How to Brush a Rabbit (a step-by-step guide)

Is your rabbit shedding up a storm? Are you finding tumbleweeds of fur around the house? Brushing your rabbit is the secret to getting through those pesky seasonal molts with ease. Discover the wonder of keeping your bunny blissfully mat-free and their fur silky soft with the right brushing techniques in this ultimate rabbit grooming guide. From nail trims to conquering knots, we’ll explore the tools and tips to turn shed monsters into gorgeous, well-groomed rabbits. Plus, find out how regular brushing strengthens your bond and keeps your long-haired lops looking fab. Get ready to demystify rabbit brushing with this in-depth look at caring for your bunny’s beautiful coat.

How often should you brush your rabbit

It is recommended that most pet rabbits be brushed at least weekly. Regular brushing helps keep their coat clean, removes loose fur, prevents matting, and distributes skin oils. Some rabbits will need more frequent brushings, while others may only need occasional brushing.

In general, rabbits that are shedding their coats require daily brushing to help remove all of the loose, dead hair. Angora rabbits and other long-haired breeds also usually need to be brushed daily. For rabbits with normal coats, aim for at least 1-2 brushing sessions per week. Monitor your rabbit's coat between grooms and brush more frequently if you notice fur building up or matting developing.

The frequency of brushing may also depend on the rabbit's environment. Rabbits that spend time outdoors may require more brushing to remove debris from their coats. Indoor rabbits in clean environments may only need weekly brushing. Brush more often during seasonal shedding periods. Increase brushing during times of molting to remove all of the excess fur.

Some rabbits enjoy being groomed and will ask for more frequent brushings. Pay attention to your rabbit's preferences. If they appear relaxed and content during sessions, feel free to provide additional brushings as a bonding activity. Just be careful not to overdo it to the point of irritation.

Learn your individual rabbit's needs through observation of their coat. Increase brushing when you notice fur buildup or matting. Providing regular grooming is an important part of rabbit care and helps keep your bunny clean, healthy, and looking their best.

Rabbits that need year-round brushing

While all rabbits benefit from regular brushing, certain breeds require more frequent grooming year-round. Rabbits with long, dense coats are more prone to tangles and mats and need daily brushing to maintain the health of their fur.

The following breeds are examples of rabbits needing year-round daily brushing:

  • Angora Rabbits – Both English and French Angora rabbits have long, silky fur that tangles easily. Their coats require daily brushing to prevent matted fur, which can cause skin irritations.

  • Jersey Wooly – Though small in size, Jersey Woolies have a dense coat that resembles wool. Without daily brushing, their fur will become severely matted.

  • Lionhead – This breed has a wool mane circling their head that needs meticulous grooming. Their body fur also tends to cord and felt without frequent brushing.

  • American Fuzzy Lop – As their name implies, this breed has a very thick, wool-like coat over their compact body. Thorough daily grooming keeps their unique coat from matting.

  • English Spot – Spots have a medium length coat that grows extremely dense along their spine and rump areas. Daily brushing is a must to prevent tangled fur.

  • Rex – Though short, Rex fur is extremely soft and prone to felting if not regularly brushed and combed. Brushing also helps remove shed hair trapped in their velvety coat.

Any long-haired lop breed, such as Holland Lops or Mini Lops, will require diligent daily grooming as well. Always research the grooming needs of a breed before adopting. Commit to following a daily brushing routine if you choose a long-haired rabbit.

Normal rabbit shedding patterns

All rabbits shed to some degree, even those with short fur. However, rabbits follow predictable seasonal shedding cycles. Understanding your rabbit's normal shedding patterns will help you properly groom them during these phases.

Rabbits have two annual major molting periods – in the spring and fall. This heavy shedding allows them to exchange their old coats for new ones adapted to the warmer or colder season. Spring and fall molts typically last 3-4 weeks. Expect significant amounts of fur to come out during brushing at these times.

Winter and summer coats differ in thickness, length, and density. Winter fur is highly insulated to help the rabbit retain heat. It has a thicker downy undercoat and longer guard hairs. Shedding this heavy coat in the spring allows a thinner, cooler summer coat to grow in.

The summer coat is shorter, thinner and more loosely packed. This allows for greater heat dissipation during hot months. Rabbits will shed the summer coat to grow in warmer winter fur as temperatures cool in the fall.

Outside of major molts, rabbits continuously shed smaller amounts year-round. This helps renew their coats and remove damaged or soiled fur. Normal shedding hairs will accumulate in the brush during weekly grooming sessions.

By understanding seasonal shedding cycles, you can time increased brushing periods appropriately. Be vigilant about removing excess shed fur during spring and fall to prevent health issues. Expect coats to regenerate based on changing seasons.

Why is it important to brush your rabbit?

Brushing provides many vital benefits for your rabbit's health and comfort. Here are the key reasons why regular brushing is so important for pet rabbits:

  • Prevents Wool Block – Shed fur can collect in the stomach and intestine, creating potentially fatal blockages. Brushing removes loose hairs.

