Guinea pigs (also known as cavies) make superb pets and are especially suitable for children or first-time pet owners. They are incredibly social with characterful personalities and are relatively low maintenance to care for, making them ideal first pets.
Living for an average of between 5 and 6 years, unlike other pets like hamsters or mice, you can enjoy a long companionship with your pet.
Guinea pigs originally come from South America and live in rocky terrain, surrounded by grasslands. They live in groups of around 10 adults. Therefore, when keeping guinea pigs as pets it’s important to get more than one to ensure they can display their natural social behaviours and decrease the potential for stress.
The wild cavies of South America were domesticated long ago and now exist in many different varieties as they have grown in popularity as pets. Different breeds can require higher levels of care for example, long-haired guinea pigs need regular grooming compared with short haired guinea pigs. The times required to keep the coat in good condition can often be overlooked so do bare these things in mind when choosing yours. Here are some of the guinea pig breeds available to choose the most suitable one for you.
American Guinea Pig
The American is the most common breed of guinea pig. They have soft, smooth and short coats and comes in a diverse range of colour combinations. The reason for their popularity is due to them being so easy to care for, whilst having a mild temperament. This breed is the safest choice for children.
Abyssinian Guinea Pig
The Abyssinian is a well-known breed and a common choice for first time owners. Their unique rough coats have unusual tufts, known as rosettes and they come in a wide range of colours.
This adorable breed makes wonderful pets as they are inquisitive, energetic, easy to train and handle.
Peruvian Guinea Pig
With a great length of straight hair, Peruvian guinea pigs require regular grooming to avoid knotting and mats forming. Some owners even cut the hair to keep it short but that kind of defeats the objective of getting a long-haired guinea pig doesn’t it?! Coat maintenance aside, this breed has a friendly and curious character making it a great choice for someone who has the time to spend grooming them.
The Teddy Guinea Pig
As the name suggests, this breed of guinea pig has a short, dense and ‘fuzzy’ coat! The coat can either be soft or wiry in texture and if you want the teddy-feel as well as look, go for the soft coat. They are perfect for children as unlike the Peruvian, they require very little grooming.
Himalayan Guinea Pig
Often referred to as the ‘siamese cats’ of guinea pigs as a result of their distinctive markings, this breed is beautiful in looks as well as personality. Mainly albino in colour with black points, which usually become visible after a few months of age. Their coat changes based on the climate, so expect the dark points to get darker in colder weather conditions and fade in warmer months. Other than keeping them in moderate temperature conditions and out of direct sunlight, on the whole, these are really easy to care for.
White Crested Guinea Pig
With an unmistakable white crown at the top of their head, it’s not hard to identify white crested from a guinea pig line up! They are very similar to the American in terms of coat type, care needs and personality, the only real difference is the cute crest.
Texel Guinea Pig
Texels have soft curly locks throughout their entire coat which makes them quite remarkable. Like the Peruvian, the coat does make them high maintenance pets with their fur easily tangling. However, if you are looking for a guinea pig breed that will stand out and you don’t mind investing the time, the texel is worth the effort.
Silkie Guinea Pig
The Silkie, also known as the ‘Sheltie’, has long smooth hair not dissimilar to the Peruvian but it generally it is glossier, hence the name Silki!. As you would expect, daily grooming is required to keep this breed in prime condition.