Below are some brief descriptions of guinea pig varieties that are available. Guinea pigs come in a range of coat colours, eye colours, and hair textures.
Abyssinian guinea pigs are easy to spot due to their eye-catching, exciting hair formations. The hair of these animals grows in rosettes outwards from their body, meaning their silhouette is extraordinarily spiky and ridged. Abyssinians come in lots of different colours and colour combinations, such as black and red, white and red, or grey.
An Abyssinian (top)
If you’ve seen a guinea pig in a shop or at a friend’s house, it’s likely to have been one that belongs to the American breed. These guinea pigs have short, smooth hair and come in nineteen different colours and combinations. They’re an extremely popular breed of guinea pig, and their short coats make them relatively easy to keep in excellent condition.
If you’re thinking of showing an American guinea pig, then it should adhere to one of the colour specifications (a set form for how each differently coloured animal should look) and have a short, smooth coat.
Americans are very popular guinea pigs
Coronet guinea pigs are very similar to Silkies, in that they have very long, smooth hair that can reach to the ground. However, unlike the Silkie, these guinea pigs have what looks like a crown in the centre of their foreheads. This is a patch of hair radiating out from a central point, often clashing with growth from the rest of their bodies to create ridges.
Coronets have what looks like a crown of hair
There are some breeds of guinea pig that are mainly hairless, except from a smattering of fur on their face and their feet. These animals are not hypoallergenic as some would have you believe, and they’re extremely difficult to look after properly. They need special warm accommodation and a high energy diet, as well as being very susceptible to infection. Some experienced owners may be able to look after these animals properly, but we cannot recommend them to beginners. These varieties are controversial, as having so little hair makes them susceptible to health problems.
Some types of guinea pig have very little hair
Peruvian guinea pigs are a long-haired variety, often with an extremely long, smooth coat. Due to the fact that the hair on these animals sprouts in multiple directions, if you were to grow out the hair (which many don't recommend) then it would reach a length at which your guinea pig would have trouble moving and you’d likely to be unable to see their faces. They have hair which grows out of their forehead, giving some a unicorn-like appearance if this hair is kept short.
The coats require grooming, especially if you intend to show this breed. Peruvians come in many different colours, from grey, to red and white, to cream.
Peruvians have very long hair
White Crested guinea pigs are any individuals that have a small patch of white hair in between their ears that looks like a small white crown – this is essentially a guinea pig hair parting. Instead of growing in the usual way as in other parts of the body, the hair radiates out from a single point.
The crest on these guinea pigs looks like a little crown
These guinea pigs are named for the appearance of their coats - Satin guinea pigs have shiny, lustrous hair that looks distinctly satin-like. This feature is due to the fact that their hairs are hollow, which not only makes the structures slightly reflective but can alter the colour of the guinea pig. A Satin guinea pig in a particular colour is likely to look a little different to a non-Satin Self of the same basic colour. Although Satins are often Selfs (known as Solid Satins) they also come in other types such as Satin Abyssinian, Satin Himalayan and Satin Tricolour.
These guinea pigs can be shown, but the breed is controversial and owners should be on the lookout for health problems. Guinea pigs of this breed have a tendency to have a bone disease known as Osteodystrophy, so keep an eye out for a stiff, hoppy walk and your guinea pig losing weight.
Silkie Guinea Pigs are a long-haired breed of guinea pig that (if its hair is kept long) will require a little more work to keep clean and tidy. However, they’re great guinea pigs to look at. Silkies have long, lustrous hair that can be several inches long, and they exist in a wide variety of different colours.
If you’re looking to show one of these, you’ll need it to have long, smooth hair that doesn’t grow towards your pet’s face. The hair should all be of a similar length, potentially with the hair from the rump growing a little longer.
Teddy guinea pigs are a breed that possesses a good deal of very wiry hair that covers their whole bodies. They are extraordinarily sweet-looking animals with a halo of fluff surrounding them, and they are born in many different colours. They are very popular due to the texture and appearance of their hair.
These guinea pigs are well known for their fuzzy hair
These guinea pigs are long haired, but with a wonderfully curly coat. These coats often form little ringlets all over the animal’s body, making them look a lot larger than they actually are! Texel guinea pigs come in a variety of different colours, and make great pets.
Texel Guinea Pigs aren't as big as their hair makes them look!
Although we’ve discussed the well-recognised breeds, guinea pig breeders all over the world are creating new and exciting guinea pig varieties as we speak. Below we’ll cover a few of the most interesting and popular varieties – the Lunkyara, the Magpie and the Ridgeback.
Lunkyara guinea pigs have an extremely fun, wiry coat that makes them look a little bit like walking wigs. They currently come in quite a few colours such as white and grey, and gold. They are extremely cute, but as you might imagine they need a lot of grooming and cleaning (or trimming) to keep them happy and healthy.
Magpie guinea pigs are obviously named for their colours. These cute little creatures have smooth black and white coats. Unlike bicolour guinea pigs, magpie guinea pigs have lots of brindling and crossover between their black and white patches.
Ridge Backs are named for the longer hairs that sprout from the back of their head and progress along the spine, an arrangement that gives a ridged appearance. They come in a variety of colours and should have bright, shiny eyes and longer hair between their shoulder blades.