The Curly Coated Guinea Pigs

Lunkarya, Merino, Boucle/Alpaca, Texel, Sheba Mini Yak

are unique looking & unlike other Guinea Pig breeds.

For as long as I can remember, we have always shared our home with a couple of Guinea Pigs. Not wanting to dedicate a lot of time breeding Guinea Pigs we usually just kept a few as pets in same sex groups. A few years ago, while attending an international pet show, we discovered the unique looking curly coated Guinea Pigs and were intrigued by their gentle disposition and their caricature like appearance.

After giving it a lot of thought and learning as much as we could about them, we decided that these were a type of pet that we would really enjoy keeping and caring for. Finally, after a couple of months researching breeders who lived closer to home (in Canada) we met a couple of dedicated breeders that specialize in raising them and we now have several from different breeders. We have a few unrelated animals that are all extremely good quality specimens. Although, ours are primarily kept as pets, we occasionally do allow them to breed but limit it to once or twice a year and therefore we do not have babies available very often.

Although we really enjoy them as pets I would not necessarily recommend a Curly Cavy to someone who is wanting a low maintenance pet as they do require a fair amount of care. Unlike short haired breeds that require little more than a weekly brushing, curly coated Guinea Pigs require regular grooming to keep their coat in shape. It is best to brush their hair once a day or at least every other day. Running your fingers through their coat daily will comfort them while offering them a bit of a massage and will loosen excess fur from their coats. Failure to do regular grooming may allow debris to get tangled and cause their coats to mat. As you would with any Guinea Pig, you also need to make sure that you check and clean their ears and trim their toenails every so often.

We leave our curly coated Guinea Pigs in full coats but sometimes trimming the coat a little is recommended by some breeders. We prefer to bathe them regularly and to help maintain good hygiene, the fur on the backside of some may need to be trimmed to prevent staining and to avoid exposing them to debris and urine. After bathing a Guinea Pig, we recommend not using a hot dryer to blow-dry their fur. Guinea Pigs run the risk of heat stroke and hot air also dries and straightens their coats. Instead of blow-drying you can try to use a chamois to towel them dry.

Other than grooming, curly coated Guinea Pigs do not require any different care than other varieties of Guinea Pigs. If you would like to know more about the basics of caring for Guinea Pigs please take a few minutes to read the Guinea Pig Care Sheet that is also posted on this website.

While not every named curly coated Guinea Pig is accepted as its’ own breed status in every Guinea Pig club around the world we are beginning to see more of the curly coated Guinea Pigs in pet homes and the demand for them is still gaining in popularity. Perhaps the main reason they are becoming so popular, apart from their unique and curly long coats, many people believe that these curlies tend to be a little calmer than other breeds. Ours are certainly very relaxed around people but I am not sure if it is the result of a hereditary (personality) traits or if their temperament has been influenced because of environmental conditioning. Beginning at a young age, their cute factor makes you want to hold them more plus the fact that they need to be groomed regularly may be conditioning them to be more social; influencing their personalities as they have already been exposed to a lot more human interaction.


Meet The Curlies

Below is a bit of information about some of these unique curly coated Guinea Pig breeds.

Texel


The curly coated Texel is a mutation that appeared in crossbred Guinea Pigs in Europe during the 1980s. Its’ origin is believed to be primary cross between a Silkie Guinea Pig with a Rex Guinea Pig, but it is likely that a few other breeds have also contributed to the Texel breed, but these other crossbreeds are thought to have made insignificant contributions as far as the coat type is concerned.

The Texel Guinea Pig has slightly longer hair than the Silkie/Sheltie Guinea Pig breed and is sometimes referred to as “long-haired Sheltie”. This can cause confusion because a Texel’s coat should be long and curly while the coat of a Sheltie/Silky should be long and straight. The entire body of the Texel is covered with long curly fur that parts on the back of the coat. Most often the hair on the face will be much shorter than the rest of the fur on the body. The hair under their chin and covering on their ears can be sparse or may not always be present. They are a bit smaller than many breeds. Their bodies are a bit shorter and their head is rounder and broader than that of other breeds.

Satin Texel Guinea Pigs are also available but they are not yet recognized as a separate class in the showring. They are very stunning! Satin Texels have shinier, denser coats when compared to a normal Texel Guinea Pig.

