Teddy guinea pigs are unbelievably cute.
With their rough, dense coats and upturned noses, these piggies look just like cuddly stuffed animals, hence their name!
But what about the Teddy guinea pigs’ personality and care needs?
Do they make good pets for children?
How big do Teddy guinea pigs grow, and what’s their life expectancy?
Let’s find out!
What are Teddy guinea pigs?
The Teddy guinea pig is one of the newer varieties of this popular pet.
The Teddy is quite distinctive from its smooth-coated American cousin, having a short, dense coat that stands on end, giving the impression of a particularly 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.
So, why do Teddy guinea pigs have such unusual fur and where does the breed come from?
Origins of the Teddy guinea pig
It is thought that Teddy guinea pigs were 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.
To understand what happened and how the breed came to be, you need a basic understanding of genetics.
So, here comes the science!
Every guinea pig has two sets of genes within their cells, one set from their mother and one set from their father.
The genes are carried on microscopic structures called chromosomes.
Genes can be “dominant” or “recessive”.
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 genes for short hair.
The short hair gene hair is dominant, therefore all babies resulting from cross-breeding 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 only get given a letter!)
This gene causes the shaft of each individual hair to kink at its base, resulting in their trademark short, upstanding coat.
So, the delightfully cute Teddy guinea pig resulted purely from an accident of artificial breeding. Who knew!
But what do you need to know before you welcome Teddies into your home?
How big do Teddy guinea pigs get?
Teddy guinea pigs generally grow up to 12 inches (20 cm) in length.
Female guinea pigs are usually slightly smaller than males, weighing between 1.5 pounds and 2.5 pounds.
Male Teddies weigh between 2 pounds and 3 pounds.
However, as with any pet animal, there are always exceptions to the rule, and there will always be jumbo-sized and tiny guinea pigs in any breed!
Teddy guinea pig colors
Teddies come in wide variety of colors, including “solid” colors, roans, and variants of 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 just a few examples on the American Cavy Breeders’ Association site.
Teddy guinea pig personality
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, making 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 their own kind, so always keep your Teddies in same-sex pairs or small groups.
Teddies will mix happily with other breeds of guinea pigs.
Despite their chilled-out personalities, Teddies appreciate a large cage or run with plenty of space to play and exercise.
Teddy guinea pig grooming
The Teddy’s 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 Teddies to remove any debris that may work its way down through the dense coat and irritate the skin.
Brush your Teddies 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.
Teddies do tend to have drier skin than some of the other breeds of cavy.
If you bring your guinea pigs outside to play, they may need a very 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 care
Teddy guinea pigs have gorgeous little flat ear flaps, adding to their undeniably cute factor!
However, this “design” can make them prone to earwax build-up over time.
You can help to alleviate this problem by using a warm, damp towel to very gently clean out the inside of the ears.
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, your Teddies will enjoy a few greens, fruits, and colorful veggies.
You should ensure a balanced diet by feeding good-quality guinea pig pellets.
Only feed these treats in moderation, as Teddy guinea pigs are prone to diarrhea, which can be very dangerous to their health.
Fresh water should always be available for your guinea pigs.
However, they do have a tendency 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.
How long do Teddy guinea pigs live?
So, how long can you expect your Teddies to live for?
Unlike short-lived mice and rats, Teddies can live from four to eight years, provided they are looked after properly and remain in good health.
Make sure that you are prepared to devote this length of time to caring for your Teddies before you take the plunge and bring some home.
Teddy guinea pigs’ health
Before committing to ownership of any pet, it’s helpful 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 get your pet the right treatment quickly.
Here’s an overview of the main health problems that Teddy guinea pigs are most likely to have:
Like all guinea pigs, Teddies are particularly vulnerable to bouts of diarrhea.
Diarrhea is usually the result of an infection or a lack of fiber (hay) in the guinea pigs’ diet, causing the balance of “good” bacteria in the Teddies’ digestive tract to become disrupted.
