The American Cavy Breeders Association (ACBA) recognizes 13 different guinea pig breeds.
Among the 13 different breeds of guinea pigs, there are also several basic recognized coat colors as well as innumerable color combinations and patterns.
Continue reading our complete guinea pig breed list to find out more!
The Abyssinian guinea pig has a short coat with whorls of fur called rosettes. Ideally, a show Abyssinian has eight to ten rosettes spaced evenly over the body.
Their coat is soft and coarse textured. Personality-wise, Abyssinians are quite energetic, intelligent, and personable.
Abyssinian Satins are very similar to the standard Abyssinian guinea pig breed, but they will have a shiny, satin sheen to their coat.
This breed will also have a short, soft, and coarse textured coat with rosettes across their body.
However, the gene that causes satin sheens in guinea pigs is linked to a gene that causes a large number of deformities and other deadly health problems. So, it’s best to avoid satin varieties.
The American guinea pig breed has a short smooth coat with no rosettes. It has a matte appearance and generally needs less grooming than other guinea pig breeds.
Like the standard American version, the American Satin guinea pig has a short, smooth coat with no rosettes. The main difference is that the American Satin will have a glossy, shiny coat.
But, American Satins are also prone to the same Satin Guinea Pig Syndrome we mentioned earlier. They often suffer from deformities and other serious health issues.
The Coronet guinea pig has one single whorl (rosette) of fur in the center of their forehead and a long, tousled coat.
Coronets get their name from their head crest, which often resembles a coronet (crown) worn by royalty.
The Peruvian guinea pig’s fur grows from back to front along a center part, with two whorls (rosettes), one at the front and one at the back. These direct hair growth over the face and then back over the hind quarters.
The Peruvian’s fur can quite easily reach lengths of 20 inches (50 cm) or longer!
This guinea pig breed’s personality is charming, alert and curious.
As before, the Peruvian Satin guinea pig breed is distinguished by the glossy, shiny sheen to its coat.
Like the standard Peruvian variety, it will have long fur, growing along a center part with two rosettes to direct hair growth.
A health concern of Peruvian guinea pigs is their habit of chewing on their own hair, even if they are provided with plenty of chew-worthy materials! This can cause internal impaction (similar to how hairballs affect cats).
And, on top of this the Peruvian Satin is prone to the same Satin Guinea Pig Syndrome as other satin varieties we’ve already looked at.
The Silkie is sometimes also called the Sheltie, particularly in the UK. The Sheltie is not a different breed of guinea pig.
Silkies have a soft, luxurious “curtain” of fur that naturally falls away from the face and is slightly longer near the hind quarters. They have no rosettes.
Viewed aerially, enthusiasts aim for a “teardrop” conformation in the body.
The Silkie Satin may also go by the name of Sheltie Satin.
Like the Silkie guinea pig, the Silkie Satin guinea pig breed has a long coat that grows from front to back with no center part. They have no rosettes so their hair is completely straight and smooth.
But, they are a much less healthy version, prone to dental and bone deformities, and other serious health problems.
Teddy guinea pigs literally look like round furballs. Instead of acknowledging gravity and laying down flat, each short fur strand sticks straight out from the body. Making this guinea pig breed look a lot like a long, plump and lushly bristled bottle brush.
Even though this breed has short hair, the Teddy pig needs daily attention to its thick, curly coat to remove tangles, mats and debris before they cause skin irritation.
Just like the standard Teddy guinea pig breed, the Teddy Satin guinea pig has short fur that sticks straight out from its body. But, the Teddy Satin will have a shiny, glossy sheen to its fur.
These guinea pig breeds are gentle, quiet, and affectionate. But, the satin gene sadly leaves them with a number of serious health problems that makes them poor pets.
The Texel guinea pig breed has a very unique coat. They have long, fluffy spiral curls that spring out and cover the entire body, including the belly region.
This breed can have a center part in its curly long hair, and the fur itself is very soft to the touch.
Texels are calm, sweet-natured, and patient.
Regardless of what color this short haired guinea pig breed’s coat may be, the White Crested always has a lone white whorl (rosette) of fur smack dab in the center of its forehead.
For show purposes, the rest of the coat must always be a different solid color from the white forehead whorl.
Other Guinea Pig Breeds
In addition to short haired, long haired, smooth coated, curly coated, rosettes, no rosettes and mixed fur, there are also breeds of guinea pig that have little to no fur at all. The two hairless guinea pig breeds are the Skinny Pig and the Baldwin.
The ACBA breeds are pretty consistent in size, but across the pond the Rex guinea pig – a British recognized purebred breed – definitely takes top honors in the “largest guinea pig breeds” category.
The Rex guinea pig can grow to a whopping 17 inches long and may take upwards of 24 months to get there!
Some other guinea pig breeds to consider are:
Smallest Guinea Pig Breed
Size-wise, the American guinea pig and the Texel guinea pig can be somewhat smaller than other breeds, topping out at 9 or 10 inches long.
And of course, there can be (and often are) noticeable guinea pig size differences within any given litter.
For example, the first-born guinea pig has the best access to nursing and thus gets a head start in growth.
Conversely, the last-born guinea pig is often smaller than the others because it gets less time to nurse and grow before weaning begins.
While certain breeders may advertise “dwarf” guinea pigs, there are no recognized dwarf guinea pig breeds.
More likely, so-called dwarf guinea pigs will be runts of the litter, or pups who have failed to thrive and grow as they should, either through congenital defects, lack of proper care, or both.
Guinea Pig Breeds
All guinea pig breeds are unique and special, as every guinea pig lover knows. There is no single ideal breed, but only the right breed for you!
Here, the most important aspect is simply to consider the care needs of different guinea pig breeds before selecting your new pet.
This way, you can make sure what you can offer and what your new pig will need are a good match.
If this article helped you choose a new piggie companion, please let us know which breed you chose in the comment section below!
References and Resources
- Bradford, A., ‘Guinea Pig Facts’, Live Science (2015)
- Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), ‘Guinea Pigs’, CCAC (2005-2018)
- ACBA Online, ‘Recognized Cavy Breeds’, American Cavy Breeders Association (ACBA), (2014)
- Etherington, S. (et al), ‘Australian National Standards for Exhibition Cavies’, Australian National Cavy Council (ANCC), (2018)
- Vanderlip, S.L., ‘The Guinea Pig Handbook’, Barron’s Educational Series (2003)
- Gallego, M. ‘Case Report of a Satin Guinea Pig with Fibrous Osteodystrophy that Resembles Human Pseudohypoparathyroidism’, Case Reports in Veterinary Medicine (2017)