The Teddy guinea pig is unbelievably cute and fluffy, making it a popular pet, especially for children. With their rough, dense coats and upturned noses, these cavies look just like cuddly stuffed animals, hence their name!
They grow to be about 12 inches long and weigh anywhere from 1.5 to 3 pounds. They are friendly and social creatures that enjoy being around people and other guinea pigs.
In this article, you are going to learn all about the Teddy Bear guinea pig. We’ll discuss everything from their origins to their common health problems and grooming needs.
Teddy Guinea Pig FAQs
Our readers’ most popular and frequently asked questions about the Teddy Guinea Pig.
- Are Teddy Guinea Pigs friendly?
- Do Teddy Guinea Pigs make good pets for children?
- How long do Teddy Guinea Pigs live?
- Do Teddy Guinea Pigs smell?
What’s In This Guide To The Teddy Guinea Pig?
- Where does the Teddy Guinea Pig come from?
- Similar breeds
- Is a Teddy Guinea Pig right for me?
What is a Teddy Guinea Pig?
The Teddy Bear guinea pig is one of the newer varieties of guinea pig.
The Teddy is quite distinctive from its smooth-coated American cousin. They have a short, dense coat that stands on end. It gives the impression of a particular plush bottle brush!
Teddy Bear guinea pigs have a slightly upturned nose, called a “Roman nose,” which is much wider than that of other cavies.
Where Does The Teddy Guinea Pig Come From?
Guinea pigs originated in the Andes Mountains in South America and were initially domesticated by the Peruvian Inca about 3000 years ago. Historically, they were kept and raised as food and as offerings to the gods.
The guinea pig was believed to have been brought over to Europe by the Spanish, where they became popular pets.
Teddy Guinea Pig Appearance
Teddy Guinea Pig Size
How big does the Teddy Bear guinea pig get? Teddies generally grow up to 12 inches in length.
Female guinea pigs are usually slightly smaller than males, weighing between 1.5 pounds and 2.5 pounds. Male Teddies generally weigh between 2 pounds and 3 pounds.
However, as with any pet animal, there are always exceptions to the rule.
Teddy Guinea Pig Colors
Teddy guinea pig colors can vary widely and include solid colors, roans, and several different shades, including tricolors. Colors typically range from pure white, jet black, glossy brown, chestnut, gold, and various shades of grey.
Teddy guinea pigs can also have satin coats, which are glossier than standard coats. You can see a few examples of the Teddy guinea pig colors on the American Cavy Breeders’ Association site.
Teddy Guinea Pig Facts
It is thought that the Teddy Bear guinea pig was the result of a genetic quirk that occurred in animals that were bred for use in laboratories when American guinea pigs were cross-bred with Abyssinians.
You need a basic understanding of genetics to understand what happened and how the breed came to be. So, here comes the science!
Similar to humans, every guinea pig has two sets of genes within their cells. One set is from their mother and one set is from their father.
The genes are carried on microscopic structures called chromosomes.
Genes can be “dominant” or “recessive”. And dominant genes take precedence over recessive ones.
Teddy Guinea Pig Genetics
In the case of Teddies, their American ancestors carry recessive genes for long hair, whereas the Abyssinian side of the family all have dominant genes for short hair.
Therefore, all babies that result from the cross-breeding of American and Abyssinian guinea pigs will have short coats.
Teddies also have another pair of recessive genes known as “tt” That’s a pair of two recessive “t” genes (some genes have excellent self-explanatory names, others are only given a letter!).
This gene causes the shaft of each hair to kink at its base, resulting in their trademark short, upstanding coat.
Teddy Guinea Pig Temperament
Teddies are extremely friendly and love to spend time in human company, as well as with their cage mates.
They enjoy being gently handled and are generally quiet, laid back types. This makes them very popular as children’s pets.
Teddies are pretty smart and can learn simple commands and tricks with some patient training.
Just like all breeds of guinea pigs, these charming little fluff-balls do need the company of other Teddies, so always keep them in same-sex pairs or small groups.
