Long Hair Guinea Pigs?

When thinking about guinea pigs, most people have a picture in their minds of the well-known, common American guinea pig breed that has a short coat. However, unbeknownst to most people, guinea pigs come in a variety of breeds with different shapes, slightly different sizes, and different coat colors and lengthsjust like dogs. Also unbeknownst to most people, like dogs, the long-haired breeds of guinea pigs need grooming.

Once referred to as Angora guinea pigs, Peruvians have hair that hangs over their foreheads like bangs, which may grow long enough to cover their eyes. Due to their long ringlets, Texels require quite a bit of daily brushing to maintain their coats free of tangles; thus, this breed is not ideal for children or very busy adults.

Also known as Shelties, this breed of guinea pig comes from England and is called a Silkie because of its long, soft, smooth, shiny haircoat. Although sometimes shy at first, Silkies are known to be gentle and laid back and are good family pets, as long as their coat is brushed daily to keep it free of debris and knotting. Sometimes called the English guinea pig, the Coronet resembles the Silkie in that they have smooth coats that grow backwards over their bodies.

What type of guinea pig has long hair?

Peruvian guinea pigs have the longest hair of all the breeds, to the point that it usually covers their eyes. A Peruvian holds the record for longest hair on a guinea pig at 21 inches, so don’t adopt or buy this breed unless you’re prepared to keep a regimented grooming schedule.

Do long-haired guinea pigs need haircuts?

Short haired guinea pigs do not have to have their fur cut. It will simply grow to its natural, short length. Long-haired breeds, however, require haircuts to make them more comfortable.

How much is a long-haired guinea pig worth?

Guinea pigs are pretty cheap to buy, costing anywhere from $10 to $40, with the average price of a guinea pig being around $25. However, they also have setup and ongoing costs. Expect to fork out $200 to begin with, and then up to another $40 a month for a pair of piggies.

Which breed of guinea pig is friendliest?

Teddy guinea pigs are known for being calm and friendly. Many Teddy guinea pigs are very tolerant of handling and may even enjoy cuddling with their owners. This makes them a good option for children or first-time guinea pig owners.

Your kids might be convinced they’re ready for a dog, but you know that you would end up doing most of the feeding, walking, and cleaning that dogs require. For families who are first-time pet owners, veterinarians often recommend smaller pets, like guinea pigs, because, as Dr. Laurie Hess, DVM, wrote for VetStreet, guinea pigs are less fragile than other small animals like rabbits and hamsters. And, much like a dog, there are a number of guinea pig breeds to chose from.

Some owners of Peruvians trim their long hair to make it more manageable, but Guinea Pig Hub recommends letting it grow naturally . Teddies are the only breed with an upturned nose , according to Guinea Pig Hub, and they have one of the best temperaments, making them a great family pet.

Texels make great show guinea pigs because of their beautiful waves and curls, but the maintenance they require means they’re best suited to someone who has the extra time to spend on grooming. Rexes have a short , dense coat that resembles wool, according to Guinea Pig Hub, and they’re also well-known for their droopy ears, which apparently makes them look like hedgehogs. Alpaca guineas are loved for their affectionate nature they will want to spend time with you, which is good, because their coat also requires daily combing.

Its no secret that, here at Kavee, we love guinea pigs for their cute little faces and wheeking sounds. But did you know that our favourite furry friends also have one other adorable attribute? Thats right – guinea pigs are much admired for their beautiful coats of fur.

However its worth knowing that long-haired piggies require some extra TLC and grooming in order to keep them looking their best and staying healthy and happy. Bear in mind that, as their fur can get a little unruly, Abyssinians may require extra care and grooming but not to the same extent as the other breeds in this guide.

The truth is that if you allow your little ones mane to flow free, the result could be extremely matted, dirty, unkempt hair, which could, in turn, lead to some pretty nasty health issues for your pig, such as: Guinea pigs are no exception to this and if they are left in dirty conditions, with wet, soiled or matted fur, flies may choose them as a host site for their eggs. Lengthy, dense strands of hair offer lice more protection and opportunity to lay and attach their eggs.

Lice infestations can cause your guinea pig discomfort and distress as well as resulting in nasty secondary skin infections; sadly, they can even prove fatal. Also routine grooming can help piggy parents spot lice infestations at an early stage and prevent them spreading further. If your piggies ears are left uncleaned, wax build up is more likely to attract the interest of hungry mites looking for their next home.

Weve compiled a helpful check list of essential asks for you to follow in order to keep your guinea pig looking and feeling their very best. Grooming consists of combing or brushing your guinea pigs hair as well as occasionally trimming it in order to keep it neat and tidy. Plan your brushing sessions around the same time each day so that your guinea pig learns to expect them and aim not to miss them.

