The time has finally come to adopt a guinea pig. Usually, when people want to get a new pet the first thing they decide on is the color and after that, they start to think about specific breeds. The less choice you have the easier it is to make a decision. Well. things will not be so easy with the guinea pigs because they have many different breeds and color types. Also, do you want your pet to have a long silky coat and be its personal hairstylist, or a short and practical one (low maintenance)? Do you fancy multi-color guinea pigs or a solid color? Maybe you are more adventurous and edgy and prefer them hairless?
You can already notice that this is a complex decision. One thing is for sure: there is a guinea pig fit for everyone’s personality and style!
With this in mind, what types, traits, and breeds are there when it comes to guinea pigs? The short answer to this question is many (ranging from hairless to long and silky furs). Feeling overwhelmed already? Don’t worry, this article will guide you through the differences in guinea pigs breeds and hopefully help you pick the right one for you!
Our guinea pig breed guide has sorted every type of guinea pig breed into 3 main sections: short-haired, long-haired and bald (hairless) guinea pigs.
After we go through every guinea pig breed we will give you some important information that will help you with the decision.
Short Haired Guinea Pig Breeds
We will start with one of the most popular choices: the short haired guinea pig. This type of guinea pig is not only the most commonly found but it is also very low maintenance. This means that you won’t need to brush or adjust the length of its fur. Not only that, but this type of guinea pig comes in a wide range of bright multiple colors and patterns.
The most popular short haired guinea pig breed? Probably the American guinea pig breed, but there are also four other short haired guinea pig breeds which are also highly popular in choice.
American Guinea Pig
This is the ideal guinea pig breed for children because it has a good temperament, it is low maintenance and generally, possess good health. Because of the good-natured spirit, they can live with other guinea pigs and they like being handled. Often they create strong affectionate bonds with their owners and thus they are excellent company for people!
Abyssinian Guinea Pig
Abyssinian guinea pig possesses the trademark tufted fur and is also a common choice amongst families. This breed of a guinea pig is bright, very curious and active. It is packed with personality and can be easily trained and handled as they love attention and affection. Maintenance wise, their coats need to be brushed three to four times a week. This in order to keep them clean and to check on their health status. Abyssinian guinea pig is really a great company!
Himalayan Guinea Pig
The special feature about Himalayan guinea pig breed is that it belongs to the albino breed. Thanks to its short and silky white fur coat at birth this guinea pig is also known as its feline counterpart, Siamese. Curiously, the coat darkens progressively with age. Nonetheless, they are quiet, friendly in nature and ideal for first-time owners and they love affection.
Rex Guinea Pig
Another popular choice. It has a short and sturdy coat and has a sweet and serene temperament. In fact, they love attention like handling and cuddles, optimal if there are children around. Fun fact: its fur and whiskers are sturdy to prevent moisture. This breed of guinea pig needs frequent attention as its nails grow quickly, but its hair does not need much grooming.
Ridgebacks Guinea Pigs
This breed of short haired guinea pig has been called ridgeback because of its characteristic “mohawk” on its back. Rosettes may also appear on the body and are considered a fault but are still characteristic to this breed of a guinea pig.
American Crested Guinea Pig
Energetic, curious and attentive, an excellent choice for all ages as American Crested guinea pig likes company and attention. It distinguishes itself from the English variant by having a white-like crown while the rest of its body is a different color. The English Crested guinea pig is entirely in one color. This breed is low maintenance.
Long Haired Guinea Pig Breeds
In this section, we will explore guinea pigs with long hair. This type requires considerably more maintenance than its short haired guinea pigs such as combing and styling. If the hair is left unsupervised for too long it will not only look aesthetically unpleasing but will also create vision and movement issues for the guinea pig. Please keep this mind!
Sheltie Guinea Pig
Their hair, overall, is soft yet resistant earning the nickname “silky” and grows from the head down to the chest area. Maintenance wise, they require combing daily and they need an occasional trim. This Sheltie guinea pig breed has been recognized as a distinct breed in the early 1970s. Their fur can come in different colors and patterns. Personality wise, they are among one of the shyest breeds and are very calm and one of the gentlest amongst other breeds. They might require frequent handling sessions in order to establish a bond with its owner.
Peruvian Guinea Pig
With its long and soft coat, the Peruvian guinea pig is the most popular long haired breed. Their hair can grow up to 30 centimeters (or 12 inches) and they have three swirls or cowlicks that give them a cute and quirky appearance. Their popularity dates back to the 1400s where their furs were grown long and placed on display for their beauty and health by European merchants. Because of this, they are most ideal for someone that has time to spend on their beauty and care, if you don’t have much time don’t risk it.
Also, if you are a first-time adopter, the Peruvian guinea pig may not be your best choice as it needs more care than an average guinea pig breed because it’s high maintenance. This breed of guinea pig requires regular bathing, frequent grooming and a hygiene routine to avoid complications. The Peruvian’s coat is so long that they cannot groom themselves and if left unmonitored for a long time, it can get in knots.
Bathing is also very important because the dirt collected can cause skin diseases or infections or their fur can get matted. The Peruvian guinea pig breed has such long hair because they have an autosomal recessive gene. Health-wise, this breed is quite delicate as it is prone to fly strike, an infection caused by flies.
Personality wise, the Peruvian guinea pig is very social and needs a lot of attention and space for movement. They thrive in a warm and dry environment, while a cold and damp one may give them health issues. Lastly, Peruvians can be found in many different colors and the most popular choice is a tricolor Peruvian guinea pig.
