There are many types of guinea pig and the breed that’s right for you mostly comes down to which you find the cutest to look at!
Unlike other household pets, all guinea pigs breeds have very similar behaviours and requirements. They will of course develop their own little personalities and quirks which you will have fun discovering along the way.
From the long haired to the short haired, the curly to the springy, the wild and woolly to the completely bald, let’s walk you through the many different breeds…
The skinny pig is – no offence – a genetic mutation. Bred in a lab for dermatological testing in the 1970s, they are one of the most recent breeds of guinea pig and now also make popular family pets.
Despite their namesake, these hairless guinea pigs are not completely hairless, they actually have small amounts of hair on their feet, noses, heads and sometimes backs.
Imagine being naked all the time… it could feel a little exposing right? And how would you keep warm!? Your guinea pig feels the same. These pigs are best suited to a life indoors. They will need a warm environment, with plenty of things to snuggle into, and they should be kept out of direct sunlight as they can get sunburn or heatstroke.
On the upside, these hairless piggies make great pets for people who suffer from allergies.
Baldwin Guinea Pig
Much like their friend the skinny pig, the Baldwin Guinea Pig was also an accident. They came to exist when a genetic mutation affected a show-line of white crested golden Agouti guinea pigs.
Strangely enough, these piggies are in fact born with a fine coating of hair that begins to fall out 5 days after they are born.
Because their skin is exposed to all the elements, Baldwins are extra sensitive to dust, wood shavings and hay, all of which can cause skin irritation and injuries. It is recommended that you use soft and gentle bedding such as fleece (which we highly recommend for all piggies) but particularly our hairless friends.
Abyssinian Guinea Pig
A party without a cake is just a meeting, and a guinea pig without these distinctive swirls in it’s coat is not an Abyssinian!
Abyssinian guinea pigs are most notable for the distinctive rosettes in their fur, making them look like they are having a permanent bad hair day. There is not a smooth spot on them, giving them their slightly less exotic name of the rough-haired guinea pig.
Abyssinia is the former name of Ethiopia, but these pigs do not hail from there. They, like all other guinea pigs, originate in South America. We guess the reason they are called Abyssinian is to make them sound more exotic.
Be prepared to brush your guinea pig daily if you choose an Abyssinian, this will stop their hair from becoming matted.
Texel Guinea Pig
Bred in the UK in the 1980s by crossing a Rex with a Sheltie or Silkie Guinea Pig, the result is this curly whirly long-haired guinea pig who looks suspiciously like my grandmother’s shag rug.
Known as the Shirley Temple of guinea pigs they require an extra level of grooming that some of the other breeds of piggy do not, so make sure you are able to invest extra time in maintenance.
Their coats can become too long and drag on the floor meaning things can get stuck in their coats, and they can become matted if they aren’t gently brushed daily.
Alpaca Guinea Pig
Named after their curly haired camelid brothers from another mother, Alpaca Guinea Pigs are one of the rarer guinea pig breeds and thus, highly sought after.
They have a distinctive forehead rosette and coarse curly hair which requires regular grooming. This is not a first time pet for your child.
Alpaca Guinea Pigs are best kept indoors as their lovely thick hair makes a great breeding ground for dirt, mites and damp.
You may be up for regular trimming, and if you aren’t brushing your guinea pig daily, you might be clipping out some tight knots.
Peruvian Guinea Pig
Is this the lead singer of a 1980s glam rock band or a Peruvian Guinea Pig? Put aside your hair envy to learn more about this high maintenance long-haired friend.
The Peruvian Guinea Pig’s hair can reach a staggering 14 inches long, gorgeous looking but unfortunately, this also means these piggies are unable to groom themselves.
If you think the Peruvian Guinea Pig is the pet for you, be prepared for constant maintenance – daily brushing to avoid tangles is a must, and ensuring your guinea pig is kept clean and dry is extra important as damp and damaged skin can lead to Flystrike causing intense pain. Nothing that a loving guinea pig parent can’t handle!
American Guinea Pig
The American Guinea Pig is one of the oldest guinea pig breeds in existence, and one of the most popular.
With short, straight hair, coming in a variety of different colours, these lower maintenance piggies are perfect for beginners and can be found in rescues world wide.
These guys are descendent of the Montane Guinea Pig of the Andes in South America and were first domesticated more than 7000 years ago.
Coronet Guinea Pig
Born heirs to the throne, the Coronet Guinea Pig is a mix of an English Crested and Silkie Guinea Pig.
The result? A delightful blend of a rosette at the top of the head and long, luscious hair that when parted, kind of makes these piggies look like they have epic sideburns.
Best suited to indoors, these pigs will need a clean cage and regular grooming. Unless you are going to show these piggies, you might want to keep their locks trimmed to make them easier to maintain.
Himalayan Guinea Pigs
Other guinea pig breeds pale in comparison to the endearing Himalayan Guinea Pig.
Born albino with white hair and red eyes, these piggies begin to develop dark “points” around their paws, eyes and nose as they age- similar to a Siamese cat.
As with any albino – human or animal – these creatures should have access to shade at all times and prefer a cooler environment. Direct sunlight exposure, stress and illness can cause the dark points on a Himalayan Guinea Pig to fade – a sure indicator that something is amiss.
Their lovely points also begin to fade naturally as they enter their twilight years.
Lunkarya Guinea Pig
Known affectionately as a Lunk and looking a lot like a toupee, the Lunkarya Guinea Pig is the cutest mass of hair you never knew you needed. Another cute accident, the Lunkarya Guinea Pig was the result of a genetic mutation in a litter of Peruvian Guinea Pigs born in Sweden in the 1980s.