For this reason, avoid wire toothed combs and brushes as the sharp bristles could cause accidental injuries if your piggy makes sudden movements. As weve already mentioned, long hair around this area can become soiled and dirty more quickly, which may lead to infections and other health issues. Dont use scissors with sharp ends as they could cause accidental injuries if your guinea pig makes any sudden movements during grooming.

STEP 1: Find a quiet area to groom your guinea pig – a spot you dont mind getting covered in stray hairs. Use a clean towel, pee pad or fleece liner as a soft, comfortable surface for your piggies to sit on during their grooming session. If your guinea pigs matted hair is very close to their skin, you may need to work on it over the course of a couple of grooming sessions.

STEP 5: Once your piggys fur has been combed and any matted patches have been removed, trim any particularly long lengths of hair with your scissors. As a rule, you should cut long hair around your piggys bottom and feet to keep these areas clean and free from obstructions. As mentioned in step 4, use your fingers to guide how short you cut, to ensure you keep to an even length and to avoid injury.

If your guinea pigs bottom appears soiled then its probably time for a bath – or at least a quick wash of that area in order to freshen it up. As weve already mentioned, guinea pigs with impressive coats are more likely to soil the long, dense fur around their bottoms and its important to address this as soon as you notice it. Ensure that you are bathing them in a calm, quiet room with no distractions and make sure its warm and dry so that your piggy wont feel chilly when they come out of the bath wet Pour around 3cm of warm (not hot) water into a flat based basin or a small container such as a clean washing up bowl Holding your guinea pig carefully, let them try the water by dipping a foot in it Providing they seem calm and relaxed, scoop some water and gently pour it over their body, avoiding their face and ears Shampoo them gently with guinea pig safe shampoo Rinse the shampoo thoroughly out of their fur Wrap them gently in a towel and hold them carefully as you blow dry them using a hair dryer on the COOLEST, QUIETEST setting until their fur is dry Give your freshly bathed guinea pig a cuddle to celebrate a successful bath time – and how about a yummy treat as a reward?

Its quite simple really – if your piggys earwax build up isnt cleaned out, it can attract infestations of pests including mites, which can lead to further health complications, as weve already explained. Keep an eye on your guinea pigs ears and if you spot earwax building up, its probably time for a gentle clean. So if you notice that your piggys tiny tootsies feel a wee bit scratchy on your skin during cuddles, it may well be time to get the nail scissors out.

The prospect of clipping your guinea pigs nails can be a wee bit scary – the last thing you want to do is accidentally trim too much and hurt them! Its also worth bearing in mind that parents of long-haired piggies often report that their furry pals are very chilled, relaxed and laid back and with all the pampering time they get, its not hard to see why!

Outline: The abnormally long fur of the Peruvian guinea pig is due to an autosomal recessive gene. Peruvian guinea pigs are unable to groom themselves adequately because of the length of their fur and their coats are prone to becoming matted which can lead to skin infections. Because the fur often becomes matted and soiled, they are at particular risk of fly strike. These conditions can adversely affect the animals welfare with effects ranging from discomfort to intense pain.

Although regular grooming or clipping/ trimming is recommended and will prevent the diseases associated with long hair, Guinea pigs may find these procedures uncomfortable and stressful. Peruvians are high maintenance guinea pigs that need regular and prolonged attention from their owner to maintain their coat condition and avoid disease and discomfort.

Matted fur can be uncomfortable causing irritation, sore and infected skin and, if severe, can affect ability to feed and mobility. Veterinary visits can cause significant stress in prey species (such as the guinea pig). They may show few obvious signs of pain so suffering may be underestimated and problems may be undetected until they are severe (Fawcett 2011).

As far as we are aware, the impact of the long fur on the guinea pigs ability to regulate their body temperature effectively has not been investigated but it seems likely that Peruvian guinea pigs may be at greater risk of thermal discomfort in warm environmental conditions than short-haired breeds. Opinions differ as to whether it is ethically acceptable to breed animals whose welfare is at particular risk because of the abnormal characteristics for which they have been selected. The wild ancestors of domesticated guinea pig originated from the mountainous regions of South America.

Difficulties in mating due to excessive hair around the genitals have been reported in long-haired rabbits, and may occur also in Peruvian guinea pigs. Pups (baby guinea pigs) can have difficulty sucking from their mothers because they cannot find the nipples. They lay their eggs in the soiled coat, and, on hatching, the larvae eat the living body tissues.

