Several people looking to buy guinea pigs are confused about which breed to choose.
If you are one such person too, you are probably looking to choose the breed that is the friendliest.
So I decided to put together this post, threading in what I observed while petting guinea pigs, and what experts say on the web.
What breed of guinea pigs is the friendliest?
Below is the tabulation of the top 7 breeds of guinea pigs and their respective score of friendliness indicated against them on a scale of 1-10.
1. Abyssinian (10)
2. Teddies (9.6)
3. American (9)
4. Crested (8.5)
5. Peruvians (8)
6. Silkies (7)
7. Texels (6.5)
Now you may ask me how a mere number can help you make an informed decision. That is exactly why I write about each of the above breeds in the following sections. What you can also find within this post are tips on choosing guinea pig breeds based on your needs! We also a complete guide to guinea pig breeds located here.
Let’s Break it Down to Classes
Long-Haired Breeds (Peruvians, Silkies and Texels)
Based on what I found out from my research, long-haired breeds of guinea pigs prefer to be casual rather than friendly. These include:
The long hair sure makes these breeds look like fuzzy balls, which means that they are so cute. But you should remember that you need to groom them regularly. These reasons sum up to evolutionary effects leading to a natural selection favouring the calm state in them.
The only anomalous behaviour observed in long-haired breeds is in the case of Texels. They do not require frequent grooming because it causes damage to the hair coat. Texels are more active than their other long-haired cousins.
From what we gather from guinea pig owners sharing their experiences, we find that Peruvians are more friendly in the long-haired breeds.
Short-Haired Breeds (Americans and Cresteds)
What I notice remarkably in short-haired breeds of guinea pigs is that their internal body temperature asserts them to be what they call in scientific terms as stenothermal in nature. I accredit these to their evolutionary mechanisms because long hair is supposed to be an adaptation to colder temperatures.
So with varying temperatures of their environment, we can expect their body temperatures to rise in order to achieve homeostasis- a constant internal state of body where all functions are normal and smooth.
The short-haired breeds include:
When your guinea pig is not handled with love by you at least once in a while, then they may maintain a distance with you. Their wild behaviour may increase because they do not feel connected to you. So you may have to show your friendliness first in order to receive it back from your guinea pigs. “If you want a friend, first be one” suits better here than any other place I know of.
Among short-haired breeds, we gather that Americans are more friendly of a breed than other cousins.
Teddies and Abyssinians
When it comes to classifying breeds of guinea pigs based on how friendly each of them is, there will arise several disagreements between different people. Which breed you find more friendly, need not necessarily mean I find the same to be more friendly. It is because we observed the traits of different individuals of the same breed. Individual traits do vary.
But when it comes to these two breeds:
Any breeder will probably tell you the same stereotypical data. These are the two breeds that are observed to be most friendly. Both these breeds are expected to be interested in running around their owners after the first few weeks. So you will sure feel like you have a friend always beside you.
Grooming and Friendliness of Teddies and Abyssinians
Quite in similarity to the long-haired breeds, these mid-length breeds of Teddy and Aby do need quite some grooming. Although, you must note that when groomed very frequently it could lead to an excess of hair fall which you probably do not want to happen in your home.
Some breeders suggest that these are the traits that make an energetic animal much friendlier. This is because, when we have to groom the guinea pig, we take them in our hands and handle them ourselves.
In these mid-sized breeds, we handle them neither too frequently nor too later from two successive grooming. It is just the right amount of time in between. This helps establish a cordial relationship between you and your guinea pig.
This way, you do not invade their time by always handling them, but nor do you avoid them for a long time.
This is probably why every individual of these breeds can be attributed to common characteristics because the individual interaction with us helps in eliminating the natural fear and loneliness instincts of the guinea pigs.
Why Hair Size Has a Say in the Friendliness of a Breed
Let us consider humans to answer this question. If you have a bad hair day, everything seems wrong and you hate yourself even for the right things you do.
When you have a good hair day, even if you have done some terrible stuff, when you look into the mirror you forget everything because you start to thank god for your hair. Well, at least that is the case with me.
While talking about guinea pigs, you might have to remember that their body mechanisms are not as complex as humans have. We have a thermo-regulation system within our body which ensures that our body temperature remains constant no matter what the environmental temperature is.
Such organisms are called regulators while other animals who can only change their body temperature with change in environmental temperature are called as conformers.
We have mechanisms like sweating to cool us in heat, and shivering to make us hot in cold. But guinea pigs do not have such mechanisms. Even when we have such mechanisms, the temperature of where we are, greatly influences how we behave.
So think about the case of the poor little guinea pigs. Their only mode of temperature regulation is by virtue of their body hair which provides some sort of insulation from cold. So it does affect the friendliness or the behaviour of different breeds differently.
Why does my guinea pig not stay friendly even when it lives in optimum conditions?
Like said earlier, individual behaviour could greatly vary. The ranking that we can assume in terms of friendliness is just a generalisation. Not every single guinea pig of the same breed has to behave the same way.
But don’t worry, generally, all breeds of guinea pigs are friendly enough. So you just have to keep trying with patience, perseverance, and faith. Continue to give love and right resources such as food, play items, water, and space, for your guinea pigs. They will soon get attached to you.
If you want to learn about things that you can provide your guinea pigs to make them more friendly, read this post next.
What is the optimum temperature to grow my guinea pigs?
Between 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit is considered to be a good range to grow your guinea pigs in order to get the best friendliness out of them. But you do have to remember that there is no specific temperature that fits well for every single individual. You may have to experiment by trial and error method with different temperatures during different seasons.
If your guinea pig shows any signs of loneliness, neglect or sorrow when you have them in a specific temperature, you surely have to try a different heat level. Also, remember that if you keep changing the temperature very frequently they may not like you at all!
When you find that they are comfortable with a specific temperature, try your best to make it possible for them to remain in that particular temperature all year long through all different seasons. If you do want them to be friendly with you, that is the way to get what you want.
List of Rare Guinea Pig Breeds
When it comes to rarest guinea pigs of them all, the winner is the Santa Catarina’s Guinea Pig. This species is only known to carry an entire population of just 42 members. That’s incredibly rare.
We find that hairless guinea pigs are hard to find as well. The Baldwin Guinea Pig is one such example of a rare guinea pig breed. They have sensitive skin and must be kept in a warm, clean environment. Make sure the bedding is soft and doesn’t irritate their skin.
Here are few more rare guinea pig breeds:
- Alpaca Guinea Pig
- Lunkarya Guinea Pig
- Rex Guinea Pig
- Sheba Guinea Pig
What you get with a lot of rare guinea pig breeds is unique color, density and length of their fur coats. The rarest guinea pigs tend to be hairless or have colorways that identify them as unique.
Which is the rarest guinea pig breed, and how friendly is that breed?
Almost all guinea pig breeds are commonly available. In comparison, the white crested guinea pigs are not as common as the other breeds. So you can call them “rare”.
These individuals are shy in nature, so not as friendly as some other breeds. But they are intelligent and good with memory, and short haired. So if your preference is easy maintenance, these are the ones that you should choose.
If you want to find out more about the different guinea pig breeds, read our complete guide.