New Zealand Rabbits

About  Rabbits - Breeds ~ Rabbit TypesFull Breeds List ~ New Zealand Rabbits

To help understand the New Zealand, the breed details are divided in to the following categories:

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The New Zealand is recognised by the BRC (British Rabbit Council), and the ARBA, (American Rabbit Breeders Association).

These rabbits have a breed slogan known as "The Breed in the Lead".

Note: The BRC recognises the New Zealand White, Black & Blue together, while the British New Zealand Red is classed as a different rabbit and is recognised by a separate breed standard.

You can find out more about the British New Zealand Red here...

Breed Name
of Origin
New Zealand White, Black, Blue, (and Red & Broken in US)
United States
British New Zealand Red
Czech Republic

BRC Standard of Perfection


Type & Weight...40



Total Points....100

Full BRC Standard of Perfection

ARBA Schedule of Points

This is the newly revised schedule of points for the Black, White & Red New Zealand rabbits:

General Type...(63)

  • Hindquarters...21
  • Midsection...19
  • Shoulders...18
  • Head, Ears, Feet & Legs...5




Total Points....100

Note: The newly accepted Broken variety splits the colour points and allocates some to colour and some to pattern.

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History of New Zealand Rabbits

New Zealand rabbits came from a complicated background of various breeding programs across the United States. The New Zealand Red was the first type created and the other varieties were developed from them. There are two, somewhat shaky, stories of how the New Zealand Red was created...

From the Country New Zealand?
From a booklet called 'The New Zealand Red Rabbit', written in 1918 by Mr. C.P.Gilmore, we know that some New Zealand rabbits were imported from New Zealand to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Most people suspect, although no document proof exists, that the New Zealand Red Rabbit is a blend of the popular American rabbit and the New Zealand rabbits that were imported from New Zealand.

From the Belgian Hare?
It is also commonly believed that the red colouration was the result of a cross between a Belgian Hare and a White rabbit. The Belgian Hares had been developed before the New Zealand Red breeding program started. Breeders had taken Belgian Hares and crossed them with Flemish Giants. After a few years, the offspring of such crosses were called Golden Fawns, sadly now extinct, they lent their blood lines in additional crosses back to Belgian Hares to enrich the red colour.

Apparently, according to Mr. Bob D. Whitman in his book Domestic Rabbits and their Histories, Breeds of the World, crossing Golden Fawns, Belgian Hares, Belgian Hare sports and Flemish Giants was the next logical step in the minds of several breeders from the East to West coast of America.

By 1913, breeders in both Indiana and California offered several reddish-fawn-coloured, meaty rabbits, that still retained a Belgian Hare stance, on the show table. Despite the origins at different ends of the nation, all the rabbits were very similar in appearance, although the California rabbits were more agreeable from a meat producing perspective. Both strains of these new rabbits were America's first New Zealand Red Rabbits and were very successfully bred in California and Indiana from 1906 to 1925.

Name Development
Documentation and records show that while most breeders were calling their new breed of rabbits 'New Zealands', some breeders favoured the title of 'California Reds', or 'American Reds', and even entered them in shows using those names.

As more of these New Zealand rabbits were seen on the show table, local and national clubs started to spring up. In 1916 a vote was taken to decide on a final name. The final contenders were the 'New Zealand' & 'American Red'. Obviously New Zealand won (in favour of 10 to 1) and became the official name.

New Zealand White
The White variety was a result of crossing numerous breeds to achieve the desired New Zealand characteristics. These breeds included the: Flemish Giant, American Whites, Angoras and perhaps a Red or two. Several strains began to emerge from different crosses across the county. The New Zealand White variety was accepted by the American Rabbit Breeders Association in the mid 1920's.

New Zealand Black
The Black variety was developed much later, through the efforts of the Californian breeders and Dr. De Castro in the East, using many crosses including the Giant Chinchilla.

New Zealand Broken
The Broken variety has been a recent addition to the New Zealand breed and was accepted by A.R.B.A. in February 2010 by David Mangione. Now broken blacks and broken reds can be shown and compete for Best of Breed and Best Opposite Sex of Breed.

Ongoing Development
Currently there is a C.O.D. out for the development of the Blue variety in the US. The New Zealand breed has been transformed over the duration of nearly a Century and is still being developed today. However, the Blue New Zealand is recognised by the BRC.

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Showroom variety colours are:

  • White
  • Black
  • Broken (US)
  • Red (US) (Separate in UK)
  • Blue (UK)

For more on colours, click here...

The British New Zealand Red is a different breed. Learn more about this breed here...

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Size, Weight, Shape & Ears

New Zealand rabbits are a strong, meaty, medium to large sized breed. (Ring size H)


Junior Weight: Minimum 4.5 pounds, Maximum 9.0 pounds
Intermediate Doe Weight: Not over 11 pounds
Intermediate Buck Weight: Not over 10 pounds
Senior Does: 10 - 12 pounds, ideal weight 11 pounds
Senior Bucks: 9 - 11 pounds, ideal weight 10 pounds

New Zealand rabbits have a commercial body type with balance and uniformity.

Being a meat rabbit qualities should include:

  • well rounded hips
  • well filled loin
  • ribs that carry forward to combine with the shoulders to balance with the rest of the body

The body of New Zealand rabbits are medium in length, with good depth and with shoulders blending smoothly into the midsection. The midsection should blend smoothly into the hindquarters.

From Side:
When a New Zealand is viewed from the side, the topline should start immediately at the base of the ears and rise in a continuous curve to the high point over the center of the hips and then fall downward in a smooth curve to the base of the tail.

From Top:
When the New Zealand is viewed from above the sides of the rabbit should tape slightly from hindquarters toward the shoulders creating the ideal meat production animal.

