Friendly Guinea Pigs 101 (The Only Guide You Need)

It is a common misconception among many people that all guinea pigs are equally friendly, but this just isn’t true – the friendliness of guinea pigs can vary. It’s hard to know which guinea pigs are likely candidates for friendship. So, what is the friendliest type of guinea pig?

Below is a list ranking of the top 5 friendliest breeds:

#1- Abyssinian (high energy)

#2- The Teddy (high energy)

#3- Peruvian (cuddle bug)

#4- Silkies (cuddle bug)

#5 -Texel (cuddle bug)

two friendly guinea pigs

But, there’s a lot more that goes into determining if a guinea pig is friendly. In this article, we’re going to examine factors that might influence how friendly guinea pigs are towards us humans as well as what might influence them to be unfriendly to each other.

Read on to learn what affects your guinea pigs’ attitude towards humans and other guinea pigs.

Why Certain Breeds Can Be Friendlier

Of course, guinea pigs can be friendly in different ways. Some are like running wild and playing during floor time and some might prefer to cuddle with their humans for long periods at a time . There’s a lot of variation between breeds and each one has its own unique personality traits that make it more or less friendly.

friendly guinea pig - definition of a friendly one

However, anecdotal experiences from breeders , guinea pig popularity trends, and information from the American Cavy Breeder’s Association laced with logic can help us figure out which breeds are likely to be friendliest.

The Purpose of the AMERICAN CAVY BREEDERS ASSOCIATION shall be to promote the breeding and improvement of the cavy, and to secure publicity for and interest in the cavy as an exhibition and pet animal.

American Cavy Breeders Association

Notice the the words “breeding and improvement”?

Overtime, domesticated plants and animals (yes, guinea pigs, too!) have been selectively bred for a variety of traits that make them more favorable to humans, such as size, fur color, fur texture – or personality (a.k.a how friendly ).

Professional breeders operate from a manual called the Standard of Perfection. This manual tells them how their piggie must look and behave to reach “piggie perfection”.

So, breeders breed their piggies for certain traits to reach that standard (e.g. coat types and fur related criteria like dense coat, smooth hair, long hair) – this is called selective breeding.

You may be wondering how this whole process works – how do breeders select which guinea pig to mate with another?

And what does this have to do with getting a friendly guinea pig?

Let me explain:

To breed a cavy for certain physical traits (or personality traits), follow two steps:

  1. Select and mate two “friendly” guinea pigs (or pigs with a coat of a certain color and density) . The offspring will be more likely to have the same traits as their parents if they share similar genetics.
  2. Breed the offspring with other guinea pigs with the same traits. Each time one of those new piggies is bred with another that possesses the desirable traits, it passes on this trait (the breeders hope). Subsequently, “friendly” will be more likely to turn up in future generations.

Of course, it’s not that cut and dry.

And the video below explains the selective breeding process (using farm animals) well – just replace the cows with the desire for guinea pigs with certain physical features.

This results of this process is seen is the friendliest guinea pig breeds.

Let’s start with the…

Laid Back Long-Hairs

Generally speaking, the Long-haired guinea pigs are the most relaxed and chill – these breeds include Peruvians and Silkies. Texels are a long-haired breed, too – but they’re not considered as relaxed as Peruvians and Silkies.

These are the guinea pigs that are likely to cuddle up with you and watch some Nexflix.

These breeds are the most cuddly of all guinea pigs, so if you’re looking for a pet that will be your constant companion (and buddy) look no further!

A Silkie is one of the cutest breeds out there because their hair flows over them and makes them look like they’ve been combed with some kind of magical fairy dust – or at least you would think so when looking into their beautiful, big eyes!

By Christine from Washington State, USA – This is a Hairy Guinea Pig, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2912371

The Peruvian guinea pig has a long, smooth coat all over its body— including the head and neck. It’s claim to fame is that illustrious “forelock” on their head.

