It’s no secret that, here at Kavee, we love guinea pigs for their cute little faces and wheeking sounds. But did you know that our favourite furry friends also have one other adorable attribute? That’s right - guinea pigs are much admired for their beautiful coats of fur.
But there’s really no such thing as a ‘standard’ guinea pig hairstyle. Depending on their breed, some piggies have short, smooth hair whereas others have longer, wilder, luscious locks - and of course they can all be a variety of stunning shades.
As far as we’re concerned, all guinea pigs are utterly gorgeous and make amazing animal companions. However it’s worth knowing that long-haired piggies require some extra TLC and grooming in order to keep them looking their best and staying healthy and happy.
Which guinea pig breeds are considered long-haired?
Here are the 9 long-haired guinea pig breeds:
- Silkie (Sheltie)
* It’s worth noting that Abyssinians don’t have hair which grows as long as the other breeds on our list. However, they do have thick, dense fur which forms in rosettes and grows to about 2 inches long. Bear in mind that, as their fur can get a little unruly, Abyssinians may require extra care and grooming but not to the same extent as the other breeds in this guide.
Do long-haired guinea pigs need to be groomed?
The short answer to this question is….YES! Long-haired piggies need grooming and cleaning - and rather a lot of it too - in order to keep their locks under control. Think of it as an essential part of guinea pig care.
Of course, all guinea pigs - no matter how long their fur - regularly groom themselves. They do this by secreting a liquid from their eyes and brushing it through their fur with their front paws. They tend to stand on their hind legs to do this. Ingenious!
However, your pet will also need some extra grooming help from you in order to keep them in tip top condition. Think of it as a guinea pig spa - and everyone loves a spa day, right?
Why is it important to groom and clean long-haired guinea pigs?
First things first, this isn’t about vanity, although obviously regular grooming and cleaning will keep your piggy looking fabulous. The truth is that if you allow your little one’s mane to flow free, the result could be extremely matted, dirty, unkempt hair, which could, in turn, lead to some pretty nasty health issues for your pig, such as:
Skin Infections - When left to grow too long, a guinea pig’s hair can become soiled, particularly around their bottom. If a guinea pig poops and wees on their hair, it will leave it wet and dirty. When wet fur comes into direct contact with a guinea pig’s skin, it can cause irritation and soreness which may lead to nasty skin infections.
Fly Strike - In warmer weather, particularly in spring and summer months, flies are abundant and they tend to prey on ill-kept animals. Guinea pigs are no exception to this and if they are left in dirty conditions, with wet, soiled or matted fur, flies may choose them as a host site for their eggs. These eggs then develop into maggots which eat their host’s flesh. Sadly, fly strike is potentially fatal. It’s a horrifying thought isn’t it? That’s why it’s crucial to understand how important hygiene is for guinea pigs - and particularly for long-haired guinea pigs who are more vulnerable to fly strike if their fur is not properly cared for.
Lice - Long-haired guinea pigs are at a higher risk of hosting these tiny, unwanted parasites. Lengthy, dense strands of hair offer lice more protection and opportunity to lay and attach their eggs. Lice infestations can cause your guinea pig discomfort and distress as well as resulting in nasty secondary skin infections; sadly, they can even prove fatal. By keeping long-haired piggies’ fur clean and trimmed, you’ll reduce the risk of them attracting lice. Also routine grooming can help piggy parents spot lice infestations at an early stage and prevent them spreading further.
Mites - Another pesky infestation that can negatively impact your guinea pig’s health, ear mites in particular are more likely to prey upon long-haired guinea pigs due to their tendency to produce more ear wax. If your piggie’s ears are left uncleaned, wax build up is more likely to attract the interest of hungry mites looking for their next home.
Long-haired guinea pig care routine
If you’re wondering exactly how you’ll keep your long-haired guinea pig groomed, clean and healthy, don’t worry. We’ve compiled a helpful check list of essential asks for you to follow in order to keep your guinea pig looking and feeling their very best.
TASK 1: Grooming Your Long-Haired Guinea Pig
Grooming consists of combing or brushing your guinea pig’s hair as well as occasionally trimming it in order to keep it neat and tidy.
How often should I comb or brush my guinea pig’s hair?
Really long-haired breeds, such as Peruvians, or those with curly dense hair, like Texels, will need their hair to be combed or brushed on a daily basis. Daily hair brushing sessions not only keep your piggy’s hair shiny and knot free, they’re also great bonding opportunities for you and your fluffy friend.
Plan your brushing sessions around the same time each day so that your guinea pig learns to expect them and aim not to miss them. Postponed sessions will only result in matted, tangled hair and longer, stressful combing sessions for you and your guinea pig somewhere down the line.
