There are 50 officially recognized breeds of domesticated rabbits, each varying in weight, rarity, fur length, and fur type. And in all those variations, some breeds of rabbits are better than others in mitigating the impact of allergies.
When humans are allergic to animals, it typically has to do with the particles and natural chemicals that hide within the animal’s fur. The longer the fur, the more issues with allergens you’ll have. If allergies are a concern, consider one of the rabbit breeds with shorter hair.
Allergic reactions are the most common reason people give up their pet rabbits. Whether they go to an allergist for testing or not, rabbit owners grow concerned with their health when symptoms persist, which causes them to second guess their ownership.
To begin, let’s first address the source of the allergies.
Where Do Pet Allergies Come From?
It is not common for people to present allergic reactions to animals themselves, rather the allergens that get trapped in an animal’s fur. When a rabbit is not in a clean environment, those allergens will sit and ruminate in their fur and on their skin, being harmful to both you and your rabbit.
It’s not the fur or the pet, but the pollens, mold, and dust that collect in the fur that cause the allergies. While vacuuming your pet rabbit to get rid of the pollen, mold, and dust particles isn’t an option (and certainly would be traumatizing – we don’t recommend it!).
However, there are other irritating substances can be saliva, sweat, urine, and dander, all of which linger in the follicles of a rabbit’s fur, and can be strewn across the living space where the rabbit resides.
It is to those particles and chemicals that our body responds. Whether with watery eyes, sneezing, a runny nose, or just slight stuffiness in your head, any reaction can be cumbersome, and take the fun out of owning a rabbit. Because of this, it is important to know the boundaries of what you and your pet tolerate.
The length of fur plays a big part in the prevalence of allergies. The longer the fur, the more trouble you’ll have. So, if a rabbit and your allergies seem like opposing forces, consider a smaller rabbit with shorter fur, like a Dwarf Hotot, rather than a Giant Angora with its considerable weight and fluffy mane.
Allergies are likely with any furry animal, even if it is hairless or has short fur. To completely avoid allergies, consider a reptile, fish, or amphibian.
This may seem novel to point out, but it is an important consideration, especially if nothing else makes your symptoms subside.
There are four kinds of fur a rabbit can have. Each kind differs in length and thickness, as well as the texture and individual hair shaft thickness. It is useful to know that a rabbit’s fur will grow and shed when needed to keep them comfortable and, if they are in a colder environment, it will grow thicker in the winter.
I discuss this much more in-depth and how it relates to winter weather in my article all about Rabbit’s thick winter coats here.
Rabbits with “normal hair” are the best options. This kind of fur is not exceptionally long or thick, so allergens will linger in a lesser quantity.
Normal-haired rabbits are the most common kind of rabbit in the animal kingdom, with over thirty variations originating from all over the globe. They have great temperaments and are easy to take care of.
Some of the Best Breeds of Normal Haired Rabbits Are:
- Blanc de Hotot and Dwarf Hotot
- Belgian Hare
- Britannia Petite
- Checkered Giant
- Netherland Dwarf
- Florida White
- English Spot
- The Lop variation
- The Silver variation
- The Chinchilla variation
Lop variation rabbits have notably long ears, which might require extra cleaning, but they are otherwise on par with other normal hair rabbit breeds as far as retaining allergens.
There are two kinds of Rex rabbits- the Rex and the Mini Rex.
These rabbits have very dense fur, one that has been carefully curated by breeders to become thicker and more luscious over the years. Because of this, the Mini Rex is one of the most popular breeds of domesticated rabbit.
While it is thicker, the Rex fur is short and upright, making it a better option for combating allergens than a rabbit with long, thin hair.
Satin rabbits have a different kind of short hair: the hair shafts are smaller in diameter and are almost translucent. This kind of fur appears to have an attractive luster to it, giving satin fur rabbits enticing prospects.
They come in three lines:
- Mini Satin
- Satin Angora.
While it does have the traditional Satin texture, the Satin Angora’s fur is very different from the Satin and Mini in length and maintenance.
