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Types of Guinea Pigs

By Samantha Johnson on Sep. 5, 2017

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Guinea pigs and humans have been together for a long time. Guinea pigs—sometimes known as “cavies” after their scientific name Cavia porcellus—are native to South America, and archeological evidence suggests that the guinea pigs are among the oldest domesticated animals, likely having been domesticated over 5,000 years ago. During that time, native people of the Andean mountains bred and raised guinea pigs, but most likely treated them as a livestock animal. After guinea pigs were imported to Europe around the 1600s, they began the transition into the popular pets they are today.

The origin of the guinea pig’s common English name is difficult to trace, as they obviously are not pigs, nor are they native to any location named “Guinea.” The “pig” part is probably just an affectionate nod to the animal’s pig-like body shape. The “guinea” has many possible origins, including a potential association with a former English coin that was called a “guinea” (i.e., “the pig you could buy for a guinea”). More likely, though, is that the word “guinea” at that time could mean a general term for “a faraway place”—indicating the cavy’s New World origins.

Today, millions of people enjoy keeping guinea pigs as pets, but did you know that there are more than a dozen different guinea pig breeds? Let’s take a quick look at some of them to help you understand all the fun and variety that exists within this special animal.

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Abyssinian and Abyssinian Satin

Popular with people who enjoy showing guinea pigs, the Abyssinian is notable for its symmetrical “rosettes” that give it an immediate “wow” factor. These rosettes are large tufts of fur growing in symmetrical shapes, and made possible by the Abyssinian’s stiff, coarse coat. Symmetry of the rosettes across the body—as well as the number of rosettes (approximately eight of them)—is important in showing. The Abyssinian Satin is very similar, but with a satin sheen to its coat.

American and American Satin

The American cavy is what many people think of when they hear the words “guinea pig.” Friendly and pleasant, the American guinea pig features a short, smooth coat and a classic guinea pig “Roman nose.” They also come in a fantastic variety of colors and patterns, making them a very fun choice for someone choosing a new pet. The related American Satin breed features a satin coat.

Coronet

The flashy Coronet guinea pig features an amazing flowing coat that reaches the ground. This coat flows from front to back, and to top off the showy appearance, the Coronet also has a single rosette on its forehead.

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Peruvian and Peruvian Satin

A guinea pig with an impressively long coat—but one the requires considerable maintenance—the Peruvian guinea pig’s trademark is its “sweeps” of hair (growing back to front) that are so long and dense, it can sometimes be difficult to tell which end of your cavy is which! When properly groomed for show, the Peruvian ideally appears “circular” when you look down at it. Again, the Peruvian Satin is essentially the same breed, only with satin fur.

Silkie and Silkie Satin

The teardrop-shaped Silkie is another delightful long-haired variety, and one of the oldest guinea pig breeds. Like the Coronet, its coat flows front to back, but the ideal Silkie has no rosettes or parts of any kind. The Silkie Satin is similar, with a satin coat.

Teddy and Teddy Satin

No matter which guinea pig breed strikes your fancy, it’s hard to deny that the Teddy guinea pig is one of the most adorable small pets out there. The Teddy has a Roman nose like the American, but instead of a smooth coat, the Teddy has a short, wiry coat that “stands up” and returns to its old position after being disturbed. The Teddy Satin is another variety.

Texel

The Texel guinea pig has a body that is a bit shorter than other guinea pig breeds (“cobby,” according to the American Cavy Breeders Association). But the real difference in looks comes with its amazing curly coat. Related to the Silkie, the Texel has a similar coat “flow,” but with dense curls instead.

White Crested

Somewhat similar in looks to the American, the short-coated White Crested guinea pig has a smooth coat over its entire body, except for its forehead, where it is features a single proud, white rosette.

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Regardless of the specific type, all guinea pigs are delightful. They’re filled with personality, enchant us with their adorable antics and vocalizations and make us smile.

4 Comments
Comments
by Taylor 40403
‎01-18-2016 01:11 PM

l am looking for two emale guinea pigs or one male and female to add to my family i really love guinea pigs and i cant seem to find any if its possible do you have any availible guinea pigs or do you know where i could by two lovely piggys

l am looking for two emale guinea pigs or one male and female to add to my family i really love guinea pigs and i cant seem to find any if its possible do you have any availible guinea pigs or do you know where i could by two lovely piggys

Posted on Jan. 18, 2016
by
‎01-18-2016 01:15 PM

Hi Taylor 40403! Welcome to the community. I hope to see you around a little more. To answer your question, your local Petco would be your best resource on finding your two guinea pigs. They will vary from store to store, so I suggest checking in with your neighborhood Petco for more information. Here's where you can find their phone number: www.stores.petco.com. 

Hi Taylor 40403! Welcome to the community. I hope to see you around a little more. To answer your question, your local Petco would be your best resource on finding your two guinea pigs. They will vary from store to store, so I suggest checking in with your neighborhood Petco for more information. Here's where you can find their phone number: www.stores.petco.com. 

Posted on Jan. 18, 2016
by Alexyss
‎02-01-2016 02:43 PM

Hi i would like to get a guinea pig but i dont know where to get my supplies at Petco or Pet supermarket

Hi i would like to get a guinea pig but i dont know where to get my supplies at Petco or Pet supermarket

Posted on Feb. 1, 2016
by Shannon Cauthen
‎09-26-2016 02:33 AM

This article is short and does not offer much information on the subject.  For example, there are 26 recognized breeds of guinea pig.

Cavy, is the real name of guinea pigs and is the name used by those who breed or show.  

Guinea pig is the nickname used for guinea pigs. 

It would be nice if you used someone with a bit more credentials to offer this kind of information. 

Shannon Cauthen

 

This article is short and does not offer much information on the subject.  For example, there are 26 recognized breeds of guinea pig.

Cavy, is the real name of guinea pigs and is the name used by those who breed or show.  

Guinea pig is the nickname used for guinea pigs. 

It would be nice if you used someone with a bit more credentials to offer this kind of information. 

Shannon Cauthen

 

Posted on Sep. 26, 2016
About the Author
  • Samantha writes about the happy things in life—pets, home, family, food, and gardening—and thinks Mondays are the most wonderful day of the week. She is the author of ten books and shares her home with Peaches, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi; Toppy, a Holland Lop rabbit; and Maureen O'Hare-a, a Mini Rex rabbit.
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