Types of Rabbits

Types of Rabbits. Five general body types are possible in all known rabbit breeds, with variations within these types. Which body type are you looking for?

All domestic rabbits fall into one of these five "body styles."  The lists of breeds below are not necessarily complete, but they will give you an idea of what the different types look like, so you can recognize it when you see it.

For a complete list of all rabbit breeds recognized in the United States, click here.

Five Types of Rabbits

1) Fully Arched

This Tan rabbit youngster has a fully arched body typeYoung Lilac Tan Rabbit

A fully arched rabbit appears perky and ready to bolt.  It stands at alert and on its toes, and you can see daylight under its abdomen.  Compare the fully arched rabbit to, say, a correctly posed commercial rabbit, and you’ll know immediately what I mean. These rabbits have a fully arched body type:

  • Belgian Hare
  • Britannia Petite
  • Checkered Giant
  • English Spot
  • Rhinelander
  • Tan

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2) Semi-Arched Types of Rabbits

There’s something fluid, poetic, even “musical” about the mandolin-shaped curve along the back of a semi-arched rabbit.  Their head and shoulders hug the posing table, and then their loin rises gracefully to a peak at the hindquarters before the top line falls to the tail.

English Lop rabbit with its mandolin (semi-arched) body typeEnglish Lop

These rabbits have a semi-arched body type:

  • American
  • Beveren
  • English Lop
  • Flemish Giant
  • Giant Chinchilla

3) Compact Types of Rabbits

Compact rabbits are small, yes, but plenty of medium-sized rabbits fall into this type of rabbit.  They are tightly constructed and give a sense of roundness.  Some are described as cobby (round with very small neck).  Some look like pint-sized commercial rabbits, for example, mini-satins and mini-rexes. There are quite a few rabbit breeds with a compact type:

The American Fuzzy Lop has a compact body typeAmerican Fuzzy Lop
  • American Fuzzy Lop
  • English Angora
  • Standard Chinchilla
  • Dwarf Hotot
  • Dutch
  • Florida White
  • Havana
  • Holland Lop
  • Jersey Wooly
  • Lilac
  • Mini Lop
  • Mini Rex
  • Mini Satin
  • Netherland Dwarf
  • Polish
  • Silver

4) Commercial Type

The Californian rabbit is an excellent example of a commercial body type in a rabbitCalifornian Rabbit

This type represents the rabbits that are good choices for meat production.  Today, most research into meat rabbit production has occurred in the New Zealand breed of rabbit.  An ideal meat rabbit gains weight rapidly and quickly, resulting in the ability to harvest at 8 weeks of age.  If you’re searching for a meat rabbit breed, New Zealand rabbits or Californians (pictured here) might be your best bet, however you’re definitely not limited to New Zealands or Cals.

Many other breeds are raised to have a body type that exemplifies the commercial type, meaning well-muscled throughout.  French Lops and Rex’s, for example, weren’t necessarily bred for meat, however the breeders specified bodies that would be ‘meaty,’ resulting in rabbits with dual purposes. Here is a list of rabbits with commercial body type:

  • Angoras: French, Giant and Satin
  • Champagne D’Argent
  • Californian
Palomino RabbitPalomino Rabbit
  • Cinnamon
  • American Chinchilla
  • Crème D’Argent
  • French Lop
  • Harlequin
  • Hotot
  • New Zealand
  • Palomino
  • Rex
  • American Sable
  • Satin
  • Silver Fox
  • Silver Marten


5) Cylindrical

The Himalayan rabbit is in a class by itself - the only example of a cylindrical body typeTalk about cylindrical...!

As far as I know, there is only one breed, the Himalayan, that possesses a cylindrical body type.  It is round, long and slinky, some even say snake-like, with no obvious rise to the hindquarters.  Its coloration is white, with dark points, like a Siamese cat. 

Of all these types of rabbits, there are probably a few that will please you a lot.

Click on All Rabbit Breeds for descriptions of all rabbit breeds recognized in the USA and links to each national breed club.

Enjoy your rabbits!

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