If you’re thinking about bringing a new guinea pig into your home, you probably know that you have a wide range of options when selecting the breed.
Of course, the more you know, the better your decision–and we’d like to help!
Below, you’ll find short descriptions of common guinea pig breeds, with some general recommendations about which ones are best left to the pros versus good choices for new piggie parents.
Table of Contents
- 1 Common Guinea Pig Breeds
- 1.1 Abyssinian Guinea Pig
- 1.2 Alpaca Guinea Pig
- 1.3 American Guinea Pig
- 1.4 Baldwin Guinea Pig
- 1.5 Coronet Guinea Pig
- 1.6 Himalayan Guinea Pig
- 1.7 Lunkarya Guinea Pig
- 1.8 Merino Guinea Pig
- 1.9 Peruvian Guinea Pig
- 1.10 Rex Guinea Pig
- 1.11 Sheba Guinea Pig
- 1.12 Silkie (Sheltie) Guinea Pig
- 1.13 Skinny Guinea Pig
- 1.14 Teddy Guinea Pig
- 1.15 Texel Guinea Pig
- 1.16 White-Crested Guinea Pig
- 2 Final Thoughts
Common Guinea Pig Breeds
Abyssinian Guinea Pig
Abyssinian guinea pigs are distinguished by “rosettes,” essentially flower-shaped cowlicks that create a striking pattern. Where these rosettes meet, their hair will form upright ridges, giving a wavy appearance to their somewhat wiry coat.
They come in a variety of colors, but experts advise that they can be excitable, making them better for long-time pet parents than first-time cavie owners.
Alpaca Guinea Pig
Alpacas sport long, beautiful coats that are coarse and wavy. This gives them a cute, fluffy appearance, almost like a tiny sheep or Alpaca, the animal from which they get their name!
As beautiful as they are, that coat demands a lot of care to prevent tangling and clumping. For that reason, we only recommend this breed for experienced cavie enthusiasts.
American Guinea Pig
When you think of a “generic” guinea pig, the American is probably the one that comes to mind.
Recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA), these cavies are known for having relatively short hair that comes in a staggering 19 specific color patterns!
Calm, friendly, and funny, the American guinea pig is a perennial favorite for its personality, making it easily the most popular breed.
Baldwin Guinea Pig
Baldwins are probably the easiest breed to identify: though born with hair, within a few months, it all falls out, leaving them completely hairless for the rest of their lives!
Their skin is colored, and they still come in patterns. But as you’d expect, there’s really no need for grooming if your clan includes this cavie.
That said, they don’t tolerate cold very well, and direct sunlight can give them a nasty–and dangerous–sunburn. Many guinea pig enthusiasts recommend providing extra bedding material for these naked piggies, as they’ll need a bit of help to stay warm when the mercury drops.
Coronet Guinea Pig
Coronets are easy to mistake for Silkies or Peruvians, as they’re characterized by long, lustrous hair. The way to be sure you’re looking at a Coronet is to search for a part down the back–there shouldn’t be one–and to pay close attention to the head where you’ll find a rosette that looks a bit like a crown.
Longer-haired than the White-Crested, the Coronet’s distinctive crown can come in any color.
And though these piggies are friendly and fun-loving, that long coat demands constant attention. As a result, we recommend this breed for experienced cavie owners.
Himalayan Guinea Pig
If you can imagine a Siamese cat transmogrified into a guinea pig, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what a Himalayan looks like!
Sleek and white, they have striking dark patches on their nose, ears, and feet. Their short coat makes them easy to care for, too!
Friendly and affectionate, they make great family pets.
Lunkarya Guinea Pig
Lunkaryas, or “Lunks,” are characterized by long, crazy, curly hair that can’t be combed out.
Hailing from Sweden, these cute messes can’t take high temps, as that thick coat keeps them very warm, but they’re great for colder climates and homes. Essentially a genetic twist on the Peruvian, they come in three variations: the Lunkarya Peruvian, sporting a dominant forelock, the Lunkarya Coronet, blessed with the crown you’d expect, and the Lunkarya Sheltie, featuring long, flowing hair that doesn’t part along its back.
