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This feels like a slightly seedy article to write, because I love both animals. Heck, I love ALL animals. Even sharks and wasps.
But some animals are more suited to your lifestyle than others.
Sure, dogs and bunnies are both cute, but are you willing to walk a dog in below zero temperatures on dark mornings?
Can you deal with never trusting a member of your family to be alone with your baseboards?
Rather than actually pitting rabbits against dogs (which isn’t exactly a worthwhile endeavour) I’m just going to go through a few of the issues that you’ll have to consider when getting a dog or rabbit.
I’m not going to say one is better/worse than the other, because…it’s kind of irrelevant.
Are dogs more expensive than rabbits?
I’m always a massive advocate of getting animals from rescue centres, and whilst costs vary, dogs are usually two or three times more expensive than rabbits.
There’s good reason for this if you look at it from the perspective of the shelter owners – rabbits are cheaper to feed, cheaper in terms of vet bills, and they don’t require a member of staff to walk them.
If you’re hellbent on getting a rabbit from a breeder, you probably won’t spend much more than you would at a shelter (though you won’t have to fork out to have your rabbit fixed).
Pedigree dogs can be ASTRONOMICAL in price though.
I understand that a lot of people get dogs from breeders because they’re after a specific breed, but please, please do your research and find out if there are any breed-specific shelters out there.
Not only will it probably be cheaper, but you can get one that’s already been fixed and maybe even trained.
Do dogs cost more per month than rabbits?
Yes. Dog food is more expensive than rabbit pellets, and they eat more of it. 85% of a rabbit’s diet should be hay, and hay is…pretty cheap. Even small dogs eat a lot more dog food than big rabbits eat pellets.
You’d think that feeding a dog a plant-based diet would be cheaper (and it can be) but specially formulated vegan dog food is expensive.
I think as demand rises and it can be made in larger quantities this could change.
It ain’t gonna get cheaper than hay though!
How do vet bills compare between dogs and rabbits
Vet bills for dogs can be astronomical, and I don’t want to seem cynical, but a lot of the time it’s because vets know that owners will find a way to pay. Pet insurance is also more common for dogs, and multiple insurance companies offer it, creating a bit of competition.
I’ve written a whole post on whether or not you should insure your rabbits, and I don’t. There’s only a couple of companies that will insure rabbits in the UK, and they don’t cover anything that I’d need it for.
In my experience. vet bills are cheaper for rabbits, purely because they tend to charge by the hour rather than by the actual procedure.
Are dogs more destructive than rabbits?
Ok, this one is interesting.
Dogs can be extremely destructive. We’ve all seen photos online of dogs that have managed to eat though doors and walls and stuff.
But there’s a fundamental difference between dogs and rabbits when it comes to being destructive:
Rabbits are naturally destructive. They’re built to chew and scrabble and dig. It’s part of being a rabbit. Whilst you can curb some behaviours and redirect chewing, you can’t stop them from doing it entirely, and you shouldn’t try to.
But dogs are often destructive because they’re bored or stressed, or something else.
I’m not saying that you train all dogs to stop destroying stuff. Some absolutely love to chew and it’s hard to stop them. But not all dogs will have a destructive streak.
I mean, not all rabbits do, but if you left a rabbit alone with a wire, there’s a 99% chance they’re gonna snip it (I made up that statistic, but you know what I mean). With a dog, we’re looking at a 50/50 chance of chewage.
The other fundamental difference between dogs and rabbits is that, most of the time. dogs are more powerful than rabbits. If you gave a labrador and a mini lop the same baseboard to chew on, the dog has the potential to do a lot more damage – they’ll just get bored quicker.
Rabbits never tire of chewing things they shouldn’t.
Do dogs take up more of your time than rabbits?
Again, it depends.
Dogs need walking twice a day or more. How far they need to go massively depends on the breed. If you’re happy to walk for miles, then by all means go for a lab or a beagle or a spaniel or something.
If a quick stroll around the block a few times a day is more your style, then a greyhound or a pug might be better.
But if you’re not at a place in your life where you have the free time to walk a dog, then a rabbit may suit your lifestyle more.
Rabbits don’t need walking, because they should be able to get the exercise that they need in whatever setup you have for them.
Some rabbits will appreciate you sitting and playing with them, some would rather you didn’t. The day-to-day time you need to spend with them is much lower than a dog, especially if your rabbits are in the same room as you for a few hours a day.
Can you leave rabbits alone more than dogs?
If you leave a rabbit alone for eight hours, they won’t howl, and it won’t matter if they poop everywhere because rabbit poop is a breeze to clear up.
But they can do a lot of damage in eight hours.
You need your bunny-proofing in place. And you need to have tested it (sat in the bunny-proofed room with the bunny for a long time and observed their behaviour. You would be SHOCKED at how tiny a gap a bunny can squeeze through.
A lot of dogs struggle with separation anxiety. They bond with humans more viscerally (that’s not quite the right word, but it’ll do for now) than rabbits or cats, and they’re, er, louder. Vocally anyway.
Anyone that’s had to listen to a rabbit chewing a cardboard tube for four hours would fight me if I said rabbits are quiet.
We’ve left our rabbits at home for four days, and had my parents check on them daily. We don’t do it often (like, every two years) but most rabbit’s are unlikely to be that perturbed that you’re gone. As long as they have plenty of food, water, and room, they won’t mind.
You couldn’t do that to a dog, for variety of reasons. It’s unhygienic to have them poop in the house, they might bark and howl, their mental health would suffer, they’d destroy your house…you just wouldn’t do it.
Do dogs live longer than rabbits?
On average, dogs live longer than rabbits.
The average lifespan of a pet dog is about 12.8 years.
