Just like hamsters, there are a variety of guinea pig breeds. While care of different guinea pigs is essentially the same, their characteristics can be different, resulting in different coat styles and colors. However, all breeds originated in the Peruvian Andes, have a lifespan of up to 7 years, measure 8 to 9 inches and are friendly and active.
What makes this breed of guinea pig special are the rosettes that appear on the hind quarters and shoulders of the animal. There is also a satin variety available that has a shiny coat. The Abyssinian is ideal for first-time guinea pig owners. Both children and adults will enjoy their foolish behavior and their ability to learn tricks. This breed can learn to come when you call his name, go into his cage on his own and even sit.
Available in both regular and satin varieties, American guinea pigs are known for their rounded nose and big ears. The American guinea pig has a short, smooth coat and comes in a variety of colors. Originally known as the English guinea pig, the name was changed by the American Cavy Breeders Association in the 1960s. This variety has a sweet and silly temperament and is easy to care for because of its short coat.
Fairly new to the guinea pigs found in pet shops is the coronet. Coronet guinea pigs have longer hair, especially around the eyebrow area, which makes them look like old men. The ears of this breed have a slight droop. The coronet got its name from the rosette of hair on top of the guinea pig's forehead. This breed does require daily grooming to keep its coat healthy. The coat can be trimmed to make grooming easier.
Another breed available in regular and satin coats is the Peruvian. Because of its long, soft coat, the Peruvian was once known as the Angora guinea pig. The long coat, which grows past the feet of the animal, does require daily grooming, which means this breed may not be a good fit for small children. This breed is not ideal for first-time guinea pig owners either and is usually purchased as a show animal because of its long coat.
The silkie is another breed that requires a lot of grooming due to its long hair that grows from the nose and over the back. In England the breed is referred to as the sheltie. There is also a satin variety available. This is another breed that will require extensive grooming. While the coat can be trimmed, this breed is best suited for an adult owner who can be truly dedicated to the grooming of the pet.
The coat and rounded shape of this guinea pig give the animal a teddy bear-like appearance. The teddy guinea pig may be harder to find because the variety is a result of a mutation. The mutation causes the hair to be kinky, short and dense. The breed is also found in satin varieties. This breed loves attention and has a curious, fun-loving attitude that makes them ideal for children.
The texel is another new breed that is shorter than most guinea pigs, falling closer to the 8 inch measurement. The coat of this variety is made up of long, soft, curly hair, making it a show favorite. The coat does require extensive grooming, which means this breed is best suited for adult pet owners who have the time and dedication to properly groom the animal. If you're looking for a show-stopping breed, the texel is a smart choice.
The white-crested is one of the rarer breeds, having a single white rosette on the top of its head, but no other white is to be found on the body to make this guinea pig available for show. This means that most white-crested guinea pigs are sold as pets rather than show animals. While the white crown of fur on the animal's head can make them appear grumpy, this breed has the same loving attitude of any other breed.
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Amy Brantley has been a writer since 2006, contributing to numerous online publications. She specializes in business, finance, food, decorating and pets.