabbit?
- Pet Rabbit Growth Chart: How Big Can It Get? – If you are limited on space (wich, many of us are), you’ll want to consider the breed’s size and how well it will fit into your home after it is full-grown. This chart will give you a list of the most common rabbit breeds and each of their adult sizes.
- How to Help Bunny Adjust to a New Home – Here are several tips that will help your bunny make the smoothest transition possible when entering your home. There are some special considerations you may not have thought of that will help ease the stress on your rabbit during this adjustment time.
- Checklist: What You Need to Buy for a New Pet Rabbit – If you’re just getting started in your rabbit journey, you’ll want to check out this list – it includes the best supplies for your rabbit and the toys I’ve found they enjoy the most!