Peruvian Guinea Pig – Image by lino9999 from Pixabay

These are the critters that are likely to cuddle up with you and watch some Nexflix – a low key sort of friendly. These breed are among most cuddly of all guinea pigs, so if you’re looking for a pet that will be your constant companion (and buddy) look no further!

Why breed them this way?

This type of guinea pig needs to be docile enough to sit on show boards when they’re being shown, and because long haired breeds often require frequent grooming (daily) – I’m talking hair wraps, conditioners, and lots (LOTS) of brushing!

There’s tons of added work for owners if you have to wrangle an unruly pet each night. A Silkie or a Peruvian can easily have a bad hair day, if they don’t have conscientious pet parents.

For these reasons, breeders have been removing some of the more excitable animals from their lines over time – so now you can find more relaxed, long-haired guinea pigs in professional breeding circles.

Texels are another breed of long-haired guinea pigs that can be quite calm and friendly. Texel guinea pigs are really cute and come with a fabulously curly coat. It is longer around their faces, but not as long everywhere else on their body.

It has a very sweet personality – but isn’t always known for being as calm as the Peruvian or the Silkie. This is probably due to the Texel not being handled as much as the Silkies or Peruvians – Texel grooming requirements are not as intensive.

friendly guinea pig picture - Texel
Texel Guinea Pig –
By Just chaos – calexpo 346, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2912397

Awesome Abyssinians and Tremendous Teddies

Abyssinians are known for their outgoing personalities and their energy – which make them the perfect companion. They are curious and intelligent creatures, which many owners find easy to train because they can’t get enough attention!

These little critters are expected to strut their stuff in front of judges while being evaluated for how they’re shaped and their fur on their bodies – among other factors.

The Abyssinian is set apart from other breeds of guinea pig by its coat, which has a distinctive pattern on it. This exclusive design makes the fur seem like fluffy clouds or even curly fries – little rosettes!

Not to be outdone, Teddies are also in the show ring to prove themselves and their worth. Teddies are a popular choice for pet owners, too. They’re just as adorable as the Abyssinian and just as fluffy.

The Teddy is not just a soft, cuddly pet. They are also famous for their kinky, springy coat that shares the same characteristics as an old teddy bear! Also, Teddies come in a variety of colors, patterns and sizes.

By Just chaos – calexpo 353, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2912401

Both guinea pig breeds are reported as curious and to love exploring new things, but they also enjoy lounging inside your lap as well.

They require grooming like long-haired piggies (but it’s not as intensive) and come in a variety of coat colors.

It’s been said that both of these breeds are so energetic because they’re required to move on the judging table to be observed for flaws.

As with the long-hairs, both Teddies and Aby’s need some grooming (but not as much) – which is helpful for energetic animals that require regular handling.

It gets them used to their pet parents – over time it helps each animal become even friendlier towards their pet parents.

Friendliness Factors: A Guinea Pig’s Upbringing, Environment, and Pet Parent Temperament

friendly guinea pig factors

As a general guideline for guinea pig personalities, it’s usually upbringing, the temperate of their current owner, how they were raised, and appropriate environments that shape whether or not your pet will be outgoing or not. A happy guinea pig is generally a friendly guinea pig.

These factors do more for shaping a guinea pig’s personality (and friendliness) than the breed of the guinea pig does. Seriously!

So let’s a take a good look at each of these factors and see if you can figure out what it is about your guinea pig that makes him or her unique.

A Guinea Pigs Past Experiences May Make Them Less Friendly

In order for you to understand your guinea pig’s personality, it is important understand his life before you adopted him.

You also need to know if there were any issues during his upbringing such worries may cause him to be less friendly than other breeds. Here are some things you should consider:

  • Was he raised in an environment where he had human interaction? If humans were present, how was he treated by his pet parent(s)?
  • How often were humans around and what kind of interactions did they have (i.e., encouraging playtime, having patience with his fears like loud noises and being picked up)?
  • Did he live in a cage alone or with the other guinea pigs to provide support and companionship?
  • Was he exposed to anything negative during any period leading up to his arrival in your home that may have caused him some distress or made it difficult for you both get along right away or make a connection (after a proper adjustment period)?

