The Rex may not be a recognized breed by the American Cavy Breeders Association, but that hasn’t in any way stopped the love!
Known to be sweet-tempered, this close genetic relative of the Teddy is low-maintenance and highly social, making it a great choice for new guinea pig parents and families with children.
Do you want to know more about the Rex breed? Wondering if a Rex might be right for you?
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Rex Guinea Pig Origins
The “King of Cute:” all hail the Rex!
No one seems to know where the Rex originates, but there are some clues in its genetics.
The smooth-hair phenotype, signified by “rr” is dominant in guinea pigs. That means that if a piggie inherits it, it will “override” any recessive trait it may have picked up.
Both the wavy coat, “wv,” and the Rex coat, “rx,” are recessive. In plain English, that means that unless a Rex is bred to a Rex, with both carrying the recessive allele alone (rxrx), you won’t get a “King!”
Experts have this to add: “Longhaired cavies with the rxrx genotype (essentially silkies with rxrx rather than RxRx) are texels, which have long ringlets for fur. Shorthaired cavies with the rxrx genotype are called rexes – these are accepted in Britain and other countries, but not (yet) by the ACBA.”
Mixing recessive phenotypes reverts to the dominant genotype: a guinea pig carrying the phenotypes rrwv or rrrx will have the standard coat of an American, as will a mix of Teddy and Rex (wvrx).
What does this tell us?
The Rex and Teddy are produced when a recessive trait is expressed from both (short-haired) parents, and in this case, these recessive genes are expressed in a very similar fashion.
Rex versus Teddy: not much to differentiate them
Rexes look a lot like Teddies, and they can be very, very hard to tell apart!
One clue, though this is not always the case, is that the Rex will tend to have curlier, kinkier whiskers at the eyes and nose.
Rex Guinea Pig Breed Characteristics
As you’d expect, given their genetic make-up, Rexes are very similar to Teddies. In fact, many piggie parents aren’t really sure if their furry friends carry the rxrx or wvwv genes–not that it matters a whole lot!
Not the largest breed of piggie, expect them to max-out at about a foot when fully grown, and they should weigh no more than 3 pounds when mature.
Sharing the “Roman” nose of the American, they have a slightly elongated face and droopy ears.
And like the Teddy, the Rex has a short, plush coat that stands-up.
Rexes are generally sociable, friendly, and playful, making excellent pets for parents who want a cuddly furball that likes to snuggle. They’re also great for kids.
Rex Guinea Pig Care
Rexes, like Teddies, are low-maintenance, making them a great choice for the average guinea pig enthusiast or for families with children.
In addition to the standard dietary and space requirements common to all guinea pigs, you’ll need just a touch of additional grooming for your Rex:
The Rex has a short, fluffy coat that’s easy to keep clean, and unlike longer-haired breeds like the Silkie or Texel, its coat doesn’t require a lot of care.
That said, a weekly brush will help to distribute the Rex’s natural oils, keeping its coat in prime shape.
Given the short hair of this breed, the usual fine-toothed comb is probably not necessary. Instead, we’d recommend a soft-bristled baby brush and gentle strokes. Many Rexes love this treatment, and it’s a great way to bond with your furry friend!
Bathing two or three times a year
Rexes have a coat that stays pretty clean, and it’s not likely to pick up debris or get soaked in urine or feces.
Nevertheless, two or three times a year, it’s a good idea to give them a thorough wash.
Any more than that, though, and you risk over-drying their delicate skin.
Most guinea pig breeds won’t enjoy bath-time, and as PetMD warns, “Guinea pigs do not typically like to be immersed in water, so just an inch or two of warm water in the sink, with a sink sprayer to rinse off the shampoo, works great.”
Vets recommend liquid Dawn or Ivory soap, and you need to be careful to rinse your furry buddy carefully to remove all those suds. Follow with a towel-dry, or a hairdryer on low heat, to get your friend warm and dry.
As you can see, this can be quite the adventure!
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.
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 Rex’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 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.”
Rex’s nails seem to grow a bit faster than other breeds, so this is something to keep on top of.
Rex 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 the Rex Guinea Pig Right for You?
A Rex may be the King of Cute, but is it the right choice for you?
Rexes are affectionate, fun-loving, and playful, so if you’re looking for a guinea pig that loves cuddles and floor time, this breed might be the perfect choice for you. They’re also great with kids, making them a popular choice for families with young ones who’d love to take care of an energetic furball.
And their short, low-maintenance coat requires just a minimum of care, making them one of the least grooming-intensive options.
That makes the Rex a good fit for a lot of cavy clans, and if you’re looking for a new member of your family, the King may be the right option for you.