Teddies will also mix happily with other breeds of guinea pigs.
Despite their chill personalities, Teddies appreciate a large cage or run with plenty of space to play and exercise.
Do Teddy Guinea Pigs Bite?
Guinea pigs, in general, are known for being gentle, friendly, and cuddly creatures. They are usually not aggressive animals.
However, your fluffy friend might nibble or bite in some specific instances:
- Cavies may nibble if your hands smell like food or hay. It is more a case of mistaken identity rather than bad behavior.
- They also may intentionally bite if they are scared, in pain, or jostled around too much.
- These tiny critters are not a fan of loud noises, so if they happen to be in your hands when something frightens them, they could bite in this instance as well.
- Guinea pigs are social and cuddly but they also require gentle handling. If they are unhappy with the way they are being handled they may use their teeth to let you know. Too much bouncing, like going up and down stairs, or being passed around frequently can irritate some guinea pigs.
- Another reason a cavy might bite is if they are sick or in pain and do not want to be handled. This could be due to anything from skin irritation or a minor injury, to a serious illness.
It is recommended to put your cavy down or return them to their cage if they are biting, as it is likely a sign that they want to be left alone.
Taming Teddy Guinea Pigs
Guinea Pigs can be trained to come when called and to do a few simple tricks. They are smart animals and considered fairly easy to train with a little patience. The Teddy Bear guinea pig is no different.
It is best to wait until your Teddy is well settled into their home and comfortable with you. They respond to positive reinforcement training, using a treat based reward system.
You may be able to train your Teddy to come, stand, turn in a circle, and return to their cage. Some guinea pigs will even jump through hoops!
Check out our article, “How to Tame a Guinea Pig—Your Step By Step Guide,” for more training tips.
Teddy Guinea Pig Exercise
When it comes to exercise, the Teddy Bear guinea pig’s tiny size can be misleading. They need plenty of daily exercise and space to run and play. And like humans, a sedentary guinea pig can develop heart disease and diabetes.
Housing your Teddy Bear guinea pig in a large cage is a good start. However, they also need a safe area to run around in.
You can even set up ramps or tunnels for them to run through, as they can get bored easily. Some cavies may even chase a small ball if you roll it across their pen.
Teddy Guinea Pig Enclosure
It’s highly recommended that you create a barricaded space, as allowing them to roam free can be dangerous.
They are small enough to hide in nooks and crannies where you can’t see or reach them. And they can even burrow in between sofa cushions and run the risk of being squashed.
Guinea pigs also don’t have an innate instinct as to what is food and what isn’t. They will nibble on electrical cords and whatever else they find.
It is also advised that you section off a safe area on a soft or smooth surface to protect their sensitive feet.
What is not recommended for guinea pigs are exercise balls and wheels. These critters are different from hamsters and mice, and the circular running toys can cause injury to a guinea pig’s back.
The exercise balls may also not provide enough air circulation, which can lead to heatstroke in your furry companion. Stick to a cordoned off, open-aired play area for your guinea pig to run around in.
Teddy Guinea Pig Health
Before committing to ownership of any pet, it’s helpful for you to know which diseases and other health conditions they may be susceptible to.
Being aware of any potential problems well in advance means that you will quickly spot trouble brewing right away, and you can get your pet the right treatment quickly.
Here’s an overview of the main health problems that Teddy Bear guinea pigs are most likely to have:
Teddy Guinea Pigs And Diarrhea
Like all guinea pigs, a Teddy is particularly vulnerable to bouts of diarrhea.
Diarrhea is usually the result of an infection or a lack of fiber (hay) in the guinea pig’s diet. It causes the balance of “good” bacteria in their digestive tract to become disrupted.
This can lead to dehydration, depression, and very low body temperature.
If your Teddies develop diarrhea, you must seek veterinary assistance right away.
Teddy Guinea Pigs And Respiratory Diseases
Respiratory diseases affect all breeds of guinea pigs.
Pneumonia is a very serious respiratory disease that is caused by the bacteria Bordetella and streptococcus.
