Breeds

This is a simplified guide to guinea pig breeds for pet owners, and does not explain the various breed standards accepted for showing purposes (most cavy clubs have websites where you can find this information).

All of the photographs here are donations from others, and some of the guinea pigs shown may not be pure bred due to the nature of relying on such kind photographic donations. However, the photographs are there to give pet owners a good idea of how each breed visually presents.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Cross Breeds

Many guinea pigs are not a pure breed, but are a mixture of two or more. Guinea pigs from pet shops and rescue centres are most commonly what we call "Heinz" guinea pigs, with a bit of this and a bit of that. There is nothing wrong with a cross bred guinea pig, indeed you can find some extraordinary personalities with some funky and curious shapes and sizes.

It is not generally recommended that cross bred guinea pigs, especially those from pet shops and rescue centres be bred from, especially if their family history is unknown. Most rescue centres do not allow their guinea pigs to be rehomed for breeding purposes anyway.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Pink-Eyed Guinea Pigs

Many people overlook guinea pigs with pink (or commonly referred to as "red") eyes due to a perception that they may be evil, suffer from poor vision, or differ in other ways to guinea pigs with dark eyes.

In fact, guinea pigs with pink eyes are exactly the same. They suffer no loss of vision and they are certainly not evil. The pink hue is because of a lack of pigment in the eyeball, a perfectly natural occurrance and really not a reason to reject them.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Which breed is right for you?

There are a large variety of guinea pig breeds to choose from, from short haired and easy to care for, to long haired and needing daily hair care. When choosing a breed you should consider the following things:

Our Breed Classifications

Some breeds require more care than others, especially where the coat is concerned, and so I have made suggested recommendations for the New, Intermediate and Experienced Owner. This is a only guide, as some new owners may have support from other more experienced owners and feel confident enough to give the proper level of care required to some of the breeds recommended here for the Intermediate or Experienced Owner.

  • New Owners - Generally robust breeds with easy coat care and no obvious special requirements.

  • Intermediate Owners - Regular coat care is required.

  • Experienced Owners - The coat requires intense care and/or the breed has specific health considerations.

  • Specialist Owners - A classification reserved for Skinny Pigs as the breed has unique requirements.


Abyssinian

Recommended for: New owners

The Abyssinian ("ab-sin-ee-an"), also commonly known as the "Aby", "rosetta" or "rosetted" guinea pig, has very distinctive hair growth in the shape of many rosettes covering the body. This gives the fur a spikey appearance, however the fur feels very soft to the touch.

A purebred Abyssinian should ideally have a total of 8 to 10 rosettes; 4 across the torso, 2 on the rump, 2 on the hips, and maybe even 2 on the shoulders, and these should have a tiny bald patch in the centre with an even spread of fur growing outwards. Abyssinian cross breeds often have fewer rosettes or rosettes that are in slightly odd places, giving them character!

They have unique characteristics of the feet, with curly hair on very long and delicate toes. The Abyssinian is a fairly large breed of guinea pig with a tendency toward being cheeky and forthright and they are always on the go.

Many people believe Abyssinians to be prone to cataracts, determined by the blue hue appearing universally over the lense. Your pet can live quite happily and undisturbed with cataracts and this does not cause any discomfort.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Agouti

Recommended for: New owners

The Agouti ("a-goo-tee") is one of the largest breeds of guinea pig, characterised by large petal shaped ears, large eyes and paws, short stubby legs, and a portly round body. Agoutis are active guinea pigs, adventurous and very friendly, only rivalled by the Rex for their soft and slovenly nature.

Somewhat confusingly to new owners, Agouti is also a colour pattern as well as a breed. The hair shaft is two-tone, the main part of the shaft being one solid colour while the tip is another solid colour, known as "ticking", to give the coat a peppered effect. The Agouti breed can present with six colour variations. These are:

Chocolate Agouti
The hairs are a deep chocolate with orange ticking, ruby eyes, chocolate ears and foot pads.

Cinnamon Agouti
The hairs are a deep cinnamon with silver ticking, ruby eyes, cinnamon ears and foot pads.

Cream Agouti
The hairs are a deep chocolate with cream ticking, ruby eyes, chocolate ears and foot pads.

Golden Agouti
The hairs are a deep black with dark golden ticking, dark eyes, and the ears and foot pads are black.

Lemon Agouti
The hairs are a deep black with lemon ticking, dark eyes, and the ears and foot pads are black.

Silver Agouti
The hairs are a deep black with silver ticking, dark eyes, and the ears and foot pads are black.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Coronet

Recommended for: Intermediate owners

The Coronet guinea pig is essentially a long haired Crested guinea pig. These pigs have a single rosette on their heads and long hair covering the body. The hair falls backwards from the head down over the body toward the rump with a centre parting.

Coronets have short hair after birth and it grows at a rate of around half an inch each month. By the age of four months the hair should be almost touching the ground.

When grooming, use a soft brush and a plastic comb, and avoid using a metal comb or you may pull the hairs out. Brush in the direction of the hair and take extra care around the bottom where the fur may have tangled. If the guinea pig is not to be shown in competitions, trim the hair once or twice a month to tidy it up and remove any knots and matted areas.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Crested

Recommended for: New owners

The Crested guinea pig is short haired all over the body with a single crest (a radial parting of the hair with a tiny bald spot in the middle) on the head between the ears.