The long hair and mats tend to hide sore skin and maggots so that detection of the disease can be delayed. In warm conditions the time from laying eggs to development of second stage larvae, which are the most damaging, can be as little as 38 hours (Cousquer 2006). Treatment involves fluid therapy for shock, pain relief, the removal of all eggs and larvae, and wound care and management, which may last for weeks.

Peruvians are high maintenance guinea pigs that need regular and prolonged attention from their owner to maintain their coat condition and avoid disease and discomfort. Unfortunately guinea pigs are excellent at masking signs of illness and pain so conditions may not be identified until severe, so owners need to be particularly vigilant (Fawcett 2011). Alderton (2001) recommended that Peruvians should not be housed using hay as bedding material as it can easily become entangled in the coat and worsen matting.

Matted fur can be uncomfortable causing irritation, sore and infected skin and, if severe, can affect ability to feed and mobility. They may show few obvious signs of pain so suffering may be underestimated and problems may be undetected until they are severe (Fawcett 2011). As far as we are aware, the impact of the long fur on the guinea pigs ability to regulate their body temperature effectively has not been investigated but it seems likely that Peruvian guinea pigs may be at greater risk of thermal discomfort in warm environmental conditions than short-haired breeds.

Peruvians (and other long-haired breeds) are homogygous for the recessive form of the gene which causes the abnormally long hair growth. Opinions differ as to whether it is ethically acceptable to breed animals whose welfare is at particular risk because of the abnormal characteristics for which they have been selected. Pairing semi-longhaired guinea pigs should also be avoided as there is a one in four chance that offspring they produce will be long haired.

Abyssinian Guinea Pig

Originally from South America, these guinea pigs have a rough-textured, spiky coat that can grow nearly 2 inches long. Their coat grows in swirls or cowlicks, called rosettes, that are paired across their body, typically with eight rosettes total. Their hair comes in a variety of colors and patterns, including brindle, roan, tortoiseshell and solid. Abyssinians are known to be very affectionate and outgoing but can get into trouble for being too curious. They make great first-time guinea pigs for families.

Peruvian Guinea Pig

With extremely long, straight hair all over its body, the Peruvian is harder to care for when compared to short-haired guinea pig breeds. Their coat can grow as long as 24 inches, and it requires a lot of daily grooming. Once referred to as Angora guinea pigs, Peruvians have hair that hangs over their foreheads like bangs, which may grow long enough to cover their eyes.Their coats part down their backs, hanging down on both sides of their spines. Typically, their hair is arranged in two rosettes—one in which the hair extends forward, and the other in which it extends backward. Peruvians bond closely with their owners and are often considered the most alert and engaged of the guinea pig breeds.

Texel Guinea Pig

Also called Curlies, Texels are originally from England and have stout bodies and broad heads. They have soft, thick fur that is arranged in curls all over their bodies (including their bellies) and is often parted in the middle of their backs. They usually have shorter hair on their faces and may have longer curls behind their ears and along their lower jaws. Due to their long ringlets, Texels require quite a bit of daily brushing to maintain their coats free of tangles; thus, this breed is not ideal for children or very busy adults.

Silkie Guinea Pig

Also known as Shelties, this breed of guinea pig comes from England and is called a Silkie because of its long, soft, smooth, shiny haircoat. Unlike some of the other long-haired guinea pig breeds, the Silkie has a coat that is not parted or arranged in rosettes. Instead it sweeps backward, like it’s slicked back, away from its face, giving its body a teardrop shape. Although sometimes shy at first, Silkies are known to be gentle and laid back and are good family pets, as long as their coat is brushed daily to keep it free of debris and knotting.

Coronet Guinea Pig

Sometimes called the English guinea pig, the Coronet resembles the Silkie in that they have smooth coats that grow backwards over their bodies. However, unlike the Silkie, the Coronet has a rosette, or coronet, of hair in the center of its head. The rest of their hair is not parted. The Coronets are known to be affectionate and inquisitive and can make wonderful companions.

Lunkarya Guinea Pig

Occasionally called the “Lunk,” the Lunkarya is originally from Sweden and is rarely seen in the US. The Lunk has rough-textured, dense, long, curly hair that sticks out in all directions and cannot be combed flat. There are three breed variations: the Lunkarya Peruvian—with a distinct forelock on its head, the Lunkarya Sheltie—with hair flowing back over its body, and the Lunkarya Coronet—with a crest of hair on its forehead.

Sheba Guinea Pig

Originating in Australia, the Sheba mini yak, or Sheba for short, has a stocky body and a tousled-looking coat. Their dense hair is arranged in rosettes, similar to that of the Abyssinian and the Peruvian. They have square heads and hair arranged around the sides of their faces, so it looks like they have mutton-chop whiskers. They are gentle and curious and make excellent family pets if someone is willing to groom them each day.

