As with dogs, cats, and any other type of pet, there are many different breeds and each has its own unique physical and behavioral characteristics. The one that suits you best will depend on what you like and the type of personality you want your pet to have.
When it comes to guinea pigs, there are 10 most popular breeds that are unique. In general, all guinea pigs are quite social. They like a lot of attention and playtime. They are also usually happier if they have a guinea pig friend to hang out with (although their friend must be of the same sex to prevent your home from being invaded by little guinea pigs).
While guinea pigs are social and generally relatively calm and docile with humans, it is still important to get them at a very young age or to get one that humans have handled a lot since childhood.
Physically, guinea pigs range from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 pounds and will grow between 8 and 10 inches. They usually live between 5 and 7 years and reach sexual maturity after only 3-5 weeks of age. They can also get pregnant throughout the year and have short gestation periods.
Let’s start looking at the unique characteristics of each of the 10 most popular breeds of guinea pigs.
1. The American Guinea Pig
As you may have guessed from the name, this guinea pig is the most popular breed in the United States. If you are imagining a guinea pig in your head right now, it is probably an American guinea pig.
They have light brown or golden fur with white markings on the face and belly. They are known to be particularly calm and docile. American guinea pigs get along especially well with other guinea pigs and are one of the best options for children, although it is still important that your child understands how to handle and play with the guinea pig without harming or scaring it.
American guinea pigs have shorter hair than other guinea pig breeds, which means they don’t require as much grooming. This is ideal for children or first-time pet owners who are not yet used to caring for a pet.
2. The Abyssinian Guinea Pig
The Abyssinian Guinea Pig is one of the oldest guinea pig breeds out there. Their hair is longer than that of an American guinea pig, but not as long as that of other breeds.
The hair, which can come in a range of colors from dark brown to white, looks like they have a perpetual bedhead. Longer hair means more grooming is required and they especially like to get into trouble so they may not be the ideal pet for a young child.
But they are perfect for the adult who wants an irresistibly lovable pet with a personality that leans more toward the adorably naughty side.
Abyssinian guinea pigs are also one of the breeds that you will see regularly at pet shows. So if you are interested in grooming a star, you should definitely consider getting an Abyssinian guinea pig.
Make sure you take more time to groom and ensure a very nutritious diet if that’s what your plans are.
3. The Peruvian Guinea Pig
The Peruvian Guinea Pig is one of the most striking guinea pigs in terms of appearance. They have the longest hair of all the guinea pig breeds. Their luscious locks are perfectly straight, which can make them look like a walking wig in the cutest way possible. It can grow up to 20 inches long!
Some owners cut their hair to minimize the time spent grooming. If you choose to keep it for a long time, you will definitely need to brush your guinea pig daily. Otherwise, the hair will become tangled and this can make the guinea pig uncomfortable.
Not to mention, they will start to look like a walking bird’s nest instead of a wig.
In terms of personality, the Peruvian guinea pig tends to be more curious and alert about its environment than other breeds. This curiosity makes them less shy and more sociable. They will run to greet you out of curiosity to see who you are and what it is about.
This makes the Peruvian guinea pigs a good choice for children and first-time pet owners. However, it is recommended to keep their hair trimmed in this case, as a child or first-time owner may not remember to brush them daily.
4. The Silkie Guinea Pig
The silky guinea pig also has hair on the longer side, although it is not as long and flowing as the Peruvian guinea pig.
The hair on their head also hangs differently. Instead of covering their face as it does with the Peruvian guinea pig, the silk hair is stretched back as if it had been slicked back and combed.
However, as with the Peruvian, this guinea pig requires daily brushing to avoid tangles and discomfort. But if you’re up to it, it can actually be quite a relaxing and meditative activity that both you and your guinea pig will enjoy.
Due to their grooming needs, they are not recommended for children unless you are willing to take some responsibility for caring for the pet, or you can be diligent in remembering and supervising your child to make sure the silky gets the proper care it requires.
Grooming needs aside, The silkie guinea pigs are wonderfully cuddly pets that your child and you are sure to enjoy it.