The average lifespan of a pet rabbit is about 10 years.
This isn’t the full story though.
There a lot of factors that can influence how long animal live. Great Danes rarely live past 9, but chihuahuas regularly surpass 20.
In the same vein, large rabbit breeds don’t live as long as smaller ones.
A lot of people assume that rabbits only live till they’re about five years old, but this is largely because five is about the lifespan of an outside rabbit (one of many reasons that you shouldn’t keep rabbits outside). Indoor rabbits live longer, as they’re less likely to be eaten by predators and it’s easier to identify possible illnesses earlier.
Could you keep a dog and a rabbit together?
I personally never have, but I see a lot of people in the House Rabbit Society Facebook page that keep dogs and rabbits together in harmony.
Dogs and rabbits can pose a threat to one another, so be sure you know what you’re doing if you’re going to try introducing your pets to one another.
Are dogs better with kids than rabbits?
This massively depends on the individual animals (rabbits, dogs and kids).
If your child is calm, and will stroke your rabbit gently without wanting to pick them up, then rabbits can be great pets for kids.
Most rabbits don’t really like kids, since kids are fast and noisy. We once fostered a rabbit that LOVED kids, but she was pretty fearless and very energetic.
With dogs, you can pick a breed that is known to be good with children. Apparently, number one on this list is Beagles, but they can be very headstrong and a pain to train. Retrievers are also high on the ‘good with kids’ list and are more responsive to training
Please remember that whilst dog breeds have common traits, it isn’t a given that all beagles love kids, or that all labs are easy to train. Rescue centres and shelters usually have an idea of how suitable a dog would be for a family, so going to a shelter would always be my choice.
Are rabbits better for the environment than dogs?
Dogs aren’t great for the environment, but let’s face it – neither are humans.
But rabbits are pretty carbon neutral for a couple of reasons:
1 – Rabbits are herbivores
Not only do they not eat meat (v bad for the environment) but the food they eat doesn’t require very much processing at all. Hay is literally just dried grass, and you can grow your own veggies to feed them. In the summer, we pick dandelions from the garden which are totally self-seeded.
2 – You can compost their poop
If you didn’t already know this, I have a LOT of house plants. Well over 100. And you can use bunny poop as fertiliser. We used paper pellets in the litter box, and the whole contents can be composted rather than thrown away.
You can’t compost dog poop. It contains too many parasites (GROSS) which can’t be killed in a regular compost heap.
Are dogs easier to train than rabbits?
Hmm, it depends.
Rabbits are super easy to litter train (in my experience, anyway). Dogs take than bit longer, plus dog poop is a thousand times grimmer than rabbit poop.
I can train my rabbits to go back into their pen, and they stand on their hind legs for treats, but i don’t see the need to train them any further than that.
It is totally possible to train rabbits to do tricks. In Sweden they do rabbit show jumping.
People assume that cats and rabbits can’t be trained, but that isn’t exactly true. The thing is, it’s necessary to do at least some training with a dog.
Dogs need to be trained to behave properly. They’re pack animals, and they need to know where they fit into the pack.
Training is an important part of that.
They need to know how to walk on a lead, or be recalled if they’re off the lead.
In order to keep you and your dog safe, they need to know at least basic commands.
Some dogs thrive of learning tricks – my brother has a border collie that would do anything if she thought it’d make you throw her ball.
Are dogs noisier than rabbits?
If we consider exclusively noises that come from inside of the animal, dogs are noisier than rabbits. They bark, growl, howl, and whine.
Some rabbits are quite vocal, but even the loudest rabbit can’t bark like a German Shepherd.
I bet they wish they could though.
But rabbits can still be noisy.
Like some dogs, some rabbits are largely silent.
But others, er, aren’t.
Rabbits love to chew, and some (like my Holly) love to chew on noisy things. She loves to chew on a very hard cardboard tube, on her wooden pen, and on the wires of her pen.
You’d assume she’s asking to be let out, but she chews on the pen when she’s outside of it too. She just likes to make a noise.
Bear in mind that rabbits like to chew on things that are solid (like her pen) which I think is why sofas are such a common target.
Holly also likes to thump at 3 am, just to make sure we’re aware that she had a bad dream, or that she’s pulled all of her hay into her litter box.
Rabbits also love to zoom. And it’s amazing how noisy on her feet a creature that only weighs a few pounds can be.
Which is more cuddly, dog or rabbit?
Er, in my experience, dogs.
A dog you’ve only just met will quite happily climb on your knee and fall asleep, but a rabbit is highly unlikely to do that (though some will).
But dogs have lived alongside humans for thousands of years, and whilst they look to their human for protection, they’ve still got wolf blood, however diluted.
Rabbits were domesticated to be dinner, not a companion animals. They also categorically did NOT evolve from wolves (though I’ve known a couple that think they did), despite what Monty Python tried to tell us.
Rabbits are nervous by nature. They were designed to be fairly low on the food chain (hence their amazing ability to reproduce)and are therefore naturally distrustful of strangers 50 times their size.
I mean, you can understand it.
But I don’t mind not having an animal on my knee all the time.
I like to be able to get up to put the kettle on without having to help a cat remove their claws from my pjs (my parents have an 18 year old cat that isn’t so great at retracting her claws any more).
I like not having to lint roll all my clothes.
And I really like it when the rabbits flump down a couple of feet away from me. They like a stroke, but they don’t demand it.
***DISCLAIMER*** plenty of rabbits ARE very demanding re. pets, and may nip you if you didn’t pet them for long enough. You have been warned.
Final thoughts on dogs vs rabbits
Both are amazing.
But dogs require more time and energy from you, and rabbits want to eat all of your stuff. There’s no right answer – you just need to think about which would better fit into your life.