When most people think of guinea pigs, they think of… guinea pigs. They have no idea there are different types of these adorable little rodents, but, in fact, there are 13 different guinea pig breeds in total.
Not all 13 of these breeds are commonly kept as pets, so you may have never seen some of the animals mentioned on this list. Still, if you’d like to be introduced to every different type of guinea pig there is, the following list will help you meet each member of this rodent family.
The 13 Types of Guinea Pig Breeds
1. Abyssinian Guinea Pig
The Abyssinian gets its name from…who knows, really? You’d think it would mean that the breed originally came from Ethiopia, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Whatever the reason for their name, these rodents are known for having “rosettes,” or cowlicks, all over their fur, giving them a perpetual case of bedhead. Keeping an Abyssinian can be extremely rewarding for experienced owners, but the breed’s excitable nature makes them a poor fit for first-time owners.
2. American Guinea Pig
The American is the most commonly-owned type of guinea pig, and they come in 19 different color classifications. Their coats are short and silky (and much more manageable than the Abyssinian’s).
These guinea pigs are very sweet and docile, which explains their popularity. If you’re just starting out as an owner, the American is a good breed to learn on.
3. Peruvian Guinea Pig
Peruvians have long, wavy hair that makes them look like they spend their spare time fronting a “Flock of Seagulls” cover band. The hair can grow up to 2 feet long, so you’ll need to spend a lot of time grooming it and cutting it as necessary.
These animals make alert and inquisitive pets, but they can become quite affectionate once they learn to trust you.
4. Sheltie/Silkie Guinea Pig
Like Peruvians, Shelties also have long hair, except theirs only grows backward. They are a pain to groom as a result, so they’re not ideal for anyone wanting a low-maintenance pet.
However, they’re also generally considered the most gentle and easygoing of all the guinea pig breeds, making them an excellent option for families with small children.
5. Sheba Guinea Pig
Shebas take the crown for best facial hair, as they have long muttonchops that frame their faces, giving them the appearance of a Civil War general having a bad hair day. However, unlike some of the other long-haired breeds on this list, their fur grows slowly and requires little maintenance.
This breed originated in Australia and is believed to be a mix of the Abyssinian and Peruvian. However, they’re generally not recognized by official boards like the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
- Related Read: 8 Easy Ways to Make Your Guinea Pig Happy
6. Coronet Guinea Pig
Coronets have long, flowing manes that grow backward down their bodies. These rodents are extremely sweet and lovable, and they will constantly demand attention from their owners (which gives you plenty of opportunities to groom that fur).
7. Lunkarya Guinea Pig
This Swedish breed boasts a long, curly coat that gives it a mop-like appearance (and you can set it loose on your wood floors to have your very own low-tech Roomba). Lunkaryas, or “Lunks,” have three different variations within the breed: Lunkarya Peruvian, Lunkarya Sheltie, and Lunkarya Coronet.
These animals aren’t normally found outside of Sweden, and they fare poorly in warmer climates due to all that hair.
- Related Read: How Much Does It Cost to Own a Guinea Pig?
8. Rex Guinea Pig
The Rex looks more like a chinchilla than a guinea pig, as it has short, wool-like fur that’s much easier to manage than some of the long-haired breeds shown here.
This breed enjoys being handled, so if you like being affectionate towards your pets, it’s one of the better guinea pig options. Just resist the urge to squeeze them too tightly.
9. Baldwin Guinea Pig
The Baldwin is born with a full head of hair, but they gradually shed it over time until just a few whiskers on their face remain. That makes them very easy to groom, but it also gives them the appearance of a tiny hippopotamus.
Their lack of hair means they need to be kept warm, as they don’t have much natural insulation, but they should also be kept out of direct sunlight. All in all, the Baldwin is probably best left to experienced guinea pig owners only.
10. Alpaca Guinea Pig
The Alpaca’s fur isn’t long, but it’s extremely dense and coarse. You’ll need to brush it every day and de-tangle it regularly, so this breed requires just about as much grooming as long-haired breeds like the Peruvian.
These rodents can live up to 8 years, which gives you lots of time with your pet — but also means you’ll be spending a considerable amount of your life brushing a guinea pig.
11. Texel Guinea Pig
Texels are a mix between Shelties and Rexes, and they have dense, matted fur that can be a beast to maintain. Tangles are common, so expect to carve out some time every day to brush out their coats.
This British breed is known for its dominance as a show guinea pig, but they’re less commonly kept as pets.
12. Teddy Guinea Pig
The Teddy gets its name due to the fact it resembles a teddy bear, and these plush guinea pigs are extremely loving and playful. They have short coats that only require periodic maintenance, and they tend to be social towards other guinea pigs.
13. Skinny Guinea Pig
Another hairless variety, the Skinny has a few tufts of fur on its back and face. All that exposed skin needs lots of TLC, as they can’t handle extreme temperatures, and they’re very prone to cuts and skin infections.
You’ll save time on grooming, of course, but some of that will need to be spent finding them a suitable blanket.
Which Guinea Pig Breed is Right for You?
If you’re in the market for a new pet, a guinea pig makes an excellent choice — but which of the 13 breeds should you choose? They’re all fantastic animals, and many have distinctive looks and behaviors, so ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference.
Still, it’s hard to resist bringing home a Baldwin and telling your kids you bought them a baby hippo, isn’t it?
Featured Image: krithnarong Raknagn, Shutterstock