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Adorable Guinea Pig Breeds You Should Know

Jun 02, 2023Jun 02, 2023

There's a lot to recommend guinea pigs as the perfect family pet: They're small, easy to care for, and have sweet temperaments. Also known as cavies, there are 13 breeds of guinea pigs officially recognized by the American Cavy Breeders Association. We've included them here, as well as a few other types of guinea pigs that are popular. The good news is that you don't have to pick just one: guinea pigs are social creatures, and the Humane Society recommends adopting them in pairs to prevent them from becoming lonely or bored.

While guinea pigs are relatively low maintenance pets, they do need to be taken out of their cage and cuddled each day, as well as groomed regularly, so be sure you're able to commit the time required before adopting. Food wise, guinea pigs should be given a steady supply of high-quality hay, guinea pig pellets with Vitamin C, and leafy greens like parsley, lettuce, or spinach. They'll also need an ample-sized enclosure that should be cleaned weekly. Guinea pigs live an average of five to eight years so be prepared to care for any furry family members for years to come. Ready to bring guinea pigs home? Be sure to check your local animal shelter, which often has small pets in need of a home.

Abyssinians are particularly affectionate and gentle, making them a great choice for first-time guinea pig owners. This breed is known for its short, tufted coat which can be found in various colors. There is also an Abyssinian Satin breed, identifiable by its particularly glossy fur.

American Guinea Pigs are the most common breed, popular because of their short, smooth coat that's easy to take care of, as well as their sweet, easygoing personalities with both people and other piggies. The American Guinea Pig Satin breed has an extra-shiny coat.

Coronets are a breed of long-haired guinea pigs, with fur flowing from front to back, a coronet or rosette in the middle of its head, and a coat that comes in a range of hues. They're known for being especially playful and affectionate though, like all long-haired breeds, require extra grooming.

The Lunkarya Guinea Pig (a.k.a. Lunk) is not on the list of breeds recognized by the American Cavy Breeders Association, as its mostly found in Nordic countries, having originated in Sweden. It's beloved for its long, dense, curly coat (the guinea pig equivalent of bed head). These luscious locks require lots of maintenance, so the Lunkarya isn't the best choice for first-time owners.

Curious and gentle, Merinos make excellent pets (though they are not recognized by the ACBA). Their curly hair does require a bit of extra grooming, but since they love to be held they don't mind.

The Peruvian Guinea Pig's long locks (which can grow up to 2 feet!) make it a popular with owners who like to show their cavies (yes, there are guinea pig shows). It's one of the oldest breeds of guinea pigs, and the ACBA also recognizes the Peruvian Satin breed.

Rex Guinea Pigs have a short, wooly coat due to the fact that they don't have the guard hairs most other mammals do. They also have unique, floppy ears and are the longest guinea pig breed, reaching up to 17 inches. While they aren't an ACBA breed, they're popular pets as their coat doesn't require much work to maintain and they're especially patient with kids.

When it comes to long-haired guinea pig breeds, Silkies (known as Shelties in the U.K.) are the most popular thanks to their incredibly gentle nature and smooth, flowing coat. They are recognized by the ACBA, as is the Silkie Satin breed.

While not recognized by many cavy associations, the Sheba Mini Yak has lots of fans thanks to its intelligent, calm personality and long, untamed-looking coat, which earns it the nickname of "bad hair day cavy."

The Skinny Guinea is hairless, with the exception of a few tufts around its nose and feet, and can be a good choice for people with allergies. While it doesn't require the routine grooming of guinea pigs with hair, Skinnies do have to be cleaned regularly, kept mostly indoors away from the sun, and given soft bedding that's gentle on their skin.

With its fluffy fur and upturned nose, the Teddy looks very similar to the toy bear its named for. They're a friendly, fun-loving breed—as are their Satin counterparts—and make a great choice for families with children.

Originally bred in England, Texels have long, soft coats that can grow in ringlets. They're an active breed, so be sure they have a large enclosure with plenty of space to explore, and are almost always up for a cuddle.

The White Crested Guinea Pig is named for the distinctive white spot atop its head. While it's similar to the American Guinea Pig, they can be much harder to find and are also a bit shy. Their short coats are easy to maintain, and they're known for being especially intelligent.

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