Long Haired vs Short Haired Guinea Pigs

long haired guinea pig in the grass

If you’re thinking about getting a guinea pig, you may not have considered whether you want a long or short-haired breed

Although this might seem a fairly trivial choice, there are significant differences when it comes to caring for these different hair types. So what are the differences and which type of guinea pig is best: long haired or short haired?

Although the long-haired guinea pigs can look amazing and it might sound fun to have a guinea pig that you can brush and make them look pretty, they do take a significant amount of maintenance compared to short-haired breeds. 

Long-haired guinea pigs need regular grooming

There are many long-haired guinea pig breeds including Silkie, Coronet, Lunkarya, Merino, Peruvian and Texel. Some of these have very straight hair and others have curly hair. The Sheba Mini Yak guinea pigs have hair that grows in many different directions which is why this type of piggy is often called a “Bad Hair Day” guinea pig. 

Sparkles, our long-haired Sheba Mini Yak guinea pig

Long haired guinea pigs need regular grooming and most guinea pigs dislike this process.  The longer their hair is, the more difficult it will be to groom them. And if they have long curly hair, this will be an additional challenge.

Grooming takes time and patience, especially with a nervous guinea pig. But grooming helps to remove loose hairs and also bits of hay or bedding so it’s an essential part of your guinea pigs care regime. 

While you’re brushing and combing your guinea pig, you may also need to trim any sections that are getting a little long.

A short haired guinea pig such as an American or Abyssinian will rarely need grooming making them much easier to maintain than the long haired guinea pigs.

Ginger, black and white short haired Abyssinian guinea pig
Sunny Pig, our short haired Abyssinian guinea pig

Why do long-haired guinea pigs need haircuts?

Long haired guinea pigs need their hair trimmed regularly because long hair will drag in the bedding and they may get bits of hay and even poops stuck in the hair. 

Urine can also soak into hair that is long around their rear end. Not only will this make them smell rather unpleasant but urine and debris in their coat can lead to nasty sores.

If left to its own devices, your guinea pig’s hair can get extremely knotted and matted. 

Another real danger to guinea pigs who are dirty and smelly is flies. Flies will be attracted to a smelly guinea pig making them susceptible to flystrike,  a painful and potentially fatal condition. 

With long haired guinea pigs, it’s a good idea to keep their hair as short as possible around their rear end. This reduces the chances of their hair becoming soaked with urine.

Short haired guinea pigs don’t need haircuts as it only grows to a certain length which isn’t long enough to tangle. 

Can a child cut their guinea pig’s hair?

Cutting a guinea pig’s hair is something an adult should do for safety reasons so if you’re a parent of a child who wants a guinea pig and you don’t want this job, a long haired guinea pig is probably not a good option for you. 

Do both long-haired and short-haired guinea pigs need baths?

If your guinea pig gets smelly and dirty, whether  they are long or short haired, they will need a bath.

For long-haired types, bathing is a job which will need to be done more regularly than with a short haired guinea pig. 

A smooth haired guinea pig is far less likely to get dirty at all, even compared to an Abyssinian who has slightly longer and more messy hair.

Can a child bathe a guinea pig?

Bathing is something that guinea pigs don’t really like so it can be rather challenging. This is not really a job that a child can do safely on their own as a guinea pig can be very wriggly.

Can you tell if a baby guinea pig is long-haired?

If you’re getting a baby guinea pig, it’s worth knowing that you may not realise they are long haired when they are very young as their hair may still be short. Below is a picture of a baby Silkie guinea pig whose fur hasn’t grown long yet…

Baby long haired Silkie guinea pig (Lychee) before her hair has grown long

Here is a picture of how Lychee’s looks as an adult. She has regular hair trims so it does grow much longer than this.

Lychee as an adult Silkie guinea pig with long hair

We always recommend you get your guinea pigs from a rescue centre for ethical reasons. But rescues have lots of experience with guinea pigs and will be able to tell you if a baby is long or short haired. 

They will also most likely have a lot more choice of different kinds and be able to offer advice if needed on the best one for you.

So although we love long haired guinea pigs, they are not the best choice for everyone and if the guinea pig is for a child we strongly recommend you opt for the short haired varieties.