It did not take long before many breeders began to take special interest in their uniqueness and started working with them hoping to perfect a near perfect breed. Selective breeding practices have gained Texels their own place in competition within Guinea Pig / Cavy clubs world wide. The American Cavy Breeders Association recognized them as an official breed in 1998, and many other international clubs have started to accept and recognize them as their own unique breed.


Boucle/Alpaca


These are a curly coated Peruvian. The curls should be soft unlike the Lunkarya which ideally should feel like they have a harsh coat. Alpacas have hair that grows over the face like a Peruvian and have a rosette on their foreheads. Like Texels and other curly breeds the Alpaca Guinea Pig is quite a high maintenance Guinea Pig when compared to other breeds. This is because of the length of their hair. They require brushing and de-tangling at least once a day.


Merino


The Merino Guinea Pig resembles a Texel only they have curly coats which are short on their heads, along with a crest type rosette right on the top of their heads positioned evenly between their eyes and ears. Their heads are short and broad, the profile of which should be gently curved with no flatness. The breed is well known for its lovely temperament which is why Merinos have become such a popular choice of Guinea Pig to keep as pets.


Lunkarya


This is a quite new and non-widespread breed. The Lunkarya, sometimes Lunk for short or the “sheep-cavy”, is a relatively new breed group developed first in Sweden and is more often seen in the Nordic countries. The group has three breed variations: the Lunkarya Peruvian -with a prominent forelock, the Lunkarya Sheltie -with the hair flowing back over the body, and the Lunkarya Coronet - with a crest on the forehead. It has a long, rough, curly coat that should be very dense and full of corkscrew-like curls. The coat cannot be combed out and does not lie flat.


Sheba Mini Yak


The Sheba is a mix breed of Abyssinian and Peruvians. It is a longhaired, rosetted cavy, characterized by mutton chop whiskers, with frontal, presented to one side of the face, and in a naturally tousled long-haired, rosetted cavy. They have been recognized as a cavy breed in Australia. Their breed standard was developed by Wynne Eecen of Sydney New South Wales, in the 1970s, and was published in her book Pigs Isn't Pigs.[12] Often referred to as the "Bad Hair Day" Cavy.

Colour Varieties


Guinea Pigs come in various sizes, shapes and coat lengths but they also come in a huge variety of colours. The following is a list of some of the terms with a brief description of some of the named colours and patterns that you might encounter:


Agouti: Recognizable by their flecked multicolored ‘ticked’ coats. With exception to the belly and around the eye, two assorted colours of hair, alternating with the contrasting colour can be seen evenly over the entire body. There are silver, golden, and cinnamon Agoutis.


Albino: Completely white colouring with pink eyes.


Argente: Unlike other colours in Guinea Pigs, Argente Guinea Pigs have a noticeable pink tinge to their eye and are like the Agouti, but the ticking is a bit different. The hairs are multi-coloured, creating a ticking effect on each hair rather than having lots of differently coloured hairs. Argente only come in a few colours which range from white and lilac to golden and beige.


Bicolour: This type has two well defined colours and the colour is distributed in patches across the body. The patches can be almost any colour, Agouti or Self, but if they ae black and red, they are called Tortoiseshell.


Brindle: A blend of dark and light tan mixed.


Dalmatian: A predominantly white body with dark spots.


Dutch: A white body with large well defined brown or tan markings.


Fox: Like the well known Self-coloured Guinea Pigs, but they have a few paler areas around the eyes, chest and stomach, with a small amount of white ticking elsewhere on the body. They can also have pea spots. These are small, white areas next to the ears. There are only four shades of Fox – chocolate, beige, black and lilac.


Himalayan: A white body with a black nose, ears, and feet.


Mixed: Any assortment of colours that do not fit the standards of other colour standards, including many of the named coloured varieties that have already been mentioned.


Roan: Dark hairs evenly mixed with white hairs.


Self: Solid evenly coloured coat.


Tan: Is a Non-Self Guinea Pig with a single base colour and tan areas. Tan Guinea Pigs come in chocolate, black, lilac and beige, and should have a nice clean band of orange around the chin.


Tortoiseshell: Patched coat with a balance of dark and light brown colors with all the patches having distinct lines and are clearly defined.


Tortoiseshell and White: This is basically the same as the Tortoiseshell, but also have white.


Tricolour: Have square patches that don’t overlap, consisting of three different colours, with at least some white patches. They can have dark or pink eyes depending on their coat colour.