What to Know About Rhinelander Rabbit

Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on December 10, 2022

Rhinelander is a popular medium-sized rabbit breed. You can easily recognize them from their flashy markings that give their skin a mosaic-like effect. With their docile personalities, many assume Rhinelanders like staying aloof. But these athletic rabbits love to socialize and can often be found playing with their owners. Rhinelander rabbits make excellent pets, being easy to raise in houses and apartments when kept in appropriately-sized cages under the proper conditions. 

Rhinelanders are considered a rare rabbit breed in the United States. This breed was developed in Germany during the early 1900s. They were brought into the United States almost two decades later in 1923.

In 1924, the Standards of National Breeders and Fanciers Association of America accepted them as a separate breed. The Rhinelander Rabbit Club of America gradually formed in 1975. A year later, Rhinelanders rabbits were again recognized as a breed by the American Rabbit Breeders Association in the Book of Standards.

Rhinelanders are considered an arched breed — meaning their body has a clear arch that begins at the base of their neck and ends at their tail. Their arch is not as extreme as that found in the Checkered Giant rabbit. 

Based on how these animals are displayed at competitive shows, breeders classify them as 4-class rabbits. This means the size of Rhinelander rabbits falls in the medium range (between 6 lbs and 9 lbs).

Many refer to their bodies as cylindrical or barrel-shaped. Moreover, well-bred rabbits have well-rounded rears and medium-length legs — features that balance their bodies and help them move, climb and jump easily. 

The unique characteristics of Rhinelanders are their unusual markings, which are often compared to the patches on a calico cat. As per the American Rabbit Breeders Association, ideal Rhinelander rabbits come in two different color varieties: white with fawn and blue markings and white with orange and black markings. Their other distinct features are their v-shaped ears, chestnut brown eyes, cheek spots, as well as the circular markings surrounding their eyes.

Rhinelanders are generally referred to as a "laid-back" sort of rabbit. As their owner, you might find them docile and pleasant-tempered in most situations. But having a pleasant personality doesn't mean they lack energy. 

Rather, Rhinelander rabbits love playing with their owners and hopping on their laps. They are not very fond of running, though, and would rather go for a walk or strike a pose, even during competitions.

Many rabbit owners assume that a hutch or cage is the ideal place to keep their pets. But this isn't the case. 

When kept outside, a hutch exposes the rabbit to bad weather conditions and predators like dogs and cats. Even if they're guarded, your Rhinelander could fall sick or even die from the stress of an imminent attack. However, if using a hutch is your only option, make sure it's:

  • Protected from the weather elements
  • Covered and comfortable
  • Safe from predators
  • Placed three feet or more above the ground

Also, take care that your rabbit gets at least 16 hours of light every day for successful breeding. The light could even come from artificial sources. Maintain a temperature of 85º F or below and humidity between 30% and 40% in the hutch. Moreover, ensure proper ventilation, so your pet gets fresh air free from any airborne microorganisms.

To take good care of your Rhinelander rabbit, pay proper attention to these areas:

Grooming. It's easy to keep Rhinelanders clean with regular grooming. Be sure to check their nails for overgrowth regularly, as rabbits tend to grow nails continuously. Clip their nails every once in a while using a nail clipper. Avoid trimming deep into the nail, as you can damage the core. 

Your rabbit's hearing can be affected if dirt and debris collect in their ears. To avoid this, inspect their ears often and wipe gently with a little baby or olive oil on a wool or cotton swab when needed. You can also use a slightly damp cloth for this purpose. 

To remove stains, rub their fur with white vinegar as rabbits can find water-immersion baths stressful. The hairs on their outer coat are silky and not too long. Regularly brush them using a piece of nylon, a damp cloth, or a brush to remove loose hair.

Training. Like other rabbits, you can train your Rhinelander to do many tasks like standing on command, jumping over items, and walking on a leash. But remember that house training a rabbit is similar to training a cat. You would need to be patient, spend a lot of time practicing, and motivate your pet using positive reinforcement instead of punishments. 

A good thing about rabbits is that they like to naturally use the same spot as their bathroom. So, all you need is to place a litter box in their chosen spot in the cage and train them to use it. 

Exercise. To stay healthy, rabbits need to move out of their cages and play and exercise for at least an hour every day. They also enjoy having dedicated exercise areas where they can roam about. For this purpose, you can buy three-foot high fencing panels that would suit your medium-sized Rhinelander.

Get your rabbit chewable toys or fruit tree branches to gnaw on. This would help keep your pet's teeth healthy and give them comfort, as the front incisors in rabbits grow continuously.

Diet. Make sure your Rhinelander rabbit has access to fresh and clean water at all times. This is important because rabbits tend to eat less food if they don't get enough water. Maintain a regular feeding schedule that suits their body clock. Since rabbits are usually nocturnal, you may prefer to feed them in the evenings.

You can feed them Timothy hay and pellets, preferably at night. Your feed should ideally contain: 

  • Fat: 3 % or lesser 
  • Calcium: less than 1%
  • Fiber: 12%-22% (best is above 18%)

You can also seldom give your Rhinelander treats like carrots, apples, and oranges. But remember not to free-feed these treats as rich foods can cause them to become overweight.

Health. When kept in a poorly ventilated and highly humid area, Rhinelander rabbits can develop sniffles, pneumonia, and other respiratory problems. They may also be prone to microbial infections like sore hocks, hutch barn, ringworm, abscesses, wry neck, and enteritis. Another common problem among Rhinelanders is ear mite infection, which causes debris and crust to buildup in their ears. 

Before you get your pet Rhinelander, learn about rabbit diseases, symptoms, and treatments as much as possible. By doing so, you may be able to diagnose and treat some of the problems in your pet by yourself. Visit a vet immediately for others that you find hard to identify or treat.

While most children are excited about owning a rabbit, they don't usually make very good owners of these delicate animals. Just like other rabbits, Rhinelanders need gentle and safe handling to avoid getting injuries on their legs and back. These animals also get startled by loud noises, like those created by excited children. If you wish to adopt a rabbit, it would be better to wait until your kids get older.

Keep in mind that rabbits live for a long time. The average lifespan of Rhinelander rabbits ranges from 5 to 8 years. When cared for properly, they can even live up to 10 or 14 years. Before you buy a rabbit, consider if you can bear the extra expenses of food, housing, and veterinary care throughout their lives. Moreover, you would need to spend a lot of time keeping them happy and entertained. Consider if you can devote this much time to your pet.

Show Sources

American Rabbit Breeders Association: "Rhinelander."
American Veterinary Medical Association: "Selecting a pet rabbit."
The British Rabbit Council: "BREED STANDARDS 2021 - 2025."
Clemson University: "YOUTH ACADEMY OF LIVESTOCK LEARNING Selection, Handling, Rabbit Breeds and Body Types."
Government of Prince Edward Island: "4-H Rabbit Manual."
The Humane Society of the United States: "Is a rabbit the right pet for you?."
The Livestock Conservancy: "RHINELANDER RABBIT."
Rhinelander Rabbit Club of America: "About Rhinelanders."
Utah State University: "DISCOVER 4-H RABBITS CLUBS."
VCA Animal Hospitals: "Owning a Rabbit."
Veterinary Partner: "Rabbit Care."

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