Some guinea pigs have had rough lives in homes that were not well cared for, so they are more than understandable when there is fear associated with their new surroundings.

A scared guinea pig isn’t usually very outgoing, which can be frustrating for a new owner. It’s important that you be patient while he adjusts-don’t push too hard for interaction but do encourage bonding together when appropriate.

Environment Factors Can Make (Or Break) Your Guinea Pig’s Friendliness

friendly guinea pig factors

Do you want to have a nice, friendly pig? Then make sure they live in a clean, healthy environment.

The sad truth is that you wouldn’t be very happy if you lived in a filthy, “too small” cage with limited water and food. Yeah. So, don’t expect your little friend to be happy either – trust me on this one.

For your guinea pig needs the following items to be happy (and friendly):

  • A large, clean cage with at least one hideaway.
  • Safe and comfortable bedding material such as hay, fleece or wood shavings. You may also use fleece blankets if you wish for warmth in cold weather.
  • Make sure your piggie stays well hydrated with clean water ( in a water bottle or bowl) throughout each day because they can’t produce their own sweat like other mammals do in order for them
  • Provide healthy food for your piggy (approximately 1 cup of appropriate, fresh veggies daily and 1/8 cup of Vitamin C-enriched pellets); plus unlimited piles of hay in the enclosure at all times.
  • Ensure the room (and cage area) is free from hazards, such as aggressive animals and unsafe objects (e.g electrical cords and poisonous house plants.

The Temperament of the Pet Parent

You – as the pet parent – are part of the friendliness equation for your guinea pig. You attitude towards your guinea pig can have an impact on his temperament, so it’s important to be mindful of what you say or do and how that might affect your guinea pig.

You can damage your relationship with your little friend, if you do any of the following:

  • If you yell at him
  • If you hit him for any reason
  • Shake his cage to get his attention
  • Make him feel scared or threatened

If you do any of these things, your guinea pig will likely react in a less than friendly way. Your piggie will be terrified of you – and that’s not something you want.

Sometimes pet parents behave like predators and unknowingly frighten their piggies. For tips on how to avoid that, check out this article: The Truth About Guinea Pigs and Fear: Are They Naturally Scared?

Of course, there is plenty more you can do that will make him feel at ease with his environment and the people around. There are a few specific approaches to consider, which we’ll cover in…

How To Pick A Friendly Guinea Pig

pick a friendly guinea pig tip

Identifying a friendly piggie can be a little tricky.

Why, you ask?

Because each guinea pig has it’s own unique personality.

Friendly?

Calm?

Or Mischievous?

It’s hard to tell.

Before adopting (or purchasing), I recommend observing the piggie that you’re considering from afar for a few days to get an idea of her friendliness factor. You’re likely to see a truer picture of her personality.

If you’re still unsure, ask the breeder or pet store if they have any videos of her interacting with other guinea pigs and people that can help give a better idea of your piggie’s friendliness!

Or you can ask the breeders to recommend a friendly piggie (or, better yet, a paired duo!) that would suit your personality and your home.

It’s best to adopt a guinea pig that’s already been socialized and has had the chance to get used to new people – especially if this is your first go-round in piggie parenthood. It’ll make your transition into piggie-parenting much easier.

If you’re able to get up close and personal with a guinea pig, you can try some hands-on interaction.

But, don’t place all your hopes on that one exchange – it takes a while for a piggie to get used the new person in their life.

Lots of pet parents wonder why guinea pigs seem so content to be held at the pet store – but then runs away from you like a serial killer once you get them home.

Why is that?

The answer is that they’re not used to you – it was fear (not contentment) that kept them silent and still when you first held them.

In the store (or the shelter), it’s likely that their “freeze” reflex was activated when you picked up the piggie.

