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Difference Between Silkie & Abyssinian Guinea Pigs

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When choosing a guinea pig, some people will find the long, flowing hair of the silkie appealing, while others may be drawn to the swirls of hair, or rosettes, of the Abyssinian. The important thing to consider is how much time you have to devote to coat care. Because of its length, the silkie's coat requires far more attention than the Abyssinian's coat, though the difference in care between the two breeds can be a little less if your guinea pig is purely a pet.


The silkie guinea pig, or cavy, has long, straight hair that grows about an inch every month and sweeps back over her shoulders in a train, blending with the rear sweep growing from the hindquarters. The hair has a soft, silky texture.


An Abyssinian has rosettes in her fur that create whirls and ridges. At the center of each rosette is a pinpoint from which hair uniformly radiates. For a show cavy there must be at least eight rosettes, though ten is an even better count, and they should form a symmetrical pattern along the sides of the guinea pig's body, with two on the shoulders, four on the saddle, two on the hips and two on the rump. The coat has a rough texture.


No matter the breed, with careful handling from an early age, most guinea pigs are friendly and responsive to people. An Abyssinian can make a good pet for children because caring for her coat is relatively simple. Brushing the rosettes from the center out every two to three weeks with a toothbrush, the occasional bath and keeping the hutch clean is all the care the Abyssinian's coat generally requires. A silkie, on the other hand, might better suit an adult owner as the long hair needs daily grooming -- and the silkie can sometimes be sensitive about being brushed. This can be solved by simply trimming the silkie's coat to a more manageable length, though in doing so, you will be unable to show her.


The show life of a silkie is much shorter than most other guinea pigs, including the Abyssinian. At only around 9 months old the silkie's coat starts to lose its texture and the guinea pig is past her peak condition. When showing a silkie, preparation starts early because her coat must be full length. You'll need to get her use to being groomed early and learn how to wrap her fur with special wrappers to protect it. Before a show, a wash, blow dry and grooming are required.

Preparing an Abyssinian for a show, on the other hand, is simple. Because her coat should be harsh and crisp for showing, bathe her a week ahead of time. Brush the rosettes on the day of the show.