Want to know more about long haired guinea pig breeds?
Then you’ve come to the right place. These super-cute pets are smart, fun, and and a great family pet.
But how do you care for them, and what do you need to know? Read on!
Domestic guinea pigs make fabulous pets for tons of reasons: they are affectionate and intelligent, they require very little space, and there is more than one breed, which means that there is a variety of guinea pig for everyone!
Here, we’re going to focus on the long haired guinea pig breeds. Among the other guinea pig breeds are the short haired and Abyssinian types, and they also make fantastic pocket pets.
One of the advantages of the long haired breed is the luxurious, lavish, lush coat that other breeds just can’t match. Of course, these luscious locks don’t take care of themselves, and the trade-off for such a supremely furred animal is the time spent caring for her gorgeous mane.
But if brushing, styling and caring for your guinea pig’s coat sounds like fun, then the long haired breed might be the ultimate choice for you!
Before we take a look at the assortment of appealing long haired guinea pigs available to choose from, let’s delve into some guinea pig lore and separate a bit of fact from fiction.
First off, guinea pigs (also known as cavies), are not actually pigs, nor are they from Guinea. Domestic guinea pigs are rodents that originated in South America.
Today these vocal, sociable critters thrive in households across the globe. They have been kept as pets for thousands of years.
Just as with dogs and cats, some owners breed guinea pigs, especially the “look-at-me!” long haired types, as show animals. The American Cavy Breeders Association is one of the global organizations that oversee breed standards and competitions.
Are you considering getting a baby long haired guinea pig? There are several kinds to choose from and they take to handling quite well.
In fact, early socialization is crucial to your pet’s overall health and well-being. Studies have shown that early sensory deprivation has a detrimental effect on guinea pig development.
A Hairy Guinea Pig
So, what breeds of guinea pigs are hairier than the rest? For starters, the Peruvian breed is the best known example of a hirsute guinea pig. This little guy has so much hair that you might think he was wearing a wig!
The fur of a Peruvian can grow as long as a foot in length and it silky-smooth to the touch. As you can imagine, Peruvians are much in demand on the show circuit.
There are also guinea pigs who are a combination of long and short haired parentage. The Texel and Sheltie (aka Silkie) breeds are good examples of “mixed hair” guineas, although they definitely come out on the long end of the follicle!
Long Haired Guinea Pig Breeds
There are several long haired guinea pig breeds to choose from, with the Peruvian breed being the best recognized, and perhaps most prized, breed.
Part of the reason is that the Peruvian’s hair can grow to remarkable lengths: a 14 inch long coat is not unheard of. These impressive locks can grow long enough to simply cascade down each side of its back, with two rosettes (similar to a hair lick) present.
It is one of the oldest breeds, dating back to the 1800’s. Its fur comes in shades of white, black, and red and in a combination of these colors.
Because of its intense grooming regimen, the Peruvian is not recommended for first time guinea pig owners. This exotic little creature is a darling of breeders and those who show guinea pigs, all because of its expansive, high-maintenance coat.
The Sheltie is another well-known long haired breed. Unlike the Peruvian, it does not have rosettes, so the hair does not naturally part down the middle.
Also unlike the Peruvian, it is a relative newcomer, becoming a recognized breed in 1973. The fur comes in a wide variety of colors.
Sheltie hair is thick and soft grows out from the neck area like a mane, while the Peruvian’s hair grows out from both the front and back ends, so that it can be hard to tell which end is up!
The Coronet is similar to the Sheltie in that it has decidedly silky-smooth fur. One rosette at the head causes he hair to grow down. It comes in range of different colors.
Several breeds have curly hair, giving their pretty fur a “permed” appearance. The Lunkarya in particular has divinely curled tresses.
In fact, this breed has two coats, making the rough, bushy fur stand out conspicuously from its tiny body.
In a similar fashion, the Sheba has hair that extends in all directions, thanks to multiple rosettes.
The long-haired Texel hails from England and sports an unusual (for a guinea pig!) curly, corkscrew-like coat. Like the Sheltie’s, the hair does not part naturally.
If you’re looking for a white long haired guinea pig, you may not want a Texel, since Texel fur is either red or red/white.
Less commonly seen, the rare Alpaca has two rosettes at the back of its body and sports a thickly textured coat. The long maned, curly haired Merino sports just one rosette, on the top of its head.
Guinea Pig Hair
If you bring home a long haired guinea pig, you’ll definitely need the right equipment to trim your little one’s hair and keep her looking her best.
A wide toothed comb or pin brush works wonders on tangles, while a bristle brush will remove loose hair as well as lift out dirt and debris.
A bristle brush is also a good choice to help distribute the hair’s natural oil, resulting in a soft and shiny coat. And don’t forget a pair of small, sharp scissors for cutting out knots and trimming fringes and bangs.