It’s a “freeze” reflex when they’re scared or threatened.

The “freeze” reflex is is a survival mechanism for guinea pigs. It’s when your guinea pig stays frozen (sometimes up to 30 minutes) and hopes that the predator (yep, you – sorry!) will go away.

Wanna know at-a-glance if a guinea pig is friendly? Look for the following behaviors, when you’ve approached the piggie:

  • The guinea pig doesn’t run away – but isn’t stuck in “freeze” mode. Instead she seems relaxed (maybe enjoying food or a toy).
  • The guinea pig is curious and not afraid of you. She’ll come to investigate what’s going on, but she likely won’t get too close or try anything extreme (like climbing into your lap!).
  • The piggie might be making sounds like “chirps” or “wheek” that are high pitched and repetitive in nature (a sign of happiness). It might also make some softer noises such as “squeaks” or “purrs”.
  • The guinea pig is eating and drinking (seemingly without a care in the world). If the piggie isn’t interested in food, it’s not a good sign! (This could be because of illness, stress, or anxiety).

How To Put You Potentially Friendly Piggie At Ease in Your Home

If you’ve fallen in love with a guinea pig and decided to bring her home, you have to begin the “warm up” process of getting your new friend to feel comfortable in her surroundings.

When you first bring your piggie home, do the following to begin the bonding process:

  • Keep the area where she spends most of time free of too many people, animals or distractions that might make it stressful for a piggie (such as children running all over). You want your piggie to feel comfortable enough to nap and sleep and explore her new home.
  • Keep her enclosure near filtered (not direct) sunlight if possible, but make sure that her enclosure has hideaways (she’ll need to hide now and again to soothe her nerves); provide the right foods, water, and pellets to keep her happy and healthy.
  • Leave her alone for a few days to get use to the environment. Do not pick her up or have anyone else hold the piggie for a few days to give it time adjust and feel comfortable with your presence before trying any interactions which could stress out an already nervous guinea pig. Some pet parents pick up their piggies right away – this could actually make them more nervous.
  • When you do start to interact with your new friend, make sure it’s on her own terms. If the piggie seems scared or upset when touched by people then stop touching and back off for a few minutes before trying again in order not scare them further away from humans if they’re feeling uncomfortable.
  • And make sure you approach the guinea pig from the front and make a little noise; predators will usually silently approach a piggie from behind. If you behave the same way, it could be traumatizing for the guinea pig!If the guinea pig is timid and reluctant to approach, then try petting it from a distance or stroking it through it’s cage. Many guinea pigs hate being picked up, but will accept a petting.
  • When all else fails: start by making friends through food! Offer something tasty (like romaine lettuce or carrots) on your open palm as an invitation for them come over closer towards you.The guinea pig may sniff the food and then may start to eat it! Once they’re eating from your palm, continue offering more yummy treats until you’ve earned their trust enough for them come closer towards you or onto of a lap (or even on top!)

Are Male Or Female Guinea Pigs Nicer?

As a general rule, male guinea pigs (boars) are friendlier than female guinea pigs (sows). This is because males are usually bolder and more curious while females tend to be more timid and nervous. For example, male guinea pigs are often the first to explore new environments while females tend not be as exploratory – they want a lot of reassurance before venturing out into something (or around someone?) unfamiliar!

This doesn’t mean that you should avoid inviting sows into your life. Quite the opposite, in fact! People usually choose females as their first pair of guinea pigs.

Sows do need a lot of time to warm up and feel comfortable around you – but once they’re used it? They’ll be happy as pigs can get with anyone who is patient enough for them!

Most guinea pigs go through a “warm-up” stage with their new pet parents. It can break our hearts (we just want to love them!).

But, it’s totally understandable when you realize that piggies (who are prey animals) need time to understand that we don’t want to pop them in our mouth like chicken nuggets.

Think about the sort of “friendly” personality that you want. Do you want a guinea pig that runs around is active and maybe a little mischievous?

One with a more outgoing personality?

