Breeding Rabbits

Itís very important for any rabbit owner to be responsible with their rabbits, so generally, responsible breeding should be done under the guide of a responsible, experienced breeder as a mentor. Most likely, if you need this information to help you with deliberate breeding, then you have not done it in a responsible way, which is very important to think about.

That said, this information and being aware of these things will likely be of use if your rabbits have a genuinely accidental litter and you are going to need to eventually, rehome the babies.

Losing your doe is a very real risk, so you may find that you don't increase their family, you actually decrease it. Also, be aware that the girl may not raise the babies, or they may be born dead.

There is also a myth that allowing a rabbit to breed once reduces the risk of uterine cancer. There is no clinical evidence to support this myth.

Part of being a responsible and caring owner is to ask 'what is best for my bunny?'. That means taking out of the equation what you want, or what is best for you. It means looking just at what is best for your bunny. Do you genuinely think itís best for her to have a litter, to risk her life, to risk the lives of the babies and to likely be worn down by raising the babies?

If the answer is 'no' then maybe have a think about what is best. That would probably be getting her spayed and getting your boy neutered and bonding them together so they can live happily together, forever.

If the answer is 'yes', why is it best for her?


This is the information you need to take on board if you do decide to breed, or do end up with a genuinely accidental litter.

~It would be preferable to find a responsible breeder (please note, being British Rabbit Council registered does not mean someone is a responsible breeder) to have as a mentor. They can provide breed specific information and knowledge.

~The rabbits need to be kept separately prior to a planned breeding. This is because the changes of hormones can mean that if a girl gets pregnant she can fight the male and try to drive him out of her territory. In addition to that, she is most receptive to getting pregnant up to 72 hours after giving birth. She would, therefore, get pregnant far too soon and would likely not be able to raise the first litter of kittens, would struggle with the second litter and would likely be unhealthy herself.

~It is important to know at least 4 complete past generations on both sides (which means up to the great, great grandparents of your rabbits). Itís important to know this so that you know there are not any genetic issues that could be passed onto kittens. Responsible breeders do not breed any rabbits with a history of any sort of potentially genetic health problem. This means, to have that pedigree, you will have needed to have bought your original rabbits from a breeder to ensure you know the history. Pet shop bunnies are not ok for breeding because you can't know their history. Also, bunnies from friends or free ads often can't be bred for the same reason- you don't know their history.

~Ensure that you have a vet on call 24/7 who could do an emergency spay or help with delivering kits, if necessary. This gives you a better chance of not losing your doe (which is a very real risk- and one I unfortunately suffered- twice).

~Ensure that your male is SMALLER than your female. If the male is bigger, then kindling will be incredibly painful and potentially impossible for the girl.

~Ensure you know your bunny breeds. You need to make sure your bunnies are pure bred. Cross breeding can often result in genetic deformities that could not have been predicted (for example, often crossing a Lionhead with a Netherland Dwarf can result in dental problems because their skull shapes can conflict against each other).

~Ensure you have a doe available who can foster your kits if your doe dies. Kits are virtually impossible to hand rear, and losing your doe is a very real risk, so itís important to make provisions. Ideally, if you are working with a mentor, then you can discuss this with him/her.

~Ensure your doe is of breeding age. The doe needs to be young enough to breed (this age varies with breed) to ensure she doesn't get into kindling complications. She also needs to be mature enough to breed.

~Ensure that you have learnt and educated yourself about anything related to breeding, like the crucial times when you may lose them, complications, risks, etc.

~Ensure you can keep any rabbits that do not get sold. It would be irresponsible to pass them on to anyone else to rehome. They are your responsibility,
so you should rehome them.

~Ensure that if any rabbits get rehomed, but in due course can not be kept, they are returned to you and do not go anywhere else.

~Ensure you home check any potential owners, so that you know their accommodation meets the RWA standards and that your bunnies are going to good homes.

~Ensure you know more than any potential buyer, so that you can educate them and so that you don't make mistakes on things such as gender.

~Ensure you can create and provide information that the owner needs when they buy the rabbit from you.

~Ensure you can afford to spay/neuter any kittens before rehoming, so that you know they have been done.

~Ensure you can afford to vaccinate any kittens before they get rehomed too.

~Ensure you can bond the rabbits into a pair prior to going to their new home.

This has not looked at the safest way to 'mate up' your rabbits because if you are breeding responsibly and deliberately, then you will have a mentor to work with, or, if you have had an accidental litter then the Ďdeedí will have been Ďdoneí by the time you read this.