Texel Guinea Pig
Originally from the United Kingdom, the Texel is a cross between a Silky and a Rex guinea pig breed. This type of guinea pig is known for its long and wavy hair and big round head. Like the Peruvian, they need constant grooming in order to preserve their health and prevent any damage.
With regards to grooming, the hair needs to be trimmed, the ears cleaned often to avoid infections, nails must be clipped on a monthly basis. It is also important to regularly bathe your Texel as good hygiene is important to avoid complications. Because of this, they are not the most ideal for the first-time guinea pig owners and are not suitable for children as they are delicate.
Nonetheless, the Texel guinea pig breed has a bright personality as they are curious, energetic and not shy. Plus, they are gorgeous with their unique curly hair!
Coronet Guinea Pig
Although very similar to the Silky, this Coronet guinea pig breed has longer hair throughout its body and has a distinct feature: a hair rosette that is centered on the guinea pigs’ forehead. This last feature is the result of crossbreeding a crested breed with a silky one.
Personality wise, they are joyful, affectionate and active pets and they like being handled. Coronet guinea pig also needs a lot of grooming to prevent knots and tangling and brushing must be done daily.
Pro tip: you can trim their hair to make maintenance easier. The Coronet may require a lot of attention but it is suitable for older children and adults that are willing to invest their time.
Lunkarya Guinea Pig
Lunkarya is a Peruvian guinea pig variation that gets its distinctive looks because of genetic mutations. This breed originates from Sweden and if the coat is observed, it is long, thick and curly and needs regular grooming to avoid knots and debris. Because they also have an undercoat they cannot tolerate excessive heat. Please do not place your Lunkarya guinea pig directly under the sunlight, especially in summer, and always leave them in a shaded area of the cage.
Personality wise, this breed is very inquisitive and it is not shy, plus they like being handled and can enjoy the presence of younger children with parental monitoring. The Lunkarya guinea pig comes in a big variety of colors and patterns! Lastly, there are three variations of this particular breed: The Lunkarya Peruvian, a type with an abundant forelock; the Lunkarya Sheltie, known to have curls on its back; and, the Lunkarya Coronet, whose forehead possesses a crest.
Hairless Guinea Pig Breeds
Last, but certainly not least, our list will discuss an unusual type of guinea pig: the hairless one. These guinea pigs are much-heated subject in the world of guinea pig owners, as they divide the public on whether they look cute or not. We think that all guinea pigs are beautiful and deserve appreciation!
Skinny Pig (Guinea Pig Breed)
This breed is almost bald, except for its nose and feet which have some hair. They are delicate and it is not advised to place them under direct sunlight or in cold temperatures. They are to be kept strictly indoors. The Skinny Pig is ideal for young and old with allergies and they are low maintenance.
Personality wise, it is shy with a gentle temperament and likes being handled, making it ideal for a household with young children. Although hairless, traditional grooming is not required but would benefit from a once every two weeks wash and cleanse. Diet wise, their metabolisms are higher than in other guinea pigs and require more water and food. Lastly, keep in mind that since this breed of a guinea pig is bald it requires softer bedding.
Baldwin Guinea Pig – Hairless
This breed of a guinea pig is entirely bald, though born with hair. By the time they are two months of age, they are completely hairless. Discovered by Carol Miller, the Baldwin guinea pig has since found its recognition as a distinct breed of guinea pig. In fact, it is the result of a recessive mutation when white crested guinea pigs were bred. However, if this breed is crossed with another breed of guinea pig, the offspring will not be bald and they will have a coat of fur.
If two Baldwin guinea pigs are bred, on the other hand, their babies will be also hairless. Grooming wise, this breed is low maintenance though they must not be placed under direct sunlight or kept under cold temperatures. The Baldwin guinea pig can also benefit from a wash every two weeks. They are shy and active and make a great addition to a household with young children and adults with allergies.
Which Guinea Pig Breed Should I Get?
Now that we have reached the end of this comprehensive guide you have one final stage to complete. We know this will be a difficult decision so we made a short comparison between short-haired, long-haired and hairless guinea pigs.
If you want to get a short-haired guinea pig these are the things to keep in mind:
- Time: If you don’t have much of free time, then this breed may be more suitable for you as there is no grooming involved.
- Temperament: Pets and children are hit or miss situation at times, but the short haired guinea pig overall is patient, intelligent and loves cuddling.
- Grooming: Short haired guinea pigs are excellent for first-time owners!
- Allergies: Probably not the best since it has hair.
If you are considering, long-haired guinea pigs, on the other hand, the following should be considered:
- Time: Guinea Pigs with long locks require patience, energy and time. Lots of time. So, if you think you can dedicate a decent amount of time to this particular guinea pig breed then you are settled.
- Temperament: Similar to its short haired counterpart, this breed is also gentle, very active and loves attention.
- Grooming: A lot of maintenance is involved. Hair trimming and styling, nail clipping, daily brushing, and frequent baths are the standard expectation. If you are new to the guinea pig world, please do not consider this breed unless you feel like you can handle it. Also, because of its beauty regime, they are also not suitable for young children.
- Allergies: Again not ideal.
Lastly, if you are opting for a hairless guinea pig please consider these points:
- Time: A hairless breed, together with a short haired one, do not require a lot of time.
- Temperament: Active, love cuddles and attention. They are ideal in the presence of young children.
- Grooming: Because this breed does not have hair, there is no extensive or minimal grooming to be done. The only exception is to wash them occasionally and keep them away from direct sun, heat and do not expose them to cold temperatures.
- Allergies: Suitable for children and adults with allergies! A great addition to a household.
Hope our guinea pig breed guide has helped you with your decision on what guinea pig breed you should get. Best of luck and always take care of your guinea pig!