Table of Contents Hide
- 1. Abyssinian Guinea Pig
- 2. American Guinea Pig
- 3. Peruvian Guinea Pig
- 4. Sheltie or Silkie Guinea Pig
- 5. Sheba Guinea Pig
- 6. Coronet Guinea Pig
- 7. Lunkarya Guinea Pig
- 8. Rex Guinea Pig
- 9. Baldwin Guinea Pig
- 10. Alpaca Guinea Pig
- 11. Texel Guinea Pig
- 12. Teddy Guinea Pig
- 13. Skinny Guinea Pig
- 14. Himalayan Guinea Pig
- 15. Merino Guinea Pig
- 16. White Crested Guinea Pig
The guinea pig also known as a cavy, is a South American rodent. Despite their names, they did not originate in Guinea nor are they related to pigs biologically. They originated in the Andes of South America and studies suggest that these were domesticated animals. They do not exist naturally in the wild. These animals were originally domesticated as a source of meat, and are even consumed in certain parts of the world today.
As portrayed in many cartoons, guinea pigs are popularly kept as pets. They are very cuddly, docile in nature and friendly. These traits along with the ease for caring for them make guinea pigs very attractive pets to many. Guinea pigs come in different breeds. Each breed has a differentiating factor such as coat color, coat texture etc.
Guinea pigs are pretty large for rodents, measuring 8 to 10 inches in length. They can weigh up to 3 kilograms, when fully grown. Most guinea pigs live, on average, between five and eight years. While guinea pigs are fuzzy little creatures in our minds, a fur less breed also exists. An interesting fact about guinea pigs is that, when they get excited, they perform little hops in the air. This is called popcorning. And while they don’t particularly like to get wet, they are very agile and good
swimmers. Guinea pigs are social animals and do well when in the companionship of another guinea pig. They love spending time with their owners and getting groomed or pampered. The main nutrition they need as part of their diet is vitamin C. Now that we have covered the basics, let’s look at the different guinea pig breeds out there.
There are mainly 13 different guinea pig breeds, but not all are commonly kept as pets.
1. Abyssinian Guinea Pig
This breed is known for having symmetric rosettes all over their fur. Cavy owners own them as they
are exotic looking and are very excitable in nature. They have a very affectionate personality. They live for up to 8 years.
2. American Guinea Pig
These are the most common guinea pig breeds which are kept as pets. They come in over 19 different color classifications. Compared to the Abyssinian, the American Guinea Pig’s coat is much more manageable. Their coats are short and silky. They have a great temperament and get along very well with other guinea pigs.
3. Peruvian Guinea Pig
These guinea pigs have long, wavy hair which can grow up to 2 feet in length. Their hair is the envy among all other breeds. You will need to spend a considerable amount of time in grooming and cutting the little pig. They have a prominent forelock due to the coat growing forward from the head and neck. By nature, they are very shy, alert and inquisitive. However, in time they become
affectionate towards you as they learn to trust you.
4. Sheltie or Silkie Guinea Pig
Similar to the Peruvian Guinea Pig, these also have long hair, but their hair grows backwards. This could result in longer and more careful grooming and trimming requirements. If you are looking for a low maintenance pet, this would ideally be at the bottom of your list. They have laid back personalities and the gentlest nature among all other guinea pigs.
5. Sheba Guinea Pig
Our next candidate is the Sheba Guinea Pig. They have the best facial hair owing to the fact that they have long muttonchops framing their face. Their fur grows pretty slowly, making them relatively easy to maintain. But the dense hair does require some grooming, giving you time to bond with “bad hair day” guinea pig.
6. Coronet Guinea Pig
This little sweet ball of fur craves attention. And that bodes well for the owner too as you get to groom its voluminous hair. The mane grows backwards down the body and doesn’t have a partition. It has a crest on its forehead. Apart from being sweet and lovable, it has a very curious and playful personality.