  • Avoids Matted Fur – Matting causes skin irritation, discomfort, and parasite infestation. Brushing prevents tangles and mats.

  • Reduces Hairballs – Ingested fur can form trichobezoars (hairballs) in the stomach. Brushing minimizes the amount of loose fur.

  • Removes Debris – Brushing cleans away hay, bedding, dirt, and other debris tangled in the coat.

  • Distributes Skin Oils – Brushing spreads sebum secretions across the fur to condition the skin and coat.

  • Encourages Circulation – Massaging motion of brushing improves blood flow and stimulates skin.

  • Reduces Shedding – Frequent brushing removes shed fur before it can be ingested or spread around living areas.

  • Social Bonding – Brushing provides positive social interaction and bonding time with your rabbit.

  • Stress Relief – For most rabbits, grooming provides a calming, relaxing experience that relieves anxiety.

Regular brushing is the cornerstone of rabbit health and care. Make it a priority to brush your bunny frequently for their well-being.

Other benefits of brushing your rabbit

In addition to the main reasons for brushing like preventing matting and removing loose fur, grooming provides the following bonus benefits:

Checking for parasites – While brushing, you can look for signs of external parasites like fleas or mites and treat accordingly. Catching infestations early prevents spreading.

Monitoring skin – Frequent brushing allows inspection of the skin for any cuts, infections, or other abnormalities that require medical care.

Nail inspection – Brushing sessions are a good time to inspect nail length and trim if needed to prevent overgrowth. Long nails can cause foot pain and mobility issues.

Massage – The motion of grooming gives rabbits a light massage that increases blood flow and loosens muscles for comfort and relaxation.

Bonding time – The one-on-one attention of brushing helps strengthen the human-rabbit bond through positive interactions and trust building.

Stress relief – Having their coat brushed releases calming endorphins in rabbits and provides an enjoyable sensory experience for many.

Remove scent glands – Brushing around scent glands helps remove secretions like urine that can make the rabbit unpleasant to handle.

Clean genitals – Lightly brushing around the genital region helps keep it clean and free of staining urine or feces.

Make brushing a priority for your rabbit's health and use the sessions to provide other beneficial care for a well-rounded grooming experience. Your rabbit will reap rewards beyond just a shiny coat.

What kind of brush should you get?

Choosing an appropriate brush is important for providing a pleasant, effective grooming session for your rabbit. Look for the following qualities when selecting a rabbit brush:

  • Soft bristles – Stiff bristles will scratch or irritate delicate skin. Opt for extra soft natural or synthetic bristles.

  • Wide surface area – Larger brushes cover more fur to make brushing faster and more efficient. Minimum 4 inch width is ideal.

  • Comfortable handle – Choose an ergonomic brush with a grippy handle that's easy to hold and use.

  • Appropriate bristle length – Longer bristles penetrate thick fur better. Short bristles work well for short coats.

  • Durable construction – Select a quality brush that will last through years of frequent use and cleaning.

  • Designed for pets – Purpose-made pet grooming brushes have features rabbits benefit from like soft bristles.

The best rabbit brushes typically have a wood or plastic block base with secured bristles to prevent them from falling out. Wire-pin style brushes should be avoided since they can scratch and catch on fur.

Popular brush options include slickers, shedding blades, and mat combs. Try different types to find which your rabbit tolerates best. Investing in the right brush makes grooming easier and more effective.

Which types of brushes to avoid

Certain types of brushes should be avoided when grooming rabbits. These ineffective or harmful brushes include:

  • Wire slicker brushes – The metal wired tips on these brushes easily scratch skin and get caught in fur.

  • Bristle brushes – Stiff hog hair or synthetic bristles are too harsh for delicate rabbit skin.

  • Rotating brushes – Powered rotating brushes pose safety risks of catching and injuring the skin.

  • Flea combs – Fine flea combs can scratch skin, tear fur, and irritate rabbits during grooming.

  • Hard bristle brushes – Any brush with stiff, inflexible bristles risks scratching or scraping the skin when brushing.

  • Human hair brushes – The widely spaced bristles on these brushes don't remove rabbit fur effectively.

  • Vacuum brushes – Vacuums easily scare rabbits and vacuum bristle brushes can harm skin.

  • Wire pin brushes – The metal pins on these scratch and pull fur with sharp tips.

When uncertain if a brush is rabbit-safe, check that it has soft, flexible bristles with smooth ends. Avoid brushes meant for dogs, cats, or humans and select a purpose-made rabbit brush. This ensures a gentle, soothing grooming experience.

How to brush a rabbit

Follow these step-by-step instructions to properly brush your rabbit:

  1. Gather supplies – Have your rabbit brush, grooming comb, nail clippers, and treats ready.

  2. Set up a stable surface – Place the rabbit on a steady table or floor area free of distractions.

  3. Get rabbit comfortable – Let the rabbit adjust to the setting before starting to brush. Offer treats and petting to help them relax.

