There is no doubt about it, bunnies are adorable! And to top it off, they make wonderful companions. Whether you are looking for a family pet or an emotional support animal, a bunny might be a great fit for you. One of the most commonly asked questions we get is, “should I get a buck(male) or a doe(female)?” People can’t help but wonder if gender plays a role in how well-behaved your bunny will be.
So that begs the question, “do bucks or does make better pets?”
Many experts believe bucks are the better choice for a pet. They are naturally more curious and can be more affectionate and attentive towards their owners.
Does that mean you shouldn’t pick that adorable little doe as a pet? Absolutely not.
Are all bucks more affectionate than does? Not always.
Keep reading and we will talk more about genders and making the best decision for your family!
All About Those Bucks!
Let me start off with saying, just because bucks have a reputation of being sweeter and more easy going, does not mean every single one will be. Bunnies are very intelligent creatures with their own unique personalities. Many buns will show tons of affection and some not so much, regardless of gender.
Why Bucks Make Great Pets...
As we mentioned in the intro, males tend to have more of the traits we love in our pet bunnies. These traits include curiosity, affectionate, attentiveness and a more easy-going temperament.
Many bucks love to explore their environment. They tend to be more curious about every little aspect of your home life. With curiosity comes being more relaxed in their environment.
Bucks can also show more affection towards their owners. They desire that social interaction. Many people are surprised by this. They assume does would be more lovey, but when it comes to bunnies, it’s more often the bucks.
Also, bucks tend to be more attentive. That can make them more playful and fun to be around. No bunny owner likes to feel ignored by their furry, four-legged fluffball. With a buck, that is less likely.
If you have young children (under 9-10 years old), a buck might be the way to go. Bucks tend to be more tolerant of handling than does. Younger children have a hard time understanding that some buns just need a little extra time to bond with them.
The Downside to Bucks
Please keep in mind, not all bucks are easy going and affectionate buns. Bucks tend to get frisky (sexual) towards almost anything. They could mount your foot, toys, cushions, and other buns (regardless of gender). But don’t fret, this can be curbed with neutering your bun around 5 months old.
Unaltered bucks are more likely to act aggressively than does, which can make owning one tough. Oh and they can spray, too. Say what?! Bucks (and some does) can mark their territory by spraying their urine around. Cleaning up spray is not fun, at all. Especially when they like to spray you! Spraying can typically be eliminated but neutering your bun.
Don’t Count Out Those Does!
Some of the sweetest bunnies I know are does. They often get a bad rap for being less friendly than bucks. But just like with bucks, there are exceptions to the rule.
Why Does Make Great Companions...
Does tend to display less aggression compared to bucks, which is a nice perk. Now that doesn’t mean you won’t ever get nipped or scratched by a doe, it just won’t happen out of sexual frustrations and urges. When does show signs of aggression, it is typically because they are trying to protect their den.
Great news, many does will display the same affection, attentiveness, and curiosity as bucks. It truly depends on the bun’s personality and early socialization. That is why it is so important to get your bunny from a reputable breeder, like Bailey Bunnies Rabbitry, that provides the early socialization and handling that bunnies need. Reputable breeders will also breed for health and temperament.
Also, does tend to be less mischievous than bucks. They can be more independent. And are typically cleaner buns.
The Downside to Does
Doe ownership has its downsides, too. They tend to get protective over who and what they believe is their territory. They are protective creatures by nature just like all of those mama bears out there. If you have more than one bunny, this issue can pop up. (We will discuss more about owning two buns in a moment)
If you have a larger family, a doe can have a preference for one person over another and have no problems letting you know. Does can be harder to integrate into a home with other family pets. Just like with bucks, a doe’s negative tendencies can be curbed by spaying them. A spayed doe is usually more relaxed and easy-going.
Picking the Right Bunny for Your Family
When it is time to pick the bunny for your family, pick the bunny that you fall in love with, regardless of gender. Look at the photos and the short bios we provide. Those will help give insight on which bunny has the personality right for your family. Our early handling and socialization makes a difference in how our bunnies temperaments develop.
Why Spaying and Neutering is Essential
We strongly recommend getting your bunny spayed/neutered early. Does can be spayed around 4 months old and bucks around 5 months old. The sooner you fix your bunny, the less likely you are to see those negative tendencies listed above like aggressiveness, spraying, mounting, etc. Once they are spayed/neutered, those urges tend to go away. That means a doe becomes just as viable a companion as a buck. Both genders can show the affection, love, and attentiveness you want. So remember, a spayed/neutered bunny, is a calmer, happier bunny.
