Guinea pigs have been living side by side with people for thousands of years. Since the adorable floofs have become companion animals, their wild piggy ancestors have split into many different breeds of guinea pigs, as well as guinea pig colors and guinea pig coat types. With floofy, soft, and even coarse coats, the different guinea pig breeds delight piggy parents across the world today.
Come join us on a journey of epic proportions to uncover how many breeds of guinea pigs there are, rare breeds of guinea pigs, and maybe even what breeds, colors, and markings your own guinea pigs are!
How Many Breeds of Guinea Pigs Are There?
Different countries recognize different breeds of guinea pigs, so the amount of different guinea pig breeds depends on where you live. The British Cavy Council, for example, recognizes a total of over 40 breeds of guinea pigs, while the American Cavy Breeders Association only recognizes 13. Looks like the amount of piggy breeds has more than doubled across the pond.
We’re going to take a look at the official and unofficial breeds of guinea pigs you’ll find in the homes of cavy carers across the globe - including some rare breeds of guinea pigs. Let’s go!
Popular Recognized Guinea Pig Breeds
Our guinea pigs come in all shapes and sizes, and some of the guinea pig breeds are more common pets than others. Let’s find out about the popular breeds of guinea pigs that are officially recognized by guinea pig associations.
American guinea pig
The American guinea pig is the most popular piggy breed of all. These sweet pigs are known for their short, smooth coat which comes in lots of guinea pig colors and markings. The short fur doesn’t need any extra grooming, so the American pigs are one of the easiest breeds to care for, especially for brand-new piggy parents.
American guinea pigs are known for their lovely character and affectionate nature. These floofy friends often enjoy a cuddle with their hooman, though every pig is different.
When you think of a guinea pig, you’re probably picturing an American guinea pig, right? No surprise, considering the American guinea pig is the oldest domesticated guinea pig breed out there!
White crested guinea pig
Like the American guinea pig, the white crested guinea pig has a short, smooth coat without extra grooming needs. The one difference: their crest. The crest is the area on top of a guinea pig’s head, in between their ears, and for these pigs, it’s - you’ve guessed it - white. The crest looks like a crown of fur going in all different directions. This floofy area is called a rosette.
White crested guinea pigs have sweet characters by nature, and they can be a little shy to start with. Any new piggy parents should make sure to take the time to bond with their crowned cavies.
Abyssinian guinea pig
Abyssinian guinea pigs are adorable little floofs, known for their hair which sticks up in every direction. The hair swirls are called rosettes, and they make the adorable Abyssinian guinea pigs extra sensitive to touch. These adorable pigs are best suited to piggy parents with some experience, since they need extra gentle handling and the right hair care.
The Abyssinian guinea pig is a favorite with many cavy carers because of their independent nature and sassy attitude. Don’t expect these funny floofs to come for cuddles straight away - they may take a while to get used to their piggy parents. When you win them over, they’re loyal friends.
Peruvian guinea pig
Peruvian guinea pigs are the most popular breed of the long-haired guinea pigs. You can easily spot them by their smooth, long hair that has a parting right down the middle - from their head to their bottoms.
Peruvians are beloved with piggy parents because of their relaxed, sweet personalities. They’re keen on cuddles, and may even demand snuggle sessions from their cavy carers. And while they make loving pets, Peruvian guinea pigs also need daily grooming, regular hair trims, and even the odd bath. Prospective piggy parents should make sure they’re up for the extra tasks.
Silkie guinea pig
Silkies are also called Shelties, and they have long, luscious locks of hair. Unlike the Peruvian guinea pig, a Silkie doesn’t have a parting down their back. But just like the Peruvians, these pigs are known for their laid back characters.
To keep their lovely coat in tip top condition and prevent illnesses, the Silkie should get brushed daily, with regular hair trims and the odd bath. Because of these extra hair care needs, they’re best suited for experienced piggy parents.
Coronet guinea pig
The Coronet guinea pig combines a Silkie’s lovely locks with the Crested piggy’s rosette on their crest. Some people say it looks like they’re wearing a shorter wig on their head. It’s definitely a unique look!
The Coronet guinea pigs can be loving pets, like the Silkies and Peruvians, but they’re less common than their long-haired friends. They also need the same hair care to stay in great condition.
