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Cavy Breeds

any people are not sure what their little cavy's breed is. Hopefully this page will help you identify exactly what breed you have, and offer some suggestions on how to care for that specific breed. Some breeds need extra attention because of their long coats or "strange" hair structure, others require very little care.

First we will discuss the longer haired breeds; a common concern here is that the coat must be combed and brushed very regularly to keep it free of tangles and dirt. In addition, trimming the hair on the rump, or curling it out of the way, may be necessary to minimize urine and fecal matter contamination.


Commonly called an "Aby," it is one of the oldest recorded breeds. The Aby arrived in England in 1861. Fanciers worked to improve the rosette pattern which they considered interesting and challenging. The Aby has a short, harsh coat that should display an even pattern of rosettes and ridges. The texture and length of coat, the placement and even radiation of rosettes, and good, erect ridges dividing the rosettes, are all judged according to the ACBA "Standard." The Aby also has an endearing mustache around the nose. The coat is hard to brush, because the hair goes in many directions at once. Care should be taken to keep the coat clean and free of dirt.

Abyssinian Satin

The Aby Satin was recognized as the 8th official breed by the ARBA in Jan., 1986. It has the same appearance as the Aby with the added beauty of the satin sheen.


This is the long haired breed! The Peruvian arrived in Paris around 1886-87, and came to England shortly after. When they were first shown in America under the standards of the National Breeders and Fanciers of America, there were only three recognized breeds: The American, the Abyssinian and Angoras (long hair). In the early 1930's, Angora was changed to Peruvian and the Silkie was cast aside. The Peruvian is noted for it's long, silky hair. The side and rear sweeps should be of equal length for a balanced look. The forelock covers the face. When presented for judging on a show board the coat resembles a circle of hair. It is sometimes difficult to tell front from rear on a Peruvian. Show Peruvians need regular grooming and wrapping of the long coat to keep it from being soiled or tangled. It can be a challenge, but the results are stunning. Pet and breeder Peruvians are trimmed for easier care.

Peruvian Satin

The Peruvian Satin was recognized as the 10th official breed in Jan., 1988, by the ARBA. It has all the appearance and qualities of the Peruvian with the additional beauty of the satin sheen.

Silkie (Sheltie)

The Silkie is one of the oldest known breeds. It became a new, recognized breed in England in 1973 and is called a "Sheltie." It has been accepted and recognized as an official breed twice in America. First in 1932 and then again in 1980. It was called an Angora in 1932. The breed was officially re-recognized as the 6th breed by the ARBA in Jan., 1980. The coat of the Silkie should be soft, dense, and have no evidence of any rosettes or forelock. The hair should grow back from the face forming a mane. The mane sweeps from between the ears to flow over the shoulders and back. There should be no part in the mane. The side sweeps may be slightly shorter than the rear sweep. When viewed from above, the Silkie presents a "tear drop" shape. The coat of the show Silkie should be groomed and wrapped every other day. Pet and breeder Silkies are trimmed short for easier care. This is a particularly cuddly pig, besides the softness of the coat, the personality tends to be very mellow, making for a wonderful lap pig!

Silkie Satin

The Silkie Satin was the 9th breed recognized by the ARBA in Jan., 1987. The Silkie Satin has all the features of the Silkie with the added beauty of the satin sheen to the coat.


The Teddy was recognized by the ARBA as the 5th official breed in Jan., 1978. The Teddy coat was noticed as a mutation in 1967 and a few breeders began working to improve the quality of the kink in the short hair shaft. The Teddy coat should be dense, and resilient to the touch. The show Teddy's coat is accepted in two textures: harsh or soft. The body type of the Teddy should match the American. The Teddy has the added characteristic of being petted "backwards." While most animals enjoy being petted from head to tail, the Teddy's coat actually seems to respond better to a tail to head stroke.

Teddy Satin

The Teddy Satin was the 11th breed recognized by the ARBA in Jan., 1990. It has all the qualities of the Teddy plus the satin sheen created by a hollow hair shaft.


This is a very difficult breed to care for. Not only is the hair long, but it has a wave in it! All the same care problems of the Peruvian, but now you have to be concerned that you do not hurt the animal when you're brushing its coat! Cavy skin is very sensitive, they do not like it if their coats are pulled in any way.

Okay, that takes care of the longer haired breeds, now we can deal with the shorter haired breeds. Their care is much simpler since it's coat doesn't have the length of the others. However, this doesn't mean that it should be neglected! The short haired should be brushed frequently to remove the shed hairs and to maintain the sheen that is fairly natural to these little beauties.


One of the oldest recorded breeds. Arrived in Europe around 1580. The American comes in all the color varieties. It has been shown by fanciers in England for over 300 years. The American has a smooth coat of short hairs. The head features a "Roman" nose. It should have a body that is equally wide from shoulder to hip and a nicely developed "crown" above the shoulders and neck. Good color is just as important as good type for showing.

American Satin

The first Satin breed and the 7th official breed recognized by the ARBA in Jan., 1984. Type and color should equal the American. The satin coat mutated in an American and breeding for the Satin coat started in 1976. The hair shaft of the American Satin is hollow and reflects light. A high sheen on the coat is desirable for the show table.

White Crested

The White Crested, or Crested for short, was the 4th breed officially recognized by the ARBA in Jan., 1974. This is perhaps the most challenging breed to work with for a show quality animal. It must have a full white crest positioned in the center of the forehead. No white hair, except for the crest, is allowed to be present on the rest of the cavy. Some breeders have difficulty getting 1 in 50 show quality animals (This of course gives us fanciers a lot more pigs to play with!). The White Crested looks like an American with a crest. You will seldom see a large entry of this beautiful breed at the show table. The White Crested breeders have bred the Satin coat into this breed. As of this printing however, the Crested Satin is not an official breed recognized by the ARBA.

All artwork, except the "curious cavy" is copyright © 1996, 1997 by Juliet Barrara. All rights reserved, used by the artist permission.

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Page maintained by Dale L. Sigler. Copyright © 1997. Updated: 2/25/98