When it comes to Abyssinians, who have shorter but dense rosettes of fur, aim to brush their hair twice a week, always working in the direction that their fur grows to avoid causing discomfort.
What kind of brush or comb is best for guinea pig hair?
Regardless of their hair length, never forget that guinea pigs have very delicate skin. If a brush or comb feels rough or sharp to you then the chances are that it will feel even harsher to your sensitive piggy. For this reason, avoid wire toothed combs and brushes as the sharp bristles could cause accidental injuries if your piggy makes sudden movements. Instead, choose either a fine-toothed comb (ideal for smoothing knots) and a soft-bristled brush - the type you’d use for a baby or young child.
How often should I trim my guinea pig’s hair?
Guinea pigs with very long hair will need a trim on a monthly basis to keep their manes under control. You can trim your guinea pig’s hair, as and when required during your regular brushing sessions.
Trimming is especially important around your guinea pig’s bottom. As we’ve already mentioned, long hair around this area can become soiled and dirty more quickly, which may lead to infections and other health issues.
If your guinea pig’s fur grows less than 3 inches long, you may not find that an overall haircut is necessary but you may opt to trim any uneven patches of fur as and when you notice them.
What should I use to trim my guinea pig’s hair?
Round tipped hair scissors are safest for trimming your guinea pig’s hair. Don’t use scissors with sharp ends as they could cause accidental injuries if your guinea pig makes any sudden movements during grooming.
How should I groom long-haired guinea pigs? Tips for brushing and trimming guinea pig hair
Grooming can be a fun, enriching activity for you and your guinea pigs. However, if you’re a newbie to guinea pig grooming, it can be a nerve wracking experience both for you and for your little one. Some piggies may be complete naturals when it comes to grooming, whilst others will need time to get used to it. Never forget that guinea pigs are prey animals and are naturally nervous little characters.
To help things run as smoothly as possible, it’s important that both you and your guinea pig are relaxed before you start. If your piggy seems anxious or skittish, it may be best to leave your grooming session for another time when they seem more comfortable.
As with any new task, it’s important to get fully prepared.
Assemble a guinea pig care tool kit of essentials including:
- Fine-toothed comb and soft-bristled brush
- Water spritzer bottle for hair
- Round tipped hair scissors
- Food (vegetables or other healthy treats for your piggy to snack on)
- Clean towel, pee pad or fleece liner
STEP 1: Find a quiet area to groom your guinea pig - a spot you don’t mind getting covered in stray hairs. Use a clean towel, pee pad or fleece liner as a soft, comfortable surface for your piggies to sit on during their grooming session.
STEP 2: Give your guinea pig some yummy snacks during your grooming session to help them relax. This will help them associate grooming with being a positive experience.
STEP 3: Take your fine-toothed comb and start to brush their hair in the direction that it grows to remove any knots. Gradually work your way down from top to bottom.
TOP TIP! If your comb catches on a tangle, ensure that you avoid pulling at their fur as this could stress your guinea pig. Instead, spritz a little water on the tangle to try to loosen it. If that fails, you may need to gently trim it away (see step 4).
STEP 4: As you work your way through your guinea pig’s fur, identify any areas that appear matted; these will need to be removed. Take your scissors and gently trim the matted hair away.
TOP TIP! Take your time when trimming to prevent accidental injuries to your piggy’s skin. Avoid trimming too close to your guinea pig’s skin and always place the hair between your second and third fingers before you cut it. If your guinea pig’s matted hair is very close to their skin, you may need to work on it over the course of a couple of grooming sessions.
STEP 5: Once your piggy’s fur has been combed and any matted patches have been removed, trim any particularly long lengths of hair with your scissors. As a rule, you should cut long hair around your piggy’s bottom and feet to keep these areas clean and free from obstructions. As mentioned in step 4, use your fingers to guide how short you cut, to ensure you keep to an even length and to avoid injury.
STEP 6: Use a soft brush to gently smooth their hair and sweep away any stray hair clippings.
STEP 7: Be sure to reward your guinea pig for a job well done with their favourite snack!
What should I do if my guinea pig does not enjoy grooming?
As we’ve already explained, some guinea pigs may be more skittish than others when it comes to grooming. If your guinea pig is particularly uncooperative, start gradually with short sessions. As always, snacks are your friend when it comes to helping your guinea pig relax and learn that grooming can be a positive experience. As your guinea pig gets used to being groomed, you can build up to longer, more frequent sessions.
TASK 2: Bathing Your Long-Haired Guinea Pig
Yes, just like the rest of us - guinea pig’s need baths! Bathing involves washing your guinea pig in order to keep them clean.
How often should I wash my long haired guinea pig? Do long haired guinea pigs need more baths?
