The Netherland Dwarf Show Rabbit
Getting Started
Getting Started
Helpful Tips

It seems so easy right, go out buy a buck and a doe and put them together and in 31-32 days you will have babies right....well take it from me and many other breeders, if you want to raise pets then it is a little easier, if you want to go out and be competitive on the show table, then you better do some:

1) reading (as much as you can)

2) talking (to as many breeders as you can)

3) watching (park yourself at the dwarf table)

4) hands on (visit Dwarf breeders)

5) research before you buy your first Netherland Dwarf and ever think about breeding.
It does get that deep, and it will save you lots of time and money in the long run.


Even though your first thought is to run out to your first rabbit show and buy the first Netherland Dwarf you see, that is the right color or sex, DO NOT DO IT, unless you have done the 5 steps above.

We did it all wrong and boy did we mess up and not only spend lots of wasted money, but wasted lots of time in the breeding program and in the showing program. It was so bad at first we either had bunnies that had DQ's or were so bad the that the judges kept looking hoping to find a DQ to get them off the table. I think that was the only time I have ever seen a judge take out a tape measure and measure a dwarfs ears.

When you go into this unprepared you go in with sucker stamped on your forehead, as bad as that sounds.

After you are prepared you have to be willing to say "No Thanks", or be willing to tell yourself that the bunny you are looking at is either not what you are needing in the breeding program or the color is not going to work with what you all ready have.

The next step is to make up your mind on what you are going to spend. You can buy some cheaper stock, and work longer with that and do lots of culling, but remember it probably will take you longer to get where you want to be on the show table, or you can save up and talk with a high quality breeder and buy better quality breeding stock and have a better start for a little more money but also in the long run save yourself at least a few years in the breeding program and do better on the show table.

When buying some breeding stock you should be looking into buying at least a trio, two breeding does. Not show does, show does are not going to help you in the breeding program, they are small and cute, with breeding does they are a little bigger with type but are to big to show however they are more useful for breeding since they are a little bigger in size so they are able to carry babies easier and give birth to live babies easier also they usually have an average of 4-5 babies.

The buck will be the one you are more worried about, he should be show quality, with no DQ's and as typy as you can get. However you should remember that a breeder is not going to sell you his or her best. You should expect to get some nice stock to work with and take it home and work to make it better.

On average a trio from a good breeder will range from $250-$500, this also can depend on the variety you are looking at and the breeder you are purchasing from.

Do not be afraid to purchase juniors:
Most new breeders and some older breeders think that when you buy a Netherland Dwarf they should be top show quality and go out on the table to win. Well would we not all want that, I kinda laugh when people e-mail me and put in a request for a top show quality dwarf, my first thought is when you find one can you let me know. We are all out to make that for ourself. And as a breeder you should take are of yourself first and the next person second. If you think a breeder is going to sell you their top notch animals, you have alot of learning to do.
I find if you want something better than is on the show table in your area, you best go shopping out of your area...I learned that from a 4-H leader years ago. She was my daughters first one and when we told her we were serious into breeding and winning, she said "shop out of the area then", and you know what she was right.
A couple of years ago I was lucky enought to go in on a shipment of dwarfs from the Netherlands. I had bought an older buck from this same gentleman and was very happy with what I had seen him produce so I put a bigger order in and was on the top of the list for first pick....when they came in they were around 12 weeks old, and I though OH MY, what did I do...however I brought them home and put them in cages and let them grown up....Well to my suprise they do not look anything like they did when they arrived. They are some of the best dwarfs I have seen...My point is 2-5 months dwarfs are going thru their teenage years as I call them, and they are not going to show you what they are for sure until they reach almost 8 months old. Sure you can tell if their ears are to long, or if their bodies might be to long, but you have to let them mature.

Quote from Donelle's Winner's Circle Jan 2000 Dwarf Digest

"There's not a lot that I can add to the discussion on breeding that Tim Reese wrote in the July 1999 Digest in his "Winner's Circle" article."

"that one should breed good to weaker to offset the weak trait: that a vigorous, vital strain is key to good health and easy breeding: that one should focus on TYPE: Good width, length, and depth of body; full, wide chest; short forelegs; head/neck set well up on the shoulders; etc. If you start with animals with a low head-mount, with long thin ears, long shoulders, thin fur, etc. it is hard to climb that steep hill to a quality animal. Many times I think the newer breeder has a difficult time recognizing the traits that should be counter-balanced. I can remember when I could not distinguish between a long animal and one with good or decent length. Looking for that tell-tale flat spot over the shoulder helped, but comparing a short animal to a long one, and noting the subtle differences, was key to educating my eyes."


