A Fido and a bunny.
Well. Imagining them together can already make your heart swell with too much cuteness.
It’s an adorable but unusual combo.
But if you’re a dog parent planning to adopt a tiny rabbit or the other way around…
There are some things you should know first before making a move.
Continue reading to learn:
- Whether rabbits and dogs can get along.
- 9 rabbit-friendly dog breeds you may consider.
- 5 dangers to keep in mind if a dog and rabbit live together.
- And a lot more…
Table of contents
Can rabbits and dogs get along?
Rabbits and dogs can get along. But only if you introduce them to each other with caution and if their personalities match. Bunnies are prey, so it’s best if the canine’s calm, well-trained, and has a low drive to chase smaller animals. While the rabbit must be confident enough to approach the dog.
Now, most hounds, especially puppies, will take an interest in an unfamiliar bunny.
But some breeds may have a low prey drive or desire to catch smaller animals.
These kinds might prefer taking a nap or doing something else. Rather than chasing a bunny around.
And here are some you may consider:
9 rabbit-friendly dog breeds
- Bichon Frise.
- Boston Terrier.
- Japanese Chin.
- French Bulldog.
- Great Pyrenees.
- Golden Retriever.
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
These breeds are usually gentle. But I can’t guarantee that all dogs in this list get along well with a rabbit.
Aside from breed, every Fido has a different personality, affecting their prey drive.
For instance, a trained Golden Retriever may still harm a bunny.
On the contrary, a breed used to hunt hares can befriend a rabbit. As the dog has a gentle, calm nature.
This reminds me of the story of ‘Chloe’ the Beagle and ‘Rue’ the bunny.
People bred Beagles to pursue rabbits and hares. So they usually have a high prey drive.
But as you can see in the adorable clip below, Chloe proved this wrong.
She developed a special bond with the rabbit, Rue. And they enjoy each other’s company.
However, even though things are going well with your 2 pets…
There are still a few hazards that you should know.
5 dangers to keep in mind
Like humans, animals get stressed out too.
And one of its common causes is being put in an unfamiliar situation.
So if you suddenly introduce a new rabbit to your dog or vice versa…
Consider what would both of them feel at first.
Bunnies are prey animals. And because of this, they tend to be easily scared.
Now, why’s that?
Rabbits need to survive in the wild with many predators.
And a study says that fear helps prey like them to defend themselves.
Due to it, bunnies are often alert in their surroundings.
This aids them in avoiding predators. Or in running away from any danger as early as they can.
However, the downside is…
It makes rabbits more prone to stress than dogs
Since your Fido’s a predator, it’s natural for a bunny to be anxious around them.
But a confident, territorial rabbit may also put a timid puppy under stress. As the bunny can act more aggressively than the pooch.
Now, if your pets are always stressed every meeting or anxious while living under 1 roof…
It may affect not only their behavior but also their health.
Based on experts, most humans with long-term stress have poor immunity. And it’s the same case with animals.
This is because, under pressure, the body releases a few chemicals.
One of those is cortisol, a.k.a. the ‘stress hormone.’
Some of its vital jobs are to:
- Increase energy.
- Raise blood sugar level.
- Control wake/sleep patterns.
Now, once a stressful event’s over…
Your cortisol level decreases. Then all your functions will return to usual.
However, if a person or animal’s constantly stressed out…
High levels of hormones can affect their health. Including their immune system or the body’s shield against diseases.
Thus, your dog or rabbit will be at risk of infection if it’s weak.
How to spot a stressed animal?
Usually, if your pet’s troubled, they may show some of the behaviors below:
- Being inactive.
- Heavy breathing.
- Sudden aggression.
- Folding of ears flatly against their body.
What to do?
Ensure you’re not stressing out either animal.
A bunny may feel safer around a dog who’s not into stalking tiny animals.
Also, in the first meeting, the best setup would be like this:
- Make the dog and rabbit meet in one room.
- Place the bunny first in a large cage or pen with a box where they can hide.
- Allow the rabbit to adjust to the space for at least ½ hour or more.
Note: Don’t bring the dog yet if the bunny shows signs of stress (see the list above). Delay the meeting up to 2 days until the rabbit seems more confident.
- Put your dog on a leash.
- Bring your Fido to the room.
- Slowly let them investigate the area.
- Walk them far away from your rabbit at first.
- Gradually, go closer if your dog isn’t acting aggressively upon sensing the bunny.
After many repetitions…
Your pooch and rabbit may grow closer to each other.
They’ll be familiar with their smells. As well as their personalities.
And the latter’s because they can watch each other from afar.
But let me remind you.
Dogs and rabbits don’t become best buddies overnight. So don’t get your hopes up so early.
Note: If the time comes that both pets can interact freely, never let your dog pursue the rabbit. Once you allow it, the thrill of chasing might reward your Fido’s behavior. And you’ll also make your bunny more anxious.
Learn more: How do you know if your dog is stressed?
Rabbits are small and delicate.
So if they’re stressed and terrified at the same time…
They can be scared to death, literally.
Yup. Some bunnies may die due to fright.
And the usual reasons for this are the following:
- Sudden loud noises.
- Presence of a predator.
- Being pursued by another animal.
When things get worse, rabbits might also suffer from a heart attack.