Some Teddies can carry this disease without ever showing symptoms until they become stressed or ill.
The guinea pig’s weakened state triggers the bacteria to become active and pneumonia then manifests itself. It can spread rapidly among every animal in the group.
Look out for milky discharge from the guinea pig’s nose and eyes, raspy breathing, and constant sneezing fits.
Always consult your vet immediately if your Teddy shows any of these signs.
Teddy Guinea Pigs And Vitamin C Deficiency (Scurvy)
Scurvy is a disease that commonly affects Teddy guinea pigs if their diet is incorrect.
All guinea pigs need 10 to 50 milligrams of vitamin C in their diet every day. Vitamin C deficiency causes poor appetite, a scurfy coat, swollen joints, diarrhea, skin or gum ulcers, and hemorrhaging.
Protect your Teddy by adding greens, colored fruits, and veggies such as carrots to their daily ration. You should also feed them a portion of high-quality guinea pig pellets, which contain vitamin C.
Make sure that the pellets you feed to your pet are fresh. Feed over 90 days old loses its vitamin content and won’t be as beneficial.
Teddy Guinea Pigs And Ear Infections
Ear infections are a particular problem for Teddy Bear guinea pigs.
You may notice a foul odor from your pet’s ear. And they may hold their head tipped to one side and squeak in pain when you touch the affected ear.
Minor ear infections are easily remedied by a short course of antibiotics and cleaning from your vet. The cleaning will get rid of any wax and debris where bacteria could breed.
Taking the time to gently clean your Teddy’s ears with a warm, damp towel once a week. This will help prevent painful ear infections.
Teddy Guinea Pigs And Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
All breeds of guinea pigs are susceptible to urinary tract problems, and Teddies are no exception.
Female Teddies are prone to a painful bladder infection called cystitis.
Male guinea pigs can develop kidney and bladder stones. These are extremely painful conditions that occur when calcium in the animal’s body forms small “stones,” which grow until they are too big to pass out in the urine.
The stones (calculi) then obstruct the animal’s urethra or ureter. This allows urine to build-up in the bladder and leaving the poor guinea pig unable to urinate.
Look out for affected guinea pigs adopting a typical hunched posture when attempting to pee. They can also appear depressed and lose all interest in food.
Urinary tract infections can be treated easily with antibiotics from your vet. However, guinea pigs with calculi will usually require surgery.
Teddy Guinea Pigs And Skin Diseases
When grooming your Teddy, have a good look at their skin for signs of hair loss, crusting of the skin, and weeping scabs.
These signs could mean that your pet has developed a fungal infection called ringworm.
Ringworm can be easy to miss in Teddies because of their thick, dense coat. It is usually more prevalent around the animal’s face, head, and ears, although all body areas can be affected.
Your vet can prescribe an oral or topical antifungal treatment to clear up the infection.
Teddy Guinea Pigs And Bumblefoot
This condition (pododermatitis) is a common condition in guinea pigs, especially in large or overweight animals. It causes a deep infection to set in around one toe on the guinea pig’s foot, lameness, and extreme pain.
Lifespan Of The Teddy Guinea Pig
So, how long do Teddy guinea pigs live?
Unlike short-lived mice and rats, Teddies can live from 4 to 8 years, provided they are looked after properly and remain in good health.
Do Teddy Guinea Pigs Smell?
Teddies and guinea pigs, in general, are clean critters that groom themselves frequently. That said, they do need some help from you.
Keep your Teddy’s cage clean to manage pet-related odor. Like your home, if the guinea pig’s living quarters are neglected then they will smell too.
Teddy Guinea Pig Care
Teddy Guinea Pig Grooming And Bathing
Teddies’ short hair does not tangle like that of some of the long-coated breeds of guinea pigs. However, it is still necessary to brush your Teddy to remove any debris that may work its way down through the dense coat and irritate the skin.
Brush your Teddy’s coat once a week with a thin or slick brush to remove any loose, dead hair from the dense coat. A rabbit brush is perfect for this job. But be careful to groom your pets gently so as not to scratch their delicate skin.
