The different guinea pig breeds
Guinea pigs come in many different colors and hair types. For many people it makes little difference what the guinea pig looks like. The guinea pigs are fun as long as they are sweet and cuddly. Still, it can be interesting to read what kind of caviaras you actually have in the cage. For example, there are: brush guinea pigs, rex guinea pigs and us-teddys.
Comparison with the past
Today’s guinea pigs look completely different from the wild guinea pigs of the past. Today, guinea pigs are slightly larger, thicker and more compact. They also now exist in more different colors. In the past they only existed in one main color. This is similar to the color we call agouti today. The hair is mostly gray in color. Only the top tip of the hair is black.
Cuy is a collective name for the group of giant caviar varieties that are bred in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia. They are kept there for their meat. In Peru, 70 million guinea pigs are kept for this purpose. Together, these supply approximately 17,000 tons of meat per year. A cobayo (this is the largest breed among the cuys) can grow up to 50cm long and weigh more than 4.5kg. There are also people in the Netherlands and Belgium who keep cuys. However, they are not suitable as real pets. They are very shy and difficult to tame.
A clear characteristic of the cuys is that they do not have four toes in front and three toes in the back. Cuys have as many as five, six or seven fore and back toes.
Smooth-haired guinea pig
This breed has short, smooth hair. The hairs are a maximum of 3 cm long. It is the most common type of hair. Many people want smooth-haired guinea pigs because they require the least amount of grooming.
Brush guinea pig
This breed should have eight or more rosettes distributed symmetrically across the body. Ideally, they will have one on the hindquarters, four on each side in a straight line down the middle of the body and one on each cheek. The rosettes should be round and have a small center around which the hairs turn. Brush guinea pigs are very popular in the Netherlands. Most brush guinea pigs are very stubborn and active. Most guinea pig owners will not care at all how many rosettes his / her guinea pig has.
The hair of these guinea pigs is stiff and upright. The bristles are about 2 cm long. The hairs on the belly and whiskers of the Rex guinea pigs are also curled. The hairs on the head and belly are shorter than the hairs on the rest of the body. The guinea pigs of this breed are often very calm and sweet in character.
This one is very similar to the rex guinea pig. The only difference is that in this breed the belly and whiskers are not curled. So you won’t see the difference at first glance.
Tessel guinea pig
The tessel is a long-haired guinea pig with curls / waves in the hair. A perfect show animal has hair about four inches long. The hair on the front of the head is only about an inch long. The whiskers are also curled. The coat of a tessel guinea pig is very thick. It is a cross between a sheltie guinea pig and a rex guinea pig. However, the rex gene is recessive. If you cross a purebred rex guinea pig with a purebred sheltie, all shelties will be born.
Peruvian guinea pig
This is a long-haired guinea pig with different rosettes. As a result, the coat will not run neatly straight back. The coat can be as much as 25 centimeters long after a year! It must therefore be well maintained. It is best if you regularly comb the coat with a soft brush. Especially in the back a lot of tangles are caused by the stool and urine that ends up in the coat.
Sheltie guinea pig
This one is quite similar to the Peruvian. It is also a long-haired guinea pig. However, this breed has no rosettes. So the coat will fall straight down.
Skinny guinea pig
This is a guinea pig breed without hair. The breed was created by a mutation in a laboratory and after this they continued breeding. They are basically the same as the other guinea pigs. They just eat a lot more because they have to put in more energy to keep warm. Skinnies also like to have a warm water bag or snugglesafe (available at specialist pet stores) in the cage during the winter.