5. The Teddy Guinea Pig
The Teddy guinea pig is aptly named because its fur gives it the appearance of being a tiny teddy bear.
The coat is short and very dense, making it fluffy like a teddy bear. Their coats are usually wirier, so they are not as soft and luxurious as Peruvian or Silkie guinea pigs might be. But they are still totally adorable.
One of the biggest advantages of the teddy guinea pig is that it requires minimal care compared to other breeds. They will need an occasional brushing, as their rough skin tends to stick to bits and pieces; think of a big bushy beard with food scraps clinging to it.
In terms of personality, the teddy guinea pig is one of the best guinea pigs on the market. They are energetic and friendly. They are also known to warm up to humans relatively quickly. This, combined with the low maintenance, makes them the best option for children.
6. The Texel Guinea Pig
The Texel guinea pig is one of the most unique breeds in terms of physical appearance. Their long hair has soft curls that give them that perfect beach wave look.
They are one of the most sought-after breeds by guinea pig enthusiasts and are a common star at guinea pig pet shows. Unfortunately, their luscious curls also make them one of the highest maintenance guinea pig breeds.
Their hair is extremely prone to tangling, so they should be brushed at least once a day, but it is recommended to do it twice. They also need regular baths and ear cleanings because excess hair makes them prone to earwax build-up.
Altogether, this breed definitely requires the most grooming. It is also recommended to use wool bedding instead of shredded paper or sawdust to minimize the amount of debris entering the coat.
If you are willing and able to handle grooming needs, Texel guinea pigs will reward you with their incredibly sweet and lovable personality. They love to be groomed and they love spending time with their human owners.
7. The White Crested Guinea Pig
The white-crested guinea pig is a short-haired breed with a “crown” of white fur on the top of the head. The rest of its body is dark brown or grayish in color.
They are relatively low maintenance as a result of their shorter hair, and they resemble the American guinea pigs in both physical appearance and personality. They have bubbly and sociable personalities that make them ideal for those who want a pet they can play with often.
However, if you don’t have time to pay regular attention to it, you may want to consider a more docile and gentle breed.
The white-crested guinea pigs love to run and play as much as possible. Since they love to play and do not require excessive care, they are a good option for children. Although they probably won’t win any shows.
8. The Rex Guinea Pig
The Rex guinea pig is also a short-haired breed and looks a bit like the teddy guinea pig with its fluffy, fluffy fur. However, it is not as soft as the fur of a teddy guinea pig. But its unique texture is still pet-friendly. Their ears are also longer and droopy, similar to a dog’s ears.
The Rex guinea pigs have a good-natured personality and enjoy being handled and pet. As long as your children are old enough to know how to handle the pet with care, the rex guinea pig can make a great first pet for them.
The minimal care required and docile temperament make them excellent beginner pets. Just make sure they are not roughly handled or played with too much force. They like to play, but allow them to guide play activities.
9. The Himalayan Guinea Pig
The Himalayan guinea pig is often nicknamed the “Siamese cat” of guinea pigs. This is due to its coat pattern and texture. The soft fur is creamy white all over the body with accents of black fur on the ears, nose, and paws, like a Siamese cat.
They do best in cold and temperate climates, as excess heat or sunlight can not only harm the guinea pig’s health, but also cause dark accents around the ears, nose, and paws to fade and disappear.
Aside from its need for a milder climate, its maintenance is relatively low. Their fur is short and they are well mannered.
10. The Skinny Guinea Pig
Unlike the other 9 breeds of guinea pigs, the skinny guinea pig is almost completely hairless. They have a few tufts on their nose, feet, and legs, but for the most part, he is hairless.
Without the long, radiant hair, they are definitely the most conventionally attractive breed of guinea pig, but they do have their own unique charm that attracts some people.
If you need a pet that is fluffy and adorable in the typical sense, the guinea pig is not the one for you. But if you love pets that are unique and are sure to make a good conversation starter, the skinny guinea pig might be just what you’re looking for.
They are as affectionate, playful, and energetic as any other breed of guinea pig and are sure to appreciate a happy and affectionate home. Plus, no brushing is required!