A piggie isn't just a piggie! Did you know there are many guinea pig breed types with varying adorable features and lovable attributes? Some have long, flowing fur. Others have swirly, goofy cowlicks. And, there are guinea pigs that are prone to health issues and others that require high-energy homes. Let's find out which breed of guinea pig (also known as a cavy) is right for you.
11 Guinea Pig Breeds to Know
As you begin to browse guinea pigs at your local pet store, animal shelter or cavy breeder, you'll soon discover you have options! Just like cats or dogs, guinea pigs come in several breeds with varying physical features, personality traits and care needs. The American Cavy Breeders Association identifies 13 breeds. The British Cavy Council names over 50 breeds -- thanks to the many color variations -- of guinea pigs!
This list of the most popular guinea pig pet types will help you determine which breed of piggie will mesh best with your household and lifestyle.
1. Abyssinian Guinea Pig
These cuties have tousled, short fur characterized by whorl-like tufts known as rosettes. Abyssinian guinea pigs are extremely popular and often chosen for their abundant energy (perfect for kids who want to play with them often) and smarts. They can learn how to maneuver obstacle courses and piggie games easily. These guinea pigs are best for families who will engage with the pet often throughout the day.
2. Abyssinian Satin Guinea Pig
A cousin to the Abyssinian, these pigs have a shiny sheen to their fur, giving them the "satin" addition to their name. They also have lovely personalities and high energy, but unfortunately, the breeding of this variety comes with a gene that causes health problems. If you enjoy working with animal rescue groups or rehabbing ill pets, this delicate breed might just cross your path.
3. American Guinea Pig
With a smooth, slicked back coat of short fur, this breed is often showcased at pet stores. They're calm, social and come in lots of color variations of white, caramel, black and dark brown. These fur babies are often sought after because they require less grooming, thanks to their short, smooth coats and robust health. An American guinea pig is a great pick for first-time pet owners.
4. American Satin Guinea Pig
This breed has the same loving personality, fur type and color patterns as an American, however, they have been bred for extra shine in their coats. Like the Abyssinian Satin Guinea Pig, the American Satin Guinea Pig is also known for serious health concerns, including physical deformities. These pets are best for adults or mature teens who are ready to manage a special-needs critter in the family.
5. Coronet Guinea Pig
Named after a crown, these long-haired pigs feature one solo swirling rosette on their foreheads. They are a playful breed full of love, curiosity and affection. Their longer coat requires daily brushing to keep mats away. These pigs are best for households with older, responsible children and adults who will manage grooming tasks and habitat maintenance regularly.
6. Peruvian Guinea Pig
These piggies look like little mops with their long flowing fur, featuring one rosette each at the head and rump. They have pleasant personalities, while being alert and cautious. The fur on their forehead can swoop in front of the face, making it hard to see. A family who commits to daily brushing (and maybe tying little bows in their fur to keep their vision clear) would be a good match.
This breed is also available in a satin variety, which often develops health concerns. One thing to be aware of is chewing off their own long fur, which may lead to hairballs or impaction in the digestive tract.
7. Silkie or Sheltie Guinea Pig
This guinea pig is also a long-hair variety. The fur naturally parts down the spine, without rosettes present. Silkie's don't tend to have the same obscured view as the Peruvians, thanks to their better-managed hairstyle. These piggies are sociable and gentle, making them good family pets. This breed also comes in a satin variety that often exhibits health issues, including bone and dental deformities.
8. Skinny Guinea Pig
Although the name here implies a slender pig, the skinny part actually refers to the fact this breed is mostly hairless! You will see a bit of fur on their faces, feet and legs, and they must stay indoors because they don't have a natural fur coat for protection from hot sunshine and chilly winds.
This pig type was bred sans fur for easy access to their skin for research experiments. You might come across a skinny pig at an animal rescue group needing extra TLC. This breed is a bit nervous, but sociable, and has a weak immune system which may lead to a shorter lifespan. This pet is best for an adult who can manage visits to the vet for extra care when needed.
9. Teddy Guinea Pig
Fluffy! That's the best way to describe these pigs with medium-length fur that sticks straight up into a smooth, soft coat. Teddy's are characteristically quiet, gentle, and sweet little buddies. These pets are best for attentive families who will commit to daily brushing to remove tangles and debris (like bedding) from getting matted into the pet's fur. Like other guinea pig breeds, Teddy's also come in a satin variety that often experience serious health issues.
10. Texel Guinea Pig
This unique breed (almost known as one of the smallest, measuring in at 9-10 inches long as an adult) is a little harder to find, but worth the search. They have precious spirals of wavy fur covering their bodies with a well-coiffed part down their spine. These pigs need daily brushing
to keep their fur in tip-top shape. Texels are calm and easy-going, perfect for homes with small children or families exploring pet ownership for the first time.
11. White Crested Guinea Pig
These guinea pigs are named for their unique two-tone coloring. They feature solid-colored short fur on their bodies and one white rosette on their forehead making them very attractive. They're known to be a bit shy and require a gentle touch and extra patience as they warm up to their human friends. These pets are best for homes with older children or senior citizens who want to sit with a piggie on their lap and offer gentle petting.
Before committing to a new pet, it's best to understand the various breeds, their qualities and needs. As you search for the perfect guinea pig to join your family, you can start to prepare for the pet's welcome home day now! Here's a guinea pig checklist
that details all the must-haves to keep your pet happy and healthy including tips on choosing a habitat, bedding, food and accessories. Here's to finding the perfect cavy for your home!
American Cavy Breeders Association, Recognized Cavy Breeds
British Cavy Council, Specialist Breed Clubs
Squeaks & Nibbles, Guinea Pig Breeds – Discover 13 Different Cavies
PetKeen, Silkie Guinea Pig Info: Pictures, Personality & Traits
Squeaks & Nibbles, Skinny Pig Breed Information – A Guide To The
Hairless Guinea Pig