When shopping at a pet store of any kind, it's not hard to find a guinea pig. There you will commonly find the breed "English Guinea Pig." The catch, however, is that there is no such breed of guinea pig, and to top it off, guinea pigs are actually called cavies!
There are in fact 13 breeds of cavy, and they are all very different in appearance and personality. In this article, we will explore different breeds to help you choose the right breed of cavy. We will also go into the best ways to find your perfect guinea pig!
All cavies have similar body types. The best way of describing their body type is that they are shaped like bricks--flat on top and straight down the sides. This is not always the perfect description of an individual guinea pig, but it is a close analogy. They should weigh no less than 32 ounces when they are full-grown. Most cavies come in many different and unusual colors.
- American - The American is the closest thing you are going to get to an English cavy, as they used to be known by that name. They are also the most popular breed of cavy by far! They have a very short, sleek coat of fur. They are among the most elegant-looking of all the breeds. They are full of personality and they are really great pets. They are good with children, as long as the children know how to handle them properly. They have what is known as a roman nose, which is not too pointed, but rounded just a bit. A satin breed of American cavy also exists.
- Abyssinian - The Abby, as this breed is nicknamed, is a very unique breed of cavy. The Abby is known as a rough coat cavy. They have circular patterns in their fur called rosettes, which are symmetrical along the body. They also have rosettes down each side of the body and on the forehead. There should be at least eight rosettes on the cavy's body. The Abby is a nice breed of cavy with a fun personality. They are among the most common of cavies. They also come in a satin breed, which has a softer coat with a satin sheen.
- Teddy - The Teddy is a breed that is growing more and more popular. They are one of the most unique as well. The Teddy is unique because of its coat of fur. They have a very short and dense coat. The hair all over their bodies is kinked and stands erect. This gives them a look similar to a wire-haired breed of dog. Unlike a wire-haired dog, however, its fur is surprisingly soft to the touch. Because of their fur, round body and roman nose, the Teddy really does resemble a teddy bear! The Teddy is a great pet. They are docile and very gentle. They are among some of the best guinea pigs for children! They also come in a satin breed which makes the coat even softer.
- Texel - The Texel is a newer and very interesting breed. They are a long-haired breed, but what sets them apart from other long-haired breeds is that their long coat is in curls and ringlets. The ringlets are all over their bodies, even on their bellies and foreheads. The ringlets grow out with age. A Texel has a shorter body than most cavies, and has a short bold nose instead of a roman nose. They do not require grooming like most long-haired guinea pigs, but their ringlets do need attention. They need to be kept straightened and free of tangles. They are very beautiful guinea pigs, and are also full of personality. They come in a variety of colors and would be a great pet for the dedicated owner.
- Peruvian - The Peruvian is a long-haired breed. They are very beautiful, elegant guinea pigs that need daily grooming. It is possible to not have to groom them every day if their coat is tied up and wrapped in fabric in small strands. This allows it to stay untangled. The hair is long all over their bodies and they even have bangs over their eyes, so care is needed there as well. They also come in a large variety of colors and in a satin breed. They may look fancy but they are every bit as vibrant as all other cavies. Because their energy level is the same, it may be harder to keep them clean while they are in their enclosures. They may not be the best breed for children because of the long coat and care required.
- Silkie - The Silkie is also long-haired but not quite as elegant as the Peruvian. Their coat is about half the length of the Peruvian, and it also looks a bit messed up at all times. Despite this, they are beautiful animals. They do require grooming, but not as much as a Peruvian. They should be groomed every day or every other day. They come in a variety of colors. The Silkie has a great personality, and comes in the satin breed as well.
- Coronet - The Coronet is one of the newest breeds of cavy that has been recognized. They are a long-haired breed, so they require a bit more care than most guinea pigs. They have a very dense yet soft coat, which comes in all recognized colors. They require a lot of grooming and care. They also have what is called a crown or a coronet on the very top of their heads in between their ears. This should be evenly centered on the head. They make good pets but they may not be good for younger children because of the long coat of fur. They are probably better suited for an older child or teen or even an adult.
- White Crested - The White Crested is a very good-looking breed. At first sight, they seem like an interesting mix between an American and a Abyssinian. They have a smooth and short coat of hair, which resembles an American. They have one rosette directly in the middle of their foreheads, which resembles the Abby. The rosette on the head is to be white and only white, hence the name of the breed. The white crest is also the only white that is allowed on the guinea pig. This means they only have limited color varieties. They have roughly the same personalities as an American and make great pets!
A great resource for learning even more about cavies is the American Cavy Breeders Association website. Once you have investigated the breeds and have decided on one, it is important to take your time finding your cavy. The best way to go about this is to find a breeder and you can accomplish this by finding out about rabbit and cavy shows in your area. There are at least 4 shows in every state per year. The best way to find out about them is to contact your local 4-H (head, heart, hands, and health) organization or Future Farmers of America (FFA).
Pet stores of all kinds have guinea pigs as well, but this is the case where you may never know what you are getting yourself into. Cavies are a long-term commitment as a pet, so take your time and choose wisely! Good luck!