Lunkarya Guinea Pigs’ dense, harsh coats are best left to do their thing. Pick out the obvious dirt and run your fingers through it to maintain that wind-swept look. Less is definitely more.
All that hair does come with a downside though – these guys overheat very easily. They are best suited to indoor and air-conditioned spaces, or cooler climates.
Merino Guinea Pig
Merino Guinea Pigs are a well-loved but an officially unrecognised breed. They have soft, woolly, spring-like hair that also grows on their underbellies. This means – you guessed it – they get hot!
With their origins unclear, it is assumed they were bred from Coronet x Rex Guinea Pigs and are often mistaken for a Texel. How can you tell the difference between a Texel and a Merino Guinea Pig? Merino Guinea Pigs have a signature crest on their head.
Sheba Mini Yak Guinea Pig
The Sheba Mini Yak or Sheba Guinea Pig is an Australian breed also known affectionately as “the bad hair day” guinea pig.
Sporting a full mutton chop moustache and a dense, lustrous coat that stands out at all angles, the Sheba is another unofficial, but very cute breed.
Bred in the 1960s by the founder of the NSW Cavy Club, Wynne Eecen, the Sheba is a delightfully scruffy blend of an Abyssinian and Peruvian piggy.
So smooth and so sleek! The Agouti Guinea Pig is a world-wide – and family – favourite and of all the breeds, looks the most like a wild guinea pig.
Agoutis have a smooth, sleek coat with distinctive ticking and come in 6 different colours – Cinnamon, Chocolate, Golden, Cream, Lemon and Silver. Ticking is a variation in hair colour throughout a guinea pig’s coat, which look like small flecks.
We are obviously a little biased when it comes to our favourite breeds – our beloved guinea pig Milo is a chocolate Agouti.
Dutch Guinea Pig
Another family favourite and for good reason! Dutch Guinea Pigs have a striking coat of white and coloured bands. The coloured bands can come in a variety of self (solid) or Agouti (flecked) variations.
These guinea pigs are smooth coated and have surprisingly strict standards for anyone wanting to show this variety… any coloured toenails and you’re out!
Why do we love the Dutch Guinea Pig? Our other most beloved family member, Oreo, is a Silver Agouti Dutch Guinea Pig.
Ridgeback Guinea Pig
The punk rock kid of the guinea pig world, the Ridgeback Guinea Pig is a smooth, short-coated guinea pig with an unbroken ridge of hair running down its back.
Also known as a Ridgy Pig, they are often born smooth coated and their funky hair-dos form as they grow.
Satin Guinea Pig
The Satin Guinea Pig is a beautiful looking guinea pig. They have hollow hair shafts which allow light to pass through each hair, giving them a uniquely glossy coat. Their coats aren’t just shiny, they are SHINY!
Sadly, all that beauty comes with pain. The Satin Guinea Pig is prone to a painful condition known as Fibrous Osteodystrophy which prevents Satins from absorbing calcium correctly and their bodies begin to absorb their bones and replace it with fibrous tissue.
This condition can cause trouble eating, inability to walk or move and bone fractures among other implications. Many breeding associations will not register Satin piggies due to the cruel nature of their existence.
Crested Guinea Pig
The Crested Guinea Pig is a short haired guinea pig with a crest or rosette on the top of their head that looks like a little cowlick.
There are two types of Crested Guinea Pig – the Self or English Crested Guinea Pig whose bodies and crests are all one colour, and the American or White Crested Guinea Pig, whose crest is a different colour to the rest of their body.
Rex Guinea Pig
These scruffy little guys are Rex Guinea Pigs. Their hair is coarse and woolly as it has no guard hairs which form the top or outer layer of the hair on other breeds of smooth-coated guinea pigs.
The Rex Guinea Pig hails from England, but the origin of their breed is not clear.
Teddy Guinea Pig
Warm, sweet and cuddly, the Teddy Guinea Pig is so named for it’s likeness to the childhood friends we all cherished – teddy bears!
Teddy Guinea Pigs have a thick, dense and springy coat and come in two varieties, plush or soft, and harsh or coarse.
To make them even cuter and more unique, they have a different nose to other breeds, it is wider and turns up slightly. Boop!
Sheltie (aka Silkie)
Business in the front, party in the back. This walking mullet is the Sheltie or Silkie Guinea Pig. A long haired guinea pig with a luxuriously soft and long coat of hair that starts behind their head.
This guinea pig breed requires regular grooming for obvious reasons. Keeping their coats trimmed, free from debris and occasionally giving them a butt bath (washing their bums) will prevent them from “barbering” each other. Barbering is the nibbling and pulling of their own whiskers or hair, or that of another guinea pigs.
If you are just starting out on your guinea pig journey you are probably surprised to discover how many different types of guinea pigs exist.
Whilst all guinea pig breeds are of a similar nature and temperament (with their own unique personalities), it is their maintenance that is the biggest differentiator to consider when selecting your furry friend.
If you have children, a short haired guinea pig would probably be better suited to your family as you aren’t going to be up for such an intense grooming regime.
But, if you have plenty of time and want to spend it on romantic grooming sessions, a long haired guinea pig might be just the companion you are looking for…
We hope you found this fun and informative, and if nothing else, we hope it satisfied your appetite for adorable guinea pig pictures.
Image licenses: Skinny Pig, Baldwin Guinea Pig, Coronet Guinea Pig, Himalayan Guinea Pig – Creative Commons Attribution- Share Alike 3.0 Unported; Abyssinian Guinea Pig, Lunkarya Guinea Pig – Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International; Texel Guinea Pig – Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
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