Ever looked through photos of guinea pigs and notice how different they all look to each other? Unless you buy your guinea pig from a breeder, guinea pig breeds can be a complete mystery and after a while, you will be wondering what breed is my guinea pig? This article will help you identify the breed of your guinea pigs.
Chose your source
There are two separate breed authorities so the best place to start is to chose which authority you are going to use as a reference. The American Cavy Breeders Association officially recognise 13 breeds, whilst the British Cavy Council actually recognize more than 20. This article will dip into them both but focus mainly on the American Cavy Breeders Association.
How to start
Before becoming overwhelmed by all the guinea pig breed names, the best way to start is to grab a pen and paper and write down some notes about your guinea pigs. The main way to identify a guinea pigs breed is to note its fur length to start. There are three types on guinea pig fur length – Longhaired, shorthaired and no haired.
Next check the texture of the guinea pigs fur, is it silky smooth to the touch or more bunched up into little rosettes? it could even be both! If your guinea pigs fur is a mixture of both smooth spots and rosettes then its likely to be a mixed breed.
Now check the colour markings, is their coat one solid colour is a mix of two or even more?
The types of breeds:
Using your list you made above, try to pinpoint which breed your guinea pig is:
This is the most common breed of guinea pig. This is the breed that everyone sees when they imagine a guinea pig. Its short-haired has a very calm nature and finds it easy to get along with other guinea pigs. It’s also a great friend to children.
Key Characteristics – Short fur length, smooth coat texture with no whirls or rosettes.
The oldest species of guinea pig! This breed finds it easier to get along with people and is very loveable! Abyssinian guinea pigs are commonly show guinea pigs and a prize piggie would have 8 to 10 rosettes within its fur.
They have a naughty side to their behaviour and need to be brushed frequently due to their fur length. A good grooming kit is essential! Their excitable nature means they are not a good choice for first-time guinea pig owners.
Key Characteristics – Long fur length, textured coat with multiple rosettes.
The Peruvian has the longest hair of all the guinea pig breeds. The longest fur length is recorded at 20 inches! Peruvians have long straight hair that is free from rosettes and twirls.
Peruvian guinea pigs need a lot of grooming so you will need to stock up on their favourite treats! They are great for children as they are very curious and always alert!
Key Characteristics – Long fur length, straight fur that is free from twirls and rosettes.
Silkie (also known as a Sheltie)
These guinea pigs look very similar to the Peruvian but the fur around their head and face sweeps back in a completely different. It almost looks styled at the front.
Frequent grooming is a must for these long-haired guinea pigs so only owners who are able to spend a lot of lap time are advised.
Silkies are great companions for children as long as they are kept well-groomed, fur trimming may also be required since their fur will drag along the ground.
Key Characteristics – long smooth fur that sweeps away from its head, no rosettes or twirls should be present.
At first glance, the Coronet looks similar to the silkie! If you look at his head however the fur will have a crest on the forehead. The crest will be completely symmetrical, have a small centre, and be free from hairs sticking out. This is another breed that needs a lot of brushing!
Key Characteristics – long smooth fur growing backward over its body, it will have a crest on its head with a small center.
The Texel guinea pig was originally bred in Britain and is recognized by the ACBA. They have soft and curly fur all over there bodies. The fur is coarser and not as fluffy around their faces.
Texel’s fur can easily get tangled up due to its rough texture and so it’s vital to practice a regular grooming routine and to brush them at least once a day.
Key Characteristics – curly and fluffy fur
The Teddy guinea pig breed has a short fair that is really thick and almost stands up on end. They also have an upturned nose.
They are named “Teddy” as there fur makes them closely resemble a stuffed toy! Although their fur is not as soft as other guinea pig breeds.
Key Characteristics – teddy bear type fur that is short and stands up on end
The white-crested guinea pig is similar to the American but it has one rosette on its head. ACBA only recognizes the rosette being white and it also has to be the only white that the guinea pig has on its body.
This breed of a guinea pig is quiet and prefers to keep to themselves. They are not well suited to households that have children due to their quiet nature.
They are easy to manage as they have short and smooth fur that can be kept well maintained with weekly grooming.
Key Characteristics – Short, smooth fur, has a white rosette on its head.
Satin Breed variations
A satin guinea pig is not a separate breed, but it has, as its name suggests, a characteristic satin-like, almost glassy, sheen to its coat. The hair shaft on a “true satin” cavy is actually hollow. The genetic factor for having a satin coat is recessive and found in all types of coat: long, rough, curly, and short. There is a Satin version of the following breeds: Abyssinian, American, Peruvian, Silkie, and Teddy.
The satin coat is actually a symptom of a metabolic disease that affects the bones.
Skinny guinea pigs – these guinea pigs are born hairless and are mostly completely free from fur. It’s common that they have some short, rough fur on their face and legs.
Baldwin guinea pigs – these guinea pigs are similar to Skinny pigs but are born with a full fur coat that falls out. The only place they have fur is on their feet as opposed to the skinny pig that also has a little fur on its face.
If you keep hairless breeds then it’s important to ensure their temperature is properly controlled as they do not have fur to help keep themselves warm in cooler temperatures.
A touch of colour
As you will have noticed guinea pigs no matter what breed can be a variation of colours!
Self – one solid colour only.
Ticked – have red and black hairs within the coat.
Agouti – ticked but with a solid colour belly.
Brindle – black and red colours intermixed within the coat.
Magpie – similar to brindle except instead of black it is white.
Dutch – White markings on the face, neck, chest and with front white paws and white tips on the back paws
Himalayan – A white body with coloured face, ears, feet.
Tan – Strangely these guinea pigs are mostly black! They have some red markings around the face, eyes, neck and tummy.
Otter and fox – This refers to yellow and white markings.
Tortoiseshell – This refers to patched of red and black.
Roan and Dalmatian – Roan is when the guinea pig has white hairs mixed into its coat intermittently. Dalmation is easy to distinguish as, like the dog, it refers to a white body with black spots!
Working out the name of the colour variation if your guinea pig is not an easy task!
It’s fascinating to see all the different types of breeds and colours of guinea pigs out there! Did you manage to identify your guinea pigs breed? What about colour variation? We would love to hear so please comment below!