Teddy guinea pig
Teddy guinea pigs get their adorable name from the stuffed teddy bears most of us had or still have. All breeds of guinea pigs are adorable, but the Teddy guinea pig with their short, bent hairs must be at the top of the adorable list!
Did you know these fun floofs have two coat types? Teddy guinea pigs have either a harsh or a plush coat, and neither needs a lot of extra care. The sweet Teddy guinea pigs are popular pets for their looks and characters, but they can be difficult to find because only a few breeders keep them.
Texel guinea pig
Texel guinea pigs have impressive long curls and waves. Their coat is coarse, and they’re popular pets with their stunning looks and curious personality.
The Texel guinea pig has the most work-intensive grooming routine because their fur is long and coarse. It can get tangled and messy if it’s not cared for every day, so these stunning pigs are best left with experienced piggy parents.
The Texel guinea pig is one of the newer breeds of guinea pigs, and came about in the 1980s when a Silkie and a Rex guinea pig had piglets.
Sheba Guinea Pig
Sheba guinea pigs are long-haired piggies with lots of rosettes. They’re a cross between a Peruvian guinea pig and an Abyssinian guinea pig, so their floofy fur stands up in all directions - like a bad hair day, but so much cuter! The hair of the Sheba guinea pig doesn’t grow as fast as other long-haired guinea pigs’, so they won’t ask for a hair trim as often.
Shebas can be sensitive to touch, just like their Abyssinian relatives, and have the Abby’s independent personality, too. Generally, these pigs are curious and outgoing, and great pets for piggy parents who love to brush their pets every day.
Lunkarya Guinea Pig
The Lunkarya is another long-haired guinea pig breed, and the only way to describe their fur is as a wild mane. The Lunkarya looks like a windswept Peruvian, with the coarse coat sticking up around their body - how adorable!
The Lunkarya is a Swedish piggy breed, and has been named for their wool-like coat. The gentle Lunkarya guinea pigs are lovely and loving pets for experienced piggy parents who know how to keep a wild piggy coat well groomed.
Lunkarya guinea pigs are one of the rarest breeds, so they’re not often found in piggy lovers’ homes.
Now we know all about the officially recognized guinea pig breeds, let’s have a look at unrecognized and rare breeds of guinea pigs!
Examples of Unrecognized Guinea Pig Breeds
Different breeds of guinea pigs are recognized by different guinea pig associations, and especially newer breeds of guinea pigs sometimes lack their official status. It doesn’t make them any less cute though, right?
It’s time to find out about the adorable guinea pig breeds you may not find in the official piggy breed handbooks.
Merino guinea pig
The Merino guinea pig falls into the long-haired piggy group. These sweet floofs have wavy, long hair with an adorable crest on the top of their head. Although no one really knows how the Merino guinea pig came about, a popular theory is that they’re a cross between the Coronet and Rex guinea pigs.
Piggy parents often compare the Merino guinea pig to little sheep with their wonderful wavy hair, but don’t worry - they still wheek instead of baa-ing. The crest on their head just adds to the unusual look. The cool coat also makes them one of the more difficult breeds of guinea pigs to care for, since the coarse curls trap hay, bedding and other fluff easily. Daily grooming is a must for the Merino guinea pig!
Alpaca guinea pig
Like the Merino guinea pig, the Alpaca guinea pig has wavy hair, but the Alpaca guinea pig’s coat is much longer. The Alpaca guinea pig is sometimes mixed up with a Texel guinea pig, and you can spot an Alpaca guinea pig by their bangs. The Alpaca’s bangs point forward.
Some guinea pig lovers consider the Alpaca guinea pigs the most beautiful of the guinea pig breeds, and they are also one of the rare breeds of guinea pigs. That’s why they’re generally expensive and difficult to come by. Plus, their fur is very difficult to care for, so they’re best housed with piggy experts.
Rex guinea pig
Rex guinea pigs can be described in one word: fuzzy! They’re short-haired piggies with a wiry coat, and are becoming more popular by the day. The Rex isn’t recognized as one of the breeds of guinea pigs by the American Cavy Breeders Association, but it is by the British Cavy Council.
Rex means king, and although the Rex guinea pig probably thinks they’re the king of the cavy castle, the name actually comes from their short, wiry coat. Piggy parents sometimes say that their fuzzy friends look like hedgehogs - and they’re not far off!