All varieties of New Zealands have long perforated ears that stand straight up. Unlike the thick, snowy fur on their bodies, their ears have shorter fur that allows their skin to show through.

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New Zealand Red Rabbit

New Zealands are shown in four recognized varieties: Red, Black, Broken, and White.

  1. The Red variety, in the US, is to be a brilliant reddish sorrel colour, not becoming so dark that it resembles a mahogany red colouration. The colour is to be carried as deep down the hair shaft as possible and the belly colour is to be similar if not the same shade of red as the top colour. White colouration on the underside of the tail or on the front or rear food pads is permissible. Eyes of the New Zealand Red are to be brown in colour.
  2. The Black variety is to uniform jet black colouration throughout. The undercolour is to be dark slate blue with dark brown eye colour. 
  3. The Broken variety, in the US, is the newest and most complex of the four New Zealand varieties. The same emphasis is to be placed on the colour of the broken pattern, as well as the marking pattern itself. The Broken variety include any recognized colour of the breed in conjunction with white. The coloured areas of the broken pattern are to match the standard for the coloured variety (black or red). The marking pattern of the broken variety is to have the following pattern: brokens are to have both ears coloured, colour around the eyes, and on the nose (balanced nose marking ideal), and a body pattern that may be spotted, or blanket. The preference is to have an evenly balanced pattern, whichever the marking pattern may be. The toenails of the animal may be white, coloured or any combination of the two, and eye colour is to correspond with the eye colour specified under the respective solid coloured variety. 
  4. The White variety is to be pure white, with pink eyes, with faults for any discolouration including dirt and hutch stains. New Zealand white rabbit has a genetic deviation called albinism. Albinism is caused by a lack of melanin, which is a vital pigment that gives all creatures, including humans, their skin, hair and eye colour.

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Fur Type / Coat

All New Zealand rabbits have short, flyback fur. Their fur should be clean and set tightly in the pelt.  A New Zealand should be very firm of flesh.

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The average lifespan of a New Zealand rabbit is between 5 to 8 years. However this can vary depending on conditions such as diet, health care and housing.


New Zealand Rabbits are usually good with children and other pets, very relaxed about being handled and rarely aggressive. They are a wonderful rabbit and make a great beginner bunny as they are calm, easy-going and friendly. They are also known for their social and outgoing behaviour and enjoy being part of the family. They like everybody including other household pets, and most importantly, they are not biters.

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In the beginning New Zealand rabbits were not bred to be a domestic pet. Instead they were bred for their excellent fur and meat. Fryers are slaughtered at two months of age and older rabbits are sold as roasters. The rabbits with high grades of fur are used to make fur coats and fur trimmings. The lower grades are used to make felt hats and glove linings ("Commercial Rabbit Raising"). New Zealand white rabbits are the number one meat rabbit in the United States.

Along with commercial purposes, New Zealand rabbits are also used for laboratory purposes. Rabbits react similarly to humans to diseases and medications. This reaction allows them to be used at pharmaceutical laboratories, the U.S. Public Health building, cancer research centers, and university hospitals. New Zealand white rabbits have been used to develop tests and drugs for diseases like diabetes, diphtheria, tuberculosis, cancer, and heart disease. The effects of skin creams, cosmetics, special diets, and food additives have also been tested on New Zealand white rabbits.

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Breed Status

All New Zealand Rabbits are safe and not endangered. They are not on any 'at risk' registers anywhere around the world. Their development and breeding continues with vigour and popularity.

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Rabbit Care & Handling

One of their most loveable features is that they usually love to be handled. Pick them up, set them down, or hold them in your lap. They are often likened to 'Rag Dolls' because they flop down like a rag doll where ever you plonk them, even across your shoulder!

New Zealand rabbits are comfortable both indoors and outdoors but I think because of their wonderful personalities they would make excellent indoor pets and companion rabbits.

They do like to nibble though so make sure your bunny proof cables, wires and your favourite shoes! Also make sure they have plenty of time to run around outside and they have access to fresh water, hay, grass and hiding places.

The diet of a New Zealand rabbit is no different than for any of other rabbit breed. A high quality pellet feed (protein ~ 15-16%), along with unlimited Timothy hay and fresh water and exercise will maintain a healthy individual.

Here is a list of resources to help you care for your rabbits…

  • The Ultimate New Rabbit Checklist - The best place to start if you are thinking about raising any breed of rabbit.
  • How to Raise Rabbits – information and resources on the subject of raising pet rabbits.
  • Breeding Rabbits – more about how to successfully breed rabbits for fun, showing, or profit.
  • Rabbit Supplies – find rabbit supplies and equipment at astounding value.
  • Rabbit Health – up to date information & resources for ensuring your rabbit is in the best health.
  • Rabbits Diet - Extensive info about hay, water, safe foods, treats, weight management & FAQs on diet.

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Breeders, Clubs & Organizations

New Zealand Rabbits Breeders – locate New Zealand rabbit breeders using the online rabbit breeders directory, search or submit your own rabbitry.

American National Club - American Federation of New Zealand Rabbit Breeders

US West Coast - West Coast New Zealand Rabbit Breeders

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What Other Visitors Have Said About This Breed

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

My Albino Zealand, HABIT. Woooo... You've never met anything like him. His hobbies are thumping because he's not getting enough attention, sleeping …

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I got my New Zealand bunny when she was barely weaned at about 2 months old. She will be 13 years old in January. She ate mostly Alfalfa in the first …

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We planned for one and came home with three! When our oldest bunny passed away at nearly seven, we wanted to adopt an older rabbit that needed a home. …

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I have a New Zealand White and he is gorgeous. He was bundled with an "attractive" rabbit that my flatmate fell for and he is by far the sweetest natured …

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