Note that Teddies do tend to have drier skin than some of the other breeds of the cavy.
If you bring your guinea pigs outside to play, they may need an occasional bath to keep their coat and skin in good condition. When bathing your Teddies, always use a special mild shampoo that is recommended by your vet.
Teddy Guinea Pig Ear Care
Teddy guinea pigs have gorgeous little flat ear flaps that add to their undeniable cute factor! However, this body feature can make them prone to earwax build-up over time.
You can help alleviate this problem by using a warm, damp towel to very gently clean out the inside of the ears.
Teddy Guinea Pig Feeding
As with any breed of guinea pig, Teddies must have plenty of good-quality Timothy hay to eat and nest in. Use a hay rack so that their snacking hay does not become soiled.
In addition to their hay, you should ensure a balanced diet by feeding good-quality guinea pig pellets daily. They usually eat about 1/8 of a cup of pellets per day.
These pellets should be providing a good dose of protein and fiber. Look for pellets that are composed of about 20% protein and 16% fiber.
In addition to pellets, your Teddy should be eating fresh veggies every day. Leafy greens should make up the majority of their vegetable serving, which is about 20% of their diet by weight.
Other vegetables and some fruit can be added in with the leafy greens as a healthy treat.
Guinea pigs need to get vitamin C from their diet so the leafy greens plus whatever other fruits and veg you serve them need to provide a daily dose of this essential nutrient. As mentioned earlier, guinea pigs require 10 to 50 milligrams of vitamin C a day.
Only feed treats in moderation, as Teddy guinea pigs are prone to diarrhea, which can be very dangerous to their health.
Freshwater should always be available for your guinea pigs. However, they do tend to walk through water dishes that are placed on the floor of their cage. To ensure clean water for your Teddies, use a drip-feeder attached to the cage bars.
Keeping Teddy Guinea Pigs Together
Your new pet is going to need a companion or they will get lonely. It is advised to get your Teddies in pairs.
On the other hand, they do get along with other breeds of guinea pig, so two Teddies is not a requirement.
While guinea pigs need the companion of another piggy, this doesn’t mean they are always going to get along. Guinea pigs do live in a hierarchical arrangement and males can be territorial.
With this in mind, there are some common recommendations for pairing. Having two baby guinea pigs is the easiest combination. Having one older guinea pig with one younger of the same gender is the next best option.
Putting two female guinea pigs together tends to cause fewer problems than putting two males together. The females are usually less territorial.
If you are combining a male and female, be sure that they are both fixed to avoid unwanted litters
Having two male guinea pigs is considered to be a more challenging combination. However, it can be done successfully.
If you are putting two males together, it is advised that you have two of everything on opposites sides of the cage. For example, two feeding dishes, two water bottles, etc.
Whichever combination you go for, be sure you are providing a big enough cage to accommodate two or more guinea pigs.
Caring For A Baby Teddy Guinea Pig
If you find yourself caring for a newborn Teddy Bear guinea pig, it is important to know that they must remain in very close contact with their mother for the first three weeks.
Baby guinea pigs have a similar diet to that of their parents, however, they require more calcium. They can get their calcium requirement from eating pellets and alfalfa hay.
A baby teddy is born with teeth so they can eat solid food. And like mom, the baby needs vitamin C in their diet as they cannot produce this themselves. They will become very sick without an adequate vitamin C intake.
If you are adding a baby to your existing adult cage, take a look and ensure that it is baby proof.
- Can a baby fit between the bars of the cage?
- Can they reach the water bottle in its current position?
- Is there is good hiding spot within the cage for baby to snuggle in and feel safe?
Babies are more sensitive to noise than adults so keep your pet’s cage in a quiet spot out of direct sunlight. It is also a good idea to clean the cage more frequently.
For more tips on caring for a baby guinea pig, click here!
Showing your Teddy Guinea Pig
Teddy guinea pigs are considered easier to groom for show than longer-haired breeds.
