What Kind of Guinea pig?

Is a guinea pig, by any other name, still as sweet? Guinea pigs are as diverse as people are, and they come in many sizes, colors and temperaments. In fact, there are 12 different breeds of guinea pigs and 23 separate color groups. Each guinea pig will have a unique personality, but this distinction is lost on most people including the vast majority of pet store clerks. So, when shopping for a guinea pig for yourself or your children, you may just prefer to call it like you see it, a guinea pig is a guinea pig is a guinea pig. What's more important than the name is the personality of the guinea pig itself -- many are far from sweet.

Pet stores, especially those specializing in exotic pets, generally carry several different breeds of guinea pigs. However, you should know about the various other types of guinea pigs and what to expect if you bring home another variety although their temperament and behavior will not drastically change according to breed, how much care is required -- mainly because of their coats -- will. Since not all guinea pigs are the same, consider your decision before you go to the store. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you want a long-haired guinea pig or a short-haired one?Since this is the most distinguishing characteristic in guinea pigs, it is the most important question to answer. Long-haired guinea pigs can take considerably more time to care for than short-haired breeds, especially if you are interested in showing your cavie. In general, long-haired cavies need daily grooming care, while short-haired breeds are groomed once a week.
  • Do you want one guinea pig or more than one?In the wild guinea pigs live in large herds and prefer to have companionship. If you are routinely away from home for long periods of time, you will want to provide plenty of other distractions to keep her from becoming bored, or consider purchasing two guinea pigs so they can amuse each other while youre gone.

Your answers to these questions will be purely subjective. And, unfortunately, how you answer these questions may not necessarily help you since not every breed of guinea pig is available. However, if you know what type of guinea pig you are looking for, it is easier to phone several stores and ask. More and more stores and breeders do offer several varieties. A few of the possibilities are listed below:

  • Abyssinian
  • One of the oldest breeds, the Abyssinian has a unique appearance, with her body covered in rosettes- a pattern made of radiated hair growing from a center point. The Abyssinian has a medium size body length and her sides are rounded. Youll see a lot of depth in the shoulders and hindquarters.
  • American
  • The most widely recognized and popular breed, the American guinea pig has the look most commonly thought of when people are thinking of guinea pigs. He has a smooth coat that lies close to his body and his ears protrude from the sides of his head. But its his Roman, or rounded, nose that really distinguishes him from the other breeds.
  • Silkie
  • Can you guess whether this breed has long hair or short? Not only is her hair very long, but it is also very soft and grows back from the guinea pigs nose and over her back in a teardrop pattern. The Silkie requires frequent grooming to keep her luxurious coat in tip top shape. Not a surprise! When in England, this breed is also known as a Sheltie.
  • Peruvian
  • Similar in appearance to an Angora rabbit (this breed used to be called Angora), this cavie sports a long, sweeping coat that trails along beside her, dragging on the ground. This very soft, dense hair grows from a center part down the guinea pigs back, and requires a lot of daily grooming.

Once you have decided on the type of guinea pig that fits your lifestyle, dont hesitate to ask pet store employees what breeds of guinea pigs are available -- particularly if you don't see the kind you are interested in finding. Make sure you get the right one for you and your family, which is most often simply the good ol American guinea pig. Sometimes it's the most common animals that make the most uncommon pets!