New Zealand Rabbit Characteristics, Uses, Origin

New Zealand rabbit is a very popular breed raised for both meat and fur production. The New Zealand rabbit despite the name, is American in origin and originated in California from rabbits imported from New Zealand. The breed was very popular for meat production.

Still today it is used in meat production more than any other single rabbit breed throughout the world. And the breed was mainly developed to meet the demands of the meat and fur trade in the early part of the 20the Century.

There are four color varieties of the New Zealand rabbit recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association. The ARBA recognized color varieties are; black, broken, red and white. Among these color varieties, the New Zealand White is the most popular and widely used for commercial meat production.

Review characteristics, behavior and full breed profile of the New Zealand rabbit below. Here we have also described shortly about the four ARBA recognized color varieties.

New Zealand Rabbit Characteristics

New Zealand rabbit is a large breed. It has a dense, luxurious coat, the undercoat is soft and thick and interspersed with harsher guard hairs. It has a barely discernible neck and a well rounded and wide head over it.

The body of the New Zealand rabbits is deep, broad and long. Their ears must be in proportion to the rest of the body and have a good covering of fur with rounded tips. All the color varieties of this breed are not same in size. The Red variety is slightly smaller than the other color varieties.

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The average body weight of the New Zealand rabbit is about 5 kg, with the does being slightly larger than the bucks. Short description of the four ARBA recognized color varieties of New Zealand rabbit breed are listed below.


The Black variety of the New Zealand rabbit breed was created through the efforts of Dr. De Castro of California. It was developed by using may crosses, including the Giant Chinchilla. The Black variety is to uniform jet black coloration throughout the body. And the undercolor is dark slate blue, and this variety has dark brown eye color.


The Broken color variety of the New Zealand rabbit is a recent addition. And this variety was accepted by the American Rabbit Breeders Association in February 2010.

This variety include any recognized color of the breed in conjunction with white. For the colored variety (black or red), the colored areas of the broken pattern are to match the standard.


The New Zealand Red rabbit variety is of brilliant reddish sorrel color. But the coloration is not so dark that it resembles a mahogany red coloration. The color is to be carried as deep down the hair shaft as possible and the belly color is to be similar if not the same shade of red as the top color.

The eyes of the Red variety are brown in color. And the New Zealand Red rabbits are slightly smaller than other color varieties. Their average body weight is around 3.6 kg.


The New Zealand White rabbit is the most popular variety. It is pure white in color and have bright pink eyes. The original breeds used for creating New Zealand White rabbits are unknown. But Suarez are believed to have played some part.

They have well rounded bodies with slender and muscular faces with round cheeks. They have large, long back feet and small, short front pectoral muscles. Their ears are long that stand straight up. Average body weight of the white variety is up to 5 kg.


The New Zealand rabbit was created for their excellent fur and meat quality. They grow faster and the fryers are slaughtered at two months of age. Their fur is used for making many useful products.

Along with commercial meat and fur production purposes, the New Zealand rabbits are also used for laboratory purposes. The New Zealand White rabbit is the most suitable breed for commercial rabbit farming business.

And it is the mostly raised single rabbit breed throughout the world. New Zealand rabbit is also suitable for raising as pets.

Special Note

New Zealand rabbit is an exceptionally calm breed and it makes an excellent companion. Despite their large size they are remarkably docile and easily handled breed. They are also safe for children and other pets.

They are rarely aggressive and very relaxed about being handled. They mature quickly and the does can become fertile within their 8-12 weeks of age. But it’s not recommend to bred them before 16-17 weeks of age for better result.

Average gestation period of the New Zealand rabbit is around 28 to 35 days. The does are good mothers. Like most other rabbit breeds, the New Zealand rabbit are also very social and enjoy being part of the family. They are not biters, so it’s safe inside with other pets.

Average lifespan of a New Zealand rabbit is about 5-8 years. But this can vary depending on many conditions such as diet, housing and health care. However, review full breed profile of this rabbit breed in the chart below.

Breed NameNew Zealand
Other Namen/a
Breed PurposeVery good for fur and meat production. Suitable for raising as pets.
Breed SizeLarge
WeightAverage body weight is 5 kg
Suitable for Commercial ProductionYes
Good as PetsYes
Climate ToleranceAll Climates
Color VarietiesBlack, Broken, Red and White
Country of OriginUnited States

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