While not as popular as cats and dogs, guinea pigs are amazing pets, and a great choice if you are looking for a way to ease your children into pet ownership. Besides being extremely cute and easy to care for, there are many different guinea pig breeds and color variations you can choose from.
How many species of guinea pigs are there? According to American Cavy Breeder Association, there are 13 different breeds of guinea pigs. But, there are several other newer guinea pig breeds that are quite rare and highly sought after. All recognized cavy breeds also come in varieties and can come in different coat colors and patterns.
The many different coat variations and breeds of guinea pigs make picking the best one look like an impossible feat. Luckily, we are here to help and put things into perspective!
In this article, we’ll list 12 different guinea pig breeds and help you decide which one will make the best pet for you and your family! Let’s take a look, shall we?
How Many Guinea Pig Breeds Is Out There?
The American Cavy Breeders Association recognizes 13 different breeds of guinea pigs (source). But, each of these breeds can be shown in varieties, based on the coat coloration.
The British Cavy Council, on the other hand, recognizes more than 50 breeds of guinea pigs, but that’s only because they list different color combinations as distinctive breeds (source). Needless to say, there is no shortage of guinea pig breeds you can choose from.
12 Different Guinea Pig Breeds
If you’re looking for a cute-looking, low maintenance pet for yourself or your children, a guinea pig can be a great option. However, with so many different breeds and varieties, it can be hard deciding which guinea pig breed is the best choice for you.
To help you out, here is the list of the most popular guinea pig breeds:
Teddy guinea pigs are very popular thanks to their cute appearance and fun, social, and curious nature. This breed originated as the result of genetic mutation and can be found in harsh and plush varieties.
Teddy guinea pigs that are bred in the United States have long belly hair, while others have an even coat all over their bodies. Teddies make amazing pets and are a good choice for novice owners.
Texel guinea pigs originated in England and were developed by crossing a Silkie guinea pig with a Rex guinea pig. Texel guinea pigs are quite unusual and sport long curly coats that come in a combination of multiple colors.
While they are cuddly and sweet, these guinea pigs are high maintenance when it comes to grooming and as such not the best choice for novice owners.
Alpaca guinea pigs also originated in England and have an extremely thick wavy coat that comes in many different colors. Cute and playful, the Alpaca guinea pigs have an average lifespan of five to eight years, which makes them one of the longest-lived guinea pig breeds.
They are easy to care for and make great pets to experienced and novice owners alike, just keep in mind that they prefer to live exclusively indoors.
The Himalayan guinea pigs have a short white coat with a few dark spots near the feet and ears. They are sensitive to direct sunlight and should be kept protected indoors at all times.
And while their short coat is fairly easy to care for, the Himalayan guinea pigs are best suited for experienced cavy owners who are familiar with guinea pig care.
The Abyssinian guinea pig can come in many color variations and is easily distinguished from other guinea pig breeds since its body is covered in circular tufts of hair. These hair tufts are called rosettes, and ideally, Abyssinians should have eight or 10, located in various places on the body (source).
While they make great pets, Abyssinian guinea pigs are very excitable and as such, better suited for experienced cavy owners.
The magpie guinea pig is a coat color variety and not a different breed of guinea pig. They have patches of white and black coat, and also parts where the coat consists of intertwined black and white hairs.
Magpies can have short, rough, and very dense coats as those seen in Teddy guinea pigs, but the coat can also be short, smooth, and silky.
Rex guinea pigs are a short-haired breed and their coat is not more than ½ inch long. The coat doesn’t have any guard hairs, which gives them a fuzzy and wooly appearance.
Friendly, affectionate, and cuddly, Rex guinea pigs are easy to care for and great for novice and experienced owners alike. They are also very hardy and generally live from five to six years when properly cared for.
The White Crested guinea pig looks exactly the same as the American guinea pig except that it has a tuft of differently colored hair on the head. In most cases the crest is white, and according to the breed’s standard, no other white hair should be present on the body.
Although rare, White Crested guinea pigs make good pets and will quickly get used to being handled and learn to interact with their human family.
Peruvian guinea pigs can be traced back to French and English breeders and have a long, silky coat across the whole body. These long-haired guinea pigs are born with a short coat, which grows over time and can get 24 inches long.
Playful and funny, Peruvian guinea pigs make great pets but are generally better suited for experienced owners who understand the importance of grooming and regular haircuts (source).
American guinea pigs are one of the most common short-haired guinea pig breeds. Medium-in size and easy to maintain, American guinea pigs are amazing companions to experienced and novice owners alike.
Laid-back, friendly, and cute, they love to interact with their owners and get along well with other types of guinea pigs. Furthermore, they are generally healthy and long-lived, which makes them one of the most popular guinea pig breeds in the United States.
Silkie guinea pigs have long, smooth, silky coats that flow back over the body, giving the breed a gorgeous appearance. Coupled with their gentle, shy, and docile personality, it’s no wonder that Silkie guinea pigs are highly popular pets.
Keep in mind that the long-coated Silkie requires daily grooming and regular care from an adult owner who knows how to handle and interact with a guinea pig.
Originating in California, Baldwins are hairless guinea pigs that have an average lifespan of only four years. These hairless guineas don’t tolerate weather extremes and should be kept indoors only to prevent sunburns and heatstroke.
Interestingly, Baldwin guinea pigs are born with normal coats, which they gradually shed over a few months. Due to the lack of hair and potential health problems, Baldwin guinea pigs are best suited for experienced owners.
Which Breed of Guinea Pig Is Friendliest?
Guinea pigs make amazing pets to people of all ages and children. While many guinea pig breeds are outgoing and like to interact with their owners, Abyssinian guinea pigs are the friendliest of the bunch.
Amicable and affectionate, the Abyssinian guinea pig likes to be cuddled and is easily trained to be handled by adults and children. Keep in mind that Abyssinians can be overly energetic and too wired for smaller children.
What Is the Smallest Guinea Pig Breed?
When it comes to size, Ridgeback guinea pigs are the smallest with some adults being only five inches long. However, many Ridgeback guinea pigs can grow up to 12 inches in size.
American guinea pigs are smaller than most other guinea pig breeds and are on average, seven to nine inches long. Most weight from one to three pounds when fully grown up.
With so many different guinea pig breeds, choosing the right one for you and your family won’t be a simple walk in the park. To make things even more confusing, there are many different varieties of guinea pigs and an insane number of coat colors and patterns to consider.
However, don’t let the number of different options dissuade you from taking a closer look at different cavy breeds. Remember, certain guinea pigs are high maintenance and have to be groomed regularly and even taken for a haircut.
Some guinea pigs are easier to care for and as such a much better choice if you are a novice owner, or are looking for a low maintenance pet for your children. In the end, whichever guinea pig breed you choose, you’ll end up getting an incredibly cute and cuddly family pet.