Research found that many bunnies are at high risk of heart disease.
But this could be partly due to stress as well.
Also, a rabbit might go into ‘shock’ if they’re surprised by a dog’s loud bark.
It’s not the simple feeling of being startled.
For bunnies, it’s a condition when their body stops responding due to so much fright.
They’ll have an abnormally low body temperature. And the rabbit will not react to anything for a while.
Typically, with the proper care, rabbits can recover from this in no time.
However, although rare, shock may also cause some deaths.
So it’s important to watch your rabbit closely. And look out for the following symptoms:
Signs of shock in rabbits
- Dull eyes.
- Cold ears.
- Pale gums.
- Abnormally low body temperature.
What to do?
Like the previous tips, never let your Fido be too close to the rabbit to avoid scaring them. Especially in their first meeting.
Also, when picking the room for their encounter, choose a place with:
- Less noise from outdoors.
- No other animals or people.
#3: Prey drive
Although your furry friend’s breed has low motivation to chase tiny animals…
You still never know what could happen.
Your Fido may see your bunny running swiftly. And it can trigger their innate hunting instincts.
Then they might chase the rabbit ’til the end. Which puts the small bunny in danger.
Typically, a dog with high prey drive will stalk smaller animals. While some Fidos even chase cars too.
So, to prevent this from happening, keep the following in mind:
- Always supervise your pets’ interactions.
- Keep training your dog on basic obedience.
- Never let them roam freely together in the house when you’re not around.
Reading tip: 5 Real Reasons Why Dogs Are Hunters
This is one of the worst things that could happen at your house.
You may think everything’s going well.
But if you’re not careful, incidents like this are still possible.
Your dog might harm the rabbit due to a mishap or intentionally.
And this is why you shouldn’t let your guard down.
When choosing or knowing if a dog can get along with a bunny…
Calmness is the trait you should pay attention to.
If a Fido’s composed, it’ll put the rabbit at ease. As it’ll make it less difficult for the bunny to approach the dog.
So the more your pooch doesn’t pay much attention to the rabbit, the better.
But, of course, your dog shouldn’t show signs of aggression too. Say baring their fangs or growling.
Now, what you want to avoid is the opposite of this.
And what I meant is a highly playful pooch.
A hyper Fido can also be as dangerous as an aggressive dog
Well. Don’t get the wrong idea here.
It’s good that your furry pal likes to play with the bunny.
But if your Fido’s too excited every time, they may not control their body well.
Or if they’re still a puppy who’s always bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
If you’ve seen dogs play, you know that things might get rough sometimes.
Thus playful behaviors like pouncing or biting can easily harm a fragile bunny.
Some dogs, regardless of breed, can also be more aggressive than others.
It’s because aside from their kind…
Many factors play a role in a dog’s aggression, such as:
- Past experiences.
For example, your Fido’s the sweetest around you.
But with other animals, they may not act like their usual self. Especially if they see others near their toys or food.
And as per ASPCA, this is a case of ‘possessive aggression.’
So what am I trying to say here?
You may haven’t seen your pooch get angry before.
But they could be fierce toward other animals. And this might put a rabbit in danger.
Thus, in this case, better separate the 2 pets. Then watch how they react to situations.
- Does your dog/bunny seem calm at most times?
- Do your pets roam confidently inside the house?
- How do they react in front of familiar and unknown people or animals?
Lastly, one of the risks of pets living together is the spread of viruses or parasites.
Tularemia, a.k.a. ‘rabbit fever’ is an ailment in dogs.
According to PetMD, they can get this via contact with infected animals. With bunnies as the most common source. Hence, the name.
If a Fido has this disease, they’ll display the signs below:
- Sudden fever.
- Yellowish eyes.
- Tender stomach.
- Reduced appetite.
- White patches on the tongue.
Also, adult fleas can switch hosts. So they can jump onto your dog from your rabbit. Or vice versa.
Besides these, your pets may also transmit tapeworms to each other.
This happens if your dog ate an infected flea.
Meanwhile, a rabbit can get tapeworms if they have contact with an affected dog’s poop.
So, in case of flea infestation, separate your pets at once.
Clean and sanitize their bedding. As well as their:
- Food bowls.
Note: Usually, eating rabbit poop won’t harm your dog. But it isn’t a good habit for your Fido, either. Plus, this behavior might be a sign of boredom or a poor diet.
If you want to know more, read this article: 9 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Obsessed With Eating Rabbit Poop
Conclusion: Can rabbits and dogs live together?
Rabbits and dogs can live together. It’s possible through proper introduction, patience, and supervision. But, this isn’t always the case in some households.
Before anything else, check if both pets’ characters are compatible.
As a recap, it’s best if the dog has the following:
- Low prey drive.
- Calm personality.
- Prior experience living with smaller animals.
Meanwhile, the rabbit should be:
- Showing no signs of stress around the dog.
If all went well…
Your rabbit can help your Fido learn to be gentle and patient.
While your pooch will make your bunny more confident and trusting.
“But what if both pets show strong dislike of each other?”
- Never force them to interact.
- Put them in separate areas in the house.
- Keep future meetings short and introduce them slowly.
With patience and proper guidance, your pets may get along well.
Note: However, if things don’t improve, don’t force them to live together. You’ll only put both animals under stress.