According to the British Cavy Council, show standards include a coat length of no more than half an inch, that has a bouncy feel and no flat spots. And all guard hairs should be removed.
Their muzzles must have rounded nostrils and the eyes should be large and bright. And ears should droop with the lower edge parallel to the ground.
Teddies in a range of coat colors are accepted, including solid, agouti, tricolor, bicolor, and roan.
Rescuing A Teddy Guinea Pig
Teddy Guinea Pig Breeders
Once you’ve set your heart on an adorable baby Teddy guinea pig, you’ll need to know where to get one!
The American Cavy Breeder’s Association (ACBA) keeps details of regional cavy clubs. And the club for your region will keep a directory of breeders.
Breeders frequently have to pay a fee to be included in these directories. Search online for breeders in your local area to turn up even more results.
Try searching for “cavies” in your area.
For those in the UK, the British Cavy Council has a list of breed societies. Reputable breeders can be contacted this way.
Many breeders also exhibit their Teddy guinea pigs, so check out local cavy shows too. You can often meet fellow Teddy enthusiasts there. They will put you in touch with local breeders who have cavies for sale.
Teddy Guinea Pig Price
Price will depend on several factors, including the animal’s pedigree, color, and the number of breeders that are local to you.
If you are considering an adorable, fluffy companion, like the Teddy Bear guinea pig, then you may want to check these out too:
Comparing The Teddy Guinea Pig With Other Pets
The Teddy Guinea Pig And The Peruvian Guinea Pig
The Peruvian Guinea Pig is similar in size to the Teddy Bear Guinea Pig. They weigh between 1 to 3 pounds and growing up to 14 inches in length.
Unlike the Teddy, the Peruvian breed has long hair, that can reach 10 to 14 inches long! Consequently, it is much more work than the teddy’s coat and requires at least daily brushing.
Both breeds are friendly and social. But due to the Peruvian’s high maintenance grooming, they aren’t recommended for children or new guinea pig owners.
For more on the Peruvian guinea pig click here
Teddy Guinea Pig Products And Accessories
- Indoor Guinea Pig Cage
- Guinea Pig Water Bottles
- Best Guinea Pig Toys
- Guinea Pig House, Caves, and Hiding Places
- Best Guinea Pig Chew Toys
Is A Teddy Guinea Pig Right For Me?
Teddy Bear guinea pigs are an adorable breed of cavy with a distinctive rough, upstanding coat. They are renowned as great family pets that enjoy human company, and they are critters that have a gentle and easygoing nature.
The Teddy guinea pig lifespan of 4 to 8 years is fairly long for a small pet.
You’ll need to provide a large cage or run so that your new fluff balls have plenty of space to exercise and play.
They require minimal grooming but do need attention and frequent cage cleaning to help remain happy and healthy.
Also, remember that all guinea pigs need the company of their own to keep them relaxed and happy.
If this is the perfect addition to your family, you will also have a supportive and friendly community of fellow cavy lovers to share the experience with.
Do You Have A Teddy Guinea Pig?
Do you have a Teddy Guinea Pig living at home with you?
What are their names and what colors did you choose? Have your Teddies learned any really neat tricks?
We’d love to hear all about them in the comments below!
- British Cavy Council. 2016. “Breed Standards.”
- Guinea Pig Manual. Accessed 2019. “Introducing new guinea pigs.”
- Hess, L., and Axelson, R. Accessed 2019. “ Health Problems in Guinea Pigs.” VCA Hospitals.
- Pet Assure. Accessed 2019. “Exercising Your Guinea Pig Safely.”
- Riggs, S. 2009. “ Chapter 17 – Guinea Pigs.” Manual of Exotic Pet Practice.
- Vanderlip, S. L. 2003. The Guinea Pig Handbook.
- SPCA New Zealand. Accessed 2019. “Creating a DIY house for your guinea pig.”
- The Veterinary Clinic at Gloria Switch. 2015. “5 Cute Tricks You Can Teach Your Guinea Pig.”
We have extensively revised and updated this article for 2019