This can lead to dehydration, depression, and a very low body temperature.
If your Teddies develop diarrhea, you must seek veterinary assistance right away.
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 the animal becomes stressed or ill.
The guinea pig’s weakened state triggers the bacteria to become active and pneumonia then manifests itself, spreading rapidly amongst every animal in the group.
Look out for milky discharge from the guinea pigs’ nose and eyes, raspy breathing, and constant sneezing fits.
Always consult your vet immediately if your Teddies show any of these signs.
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 mg 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 your their daily ration.
You should also feed a portion of high-quality guinea pig pellets, which contain vitamin C.
Make sure that the pellets you feed to your pet are fresh; eed over 90 days old loses its vitamin content and won’t be as beneficial.
Ear infections are a particular problem for Teddy bear guinea pigs.
You may notice a foul odor from your pet’s ear and he may hold his head tipped to one side, squeaking in pain when you touch the affected ear.
Minor ear infections are easily remedied by a short course of antibiotics from your vet.
Your vet will also give your pet’s ear a thorough clean to 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 will help to prevent painful ear infections.
Urinary tract problems
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.
This extremely painful condition occurs 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, allowing 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, appearing depressed, and losing 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.
When grooming your Teddies, have a good look at their skin for signs of hair loss, crusting of the skin, and weeping scabs.
These signs could mean that you pet has developed a fungal infection called ringworm.
Ringworm can be easy to miss in Teddies because of their thick, dense coat.
Ringworm is usually more prevalent around the animal’s face, head, and ears, although all body areas can be affected.
Your vet will prescribe an oral or topical anti-fungal treatment to clear up the infection.
Bumblefoot (pododermatitis) is a common condition in guinea pigs, especially in large or overweight animals.
Bumblefoot causes a deep infection to set in around one toe on the guinea pig’s foot, causing lameness and extreme pain.
To avoid the problem of bumblefoot, line the bottom of wire cages to prevent the Teddies’ toes from becoming caught in the wire and injured, and be sure to keep the cage and bedding scrupulously clean.
Teddy guinea pig breeders
Now you’ve set your heart on an adorable baby Teddy guinea pig, you’ll need to know where to get one!
The ACBA keeps details of regional cavy clubs – the club for your region will keep their own directory of breeders.
Breeders frequently have to pay a fee to be included in these directories, so searching online for breeders in your local area will probably turn up even more results.
Try searching for “caviaries” in your area.
For those in the UK, the British Cavy Council has a list of breed societies in the UK through which reputable breeders can be contacted.
Many breeders also exhibit their Teddy guinea pigs, so check out local cavy shows too.
You can often meet fellow Teddy enthusiasts there who will put you in touch with local breeders who have cavies for sale.
Teddy guinea pig price
The price of a Teddy guinea pig will depend on a number of factors, including the animal’s pedigree, color, and the number of breeders that are local to you.
As a rule of thumb, you can expect to pay from $20 to $30 dollars for a Teddy, although this could be more for an animal that boasts prize-winning ancestry.
Are Teddy guinea pigs the right choice for you?
Teddy guinea pigs are an adorably cute breed of cavy with a distinctive rough, upstanding coat.
They are renowned as great family pets, being quiet to handle and enjoying human company.
Remember that all guinea pigs need the company of their own kind to keep them relaxed and happy.
You’ll also need to provide a large cage or run so that your new fluff balls have plenty of space to exercise and play.
If you think a Teddy guinea pig could be 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 already have Teddy guinea pigs?
What are their names and what colors did you choose?
Have your Teddies learned any really neat tricks?
Tell us in the comments section below!
British Cavy Council, “Breed Standards”
Riggs, S., “Manual of Exotic Pet Practice”, 2009.
Vanderlip, S. L., “The Guinea Pig Handbook”, 2003.
VCA Hospitals, “Guinea Pigs’ Problems”, 2009.