It is best to begin any breeding program with the best Netherland Dwarfs one can locate and afford to purchase. DO NOT eliminate the $25.00, three pound, long-eared doe which is out of exceptional stock. Many times, she will be the very best investment. Choose all bucks carefully. Select a buck that stays in condition for a long period of time, has the necessary "type" characteristics, and has excellent density and length of coat. If the buck is older, ask to see different ages of his offspring. It is a good idea to inspect as many different generations of his parentage and/or offspring as possible; that way, it is easy to identify characteristics that appear to be dominant in his strain.

When selecting breeding stock, just as in building a house, one will discover that the foundation is the most important aspect. As a breeding program begins, and the time comes to select replacements from the original stock, select only offspring that molt quickly and thoroughly and have the coat qualities as described in the breed standard. Additionally, Netherland Dwarfs that are infected with snuffles, ear canker, and other diseases, will not achieve proper condition and should be eliminated from the breeding program.

COOPING AND HOUSING by Getitia Matheny

It is important to select a rabbitry location that does not have any direct drafts, but still allows good ventilation. The site should be out of the direct, and if possible indirect sunlight, as sunlight will fade a Dwarf's fur. Cages should either be spaced far enough apart from other Dwarfs or be separated by a solid divider, so as to maintain Dwarf fur that is free from urine or manure stains. Try to remove all manure at least once each week if drop pans are used.


For my does I like to use mainly the 18x24 cages, however if I have some of the bigger size does that have the larger litters it is not bad to have a few of the 24x24 sizes on hand.

The bucks work well inthe 18x24 cages and then I also have some of the 16x18 sizes that work great as well. I also have some condos that are 16x18 that work great for weaning cages. My rule is if they stay long enough to move onto a bigger size cage then a older bunny must move on. This way I am always moving my herd. I try and not keep my does to long. If one stay to be over 2 1/2 years then she must be one good doe and will probably die here.

Lisa Monk

NUTRITION by Getitia Matheny
Today there are many different brands and mixtures of feed. Even the national brands can vary in quality from one part of the country to another due to ingredient availability. in mill standards. Ask 20 different breeders what is the best feed to use, and one will undoubtedly receive 20 different answers. when stock is purchased, the best thing to do, is ask what type of feeding program and what brand/mixture of feed the breeder uses to obtain maximum condition. ask questions like: "Do you feed free choice or only a limited amount?", "What brand of feed and what protein content?", "How often do you feed each day?", Record the information and if possible, purchase a bag of the same brand of food or mixture, or if you have a long way to travel, get at least a couple of weeks supply. If one is trying to condition an established herd, ask a successful breeder if they will share their program WITHOUT modifications. If improvements are still not achieved, then try another breeder's feeding program. Remember, it takes time for Dwarfs to achieve condition. Also, the constat availability of fresh water is crucial for a Dwarf's condition. If Dwarfs are not fed or watered for 36 to 48 hours stretches on a continual basis, condition will deteriorate rapidly. They must have a fresh supply of fresh water throughout the year; yes, even in winter. Notice the nutrition portion of this article is the most lengthy. I consider proper nutrition the most crucial ingredient in the achieving proper condition.
All of the things mentioned above are necessary if excellent condition is to be maintained year, after year, after year. The stricter one is in culling and selecting replacement breeders, then the quicker one will achieve success. Optimum coat and overall condition is not easy to achieve. If the condensed guidelines that are discussed in this article are followed, then one will have a better opportunity of exhibiting a Dwarf that receives an "excellent" in coat and condition at the next show. Good Luck.

Finding the right breeder
I ran across this over the weekend. I had a breeder that had obtained stock from two other breeders, at this point she has one baby in the last year to show from it and has had little to no help from the other breeders. They only were glad to take her money.
It is very important that no matter how far away you are or how close you are to the breeders that help you get started, that they should be willing to help you with questions and problems that you might come up with.
When I get a new breeder started I spend atleast 2 hours with them the first time we meet and have my lines of communication open all the time. If you run into a breeder that is not willing to help with questions you have I feel you need to look for another breeder. However at the same time you should be willing to leave a message or a e-mail and not expect them to be home 24/7..
They might not be able to get back to you that day, but they should be able to get back with you within a day or two at the most (unless they are out of town or at a show). I not only open my lines up for questions, but if they need help culling, fostering if they are close enough, but also just be there as a friend thru the good times and the bad times, and as Netherland Dwarf  breeders we know you have more bad than good at times.

Check back often for new articles.......

I would like to say THANK YOU to all the breeders who have or will be writitng articles for the web page. I hope and feel this site could reach out to many new and old breeders and everyone could find some information they have not known before. The more information we put on this site the better it will be.