Do Rabbits Get Along With Dogs? (Bunny-Friendly Dog Breeds & Introduction Process)

Rabbits can get along with dogs but ( there is always some BUT) whether they live in harmony depends on the personalities of both animals. Not only their characters will influence the possible friendship but also dog and rabbit breed, your attitude, patience, the fact that your dog is well trained or not, etc.

Rabbits are prey animals and in lots of cases, very scared of other animals and humans as well. Dogs, on the other hand, are predator animals and as such not natural companions of rabbits. This doesn’t mean that two of them cannot live together and even become friends but means that you need to put extra effort to achieve something like that.

Having a dog that is cuddling with your bunny in your backyard or two of them lying next to each other on the carpet in your living room makes a great photo for your family album. I did research on this topic and gather a lot of information that may help you achieve that and enjoy your lovely pets.

What are Rabbit – Friendly Dog Breeds?

Some dog breeds are more appropriate to be rabbit’s buddies than others. You can easily find lists of rabbit-friendly dog breeds on the internet but you will notice opposite opinions. On one list some breeds are labeled as rabbit-friendly and on another quite opposite, such as Golden retrievers.

Generally, you should avoid hunting breeds as these dogs have naturally strong instinct and companionship between this dog and bunny has slim chances for success.

According to House Rabbits Society dog that will be introduced to a rabbit needs to have low prey instinct (as these dogs are usually gentle with other animals) and should be from one of herding, working or non-sporting breeds. Sporting breeds are not good for this occasion as most of them are hunting dogs.

People also have different opinions regarding the dog’s age. Is it better to introduce a puppy or an adult dog to a rabbit? Some owners think that puppy is a better option but a reliable source – House Rabbits Society suggest that adult dog is a much better solution.

The dog needs to be well trained, calm when introduced to a rabbit. I am sure you will agree that puppies are usually not trained and same as kids, not able always to control their behavior )

Before I put a rabbit-friendly list ( made as a combination of several lists I found ) I must say that this list should be considered only as a baseline. What really matters is your dog and your rabbit personality. If you have a very calm, submissive, well-trained dog then you should go for it and introduce it to your bunny. But if you have an energetic or aggressive dog then maybe it is better not to try.

One tip – many pet owners confirmed that dogs that are friendly with cats most probably will be good friends with bunnies as well

Rabbit – Friendly Dog breeds list :

  • Australian Shepard
  • Basset Hound – be careful with this one, appears on several lists as a rabbit-friendly dog, very calm and relaxed but I found that this breed is hunting breed. You can find more information regarding this on the website dedicated to hunting with basset
  • Bichon Frise
  • Boxer
  • Japanese Chin
  • Malteser
  • Bernese Mountain Dog

You will also run into breeds such as Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever as rabbit-friendly dogs but the truth is somewhere in between. Both breeds can be nice and gentle to rabbits but also Retrievers can chase rabbits as part of play and your rabbit can end up scared to death or exhausted.

Regarding Labs, I found that the majority of owners ( they have both bunnies and labs) will never let their rabbits run free around Labradors. Some owners suggest introducing Lab puppy to a bunny so maybe the dog will get used to your rabbit.

Anyhow both owners and experts agree that good genetics, start of life, early socialization and proper training are key for having a good dog but natural instincts are something you cannot influence on.

So it is better to avoid the following breeds in case you have a rabbit in your house :

  • Terriers
  • Beagles
  • Bullmastiff
  • Carolina dog ( American Dingo)
  • Toy breeds ( Chihuahua or King Charles Spaniel although some it appears on some lists as rabbit -friendly dog, or Pug )
  • Siberian Husky
  • Guard dogs such as German Shepard

The important thing – there is no guarantee. Even dogs with low prey drive can chase and injure the rabbit. On the other hand, you must realize that rabbits are individuals and that all of them have different personalities. Maybe you have a perfect dog but your rabbit is shy or easily stressed which will make this friendship most likely impossible.

In this relationship rabbits are more vulnerable so people always pay more attention on the dog – what’s the right breed, how does he behave etc. But most of them don’t realize that there are some rabbit breeds that are more likely to get along with dogs, comparing to others.

What are Dog-Friendly Rabbit Breeds?

All experts agree that even though dogs and rabbits are not natural companions, their friendship is possible. The main obstacle, besides the hunting instincts of the dog, can be the personality of both.

If you have a relaxed and easy-going bunny you can try to introduce him/her to a dog. If your rabbit trusts you, you already made a bond between two of you, go for it, easy and slowly introduce your rabbit to a dog.

On the contrary, if you have a very timid, nervous and fearful rabbit, don’t load it with additional stress. It isn’t good for neither of you.

Rabbits Breeds considered best for pets but also get along with other pets including dogs :

  • Holland Lop – very friendly breed, full of energy
  • Dutch Lop – not so energetic as Holland Lop, calm breed but highly sociable
  • Dwarf Hotot – Active rabbits that can make a nice bond with the owner
  • Lionhead – rabbits that like to play a lot, full of energy
  • Polish – like to cuddle and very affectionate

What Do You Need To Do Before Introduction Process?

First of all you need to know your pets and their personalities. If you are well familiar with this and you have rabbit and dog for which you think that might get along, you can move on.

You should make sure that your dog is properly trained. He must be able to respond on your voice commands such as ”Sit”, ”Down”, ”Leave it ” etc

Your dog should be the one that is easy to control, obedient and docile.

It is important to know that this process might take a longer time. Be patient.

The Introduction Process

There is no only one introduction process. Of course, there is only one first introduction. After that first, others will come, just be patient, positive and consistent.

The safety of the rabbit is a top priority during this process. Some experts suggest that your rabbit should be placed in its cage or behind the X-pen for safety reasons. Your dog should be on the leash and you can let your dog approach the rabbit and sniff around.

On the other hand, House Rabbits Society recommends different strategy – rabbits should be free and encouraged to approach a dog on a leash that is lying down.

For whichever strategy you decide for, bear in mind that introductory sessions shouldn’t last long. You can gradually increase session duration allowing them to explore and get to know each other very slowly.

Always monitor your pet’s interaction. You never know when something can go wrong, so it is crucial that you are always around.

Even when your dog and rabbit become friends never let them play or even just be in the same room unsupervised.

It is important to separate their feeding areas, both species could be very territorial so the unnecessary fight over the food bowl will not bring anything good to anyone.

You should provide escape routes for both dog and rabbit. Bunny may feel the need to hide from the dog, on the other hand, a dog might need a hideout from the annoying rabbit ( maybe you have an old dog that wants to sleep and your energetic bunny wants to play)

You should never let your dog chase your rabbit, not even as part of the play. Your bunny would never understand chasing as a play and might end up stressed and shocked. I don’t know if you heard but bunnies can die if they are heavily stressed or frightened.

Final Thought

Yes, rabbits and dogs can become friends and live happily ever after. But there are tons of things you have to think about. Your pet breeds, personalities, training ( note that rabbits cannot be trained same dogs although they can learn some basic commands if you have enough patience) their living habitats. The most important thing is to never ever let dog and rabbit mingling together if you are not there.

In case you have some dog with high prey instinct and you are aware that they shouldn’t meet each other bear in mind that living with two animals that have always to be separated is very hard. Not just because of an organization but also because accidents may happen.

In this case, the accident would most likely end up fatal for the rabbit. So think about that before you decide to bring another pet ( not compatible with the one you already have in your house) to your home.

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