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5 Rabbit Body Types: Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ (With Infographic)

Beth Crane

By Beth Crane

English Lop rabbit

Vet approved

Dr. Maja Platisa Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maja Platisa

In-House Veterinarian, DVM MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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There are over 50 breeds of pet rabbits available for rabbit lovers, which is an amazing selection. However, all of these breeds can be categorized into five body types: semi-arch, full arch, compact, commercial, and cylindrical.

In addition, rabbit body types are determined by how the rabbit’s body is shaped, such as whether it’s muscular, short, or long and lean. There is even one category that only has one rabbit breed in it! Read further to discover what makes these five rabbit body types so different.

Rabbit Body Types Infographic
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The 5 Rabbit Body Types

1. Semi-Arch

flemish giant rabbit in a private garden with lawn
Image Credit: mariesacha, Shutterstock

The semi-arch rabbit body type has a long, flowing body that is often compared to a mandolin in shape. They have a large, broad head. The head and shoulders of a semi-arch rabbit are usually held slightly lower. The natural arch of the spine starts at or just behind the shoulders, rising in a slope towards the rounded hind end. Rabbit breeds like the Giant Chinchilla, Flemish Giant, English Lop, and American all have semi-arched body types.


2. Full Arch

Black and brown belgian hare
Image Credit: Cassidy Te, Shutterstock

A full arch body type is more curving and compact than the semi-arch, but it is not short! These rabbits share the long and lean look of a wild hare, with distinctly rounded backs that arch starting at the nape of the neck and continuing in a fluid line to the tail.

A full-arch rabbit will stand tall, looks athletic, and is more slender than rabbits with stout body types. Rabbit breeds like the Britannia Petite, Belgian Hare, and Checkered Giant have full arch body types.


3. Compact

mini rex rabbit on a carpet
Image Credit: Kassia Marie Ott, Shutterstock

Rabbits with a compact body type are small, stocky, and well-muscled like commercial rabbits but smaller and less bulky. These rabbits often look very rounded and soft, particularly if they have a stout build with a small neck.

A rabbit with a compact body type will be short, but some breeds are classed as medium-sized despite being compact. Rabbit breeds like the Mini Lop, Mini Rex, and Havana have compact body types.


4. Commercial

Palomino rabbit
Image Credit: Sheila Fitzgerald, Shutterstock

Commercial body type is the type often given to rabbits that were originally bred for meat production. A rabbit with a commercial body type will be well-muscled and have fuller bodies than those in the arch types.

They are stocky and similar to compact rabbits but are larger and bulkier. Commercial rabbits have almost a square look to them, with their shoulders nearly as wide as their hips. Rabbit breeds like the French Angora, Palomino, French Lop, and Californian have commercial body types.


5. Cylindrical

Himalayan rabbit
Image Credit: Linn Currie, Shutterstock

Only one rabbit belongs to the cylindrical body type: the Himalayan. These rabbits are long and lean with rounded ends, much like a cylinder, and have white fur with black spots. The Himalayan seems to incorporate the roundness of the commercial and compact breeds with the elongated elegance of the arched types, leading to the creation of the aptly named cylindrical group! It’s one of the oldest breeds, and its appearance is sometimes compared to the Himalayan cat.

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What Is the Rarest Type of Rabbit in the World?

There is a wild rabbit so rare that it was only recently discovered as not extinct! The Sumatran Striped rabbit was rediscovered in 1998 and moved from critically endangered to vulnerable on the IUCN endangerment list in 2008.

These elusive rabbits are so rare that the locals don’t have a word for them in their language, and only a few pictures have been taken by wildlife cameras. The Sumatran Striped rabbit is around the same size as European wild rabbits. They have a beautiful coat of thick, dark brown stripes running from their noses to their tails. These stripes help the rabbit blend perfectly into the lush forest of the Sundaland Biodiversity Spot they call home.

What Is the Smallest Rabbit Type in the World?

The world’s smallest rabbit is a breed that is also under threat of extinction and lives in the USA’s capital. The minuscule Colombia Basin Pygmy lives in the scarce sagebrush in Washington, DC, and is so small that a child could cup it in the palm of their hand! These tiny bunnies weigh less than a pound, and their rounded ears and large eyes make them a cute addition to local wildlife.

However, because these rabbits are specialized to eat only sagebrush, they’re at the brink of extinction; only around 100 of these rabbits remain in the wild, and they live for an average of 2 years, so conservation efforts are vital.

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Conclusion

There are five body types that rabbit fanciers use to mark their rabbits in shows. Most of the breeds you’d find as pets fit into the full arch, semi-arch, compact, or commercial groups, with only one rabbit (the Himalayan) being placed into the last body type grouping, the cylindrical. How a rabbit is shaped can affect how it is shown, with rabbits being put into different poses depending on their body proportions.


Featured Image Credit: Mike Andreou, Shutterstock

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