Generally, it’s advised that all guinea pigs - no matter their breed - are bathed between twice and four times a year. Regular bathing is an important aspect of your piggy’s care as it helps keep them clean and healthy. However, it’s also important not to over wash them as this can strip their fur's natural oils and cause dry skin.
Rather than following any hard and fast rule, trust your own instincts on when to give your piggy a bath. If your guinea pig’s bottom appears soiled then it’s probably time for a bath - or at least a quick wash of that area in order to freshen it up. As we’ve already mentioned, guinea pigs with impressive coats are more likely to soil the long, dense fur around their bottoms and it’s important to address this as soon as you notice it.
What will I need to bathe my guinea pig?
- Wash basin with a flat base
- Small towel (to place inside the basin)
- Guinea pig safe shampoo (found online and in pet supply stores)
- Towel for drying
- Hair dryer (use on low heat only)
How do I give a guinea pig a bath?
The prospect of bathing your guinea pig can seem a bit daunting but it’s an important part of your guinea pig’s care. In this blog post, we talk about why guinea pigs may sometimes smell - and how you can tackle unpleasant odours by bathing them.
Here are some useful tips for bathing your guinea pig.
- Ensure that you are bathing them in a calm, quiet room with no distractions and make sure it’s warm and dry so that your piggy won’t feel chilly when they come out of the bath wet
- Pour around 3cm of warm (not hot) water into a flat based basin or a small container such as a clean washing up bowl
- Holding your guinea pig carefully, let them try the water by dipping a foot in it
- Providing they seem calm and relaxed, scoop some water and gently pour it over their body, avoiding their face and ears
- Shampoo them gently with guinea pig safe shampoo
- Rinse the shampoo thoroughly out of their fur
- Wrap them gently in a towel and hold them carefully as you blow dry them using a hair dryer on the COOLEST, QUIETEST setting until their fur is dry
- Give your freshly bathed guinea pig a cuddle to celebrate a successful bath time - and how about a yummy treat as a reward?
You could also follow this helpful step-by-step video by Saskia from L.A Guinea Pig Rescue.
TASK 3: Cleaning Your Long-Haired Guinea Pig's Ears
Aaah, earwax….not the most pleasant conversation topic but essential nonetheless. You may be surprised to hear that guinea pigs need their ears cleaned regularly as part of their grooming routine. Just like us, guinea pig ears can get a build up of earwax and long-haired breeds tend to produce more of the waxy stuff than their short-haired pals.
How often should I clean my guinea pig’s ears?
It’s quite simple really - if your piggy’s earwax build up isn’t cleaned out, it can attract infestations of pests including mites, which can lead to further health complications, as we’ve already explained.
It’s recommended that guinea pigs have their ears cleaned two to three times a year, although some long-haired piggies may require more frequent clean outs. Keep an eye on your guinea pig’s ears and if you spot earwax building up, it’s probably time for a gentle clean. Check out our step-by-step guide to cleaning your guinea pig’s ears.
TASK 4: Clipping Your Long-Haired Guinea Pig's Nails
On top of their other care, guinea pigs require routine nail trims once or twice a month. This is particularly important for long-haired guinea pigs who are more likely to snag overly long nails in their flowing locks.
So if you notice that your piggy’s tiny tootsies feel a wee bit scratchy on your skin during cuddles, it may well be time to get the nail scissors out.
How should I trim my guinea pig’s nails?
The prospect of clipping your guinea pig’s nails can be a wee bit scary - the last thing you want to do is accidentally trim too much and hurt them!
For advice on how to trim your guinea pig’s nails, check out our helpful article ‘The Simplest Way to Cutting your Guinea Pigs’ Nails’ and the video below:
If you’re already a parent to a long-haired guinea pig, we hope you’ve found our grooming guide reassuring and helpful.
If you’re a prospective piggy parent dreaming of adopting a long-haired guinea pig, don’t be put off by the prospect of the brushing and trimming involved.
Once you’ve got the hang of your long-haired guinea pig’s regular care routine, you’ll learn that grooming is a fun, relaxing and truly rewarding activity - a way for you and your guinea pig to get to know each other even better and to form a stronger bond. As with most things in life, when you put in the extra effort, you’ll reap the rewards.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that parents of long-haired piggies often report that their furry pals are very chilled, relaxed and laid back and with all the pampering time they get, it’s not hard to see why!
Hopefully you’ll find your guinea pig spa days enjoyable too. After you’ve finished and your piggy is all spruced up, why not cut up some fresh veggies for them to snack on as a reward? Don’t forget to save a couple of cucumber slices to pop over your own eyes so that you can put your feet up...and relaaaax.