Alpaca Guinea Pig

These guinea pigs are also called the boucle, English Peruvian and curly coated Coronet. They have wavy, coarse hair, similar to that of the camel-like alpaca. Each strand of hair varies in color from its root to its end. They also have a rosette of hair on their foreheads. As a result of their thick coats, they should be kept indoors or they risk overheating outside in warm weather. Alpacas are extremely high-maintenance guinea pigs because their dense hair requires daily brushing and detangling.

Intensity of welfare impact

The wild ancestors of domesticated guinea pig originated from the mountainous regions of South America. They were probably first domesticated by Andean Indians 3000 to 6000 years ago (Fawcett 2011), and were brought to Europe in the 1700s (Alderton 2001). Since this time many different breeds have been developed with a wide range of colours and fur characteristics.The Peruvian appears to have been the first long-haired breed to have been specifically recognised and selected for. It has long silky hair which falls over the head and rear giving the animals a “mop-like” appearance (http://www.petplanet.co.uk/small_breed_profile.asp?sbid=21). The coat can grow up to 50 cms long (Alderton 2001; https://www.omlet.co.uk/breeds/breeds.php?breed_type=Guinea+Pigs&breed=Peruvian). All of the several species of wild guinea pigs in South America have short coats.Short-haired wild guinea pigs and domesticated breeds groom and care for their fur themselves but this is impossible for the Peruvian. The long, silky coat is very vulnerable to matting, where the fur becomes tangled together in a dense, confused mass, and this occurs rapidly without daily grooming by the owner (Alderton 2001; https://www.omlet.co.uk/breeds/breeds.php?breed_type=Guinea+Pigs&breed=Peruvian). Unless Peruvians have their fur clipped regularly to keep it short, their coats need constant (daily) attention ( https://www.omlet.co.uk/breeds/breeds.php?breed_type=Guinea+Pigs&breed=Peruvian).A matted coat is uncomfortable for the guinea pig. The skin underneath severe mats may become sore and infected. Large mats can physically affect the animal’s ability to feed, for example, if mats form below the chin, or they can prevent normal locomotion when the mats involve the limbs (RWF 2007). The long coat can impede normal movement even when not matted.Peruvians may also be predisposed to other problems, listed below, because of their long coats.Peruvians are ‘high maintenance’ guinea pigs that need regular and prolonged attention from their owner to maintain their coat condition and avoid disease and discomfort. This includes a programme of regular grooming (daily or several times a week) or regular clipping, and daily examinations to check for perineal soiling, particularly during warmer weather or in warmer climates. Unfortunately guinea pigs are excellent at masking signs of illness and pain so conditions may not be identified until severe, so owners need to be particularly vigilant (Fawcett 2011). Guinea pigs may find the necessary grooming procedures uncomfortable and stressful.Alderton (2001) recommended that Peruvians should not be housed using hay as bedding material as it can easily become entangled in the coat and worsen matting. It would seem likely that this is also true for other commonly used bedding materials such as wood shavings.

Duration of welfare impact

The welfare risks associated with long fur are life-long, and can only be reduced by regular clipping and/or daily grooming.Matting and fly strike can occur at any age. Matting can cause discomfort and irritation lasting from days to weeks and can cause pain if the skin beneath the matting becomes infected or ulcerated. Fly strike can lead to a painful death within days.

Number of animals affected

All Peruvians have the long coat that predisposes them to matting and the secondary consequences of this. We are not aware of any data on the prevalence of the conditions described here (matting and fly strike) but they are considered to occur commonly (Cousquer 2006; https://www.omlet.co.uk/breeds/breeds.php?breed_type=Guinea+Pigs&breed=Peruvian).

Diagnosis

Coat mats and fly-strike are easy to detect on careful examination but determination of the extent of damage caused by maggot infestation may need detailed veterinary examination under sedation or anaesthesia.

Genetics

The coat characteristics of guinea pigs are controlled by a number of genes. One affects coat length. Guinea pigs which are homozygous for the dominant form of this gene (ie which have a pair of dominant genes) have short hair. Peruvians (and other long-haired breeds) are homogygous for the recessive form of the gene which causes the abnormally long hair growth. Heterozygous individuals (with one dominant and one recessive gene) are semi-long haired (Warren

Acknowledgements

UFAW is grateful to Rosie Godfrey BVetMed MRCVS and David Godfrey BVetMed FRCVS for their work in compiling this section and to Nina Taylor for her contribution to it.