Netherland Dwarf Rabbits

Netherland Dwarf Rabbits:
Learn about history, care, standard of perfection highlights, showing. Find links to Netherland rabbits for sale, breeders and care guidelines. Netherland Dwarf care is applicable equally to the care of other dwarf rabbit breeds.

History of the Netherland Dwarf

While Holland is the true home of the Netherland Dwarf, nevertheless the Hermelin rabbit, a red-eyed white rabbit originally known in Germany as the Polish rabbit, is the major foundation stock for today’s Netherland Dwarf.  Hermelins were recognized in Holland only in 1907.

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A dedicated core of five Dutchmen, led by Mr. Jan Meyering, worked tirelessly for 30 years breeding the all-white Hermelins with local native wild rabbits, as well as with various other domestic breeds (large and small). The goal was to standardize a very small rabbit that would be available and accepted in a plethora of colors and varieties.  Netherland Dwarfs were officially recognized in Holland in 1940, just days before Germany crashed their party and occupied Holland.

Just 17 Netherland Dwarfs survived World War II. In 1947, several English breeders were gifted with 9 offspring: 1 agouti, 2 black, 2 blue, 1 sable, 1 blue-eyed white, and 2 red-eyed-white. 

In only 3 years, the British Rabbit Council recognized the new breed. Netherland Dwarfs flew out of British hutches to meet the intense demand for these tiny yet bold little rabbits.

Netherland Dwarfs in the USA

Black Martin Netherland Dwarf Show RabbitBlack Martin Netherland Dwarf

It was not until 1965 that the Netherland Dwarf arrived in the USA. The purpose for the original imports was to improve the Polish rabbit breed in the US. The same fascination with Netherlands soon began to consume Americans. The ARBA recognized the Netherland Dwarf in 1969.

Netherland Dwarfs Today

Today the Netherland Dwarf is the Number One most popular rabbit breed across the globe. The breed is recognized in every country that has a national rabbit club.  In the United States, they are recognized in 37 varieties, with 3 more varieties under consideration.

The UK recognizes all these varieties. Plus, under ‘Other Varieties’ (Group 5), the BRC allows "Any Other long as it conforms to the normal pattern of accepted colours of other breeds." In the UK, the Netherland Dwarf is showable in virtually any already accepted color.

The Standard for Netherland Dwarf Rabbits

Black Otter Netherland Dwarf Show RabbitBlack Otter Netherland Dwarf Rabbit

Netherlands ideally weigh 2 pounds (0.907 kg), but may weigh up to 2 1/2 pounds (1.134 kg).

Ears are short, perky and substantial. They should ideally measure 2 inches long (50 mm), but may be up to 2 1/2 inches in length (75 mm). Ears over 2 1/2 inches long results in a disqualification.

General type is short, round and compact. Shoulders and hindquarters should be the same width, with height balanced with width. "Narrow" should never come to mind when considering any aspect of a Netherland Dwarf. 

Showing the Netherland Dwarf

Dwarfs are judged in a natural pose, without pushing the head to the table. The many varieties are grouped into 5 categories. They first compete within the group, then against the other groups, and finally a Best of Breed and Runner-up is chosen. Here are those groups in the USA (grouped similarly in the UK):

Siamese Sable Netherland Dwarf Show Rabbit

Group 1 - Self

  • Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac, Red-Eyed-White, Blue-Eyed-White

Group 2 - Shaded

  • Sable Point, Siamese Sable (UK: Light, Medium, Dark), Siamese Smoke Pearl, Tortoiseshell

Group 3 - Agoutis

  • Chestnut, Chinchilla, Lynx, Opal, Squirrel

Group 4 - Tan Patterns

  • Otters (Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac), Sable Marten (UK: Light, Medium, Dark), Silver Martin (Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac), Smoke Pearl Marten, Tans (Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac)

Group 5 - Any Other Varieties

  • Broken, Fawn, Himalayan (Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac), Orange, Steel
  • UK: Any Other Color

New varieties of Netherland Dwarfs under development in the US

Here is a summary of new variety info provided by the American Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Club.

Blue Tortoiseshell

The blue tortoiseshell is a fawn rabbit with smoky blue on the sides, rump, belly, ears, feet, and tail. Blue tortoiseshells passed their second try at a third showing at the 2011 ARBA Convention.


This is a black rabbit that is silvered very similarly to the Champagne d'Argent. The adult Champagne Netherland Dwarf won’t look black. It should have a “light silvery appearance with a bluish undercolor showing through the silver.” Champagnes are eligible for a second try at a first showing at the 2013 ARBA Convention.

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Links to More Info about Netherland Dwarfs

Netherland Dwarfs and the Dwarf Gene

A true Netherland Dwarf carries one copy of the lethal dwarfing gene, and one copy of a normal size gene. For more information, please see Dwarf Rabbits.

Hippo-Babies, Max Factor defect, Faders

Netherland Dwarfs and related breeds occasionally occasionally experience these problems in their offspring, in addition to the lethal double dwarf gene pairing: Hippo babies, Max Factor defect, and faders. Plus, learn about "BUDs" and "BUBs."

Netherland Dwarfs for Sale

Netherland Dwarfs are delightful little rabbits, well suited as pets.

We have several breeders listed by state who raise and may have Netherland Dwarf rabbits for sale. Check our Rabbits for Sale section. Or, you may find breeders listed at the American Netherland Dwarf Club, the ARBA, or at the BRC

Care of Netherland Dwarfs

Rabbits are rabbits, whether they weigh 2 pounds or 22 pounds. However, with Netherland Dwarfs being so small, you might like to know the best cage sizes or any special tips or tricks to taking care of these tiny, delightful rabbits.

We've provided this information at Care of Netherland Dwarf Rabbits.


REW Netherland Dwarf Bunny

Is This Your Rabbit Breed?

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What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

The Great Chase 
One week my family and I were up north, and I put my rabbit back in his cage around 11:30 PM. The next morning my father woke up and saw this little, black …

I Love Nethies! Not rated yet
Right now, I own five Netherland dwarfs. They are an adorable breed, AND tons of fun. I breed them and show them at my county fair. Meet them!

My Little Sadie Not rated yet
This is my rabbit's breed! I've been searching the Internet for so long wondering about my bunny's breed because I bought her from a pet store and they …

4-H Not rated yet
I have Netherlands for my fair and my black otter buck has always gotten blue! Now I have a black otter doe to breed to him, plus a fawn buck and doe. …

Amazing Netherland Dwarfs Not rated yet
These rabbits are absolutely amazing! I find that the female Netherland Dwarfs tend to be a little temperamental but are still sweet if worked with and …

Click here to write your own.


  • ARBA Standard of Perfection
  • British Rabbit Council:
  • Domestic Rabbits and Their Histories, by Bob D. Whitman
  • American Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Club:
  • The Netherland Dwarf Show Rabbit:


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