Ridgeback guinea pig
Ridgeback guinea pigs are a special breed of the Abyssinian guinea pig. Rather than lots of little rosettes, the ridgeback guinea pig only has a rosette on each side of their back, making the hair stand up. The little mohawks along their backs are simply adorable!
Ridgeback guinea pigs aren’t always born with their mohawks - sometimes, they only develop them when they’re a few weeks old. What a lovely surprise that would be!
These cool cavies are friendly and enjoy attention, so they make fantastic pets.
Hairless Guinea Pigs
Cavy carers love their cute companions for their fun personalities and adorable looks - including the floofy fur. Did you know that some guinea pigs don’t have any - or just very little - fur? These piggies are known as hairless guinea pigs, and they’re often called skinny pigs as well.
Hairless guinea pigs came from a surprise gene mutation in a Canadian lab in 1978. Like some other breeds of guinea pigs, these furless friends weren’t bred intentionally. But in recent years, skinny pigs have become popular with piggy parents because of their unique appearance.
If you’re thinking about getting a hairless guinea pig, make sure to read up carefully on their extra care needs. These adorable guinea pig breeds are best suited to experienced piggy homes.
Now, let’s find out about the two different hairless breeds of guinea pigs!
Many cavy carers call any hairless guinea pig a skinny pig, but they’re actually one of two hairless guinea pig breeds. You can tell a skinny pig apart from the other hairless guinea pig breed, the Baldwin guinea pig, by the little bit of fuzzy fur on their feet and noses. Sometimes, a skinny pig will have extra bits of floof along their bodies. These special skinny pigs are called werewolves - though you probably don’t have to worry about them running off during a full moon.
Skinny pigs need special housing, warmer temperatures, and skin care. They’re adorable pets if they get the right care, but prospective skinny pig parents should make sure they’re up for the extra work.
Baldwin Guinea Pigs
Baldwin guinea pigs are the other breed of hairless guinea pig, and these floofless friends have no fur whatsoever - apart from when they’re born. While skinny pigs are born without fur, the Baldwin guinea pigs have fur to start with and lose it within a few months. You can imagine the shock when a Californian breeder noticed her White Crested guinea pig losing their coat… and that’s how the Baldwin guinea pig was born!
These adorable hairless piggies have the same extra care needs as skinny pigs - so don’t get too attached to their cute faces before you read up on hairless cavy care.
Hairless guinea pig breeds join more guinea pig herds in our homes by the day. Once one of the rare breeds of guinea pigs, skinny pigs have become popular pets.
But what about the rare breeds of guinea pigs few cavy carers keep in their piggy palaces? Let’s take a look!
Rare Breeds of Guinea Pigs
All breeds of guinea pigs are adorable and deserve care and love from their hoomans. But not all breeds of guinea pigs can be found in piggy lovers’ homes that easily. You may find that you’ve never heard of or seen some of these rare breeds of guinea pigs, even if you’ve had floofy friends for years. Let’s find out how many of these you already know!
Brazilian Guinea Pigs
The Brazilian guinea pig is our pet piggies’ wild relative, and they’re not just found in Brazil, despite their name. The Brazilian guinea pig’s fur is brown and black, perfect for camouflage, and these floofs can be found all across the grasslands of South America.
Brazilian guinea pigs are sometimes kept in homes, mainly as a source of food. The striking piggies have also been bred successfully with their domesticated cousins, though the female piglets are often infertile.
Did you know that wild guinea pigs only live between 1 to 4 years on average? Because they don’t live in the comfort of a cavy castle, these sweet floofs are prey animals and often don’t make it to their senior piggizenship.
Another fun fact about the Brazilian guinea pig: they have a short, almost invisible tail that’s only 2.4 mm long, unlike our tailless pet piggies.
Brazilian guinea pigs are one of the rare breeds of guinea pigs because they’re seldomly kept as pets, but there’s plenty of them popcorning about in the wild.
Montane Guinea Pigs
Montane guinea pigs are another example of rare breeds of guinea pigs found in the wild. The Montane guinea pig lives in the Andes of South America, and their coat color changes, depending on their location. While a Montane guinea pig in Peru has a reddish-brown and black coat with gray around their belly, their relatives in Chile have a brown coat with lighter undertones. The Bolivian Montane guinea pigs have an olive coat with a white belly - great examples of the wild guinea pig adapting to their surroundings, so they can hide better.
The Montane guinea pig is probably the ancestor of our pet pigs, and looking at those big ears and sweet, dark eyes… It makes sense, doesn’t it?
