Guinea Pig Breed Guide: How Well Do You Know the Baldwin?

Not to be confused with the (almost) hairless Skinny, the Baldwin’s good looks and hypoallergenic nature make it a popular choice among cavy fanciers. Easy to care for and sociable, the Baldwin is a breed that’s gaining fans quickly.

Do you know the origins of the Baldwin? Did you know that they require some special care? How can you tell if the Baldwin is the right breed for you?

Interested in answering these questions?

Keep reading!

Baldwin Guinea Pig Origins

The Baldwin originated from a spontaneous genetic mutation in a line of White Crested guinea pigs being bred by Carol Miller in California. Essentially a gift from nature, the Baldwin was just an adorable accident.

A recessive gene turns the White Crested into the Baldwin.

What makes the Baldwin a Baldwin is a recessive allele that popped up randomly in this group of Cresteds. Because this genetic expression isn’t dominant, it can be tricky to breed.

In practice, that means that to get a Baldwin, breeders need to mate Baldwins to Baldwins. Simple carriers reduce the chance of Baldwin offspring, and mating a Baldwin to any other breed guarantees that you won’t get Baldwin progeny.

Despite superficial resemblance, Baldwins are unrelated to Skinnies. Mating a Skinny and a Baldwin always results in guinea piglets with coats!

Can you see the peach fuzz on the nose and legs of the Skinny (on the right)?

While not yet formally recognized, Baldwins are nevertheless prized for their unusual good looks, friendly personalities, and hairlessness.

Baldwin Guinea Pig Characteristics

A Baldwin enjoying bath time!

Baldwins come in a variety of skin colors and patterns, but what defines them all is their hairlessness.

Baldwins begin life with a coat, but within their first week, they lose all their hair, sometimes retaining a few stray whiskers or hairs on their feet. Given that they’re essentially a variation on the White Crested, they’ll often sport some distinctive wrinkles on their head where the crest would be if they had a coat.

Baldwins grow to the same size as Cresteds, with a maximum length of about 12 inches. As you’d expect, males tend to be larger than females.

Two things to note about Baldwins relate to their hairlessness.

They tend to have a slightly higher metabolism than other breeds, a necessity to help them maintain their body temperature without the aid of a thick coat. As a result, they need to eat a bit more and may even require some help from a heating pad, hot water bottle, or extra bedding.

And without a coat to shield them, they’re quite sensitive to direct sunlight and can easily get sunburnt.

Baldwins are known for their sociable temperament, and because they tend to run a bit cold, they’re known for their love of snuggling!

Extra Care for Baldwin Guinea Pigs

Running around naked all the time creates a few extra demands on a Baldwin’s parents.

Without a nice, warm coat, Baldwins tend to be cold. Since they lack the thick coat that most piggies have, Baldwins ramp up their metabolism to produce a little extra body heat. To keep their furnace burning hotter, they tend to eat a bit more than most.

That’s something to keep in mind when portioning their food.

It’s also helpful if you keep them a bit warmer–think high 70s for cage temps–and many piggie parents have been known to use heaters, hot water bottles, and extra bedding material like blankets to keep these cute cavies happy.

They’re also quite sensitive to the sun. Without hair to block dangerous UV, Baldwins need your help. They should never be kept outside, and it’s a good idea to carefully limit their sun exposure.

You’ll read advice to use sunscreen on Baldwins who’ll be exposed to the sun, but we recommend instead that you keep them out of direct sunlight.

Baldwins have very sensitive skin. Many Baldwins find that wood shavings irritate their skin, and they generally suffer from a few more skin-related issues than other breeds. Be especially attentive to things like fungal infection (ringworm), dermatitis, and dry skin.

Baldwin Guinea Pig Grooming

One reason for the Baldwin’s popularity is easy grooming. They also make a great choice for pet parents who suffer from serious allergies, as their hairlessness really cuts down on airborne allergens.

Baldwins obviously won’t need to be brushed or trimmed, making them much lower maintenance than Peruvians, Textels, Silkies, or other long-haired breeds. Easy to care for, Baldwins make great additions to families with small kids, and they’re among the best choices for new piggy parents.

You shouldn’t need to wash your Baldwin pal, either, as they just won’t get dirty enough to necessitate this extra grooming step.

That said, all guinea pigs demand a little grooming:

Regular ear check-ups

Just like people, guinea pigs produce ear wax. And as it builds up, it can provide a haven for bacteria, so it’s worth taking care of regularly. The good news? Baldwins aren’t known for serious problems here.

If you suspect a serious build-up of wax, make an appointment with your veterinarian!

Every two weeks, you’ll want to work a good outer-ear cleaning into your cavy’s care rituals, but never try to clean deep in your guinea pig’s ear! Instead, you’ll want to use high-quality cotton swabs and a drop of mineral oil to gently clean any loose debris and wax from your furry friend’s ears.

If you’re not sure how to go about this, just watch this video:

Monthly nail trimming

According to PetMD, “All guinea pigs need to have their nails trimmed periodically, typically every month to two months. The frequency of trimming depends on the guinea pig’s age, diet, cage substrate, and activity level. Younger guinea pigs’ nails typically grow faster than older ones’, and those that are fed nutritionally balanced diets generally grow faster as well.”

Cavy parents can use nail clippers designed for cats and work as a team to carefully trim their furry friend’s nails, being careful not to cut to the sensitive quick. If nail trimming stresses your guinea pig, you can work on one or two nails per session, resuming when it has had time to calm down.

Here’s a good how-to guide:

Final Thoughts: Is a Baldwin Guinea Pig Right for You?

Baldwins possess an irresistible charm, and their ease of care and sociable nature make them a popular choice.

We can recommend these piggies to new and experienced owners alike, and they’re an especially good choice for younger children who’ll find the demands of a long-haired breed hard to manage. As long as you take care to keep them warm, keep them out of the sun, and give them a touch more food than you would for other breeds, the Baldwin will make a great addition to your family.

Especially for families with allergy sufferers, a hairless breed like the Baldwin is a fantastic pick.

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