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, making this decision with guinea pigs is not easy because there are 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 one solid color?
Maybe you are more adventurous and edgy and prefer them hairless? Nevertheless, this article is going to help you with guinea pig breeds.
Here are the three main groups of guinea pig breeds:
1. Short-haired guinea pigs
2. Long-haired guinea pigs
3. Bald (hairless) guinea pigs
This article will guide you through the differences in guinea pig breeds and hopefully help pick the right one for you! Also, after going through every guinea pig breed, we will give you some important information that will help you with the decision. Let’s start!
Three Main Groups of Guinea Pig Breeds
Short-haired guinea pig breeds are more popular among owners because they are easier to care for. Long-haired guinea pig breeds are harder to take care of, but they look beautiful because of their long and interesting hair.
Satin versions are special because of their glossy and shiny coat. Unusual breeds of guinea pigs are hairless ones that require some special and warmer accommodations because they don’t have their own coat.
You can already notice that this is a complex decision. One thing is for sure that there is a guinea pig fit for everyone’s personality and style!
Short-Haired Guinea Pig Breeds
One of the most popular choices is the short-haired guinea pigs. This type of guinea pig is not only the most commonly found among owners, but it is also very low maintenance.
It 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.
What is the most popular short-haired guinea pig breed? Probably the American guinea pig breed, but there are also other short-haired guinea pig breeds that are also highly popular.
Here are some of the most popular short-haired guinea pig breeds:
American Guinea Pig
This is the ideal guinea pig breed for children because it has a good temperament, low maintenance and generally possesses a good health. Because of the good-natured spirit, they can live with other guinea pigs and they like being handled.
They often create strong affectionate bonds with their owners and thus are excellent companions 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 is done to keep them clean and check on their health status. Abyssinian guinea pig is really a great company!
Teddy Guinea Pig
This guinea pig breed looks like a stuffed toy, and as the name suggests, it looks just like a little teddy bear.
Teddy guinea pigs are smaller than other guinea pig breeds, and their hair is short and rough. They have a small nose that is slightly wider, curved, and turned upward.
These breeds are very active. They are extremely social and like to spend time with their owners. You can develop a very good relationship with this pet. Teddy guinea pigs also love to have other guinea pigs as a companion, and their average lifespan is around 4-6 years.
White Crested Guinea Pig
Energetic, curious, and attentive, an excellent choice for all ages as the white-crested guinea pig breed likes company and attention.
It distinguishes itself from the English variant by having a white-like crown, while the rest of its body is different. 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 short-haired guinea pigs, such as combing and styling.
If the hair is left unsupervised for too long, it will look aesthetically unpleasing and create vision and movement issues for the guinea pig. Below are some of the long-haired guinea pig breeds:
Sheltie Guinea Pig | Silkie Guinea Pig
This breed’s hair is soft yet resistant, earning the nickname “silky,” and it 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 was 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 to establish a bond with their owner.
Peruvian Guinea Pig
The Peruvian guinea pig is the most popular long-haired breed with a soft coat. Their hair can grow up to 30 centimeters (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.
For this reason, 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 pigs may not be your best choice as it needs more care than an average guinea pig breed because of their high maintenance.
This breed of guinea pigs 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 tangled in knots.
Bathing is also essential because the collected dirt can cause skin diseases or infections, or their fur can get matted. The Peruvian guinea pig breed has long hair because they have an autosomal recessive gene. Health-wise, this breed is quite delicate as it is prone to getting mites.
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 crosses between a Silky and a Rex guinea pig breed. This guinea pig is known for its long and wavy hair and big round head.
Like the Peruvian, they need constant grooming to preserve their health and prevent any damage.
With regards to grooming, their hair needs to be trimmed, ears cleaned often to avoid infections, nails must be clipped on a monthly basis.
It is also important to regularly bathe your Texel guinea pig, as good hygiene is important to avoid complications. For this reason, they are not the most ideal for 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. It has a distinct feature: a hair rosette centered on the guinea pigs’ forehead. This last feature results from crossbreeding a crested breed with a silky one.
Personality-wise, they are joyful, affectionate, 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 the 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.
Merino Guinea Pig | English Merino
The Merino guinea pig is similar to a Coronet guinea pig, but it has long and curly hair with swirls of frizzy hair on its forehead.