Then you probably want a male guinea pig. They’re usually bolder and more active females and more likely to explore their surroundings.

Do you want a furry potato that is calm, gentle with children or adults? With a quiet, yet charming personality? Then go for the female! They’re typically calmer and more docile than males (though not always).

Why Are Guinea Pigs Unfriendly With Each Other?

friendly guinea pig

Surprise, surprise! There are times when guinea pigs get grouchy with each other. You, bet! Let’s take a look at a few reasons why guinea pigs get grouchy with each other.

  • Fighting for love: If you don’t want your male piggies at each other’s throats, never house them in the same cage (heck! even the same room) as females. Sows go into heat every 15 to 19 days and her smell makes male piggies get cranky with each other (because they’re willing to fight to mate with her!)
  • Not enough space: If your guinea pigs are smooshed in a tiny cage, then they’re going to get grouchy with each other. It’s important to give your piggies (especially boars) enough space to roam around and play. Plus, they can get away from each other for a break when they need to. Yes, sometimes piggies need “quiet time” away from each other.
  • Hormones Alert: Female guinea pigs become very hormonal (and yes) cranky when they’re in heat. It common to see sows squabbling with other little friends during this time.
  • Illnesses: Your guinea pigs can get grouchy when they don’t feel well – teeth issues, muscles sprains, upper respirator infections, etc. Female piggies can get ovarian cysts. Ovarian cysts are a condition where fluid-filled sacs develop ovaries of a female guinea pigs – yes, it’s as painful as it sounds. The swelling can cause the guinea pig to feel very irritable, which may lead them lash out at other pigs in their cage or humans who are trying help care for her. If you suspect that your guinea pig is unwell, take them to get checked out by a vet.
  • Limited resources: Some guinea pigs don’t like to share or are more territorial than others – or just call them divas . If there isn’t enough food, water or hay for your guinea pigs to split then that can lead them into a world of trouble.

Frequently Asked Questions About Friendly Guinea Pig Breeds

Do Guinea Pigs Like To Cuddle?

Typically, guinea pigs like to cuddle – when they’ve bonded with their human caregivers, that is. Learning how to do so safely can be tricky, but it’s important for bonding purposes in order that your new pet feel secure with you – meaning less chance of a bite or scratch! So what should you keep an eye out then? Take a peek at our article “The Ultimate Guinea Pig Cuddling Guide” for more information.

Is It Okay to Kiss Your Guinea Pig?

Many guinea pig owners will tell you that kissing your guineas is okay, but it’s important to note: there are exceptions! The CDC recommends that you avoid having a pet rodent (like a guinea pig) under the following conditions: if you are pregnant, have a weakened immune system, or under the age of 5 years old – due to the chance of getting an illness from your pet. It stands to reason that kissing your guineas under these conditions would be a big “no-no”. Have a look at our article “Do Guinea Pigs Like to Be Kissed? [Not What You Think]” for more information.

Is It Okay To Keep Guinea Pigs In Your Bedroom?

It’s okay to keep guinea pigs in your bedroom if you plan and take the proper precautions. Guinea pigs make a lot of noise, so make you have a plan to keep them relatively quiet when you’re sleeping.

Things to Remember About Friendly Guinea Pigs

There are many factors that need to be considered when considering what is the friendliest guinea pig.

More than the breed, you have to consider your personality (how you’ll interact with you new friend), how they were raised (alone or with other piggies) and their environment.

Make the time to understand guinea pig behavior and expectations.

Having that knowledge will steer you from mistakes, damaging your relationship with your piggie, and creating a less-than friendly guinea pig.

Every guinea pig is different, and the only way to understand how they’ll behave in your home environment or with you as their human friend will be through observation (you can do this by spending time with your furry potato).

Be patient.

It takes simple things (done consistently) to make your piggies happy (us humans just complicate situations sometimes).

And if you can do that – they’ll eventually warm up to you and you’ll have a friendly guinea pig in no time.

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