7. Lunkarya Guinea Pig
At first glance, it looks like a little mop. This Swedish breed has a long and curly coat. Lunkaryas have three different variations namely:
· Lunkarya Peruvian: has a prominent forelock
· Lunkarya Sheltie: thick and dense hair flows back over the body
· Lunkarya Coronet: has a crest on its forehead.
This guinea pig breed is seen mainly in the Nordic countries and don’t do well in warmer climates. It should also not be kept in direct sunlight due to its rough and dense fur. The breed derives its
name from its creator Lundqvist. This breed is also quite inquisitive, and loves being held.
8. Rex Guinea Pig
This breed has short, wool-like fur making it quite easy to manage. It is in fact compared to a Chinchilla in terms of its appearance. Its droopy ears are a feature that sets this breed apart and also makes it look that much more lovable. This is another breed that loves being handled, cuddled and loved. No wonder it is a huge hit among children.
9. Baldwin Guinea Pig
Now we come to a different type of guinea pig- the hairless guinea pig breeds. While Baldwin Guinea pigs are born with full coat of hair, they shed this over time. Finally, all that remains are the few whiskers on their face and little hair on their feet. This makes them very easy to groom, but due to the lack of fur, they don’t have natural insulation. The owner needs to ensure they are kept warm, while also making sure they are not in direct sunlight. This breed is best left to be cared for by an experienced owner.
10. Alpaca Guinea Pig
As with the Peruvian, you will need to groom this guinea pig on a daily basis. While the hair doesn’t grow as long, it is dense, wavy and coarse. If you do not groom it regularly, it gets tangled and matted. This breed can live up to eight years which gives you a considerable amount of grooming time. Owing to the grooming, it is a high maintenance guinea pig.
11. Texel Guinea Pig
This British breed is more in use as a show guinea pig, than a pet. It is a mix between Silkies and Rexes. The hair is dense and matted. Tangles are very common, hence daily maintenance is a must. The hair is shorter around its face.
12. Teddy Guinea Pig
As the name suggests, this breed resembles the plush teddy bear. They have short coats of rough, dense hair which is quite springy. The hair is typically longer near their bellies, which considerably reduces grooming and making them low maintenance. They are extremely playful and loving in nature, making them a lovely partner for children. The Teddy Guinea Pig is also very social towards
other guinea pigs.
13. Skinny Guinea Pig
This is another that belongs to the hairless variety. This breed has a few tufts around its back and face. They are high maintenance as they can’t handle extreme temperatures. Moreover, their skin is prone to infections and cuts. Unlike the Baldwin Guinea Pig, even the pups are born almost completely hairless. It is a very social breed, and usually needs the company of other guinea pigs to be happy. While you can save time on the grooming, you will need to be extra careful in finding the appropriate bedding and blankets for this exotic breed.
The above-mentioned guinea pig breeds are known to most people. They are also recognized by the American Cavy Breeders Association (ACBA). Apart from these, a few other breeds also exist:
14. Himalayan Guinea Pig
This is an albino breed having a white coat. They also have a brown or black coloring on their feet, nose and ears. As the name suggests, it is recommended for people living in colder climates and away from the sun. They thrive the best indoors and lose their dark spots if put in direct sunlight.
15. Merino Guinea Pig
This breed loves exploring and should be allowed to roam around your house. This keeps them happy and they retain their affectionate nature. In comparison to other breeds, this breed would require a larger cage, giving them the option to roam around inside.
16. White Crested Guinea Pig
These are considered very smart breeds as they have been known to recognize the owners voice. Some have even learned when it’s time to eat. This breed gets its name from the white crown atop its head. They have a short and smooth coat, like the American Guinea Pig. For this reason, they are
considered cousins of the American Guinea Pig. They are also quite shy in nature.
Now that you have seen all the guinea pig breeds in the market, next would be to decide which is the one for you. Like a snowflake, each guinea pig is unique in terms of looks and behavior. It finally comes down to your personal choice.