If you’re considering getting a guinea pig, you might be wondering what breed is the best for you. The answer to that question depends on your preferences, the time you have for grooming, and the type of habitat you plan to keep them in. In this article, we will be discussing the different guinea pig breeds, their qualities and what makes them unique.
What Is The Best Breed Of Guinea Pig?
As a pet owner, I currently have three guinea pigs; a Rex, an Abyssinian, and an American. They’re all amazing in their own way. However, when I was looking for them, I knew there were specific breeds that wouldn’t be suitable for me, considering the effort and attention needed to take care of them.
For instance, I found the idea of brushing a guinea pig’s long hair every day to be too much work. Moreover, as my guinea pigs sleep in an outdoor hutch, hairless breeds wouldn’t find it comfortable in such an environment. I also needed a pet that was friendly, easy to groom and had a short coat that was hassle-free, especially since my daughter was still young at the time.
Conclusion? Every guinea pig breed is the best for someone. It all boils down to your preferences as a pet owner.
The Most Popular Guinea Pig Breed
The most popular guinea pig breed in America is the American guinea pig. They are the classic breed of guinea pig and beloved by many. They are easy to tame, friendly, and trusting. Their short coat is easy to groom, and they can adapt to living both indoors and outdoors.
Smallest Guinea Pig Breed
The smallest breeds of guinea pigs are:
- Skinny/ Baldwins
The smallest piggy from these breeds can weigh as little as a pound or two, but they generally grow bigger as they mature. If you prefer a smaller guinea pig, you can talk to a breeder about the size of the parents before adopting one.
Regardless of their size, all guinea pigs require a minimum of four square feet of living space per pig, whether they are indoors or outdoors.
Largest Guinea Pig Breed
The Rex guinea pig breed is the largest, which can grow up to 17 inches long and weigh more than 2.5 pounds! The breed has a wiry coat that stands out from its body, giving it a voluminous appearance. Although their coat doesn’t need any extra maintenance compared to short-haired breeds, it might be prone to breakage, so it is better to keep them indoors, especially in colder climates. However, some veterinarians also advise against breeding them due to the possibility that the gene that affects their coat might also affect their whiskers, which could impact their overall well-being.
Giant Guinea Pigs
In some parts of the US, there is an increasing interest in domesticating the large guinea pig breeds reared for food in South America. They’re commonly sold as ‘giant guinea pigs’ in national pet stores. However, these breeds have never been domesticated and tend to be very aggressive and difficult to handle. Therefore, animal welfare experts don’t recommend them to pet owners.
Fluffiest Breeds of Guinea Pig
If you love fluffy guinea pigs, you’re in luck! Several breeds of guinea pigs have unique crimped or curly coats. The Peruvian and Silkie breeds have straight, long hair that can grow several inches long, which requires daily brushing to prevent tangling, and grooming to prevent fly-strike. The Texel, Minipli, Alpaca, and Merino breeds are newer varieties with scruffy, curly, corkscrew coats that are extremely photogenic but are rare and may require going through a breeder’s waiting list to get one.
Friendliest Guinea Pig Breeds
Guinea pigs are social and curious animals, and some breeds are easier to tame than others. Some of the friendliest breeds to consider include:
- American guinea pigs
However, it is essential to note that breed is just one factor that contributes to how friendly a guinea pig is. Other factors, such as how much handling they receive at a young age and how comfortable they are around people, also play a role in taming them.
Best Guinea Pig Breed To Keep Indoors
Several guinea pig breeds are suitable for indoors, such as the American guinea pig and the Rex. Guinea pigs with long hair, like the Peruvian, might be safer indoors due to the risk of fly-strike. Hairless breeds like the Baldwin and the Skinny Pig require indoor habitats, particularly in cold weather.
Regardless of whether they’re indoors or outdoors, ensure that their surroundings are always comfortable, neither too hot nor too cold.
Best Guinea Pig Breed To Keep Outdoors
Most guinea pig breeds can thrive outdoors, particularly short-coated breeds that can withstand cooler weather. Breeds like the American guinea pig, Abyssinian, and Teddy pigs can quickly adapt to the outdoors as long as the temperature doesn’t drop below 60°F (15°C) at night or during winter
Which Is The Best Guinea Pig Breed For Beginners?
If you’re a first-time guinea pig owner, the American guinea pig is your best bet. They’re easy to befriend, readily available, and require minimal care.
Aside from choosing the right breed, check out these tips for taking care of your first guinea pig.
Choosing the best guinea pig breed for you is a matter of personal preference. Every breed has unique qualities and requires special attention, depending on the type of habitat you intend to keep them in. Whether you’re longing to have a cute and tiny companion or a larger-than-life guinea pig, there’s always a breed that’s perfect for you.
Which Guinea Pig Breed Do You Think Is Best?
Which guinea pig breed is your absolute favorite? Do you think there is a specific breed that’s perfect for everyone? Leave a comment below and let us know!
References & Further Reading
Claricoates. Giant Guinea Pigs. Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital. Accessed July 2021.
Donnelly & Brown. Guinea pig and chinchilla care and husbandry. Veterinary Clinics: Exotic Animal Practice. 2004.
Genetic Welfare Problems of Companion Animals. Universities Federation for Animal Welfare.
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