Rabbits, dogs, and cats: three species that seemingly have very little in common.
Cats and dogs are predators, rabbits are prey.
It is also quite well known that cats can take a strong dislike to canines.
But do rabbits and dogs get along when they are paired up together?
The short answer is – sometimes!
Rabbits and dogs can be best friends – even cats too!
You just need to know how to make that friendship happen and have a little patience.
In the rest of this article, we give you the information you need to help your rabbit, dog, and cat along the path towards friendship.
Or, if you are struggling with finding a new rabbit, dog, cat or even a reptile to introduce to your home, check out your local rescues or shelters to find the perfect addition.
Adopting from a rescue or shelter will also allow you the opportunity to bring your existing pet to do an intro and see how it goes.
Rabbit Breed Considerations
You first need to consider the breed of the rabbit you want as a pet.
The breed is especially important for the dog in the relationship as some breeds are genetically more cross-species friendly than others.
As far as a bunny, outdoor rabbit breeds, like the Flemish Giant Rabbit, are less skittish, and more likely to accept a dog and cat friendship.
Rabbit breeds to consider include:
- California Giant
- Checkered Giant
- Flemish Giant
- Hybrids—Each individual animal’s personality will determine the success of the friendship
Many rabbit rescues need your help too!
If you do decide to adopt a bunny please consider organizing a fundraiser for the rabbit rescue after the successful introduction of your new rabbit to your cat and dog.
Many dog breeds have a high prey drive, those breeds were typically designed for hunting and tracking.
While it might be possible, it is typically very hard to train away a prey drive so staying away from these working type dogs is best if you want a rabbit in your home.
We recommend staying away from these dog breeds to keep your bunny safe:
- Alaskan Malamute
- Siberian Husky
- German Shepherd
The following dog breeds will be less likely to chase or try and kill other animals, which includes your new bunny.
These breeds also tend to be more submissive to their humans, which makes keeping them attentive to you during inter-breed introductions much easier:
- Boston terriers
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
- Poodles (standard and mini)
- Golden Retrievers
For the most part, cats can be jerks as seen on our calendar fundraiser.
Cats can also welcome a bunny as part of the family, if they want to.
The breed of a cat tends to matter less than with dogs animals in terms of cross-species living.
No matter the breed, you will need to combat the cat’s natural prey drive and hunting instincts.
That is why experts typically recommend introducing young kittens to dogs and rabbits.
The first two months in a kitten’s life are prime socialization period where the cat learns to interact with other species.
If you have an older cat in the home, fostering a bunny may be a better option to see how your cat can get along with one.
Ever wonder: Do rabbits hibernate in the winter?
How To Introduce Rabbits And Dogs
No matter what animal you are adding to the family, it is a good idea to follow these steps.
While these are meant to be for rabbits and dogs, the process is similar for introducing cats and rabbits.
They help you set the foundation of a happy and safe friendship.
Introduce At A Young Age
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, consider introducing the animals in pairs at a young age.
As they become more comfortable with each other, you can begin putting all three animals together if you have a cat, dog and are introducing a rabbit.
Keep The Bunny In A Secure Cage At First
When you introduce a rabbit to a new animal, whether cat or dog, make sure it is in a secure rabbit hutch.
This keeps the bunny safe while also preventing it from bolting.
A running rabbit is much more likely to trigger the dog or cat’s prey drive.
Allow Your Dog/Cat To Smell The Rabbit (Scent Handshake)
When you introduce your rabbit and cat, begin by rubbing one’s scent on the other and vice versa.
You are performing a “scent handshake” that allows the two animals to get used to each other’s scent before they even meet face to face.
Carefully Watch The First Interaction Between Dog & Rabbit
During the first interaction, if any animal appears uneasy or scared, stop the visit.
You can always try again later once everyone has calmed down.
Don’t be surprised if the dog or rabbit takes control of the relationship.
Dogs and rabbits are pack animals and are more concerned about hierarchical relationships.
Cats are solitary animals, which you might guess would make them the dominant member.
Often either the dog or rabbit will take the lead in the relationship, as a solitary animal, the cat is much less likely to actually care about taking a lead in the friendship.
If the rabbit and dog are not seen as food or foe, then they will be tolerated, just as so many humans are tolerated by their cats.
Your Dog Needs To Respond To Basic Commands
Whether you are introducing your dog to a cat or rabbit, it must be well-trained and respond to basic commands.
Depending on the breed, it is likely that the dog will be the largest member of the friendship group.
They will be more likely to chase your new rabbit.
Therefore, both rabbits and cats need a dog-free zone where they can feel safe.
Make Sure Your Dog Is On A Leash
In the initial introduction, the dog should be on a leash.
The rabbit will be in its cage, as already described.
The cat can remain loose or on a leash.
This decision will be determined by the cat itself, some cats refuse to cooperate with a leash.
Keep the initial meetings short.
As the animals get more comfortable, you can increase visiting times.
Eventually, it may take days, weeks, or months and you should be able to allow all three animals together under supervision.
Video Proof Of A Dog And Bunny Friendship
We fell in love with this video!
A big ole’ mastiff playing with a bunny is proof positive that they can not only be friends, but true besties!
If you want a home with a rabbit, cat, and dog, you need to consider both breed and the introduction of the animals.
Overall, remember to take it slow and not force the friendship.
With three separate and unique animals, it will take time for everyone to get along.
It is always best to begin introducing the dog, cat, and rabbit in pairs.
As they get more comfortable with each other, you can begin introducing all three to each other.
But ultimately, rabbits, cats, and dogs can be best friends.
It will likely take a little time and effort on your part, but it will be so worth it to be able to see them all play together and love each other.
Often, these relationships develop naturally without too much trouble so patience is key.
If you begin the introductions when all three animals are young, the process will be easier.
However, by following the introduction and breed tips in this article, you will be setting a great foundation for a rabbit, dog, and cat friendship.