All of the Satins are prized for their sleek sheen, but the Satin Angora possesses the most valuable wool in the rabbit world.
The last kind of rabbit fur is known as “wool.” Rabbit wool is delicate to maintain and can be a perfect trap for allergens to hide away in.
The most typical wooly rabbit is the Angora variety. While this variety, and others in the wool class, have exquisite and eye-catching manes, they are just that: Manes. Wool fur is the most difficult to maintain and groom (meaning that allergens will lurk in this fur more than any other kind of rabbit fur), but the appeal of having a woolen rabbit can be worth it, especially for a show rabbit.
- Jersey Wooly
- American Fuzzy Lop
Another point to consider with a woolen rabbit is grooming. Even though rabbits will keep their fur and skin clean on their own, not all variations of wooly rabbits molt, or shed, their fur. Their fur needs to be brushed and sheared, or carefully cut, and frequently. Especially is if becomes matted, excessively dirty, or too long.
Conversely, a rabbit with short, sleek hair will only need the rabbit’s grooming and maybe the occasional spot-cleaning.
It is worth noting, however, that the Jersey Wooly, one of the smallest of the woolen rabbits—maxing out at three and a half pounds—was developed in the late 20th century with the intent of having a small rabbit with the desirable wool coat. Of all the wooly rabbits, the Jersey Wooly is the best of both worlds, being both manageable and adorable.
Keep Them Clean
As with any pet, it is important to keep your pet and their spaces clean. Rabbits groom themselves and don’t require baths (nor are they suggested), but they need your help in keeping their cages and litter boxes clean. Doing this will also mitigate the number of potential allergens you are exposed to. Over my time caring for rabbits, I’ve found these shortcuts for making it super simple and easy to keep a rabbit’s cage clean, including certain bedding choices that can make a huge difference
Beginner’s Tip: If you’re setting up your rabbit’s litter box for the first time, you’ll want to know some quick and easy methods before getting your supplies in order. How to Set Up a Rabbit Litter Box in 10 Steps will show you just what you need to know!
Here Are More Ways to Ensure That You Are Limiting the Build Up of Allergens in Your Home:
- Clean the areas of your house the rabbit frequents
- Wash your hands after touching your pet
- Keep your hands away from your eyes and mouth until they are washed
- Refrain from letting it invade your personal spaces
- Allow your rabbit its own bed in a separate room from yours
- Establish rabbit-free rooms to isolate the allergens
- Keep your rabbit inside so it is less likely to bring in pollens from the outdoors that will irritate you. Small Pet Select has a few options and suggestions on non-irritating alternatives.
Another cause for rabbit-related allergies is the food you feed your rabbit. The best food for rabbits is hay, but some kinds of hay can be more irritating than others.
If you’re considering a rabbit that thrives when it spends time outside, take into account the grass it might be eating. This could be one of the causes of allergy irritation and one that easily goes unnoticed.
What Else You Can Do
One of the best ways to learn is to research! Only you can know which kind of rabbit is best for you and your allergies. There are plenty of rabbit-loving communities around the world who are happy to share their experiences and advice on being a rabbit owner.
A friend of mine has a Lionhead rabbit (one of the wooly kinds) and has little to no trouble with allergy irritation. Again, be aware of the allergens in your area and the things that negatively impact you before you jump into rabbit ownership.
If you can, spend some time around a few different breeds of rabbits before purchasing a certain breed. That will be a more accurate measure of how you specifically react to being around rabbits, even more so than simply reading stories online.
The things that are important to consider when choosing a rabbit, aside from the cute factor, also is the ease of care. How easy will it actually be to care for my rabbit and how much work am I willing to put into its health, and into your own? Allergies can be a significant contributing factor when evaluating the ease of care for a potential rabbit pet.
Also, how much are you willing to put up with? Some people love their animals enough to endure any amount of discomfort, but for others, it can sometimes be too much to bear.
It is all up to you, but now you have a better idea of which breeds to start considering to join your family.