Shiny Guinea Pigs
The Shiny guinea pig is also a wild guinea pig breed, found in South America. These lovely pigs live in the Atlantic Forests of Brazil. Like their other wild relatives, the Shiny guinea pig lives in large herds.
The Shiny guinea pig was first classed as one of the breeds of guinea pigs in 1831, but after some back and forth, they finally got their piggy breed status announced in 1901.
Santa Catarina’s Guinea Pig
The Santa Catarina’s guinea pig is one of the rarest breeds of guinea pigs, and they can only be found on the island of Moleques do Sul Archipelago, a small island in Brazil’s Santa Catarina. Now we know where the name comes from!
The Santa Catarina’s guinea pigs are unique because you can’t tell the males from the females simply by looking at them. For most other guinea pig breeds, the boars are visibly larger than the females, but not with the Santa Catarina’s guinea pigs.
The Santa Catarina’s guinea pig is also classed as critically endangered, so you’d have to be really lucky to see one of them in the wild!
So, how many of these rare breeds of guinea pigs did you know before? It may even be a surprise that there are different breeds of guinea pigs in the wild. Every day’s a piggy school day, right?!
Guinea Pig Colors
There’s no simple answer to the question, ‘How many breeds of guinea pigs are there?’ and the situation isn’t any different for guinea pig colors. There are plenty of guinea pig colors you can find on your sweet friends.
When guinea pigs have one coat color, they’re known as Self guinea pigs. The most common guinea pig colors are
- Agouti Chocolate
- Agouti Silver
- Agouti Cream
Did you notice the Agouti cropping up in a few of the guinea pig colors? Although Agouti guinea pigs look like their coats are one color, each individual hair is actually made up of two colors. So cute! The Agouti guinea pigs resemble their wild relatives the closest.
If you’re thinking about your own guinea pigs, they may not all be Self guinea pigs. The furry friends can have lots of different guinea pig colors in their coats. These stripes and spots are known as guinea pig markings, and we’re about to go on a journey to discover the different types!
Guinea Pig Markings
We know all about guinea pig colors now, but what about the floofs that have more than one color in their coat? Having different guinea pig colors is known as guinea pig markings, and there’s a few of them. Can you spot your own piggies’ markings on here?
Agouti guinea pigs
We’ve already met this adorable guinea pig breed earlier when we were looking at guinea pig colors. Because each hair in their coat has two colors, the Agouti coat is a marking.
So how is it also a color? You’ll find that there are common Agouti coat colors that have made it onto the list of guinea pig colors, like the Agouti Silver. Technically, an Agouti guinea pig is a guinea pig breed - so neither a color or a marking. But these floofs’ cute coats can be divided into both groups.
The Agouti has one of the most interesting and unique guinea pig coat types.
Dalmatian guinea pigs
The Dalmatian guinea pig is named after their canine friends. And although we’re not sure there are 101 Dalmatian guinea pigs in one place anywhere in the world, the distinct guinea pig marking of these furry floofs makes them just as special.
Dalmatian guinea pigs have white fur with dark spots all over them, just like a dalmatian puppy does. How adorable are these pigs?!
Dutch guinea pigs
Dutch guinea pigs, just like Dutch rabbits, have a white circle going around their chest and neck, and also white legs, which are set off by the darker coat around the rest of their piggy bodies.
Piggy parents often say that their Dutch guinea pigs look like they’re about to go to the office, with dark pants and a white shirt. Surely they’d make adorable co-workers!
Himalayan guinea pigs
The Himalayan guinea pig is an Albino guinea pig, meaning it’s got a white coat and red eyes. Sometimes, you’ll notice that their noses, ears, and feet are brown or black, so the cute cavies look even more striking.
Himalayan guinea pigs have some of the most popular markings with piggy lovers, and they’re not just common pets. Himalayan guinea pigs are also popular show pigs because of their unique looks. And who could resist those adorable eyes and dark noses?!
Fox guinea pigs
Like the Tan guinea pig, the Fox guinea pig looks like a Self guinea pig at first. Fox guinea pigs have subtle pale markings around their eyes, chest, and belly. If you see white spots around their ears, these are called pea spots - so cute!
Roan guinea pigs
Roan guinea pigs are sometimes confused with Dalmatian guinea pigs because both markings have two coat colors on top of each other. For a Roan guinea pig, you’ll see white hairs mixed into their main guinea pig coat color, rather than the spots in a Dalmatian guinea pig.