Like the Agouti and the Smooth breeds, the Crested makes a good choice for new owners because the coat is short and hair care is minimal.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Peruvian

Recommended for: Experienced owners

The hair on a Peruvian guinea pig will grow until it reaches the floor. They require a lot of grooming and Peruvians may not be the ideal pet for a child or someone who wishes to keep maintenance levels low. Especially as the hair can grow up to a foot in length!

When they are born Peruvians have short hair and the hair should grow at a rate of around half an inch each month until the coat has reached adult length. From two weeks onwards you should be able to tell if the pup is going to have long hair. At around the age of four months the coat should be almost brushing the ground. The hair will also begin to fall into the classic forward-falling Peruvian growth pattern.

When grooming, use a soft brush and a plastic comb, and avoid using a metal comb or you may pull the hairs out. Brush in the direction of the hair and take extra care around the bottom where the fur may have tangled. If the guinea pig is not to be shown in competitions, trim the hair once or twice a month to tidy it up and remove any knots and matted areas.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Rex

Recommended for: New owners

The Rex is one of the largest breeds of guinea pig and is noted for its cuddly and affable nature. They are generally very laid back and a good choice if you want a "lap pig" or one that is particularly cuddly, docile and friendly.

The fur is coarse and wire-like and the whiskers are crinkly. The Rex is often confused with the Teddy as they look very similar with their plush fur type. There are methods of telling them apart however; the Rex will have crinkly whiskers while the Teddy has whiskers that are longer and straighter, and the fur on a Rex is far more coarse to the touch than that of the Teddy.

The nails on the Rex, especially on the rear feet, are usually thicker than those on other breeds and they tend to grow slightly quicker too. This only makes nail clipping slightly more awkward if you are using human nail clippers as the thicker nails won't always fit between the blades. Using puppy and kitten nail clippers, with a larger notch in the blades and available from your vet or pet store, is my recommended method for keeping their nails trimmed.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Sheltie

Recommended for: Intermediate owners

The Sheltie is known as the "Silkie" in the USA. The hair falls backwards from the head down over the body toward the rump with a centre parting.

When grooming, use a soft brush and a plastic comb, and avoid using a metal comb or you may pull the hairs out. Brush in the direction of the hair and take extra care around the bottom where the fur may have tangled. If the guinea pig is not to be shown in competitions, trim the hair once or twice a month to tidy it up and remove any knots and matted areas.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Skinny

Recommended for: Specialist owners

A genetically engineered breed, Skinny Pigs (originally named the IAF Hairless) are so named because they are naked, save for a tuft of hair on the nose, hairy feet, and some smatterings of hair across the body.

I have classed Skinny Pigs as being suitable for Specialist Owners, however this doesn't mean that the truly dedicated and honest new owner cannot begin with this particular breed. Their general requirements differ enough from a classic hairy guinea pig that an owner of any level of experience should give a lot of thought to their upkeep.

They are such a special breed they have an entire care guide of their own.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Smooth

Recommended for: New owners

The Smooth breed of guinea pig is by far the most common type of guinea pig you will see in pet shops, and is the classic image of what a guinea pig should look like in most people's minds. They have short hair and no crest or any other distinctive feature, other than the uniform short hair all over the body.

This particular breed is the easiest to care for in the bathing and hair department, making them an ideal choice for first time owners. Most Smooth guinea pigs have "normal" sized nails, so nail clipping is straightforward.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Swiss

Recommended for: Experienced owners

The Swiss breed comes from Switzerland and has only been introduced into the United Kingdom in recent years. The fur is coarse and sticks up from the body, giving the appearance of having been electrocuted, and growing to a length of around 6cm.

It is quite difficult to maintain an even coat all over the guinea pig because they can have "bad hair days" with the fur standing up in some places but not others. When grooming, use a soft brush and a plastic comb, and avoid using a metal comb or you may pull the hairs out.

The Swiss suffers from some skin ailments, especially after excessive bathing, so the skin needs a bit of extra care. The Swiss can be prone to dry skin so avoid over-bathing, however they can have their nails clipped as normal.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Teddy

Recommended for: New owners

The Teddy is bred to have the fluffy and cuddly characteristics of a teddy bear. Teddies look similar to the Rex breed, both in size and general appearance, but Teddy fur is soft and fluffy while the Rex has coarse and fuzzy fur - the belly fur on a Teddy is straight while the belly fur on the Rex is wavy. The whiskers of the Teddy are long and straight, compared to the crinkly and frazzled looking whiskers of the Rex.

In the USA the Teddy is sometimes referred to as the Rex, and there is some debate over whether the Teddy and the Rex are from the same origins.

Always use a plastic comb on Teddy coats when grooming, because although the coat is not considered long, the coat is very thick and a metal comb will tug through it and cause discomfort. Teddies can be bathed and have their nails clipped as normal.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Texel

Recommended for: Experienced owners

The Texel has naturally long and thick wavy fur. In very simple terms, the Texel is genetically a Sheltie with an added Rex gene, giving the long haired Sheltie style, and coarse Rexed hairs. When they are born Texels have short wavy hair and you will be able to confirm the pup will become a longhaired variety by the age of two weeks. Once the guinea pig has matured the hair should have that scruffy permed look!

The fur is thick and wavy so gently and carefully groom every day to keep tangles at bay. Use a soft brush and a plastic comb, and avoid using a metal comb because the coat is both long and thick and a metal comb will tug through it. Keep an eye out for lice and mites as longhaired guinea pigs tend to be more prone to them. If the guinea pig is not to be shown in competitions, trim the hair once or twice a month to tidy it up and remove any knots and matted areas. Trim nails as normal.

Site design by Rodents With Attitude. All rights reserved.