First-time guinea pig owners may be curious about whether their piggies will shed.
As do all animals with fur, new hair growth replaces old hair and causes the old hair to be shed.
Guinea pigs shed seasonally, as do many other animals.
Paying attention to how much your pet sheds can give you insight into your pet’s health.
Guinea pigs normally shed, especially as the seasons change. Long-haired breeds shed more prolifically than short-haired breeds. If your guinea pig is shedding excessively, it may be because of a health problem. Grooming your pet regularly is important to your pet’s health.
As there are many breeds of guinea pigs, let’s find out more to see which one sheds the least.
Breeds of Guinea Pigs and Their Coats
There are 13 breeds of guinea pigs listed by the American Cavy Association.
|Breed of Guinea Pig||Coat type|
|Abyssinian Guinea pig||Short coat, evenly spaced rosettes standing well open|
|Abyssinian Satin||Short coat, evenly spaced rosettes standing well open, with a satin sheen|
|American Guinea Pigs||Short, smooth coats|
|American Satin||Short, smooth coat with a satin sheen|
|Coronet||Long coat, flowing from front to back, single rosette well centered upon the forehead|
|Peruvian Guinea Pigs||Long silky hair, flows from back to front, multiple rosettes, mature coat covers face|
|Peruvian Satin||Long silky hair, flows from back to front, multiple rosettes, mature coat covers face, satin sheen|
|Silkie||Long coat, flowing from front to back, no rosettes|
|Silkie Satin||Long coat, flowing from front to back, no rosettes, satin sheen.|
|Teddy||Short, dense, plush coat which is resilient to the touch and “stands up”|
|Teddy Satin||Short, plush, dense coat which is resilient to the touch and “stands up,” satin sheen|
|Texel||Long coat with curly hair, cobby body type|
|White Crested||Short coat, single white rosette, well centered on the forehead|
Long-haired Guinea Pigs, such as the Peruvian, Silkie, or Texel breeds, shed more than shorter-haired breeds and require more grooming.
Short-haired Guinea Pigs shed less and are easier to keep clean.
The Skinny guinea pig is a mostly hairless guinea pig breed, doesn’t shed at all, and is utterly adorable as well.
The Baldwin guinea pig is similar, except it is born with fur, which falls out as it matures, leaving the animal completely bald.
Baldwin guinea pigs are a very gentle breed and have an affectionate nature.
Shedding As a Sign of Health Issues
As you clean your pet’s cage, you may notice more shed hair.
Or, as you are grooming your piggy, you may notice hair loss.
One cause of hair loss is scurvy from the lack of Vitamin C in their diet.
Scurvy also causes other symptoms such as:
- Dental issues
- Weight loss
- Bruising or hemorrhage
- Rough coat
- Painful joints
Make sure your pet has adequate sources of vitamin C in their diet, and take your pet to see the vet if any of these symptoms occur.
Another cause of hair loss is a fungal infection.
If your piggy has crusty skin, they need to see the vet.
Other signs of a fungal infection are lesions and scabbing, especially around the head area.
Lice and mites also cause hair loss.
Signs of lice and mites are:
- Restless and uneasy behavior
- Intense scratching
- Weakness and anemia
- The area around the neck and ears will be red and inflamed
Shedding As a Sign of Stress
Guinea pigs can increase shedding when they are stressed.
Your pet may be stressed by its environment.
Keep your pet’s cage out of the way of everyday traffic and safe from other pets and small children.
Make sure your pet’s enclosure is in a temperature-controlled place, and they do not get too hot or cold.
Changing cage mates is also very stressful for a piggy, especially as they establish dominance.
Changing the type of food you feed your pet also introduces some stress.
Other health issues will cause stress.
Barbering In Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs will sometimes chew off each other’s or their own hair.
This behavior is called “barbering.”
Boredom and stress can cause a guinea pig to barber.
Making sure your pet has an adequately sized enclosure, enriching toys, and compatible cage-mates will reduce stress and boredom.
Guinea pigs also need an adequate amount of daily exercise.
Guinea pigs also barber when they do not have enough roughage like hay.
Barbering may also be from itching caused by:
- Parasitic infection
- Other undiagnosed skin conditions
Make sure your pet’s cage is clean and dry with plenty of non-aromatic or irritating bedding to help keep your pet’s skin healthy.
Grooming Guinea Pigs
For guinea pigs to look and feel their best, they need regular brushing with a soft brush.
Use treats to get your piggy to associate grooming with something positive, so they get used to it and come to enjoy it.
Long-haired breeds benefit from daily brushing, which removes loose hair.
Long coats can become dirty and tangled if you do not trim hair carefully with a comb and scissors.
Trim any hair reaching the floor, cut out difficult tangles, and make sure their rear end is clean and free of debris.
Be gentle when brushing your piggy’s hair; don’t tug or pull; they have very sensitive skin.
Extensive grooming with a soft baby brush stimulates hair growth and makes your piggy’s fur shine.
Pay extra attention to grooming when your piggy sheds his winter coat and grows in his summer coat.
Check out our article on guinea pig hair growing back and filling in bald spots for more information.
Do not bathe your guinea pig unless necessary; they are very clean animals and shouldn’t need a bath.
Bathing can dry out their skin and fur and cause problems.