A good place to start your grooming adventure is with an all-in-one kit such as these two selections:
This inexpensive, all-inclusive starter kit includes both a pin brush and bristle brush, plus nail clippers and even a tasty treat!
If you want to upgrade your choice, this cute kit includes a wide tooth comb, a pin brush, and a soft brush as well as a small pair of sharp scissors that are perfect for pruning your guinea’s hair.
Guinea Pig Haircut
So, how does one cut and coif a long haired guinea pig? Very carefully!
Actually, cutting a guinea’s hair is not a difficult proposition as long as you remember a few basics, including having a treat (preferably one loaded with Vitamin C since cavys need it daily) to serve as a distraction!
First off, place your guinea pig on a flat surface, with a soft towel that can either be washed or tossed, beneath him.
Many owners start by trimming the hair from back to front, cutting enough off so that the hair skims the tabletop.
If the underhair is tangled, pin back the top layer of hair so that you can access it more easily whilst taking your time grooming the problem area. If some mats simply do not comb out, carefully remove them with a pair of scissors.
Most owners, especially those with the Peruvian long haired guinea pig, find it convenient to keep the hair around their little bottoms trimmed short. This makes it easier for the cavy to do his business, and makes any additional clean-up easier.
Next, unpin and brush out the top layer. It’s easiest to grab small sections of hair between two extended fingers, and use them as a guide for cutting.
This constitutes the most basic, single layer haircut. It will look flattering on all guineas, but when it comes to your own guinea pig, your creativity is the only thing limiting her level of fashion-forwardness!
Guinea Pig Hairstyles
Does your exceptional guinea require a unique haircut, one that is as special as she is? If so, why not layer her hair from top to bottom, for a windswept look.
Remember that iconic feathered hairdo that legendary Farrah Fawcett rocked back in the day? That’s the look to aim for!
Or, how about a mullet cut? This is a practical style, characterized by a short ring of hair circling about the head, with much longer hair trailing off the body.
Maybe you want to tailor your bestie to look like a majestic lion? Simply leave a long mane of hair down through the neck area, and trim the rest closer to the body.
You can always opt for bangs, as well. Which is actually a good idea, since no matter which type of haircut you choose, you should keep the hair out of the eyes.
Not only so that your little one can see where he’s going, but because the individual hair strands can scratch the surface of the eye as well irritate it.
If you want to check out a video of an actual guinea pig haircut in process, we have some suggestions for you:
Guinea Pig Hair Types
Long guinea pig hair varies from breed to breed, but all types shed hair on a year round basis and must be groomed daily to remain in optimal condition. Nonetheless, you will probably notice more hair loss in the spring and fall, when the coat is renewed.
If you go too long without a comb-out, your guinea’s hair will tangle and mat, and in extreme cases matting can interfere with movement and feeding.
But the problem of tangles and mats actually extends from the fur down to the skin, because matted fur can cause a painful irritation which can result in infection.
Letting your cavy’s hair mat or stay soiled puts her at risk of a serious condition known as myiasis, also known as flystrike. It occurs when flies lay their eggs on your unkempt pet, and subsequently feed on the skin and tissue. Unfortunately, guinea pigs can die from flystrike within a few short days.
Mites are another problem that guinea pigs are prone to and can lead to hair loss and skin irritation. Use your grooming sessions to check for any signs of irregular skin or hair condition.
Luckily, mites are easily treated by your veterinarian.
As a side note, pregnant guinea pigs are subject to alopecia or hair loss, which should abate after nursing ends.
Long Haired Guinea Pig Care
Simple grooming can involve nothing more elaborate than routine brushing, regular clips and wiping as needed, especially on the bottom area.
If you wish to keep the hair long, but out of the way, try using small, non-pull rubber bands to sweep the hair aside. You may find that using a bit of tissue or paper towel under the band makes it easier to remove.
Most owners are drawn to long haired cavies precisely because of their gorgeous locks. But in the end, most owners find that caring for their cavy’s hair is also a fun and relaxing experience, as well as a great time for bonding.
Start brushing your cavy’s locks from an early age, and always go in the direction in which the hair grows.
We hope you enjoyed our look at long haired guinea pigs and their claim to fame: their legendary locks!
Do you have a tip or suggestion when it comes to guinea pig hair? Let us know in the comments section below.
Resources and Further Reading
American Cavy Breeders Assocation, ABCA Online.
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. What are the common health problems in pet guinea pigs?
Bartesaghi, R., Severi, S. (2004). Effects of early environment on field CA2 pyramidal neurons in the guinea-pig. Neuroscience, 123.
Hall, M., Wall, R. (1995). Myiasis of Humans and Domestic Animals. Advances in Parasitology, 35.
McFadden, S.L. et al (2005). Dietary vitamin C supplementation reduces noise-induced hearing loss in guinea pigs. Hearing Research, 202.