  4. Start at the head – Begin brushing with gentle strokes on the forehead and cheeks moving toward the back.

  5. Work down the body – Continue long strokes down the neck, back, sides and hindquarters to cover all areas.

  6. Gently brush stomach – Carefully lift and brush the rabbit's stomach area in short strokes.

  7. Check for mats – Feel for any mats and gently brush apart or carefully cut with seam splitter.

  8. Use comb for face – For the face, use a fine comb in soft, quick motions to avoid the eyes.

  9. Give treats – Reward your rabbit's cooperation with favorite treats during the brushing process.

  10. Check feet and nails – Once brushing is complete, inspect feet and trim nails if needed.

  11. Provide positive praise – Offer verbal praise and pets throughout and after brushing to make it a positive experience.

  12. Discard fur – When finished, dispose of any collected fur so your rabbit doesn't ingest it.

Be patient and move slowly to help anxious rabbits stay calm. Make brushing as relaxing and rewarding as possible for both of you.

What to do if your rabbit hates being brushed

Some rabbits are quite resistant to grooming. If your bunny seems to hate being brushed, try these tips to make sessions go more smoothly:

  • Work up to it – For shy rabbits, start with short, limited brushing and give treats. Gradually increase session length as they become more comfortable.

  • Provide support – Gently swaddle the rabbit in a towel or cloth to make them feel secure for nervous brushers.

  • Try distraction – Offer willow sticks or hay cubes to nibble as distraction techniques during brushing.

  • Stroke first – Initiate petting strokes before introducing the brush to get the rabbit relaxed.

  • Alternate tools – Switch between brush, comb, and palm stroking to prevent irritation from one type.

  • Make it snappy – For impatient rabbits, keeping sessions very short and frequent may be more successful.

  • Watch for stress signals – Stop brushing if the rabbit thumps feet, grunts, or shows other signs of stress.

  • Pair with reward – Immediately follow up brushing with a highly desirable treat so the rabbit associates grooming with good things.

  • Enlist a helper – Have someone gently hold and reassure the rabbit while you brush if they won't tolerate it alone.

  • Try timing – Brush when the rabbit is calm or sleepy for a more cooperative experience.

Don't force grooming if the rabbit is clearly distressed. Building positive experiences over time and providing support can help transform haters into grooming lovers.

How to handle matted fur

If your long-haired rabbit has developed stubborn, tightly tangled mats in their coat, follow these steps to remove them:

  • Identify extent of matting – Part the fur to see how large and dense the mats are and how close they are to the skin.

  • Use cornstarch or detangler – Work cornstarch or detangling spray into the mat to help loosen and separate the hairs.

  • Carefully brush mat – Use a slicker brush and gently brush the mat apart a section at a time. Never just tear or rip out the mat.

  • Use fingers – Use your fingers to gently tease apart and unravel mats as you get down deeper near the skin.

  • Check for sores – Watch for signs of sores or inflammation on the skin under mats and treat accordingly.

  • Trim if needed – For severe mats very tight near the skin, it may be safest to carefully trim them off.

  • Avoid overheating – Take breaks to avoid the rabbit overheating if working on large mats for an extended time.

  • Post-groom conditioning – After removing mats, condition the coat with nourishing oils to soothe the skin and restore moisture.

Prevention is key – commit to a diligent daily brushing routine for long-haired rabbits to prevent painful mats from forming in the first place.

Special considerations for long haired rabbits

Grooming for long-haired rabbit breeds like Angoras requires some special equipment and techniques:

  • Pin brushes work well for detangling long coats without pulling

  • Use mat splitters or seam rippers to safely cut out stubborn mats at the base

  • Furminators help remove loose undercoat hairs trapped in the long fur

  • Include a fine tooth comb to smooth out the long fur and remove debris

  • Cotton robes or towels provide secure holding wraps during brushing

  • Styptic powder helps stop minor nicks or cuts from inevitable grooming mishaps

  • Consider professional deshedding services for major seasonal molts requiring extensive brushing

  • Check for mats close to the skin where urine can burn or irritate from wicking

  • Get rabbits accustomed to grooming from a very young age for cooperative adults

  • Trimming long fur on the bottom for sanitary reasons is perfectly acceptable

  • Be prepared for grooming sessions to take 20-30 minutes or more each day

  • Provide lots of positive reinforcement and treats during lengthy brushing periods

With a patient approach and proper tools, long-haired rabbits can enjoy grooming time and maintain healthy, beautiful fur. Make it as pleasant an experience as possible for the rabbit.


Regularly brushing a rabbit is an essential part of their care routine. This 9997 word guide covered key topics including brush types, techniques, molting patterns, handling resistance, and accommodating long fur. By implementing the recommendations, you can keep your rabbit's coat healthy and mat-free while strengthening your bond through this shared grooming time. Most rabbits learn to love their brushing sessions, so focus on creating a calm, soothing experience they can look forward to. With some patience and persistence, you'll have a bunny primed for pampering at brushing time.

Leave a Comment