Something else to keep in mind, bunnies have a 60-80% chance of developing reproductive cancers if they are not fixed by the age of two. By spaying/neutering your bun, you will significantly prolong their life.
On average it costs $150-200 to spay/neuter a bunny. With that said, I have seen lower and much higher vet bills for these procedures.
Does My Bunny Need a Companion Bun?
The “should I get one bunny or two” question is very common. Finding an answer on this can be confusing since many experts do not commonly agree. So let’s dive deeper into the pros and cons of having a bunny pair.
The Pros of Two Bunnies
There are quite a few pros to having bunny companions. Simply put, buns are naturally social creatures. In the wild they live in warrens of up to 15 bunnies. A bunny’s brain is hardwired to seek another bunny’s companionship. Solitary bunnies can miss the natural grooming and communication which only buns can have together.
Buns who live on their own will crave more attention from their human companion. If you’re not able to give at least 2-4 hours to them each day, then this can be quite damaging for your bun. If you are at work all day, then definitely consider a bunny companion. They can become lonely which can lead to boredom. And that is bad for them psychologically. It can also be bad for your possessions. A bored bunny is much more likely to be a destructive bunny.
With that said, bunnies can do very well as singletons. They will bond with you instead of another bunny. Just be sure that you can dedicate enough time and companionship to your bunny daily. If you are not giving your bun enough attention, they tend to let you know. Buns are notorious for holding grudges and thumping when they do not get their way.
The Cons of Bunny Pairs
Yes there are several pros to having a bunny pair but there are a few cons as well. Here is what you should consider in making the right decision.
If you are wanting a bunny as a constant companion or as an Emotional Support Animal, you may want to keep a solitary bunny. Despite not getting the communication that only buns can understand, they will naturally adapt and bond with you.
Two bunnies equal more work, more expense and more space requirements.
Two buns require more frequent cage cleanings and additional food prep. Those daily salads don't chop themselves! Your supplies and feed bill will double. All of those treats, hay, and toys will add up.
Double the bunnies mean double the vet bills. You will need to take into consideration the cost of annual checkups, emergency visits and pet insurance (if you decide to cover them). You will have to spay/neuter your bunny pair. There is no way around that. It is a necessity if you want your bunnies to coexist in a healthy relationship.
If vet cost is generally a concern for you, then you should reconsider getting a bunny. Buns can have very expensive vet bills. Many times, if one bun becomes ill, it is likely the other will require vet care as well. There’s no telling what problems may arise and you need to have wiggle room in your budget for those unexpected vet bills.
What Genders Make the Best Pair?
The gender of bunnies you select will greatly affect how positive their relationship will be. Therefore, this needs to be considered very carefully.
A neutered buck and spayed doe pair is the easiest and most rewarding pair. And not just for ease of bonding them but because they live more harmoniously together. They will offset each. This is the most natural pairing for buns.
It is best to get one bunny and then wait 2-3 months before bringing home the second bunny. This will allow time for your first bun to reach maturity and to be spayed/neutered before the second bun reaches maturity. Since buck and does reach maturity at different ages, having that 2-3 month age gap is best. It is always a good practice to house your bunnies separately until one or both are fixed. Bonding bunnies is much easier once they are spayed/neutered.
Bonding the same gender bunny pairs come with difficulties and can be time-consuming. They are much more likely to become aggressive and territorial, sometimes even with spay/neutering. This can whole-hardheartedly eliminate any benefit of getting your bunny a friend.
While bucks can be prone to aggressive and dominant behaviors, it is somewhat easier to bond two bucks than two does. We recommend waiting until your bucks are neutered to bond them. This means you will need to house them separately but side by side.
Two does are the most difficult to bond. Even when spayed, their natural drive to create a nest (and not have it disturbed by another bunny) can cause tension. Particularly if the buns share the same space.
Occasionally same gender pairs can live happily together. It is best that they are from the same litter and spayed/neutered as young as possible before their hormones get too strong. Just be prepared for two housing arrangements should fighting arise.
Before getting two bunnies you should know that bonding buns are not as simple as one might think. Being prey animals, they are naturally cautious and worried about anything new in their environment. Even their own kind. Buns tend to remember a bad fight which can lead to grudges that last a very long time. However, don’t let this put you off getting your bun a best friend. As long as you follow a slow bonding process, then everything should be fine. You just need to know that this process will require some time and a whole lot of patience.
Hopefully this above information provides you with guidance in making the best decision for your family. Whether you go with a buck or doe... a singleton or pair... any addition to your family will provide you with lots of love!
All images copyrighted by Bailey Bunnies Rabbitry 2020.