When two Roan guinea pigs have a litter of guinea piglets, the double Roan genes can cause health issues for the poor pups. Breeders avoid putting two Roan guinea pigs together for that reason.
Tan guinea pigs
Tan guinea pigs are beautiful animals with a single main coat color. The Tan guinea pig may look like a Self guinea pig at first, but they have a few subtle tan markings around their eyes, nose and mouth, chin, and the belly. You’ll even notice a few so-called pea spots of color near their ears. The Tan guinea pig is a lovely guinea pig marking!
Tortoiseshell guinea pigs
Have you heard of a tortoiseshell cat? Just like their feline familiars, the tortoiseshell guinea pig has two colors in their coat: red and black. The Tortoiseshell guinea pigs are one of the most popular guinea pig markings - no surprise there!
The Tortoiseshell guinea pig can also have additional white markings, in which case they’re called a Tortoiseshell and White guinea pig.
In the guinea pig show world, a Tortoiseshell guinea pig has the chance of getting first prize if their colors are clearly separated. But as pets, they’re just as adorable when their colors are mixed.
Tricolor guinea pigs
The Tricolor guinea pig is exactly what you’d expect: a piggy with three different colors in their coat. When these cute cavies go to guinea pigs shows, it’s important that their colors don’t overlap.
When Tricolor guinea pigs live in our homes as pets, we think they’re perfect, just as they are!
Guinea Pig Coat Types
We know there are different guinea pig breeds with different guinea pig colors and markings, so let’s move onto guinea pig coat types. In this blog alone, you’ve spotted guinea pigs with smooth coats, long-haired piggies, rough coats, hairless guinea pigs, and you’re about to learn about Satin guinea pigs.
Let’s find out about the shapes and sizes our guinea pig coat types can come in!
Smooth guinea pigs
The American guinea pig is probably the guinea pig breed you’ll think of first when you hear of a smooth guinea pig coat. Smooth coats come in lots of colors and markings, and the fur grows towards the back of the guinea pig and sits on the pig’s skin smoothly. Simple as that!
Long-haired guinea pigs
There are lots of different breeds of guinea pigs with long hair, including the Peruvian guinea pig, the Sheltie, and the Alpaca - also lovingly called the mini yak! Long-haired guinea pigs don’t always have smooth coats or the same hair length and growth, but they do have one thing in common: a need for daily grooming.
If you’d like to add a long-haired piggy to your herd, make sure to read up on their extra hair care needs!
Rough guinea pigs
When we’re looking at rough guinea pig coat types, you’d put the Rex guinea pigs, Teddy guinea pigs, and also Abyssinian guinea pigs into this category. These piggies are adorable with their unique rough coat, but they’re also difficult to groom. Guinea pigs like to be brushed and touched in the direction their fur grows, so how do you groom an Abyssinian guinea pig with lots of rosettes? Taking care of these cute cavies can be a bit of a challenge.
Hairless guinea pigs
Hairless guinea pigs come in two breeds, the skinny guinea pig and the Baldwin guinea pig. Both breeds of guinea pigs came from an accidental gene mutation, and they’re popular pet pigs today.
Hairless guinea pigs have specific needs when it comes to grooming, care, and their habitat, so they’re best off in the hands of experienced piggy parents.
Satin guinea pigs
Satin guinea pigs have extra shiny coats, particularly around their feet and noses. Sounds great, right? It’s really not! Satin guinea pigs have the so-called satin syndrome which causes lots of health issues. The Satin gene can be found in different guinea pig breeds, including the Abyssinian, American, Peruvian, Silkie, and Teddy.
Kidney issues are at the forefront of the Satin syndrome, and the resulting health complications unfortunately mean that many Satin guinea pigs pass away at a very young age - often even before they reach 1 year of age! For this reason, it’s illegal to breed Satin guinea pigs in some countries.
Conclusion: All Guinea Pigs Breeds Have One Thing in Common…
… they’re oh so cute! And no matter the guinea pig breeds, guinea pig colors, markings, or guinea pig coat types - all of our guinea pigs deserve the best care we can give them.
Whatever shape, size, or guinea pig colors our fluffy friends come in, we appreciate them for their fun characters and the love they give us every day. And also their adorable looks, of course!