This guinea pig breed is very social and likes the attention of its owners. Marino guinea pigs are playful pets, and you can train them many tricks because they are also smart animals. Because of their activity and exploring behavior, it is good to get them a large cage.
Lunkarya Guinea Pig
Lunkarya is a Peruvian guinea pig variation that originates from Sweden that gets its distinctive looks because of the genetic mutations. Their coat is long, thick, curly, and needs regular grooming to avoid knots and debris.
They also have an undercoat that 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 inquisitive and 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 wide variety of colors and patterns!
Lastly, this particular breed has three variations: 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.
Sheba Guinea Pig | Sheba Mini Yak
These long-haired guinea pig breeds are called the ”Bad Hair Day” guinea pigs because of their long and messy hair that you can’t even brush very well.
Sheba guinea pig coat is scruffy, and their hair is medium length.
You will need to spend some time grooming them because the problems will appear when they start chewing their hair. Still, they are very cute pets and have a gentle personality so that you can use brushing time in exchange for petting time.
Sheba guinea pigs came from Australia, and they are the crossbreed between the Abyssinian and ‘wombat-faced” Peruvian guinea pigs.
Satin Versions of Guinea Pigs
Satin guinea pigs have a satin sheen coat with a glossy glow. They are stunning and unique versions of guinea pig breeds.
So because of their glossy coat, it’s very important to take proper care of them. Unfortunately, these satin versions of guinea pigs have a bigger probability of osteodystrophy.
It is a metabolic disease of the bones which is very painful and can develop when your pet is around 12 – 18 months old.
You can find some satin versions of guinea pigs, such as American, Teddy Abyssinian, Peruvian, and Silkie. These satin versions of guinea pigs are similar in character, size, and behavior to their non-satin versions.
Hairless Guinea Pig Breeds
These guinea pigs are much-heated subjects 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 Guinea Pig
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 should be kept strictly indoors. The skinny pig is ideal for young and old owners with allergies, and they are really 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 gentle wash and cleanse every once in a while.
Baldwin Guinea Pig
This breed of 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, the balding results from a recessive mutation when white crested guinea pigs are 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 also be 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, active and make a great addition to a household with young children and adults with allergies.
Different Fur Colorations and Patterns of Guinea Pig Breeds
Here are some guinea pig breeds that have distinctive fur colorations and patterns:
Himalayan Guinea Pig
The special feature of the Himalayan guinea pig breed is that this breed has white fur with black patches. Sometimes their nose or ears are black.
Thanks to its short and silky white fur coat at birth, this guinea pig is also known as Siamese feline counterpart.
Curiously, their coat darkens progressively with age. Nonetheless, they are quiet, friendly in nature, ideal for first-time owners, and love affection.
Rex Guinea Pig
Rex guinea pig is another popular choice similar to Teddy guinea pig. Sometimes it’s very hard to find differences between these two guinea pigs.
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.
This breed of guinea pig needs frequent attention as its nails grow quickly, but its hair does not need much grooming.
Ridgebacks Guinea Pig
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 of this breed of guinea pig.
Which Guinea Pig Breed Should I Get?
Now that you have reached the end of this comprehensive guide, you have one final stage to complete. It will be a difficult decision, so this article has 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 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 situations sometimes, 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.
On the other hand, if you are considering long-haired guinea pigs, the following should be considered:
- Time: Guinea pigs with long locks require patience, energy, and time. If you think you can dedicate a decent amount of time to this particular guinea pig breed, then you are good to go.
- 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, they are not suitable for young children because of their beauty regime.
- Allergies: Again, not ideal.
If you are opting for a hairless guinea pig, please consider the following points:
- Time: A hairless breed, together with a short-haired one, does not require a lot of time.
- Temperament: Active, loves 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, keep them away from direct sun and heat, and do not expose them to cold temperatures.
- Allergies: Suitable for children and adults with allergies! A great addition to any household.
As you have seen, many guinea pigs breeds are similar in anatomy and characters, but certainly, each is special in some way.
Long-haired guinea pigs are harder to take care of, but you can spend more time with your little pet by grooming it. Short-haired guinea pigs are easier to take care of, they are more active, and you can teach them easier with some tricks. Hairless guinea pigs are great for humans and kids with allergies.