Because they demand regular, careful grooming, Lunks are best reserved for experienced guinea pig parents.
Merino Guinea Pig
Merinos look a lot like little balls of colored wool, which is probably where they get their name!
Blessed with a rich, curly coat that’s short on their heads and faces, they’ll sport a matching rosette centered between their ears and eyes.
Loving and affectionate, they make great additions to families that are willing to invest some time in grooming.
Peruvian Guinea Pig
Peruvian guinea pigs are amazingly cute!
Blessed with thick, long hair that naturally parts down the middle of their bodies–also growing forward over their face–they’re among the most heart-melting guinea pigs on our list.
But that long hair demands grooming, and you really need to stay on top of it to keep it looking good. As a result, we don’t recommend this breed for first-time cavie parents or for children.
Rex Guinea Pig
Rexes feature short, very thick coats that make them look almost wooly. They also sport long, droopy ears and big heads, and many cavie fanatics find them irresistible!
Among the friendliest of the breeds, this guinea pig craves gentle attention and loves to be handled and petted. Their personality, along with their ease-of-care, make them a great choice for kids and new piggie parents.
Sheba Guinea Pig
A Sheba lives its life as one long bad hair day!
Characterized by a tousled, wavy coat with random rosettes, Shebas also sport distinctive “mutton chops” on their faces. Their tousled hair makes them terribly cute, but it also demands a lot of care.
Friendly, fun-loving, and curious, Shebas make great furry additions to families with experience in guinea pig grooming.
Silkie (Sheltie) Guinea Pig
At first glance, someone new to the guinea pig world might mistake a Silkie for a Peruvian: they both have long, beautiful coats.
But what differentiates a Silkie is that all that luxurious hair won’t part on its back, nor will it grow forward over the face.
And like the Peruvian, this is a breed best reserved for experienced guinea pig owners who can take the time and have the skill to maintain its long coat.
Skinny Guinea Pig
Skinnies are like Baldwins with a few tufts of hair on their muzzles, feet, and legs. The rest of their body is hairless, but like the Baldwin, their skin coloration still provides plenty of pattern.
And like these close relatives, they don’t tolerate cold well, so it’s a good idea to provide some extra bedding to help them stay cozy.
You might think that this hairless breed is easy to take care of–but that would be a big mistake! Their skin is quite sensitive and very prone to fungal infection. As a result, they need frequent, careful attention to remain healthy, and this is definitely a breed best reserved for the pros.
Teddy Guinea Pig
Teddies are differentiated by short, wiry, dense coats that create an even “puff” over their entire body. Unusual in that their hair isn’t as soft as other guinea pig breeds, that’s not at all a bad thing!
Their unique appearance makes them heart-warmingly adorable and very easy to care for. And their fun-loving, easy-going temperament makes them an ideal choice for kids or new pet parents.
Texel Guinea Pig
Maybe the most beautiful breed of guinea pig, you can tell a Texel by its long, flowing, curly locks.
Naturally forming trailing ringlets, Texels will obviously need a lot of grooming to keep their coats neat and in good condition. Cute as they are, this breed is really best reserved for experienced cavie enthusiasts.
White-Crested Guinea Pig
The White-Crested is striking; essentially an American in nearly all respects, it adds a single rosette on the head, letting the white undercoat peek through. That makes them extra adorable!
Calm, friendly, and easy to care for, they make great first-time guinea pigs.
If you’re thinking about adding a guinea pig to your family, it’s worth taking the time to research breeds and carefully consider which is the best for you and your level of experience.
If you’re just beginning your guinea pig journey, or if you have a child for whom a cavie would be an ideal pet, we recommend the following breeds as great options:
- American Guinea Pig
- Himalayan Guinea Pig
- Rex Guinea Pig
- Teddy Guinea Pig
- White-Crested Guinea Pig
Each of these breeds is friendly, affectionate, and fun-loving, and none of them demand serious grooming or special care.
We hope this article has helped you start your life with the right guinea pig, and we’re sure that with a little research, you’ll find just the right furry friend for your home.