Long haired varieties of guinea pigs or cavies include the Peruvian, the Shetland (or Sheltie) and the Texel. Crosses with other types of guinea pigs with varying hair lengths can produce long haired guinea pigs. Some Abyssinians, known for their scruffy rosettes, can grow longer fur in one or more places than other Abyssinians. This fur may require the same attention as other long-haired guinea pigs.
With the exception of the fabulously long fur, taking care of a long-haired guinea pig is the same as for any other type of guinea pig.
Trim the Coat
The long hair serves no purpose to a guinea pig. The hair interferes with vision, eating, pooping and just about everything else. It is thought the first long-haired guinea pigs were bred by the Incas when they domesticated the cavy about 5000 years ago. These coats have been taken to ludicrous extremes by guinea pig breeders eager to win trophies and ribbons.
Other guinea pigs will nibble on the long fur, so if you don’t trim your long haired guinea pig’s coat, the cage mates may do and risk digestive disorders from swallowing the hair. The guinea pig will not miss the hair. Bathe the guinea pig first in order to make combing and trimming easier. Use rabbit shampoo or regular unscented Dawn liquid dishwashing liquid. Use a pair of blunt-edged scissors and NOT clippers. If there are too many knots in the coat, just cut them out. These knots or mats can lead to skin infections.
Many long-haired guinea pigs have softer and finer hair than their shorter-coated cage mates. Although this hair is fun to pet, it tangles up far more easily than other guinea pig hair types. A long-haired guinea pig needs to be brushed every other day or at least twice a week in order to prevent these tangles from forming.
If a knot has occurred and it’s small, it will be possible to comb it out, but the guinea pig will probably be uncooperative. It’s best to get a helper so as not to inflict unnecessary pain on the guinea pig. Have the handler hold the guinea pig. Pinch the hair between the skin and the knot. This helps stop the tugging sensation on the skin. Comb out the knot.
Watch Out For Blowfly or Fly Strike
Another reason to trim the fur of a long-haired guinea pig is to prevent death by fly strike. This happens more in Europe than the UK, but a dirty coat will always attract unwanted bacteria or pests. They also do not happen much to guinea pigs living indoors.
The fly lays eggs on the soiled part of the coat. Within twelve hours, they eggs hatch and the maggots crawl down the fur to feed on the unfortunate creature’s skin.
Guinea Lynx: A Medical and Care Guide for Your Guinea Pig. http://www.guinealynx.info/
“The Proper Care of Guinea Pigs.” Peter Gurney. TFH Publications; 1999.
“Guinea Pigs.” Audrey Pavia, et al. Bow Tie Press; 2005.
“The Guinea Pig Handbook.” Sharon L. Vanderlip, DVM. Barron’s; 2003.
Author’s personal experience