Introduction to the many different guinea pig breeds

Have you ever thought, “What kind of guinea pig is that?” and no one else knew either? In this installment of guinea pig blogs, I’ll have a look at the different breeds. 

>>> READ MY FIRST BLOG POST ABOUT GUINEA PIGS 

So just how are the breeds determined and who determines them? The main responsibility goes to the American Cavy Breeders Association. They determine the types of officially recognized breeds as well as what the standard for each breed is. The standard includes a point score based on each breed and things like how their coat should look, all the way to items like the eyes and ears.

These point totals are used by judges at guinea pig shows, which are almost always combined with rabbit shows. But for this blog, we aren’t concerned about show points, the focus is on breeds.

Right now, the American Cavy Breeders Association (ACBA) recognizes 13 different breeds. But there are also a few popular breeds currently not recognized by the American Breeders Association - we will look at those as well. 

To help guide you through the different breeds, this very well-done illustration by GuineaDad has examples of all the breeds that are included in this blog. 

guinea pig breeds

(Illustration used with permission from @GuineaDad)

Let’s get started with a look at the officially recognized breeds by the ACBA.

American - Along with Abyssinian, these are the most common piggy breeds you’ll see. These guinea pigs have a smooth short coat that come in a large variety of colors and of all different pattern types.

My Bentley is an American breed.

guinea pig breed American breed

 

Abyssinian - Also a very common and popular breed. The defining features of this guinea pig are the rosettes, or “cowlicks” that make up most of the coat. They also come in a wide array of colors!

My Cosmo is an Abyssinian breed.

guinea pig breeds

 

THE LONG HAIRED BREEDS

These breeds have long flowing hair. As a pet, it’s important to keep their hair cut and not too long so that the piggy doesn’t get matted hair. But for those showing these breeds, great care is used to preserve the length of coat, including the use of “piggy curlers” that protect the hair from matting or otherwise interfering with the guinea pigs normal activities.

Below is a show Peruvian with his hair wrapped to protect it until it gets brushed out for judging.

peruvian guinea pig

(Photo Credit: Popcorn Pigs)

Coronette - This is one of the long haired breeds that is more commonly seen in shows rather than a pet. They make good pets but just aren’t common. They are just like the Silkie breed except they have a rosette on top of their forehead.

Peruvian - A common show breed, their coat generally grows front to back and over the face. That can come in a variety of colors.

Silkie - This is a common long haired breed that you’ll see as a pet. The hair flows front to back, and unlike the Coronet, does not have a rosette on its head. And also unlike the Peruvian, their front hair grows away from the face.

A show Silkie with coat ready for judging.

guinea pig breed

(Photo Credit: ACBA)

Teddy - This piggy has a dense and short coat but is fuzzy and a plush feeling- almost resembling that of a teddy bear- hence the breed name.

My guinea pig Bernie B was a Teddy breed.

guinea pig breed

 

THE SATINS

American, Peruvian, Abyssinian, and Silkie breeds all have a Satin variety. A Satin piggy is one that has hollow hair follicles. This allows for a satin like sheen (seen best in direct light) as the hollow follicles allow for light to pass through them.

Texel - This is a piggy that looks like it’s had a perm done! The overwhelming features of this breed are the amazing curls its coat has!

White crested - This is similar to an American except for the placement of a white crest on top of the head

So, those are the 13 current recognized breeds by the American Cavy Breeders Association. They also regularly review their recognized breed list for any additional breed additions.

But what about hairless guinea pigs? There are two breeds. The Baldwin and the Skinny Pig.

The Baldwin is born with some hair but loses it in a few days and eventually all spots of hair will disappear. A true completely hairless piggy after as the guinea pig matures.

The Skinny Pig has some remaining hair- often around the face, whiskers, or feet.

These are quickly becoming popular breeds for pets. Both breeds require a lot of attention to maintain their skin so it doesn’t get dry or cracked/bleed from environmental exposures, itching/disagreements with other piggies.

carefresh small pet paper bedding is a great choice for all guinea pigs, but especially the hairless breeds. It's comfortable for them, and low dust so safe for their skin. 

Last but not least we also have Alpaca, Rex, Sheba, and Lunkarya breeds.

Alpaca - Similar to the Texel except it’s curls are longer (and require more maintenance as a result) 

Rex - One of the first ever piggy breeds, believed to be 5000 years old, they are similar to the Teddy except their hair grows front to back and their hair isn’t as “fluffy” as a Teddy.

Sheba guinea pig - These are long haired pigs that are a cross of an Abyssinian and Peruvian piggy so they have long hair with lots of rosettes

Lunkarya - This is a variation of the Peruvian pig- the hair is said to be “sheep-like”, long haired and curly.

Hopefully this blog helped give an introduction to the many guinea pig breeds that exist. No matter what breed you might have, or what breed you might prefer, one thing is for certain, they are all cute…and they all love to eat!!!

Guest Post by Craig N. - long time Guinea Pig parent, currently of Bentley and Cosmo (pictured above), and they invite you to follow their antics @ https://www.facebook.com/briochepig 

Until next time….

 

 

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