Get to Know Abby: Breed Guide to the Abyssinian Guinea Pig

Breed Guide to the Abyssinian Guinea Pig One of the most creative-looking pocket pet coats you’ll probably see in your life is that of the Abyssinian guinea pig. You’ll probably see them as show pets due to their rosette coats.

Due to their striking appearance and colorful hairstyle, the Abyssinian guinea pig is one of the most common and sought-after pocket pets worldwide.

On top of the blending colors, they also have oddly-shaped coats that match their intense personality and vigorous spirit.

So, do you want to have an Abyssinian guinea pig for a pet? If you want to know all about them, this breed guide will help you out.

We list down the Abyssinian guinea pig when it comes to their temperament, origins, behavior, pet care needs, food, exercise, and where to get one.

Breed History

Considered to be one of the oldest guinea pig breeds globally, the Abyssinian has been around for a long time.

Contrary to popular belief and the breed’s name, it is not exactly a guinea pig that originated from Abyssinia (Ethiopia).

The Abyssinian’s true origins are said to be in South America. During that time, the Incas kept these guinea pigs for human consumption and rituals.

Sometimes, they were also used in the field of medicine. The people who previously owned these guinea pigs included the people of Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.

Eventually, they found peace in Europe due to the efforts of the sailors who went to South America. When they were introduced in Europe, they became pets.

In the Victorian era of England, the Abyssinian got much attention due to the unique coat that it has. The rest, as they say, is history.

Physical Appearance and Coat

Height: 8 to 12 inches

Weight: 1.7 to 3 pounds

The Abyssinian guinea pig is best known for its unique coat, which creates the rosette patterns due to the spiky design.

The height of each hair is usually as long as 1.5 inches, which means they are quite a handful when it comes to maintenance and managing pet dander.

In some cases, due to the distinctive coat, the mix of colors may make them look like they have clothes or a mustache on.

Because the Abyssinian guinea pig is a breed that competes in shows, they have distinctive show quality features.

For instance, they should have about 8 to 10 rosettes around their body, which adds to their overall score. In addition to that, the right colors should also be present.

The rosettes should also be easy to spot. Therefore, if you aim to keep an Abyssinian as a competitive pet, you should get one from a reputable breeder who only ensures high-quality genetics.

You can also contact your local breeders’ association for more information about show-quality guinea pigs and other specifics.

To help you with the color choice, here’s a handy list of the most common guinea pig colors that are likely to be present in your pet (or pet-to-be):

  • Self – a solid color of anything, such as black or brown
  • Himalayan – white body, black or brown ears, nose, and feet, red eyes
  • Dalmatian – dark spots on a white body (think 101 Dalmatians!)
  • Tortoiseshell – has rectangular shapes of red and black that are easy to spot.
  • Brindle – a dark color with white all over the guinea pig body
  • Albino – red eyes and white coat
  • Agouti – a mix of light and dark gray colors that makes a salt and pepper appearance
  • Dutch – white band in the middle, white face, brown or black patch on each side of the face
  • Roan – blended colors of dark and light

Temperament and Behavior

Before you go ahead and get an Abyssinian guinea pig for a pet, you should know more about its temperament and behavior, which includes the following:

Lively and intense

When it comes to temperament, the Abyssinian guinea pig is known to be vigorous and full of mischief sometimes.

They tend to be the alpha of the team when paired with other guinea pig breeds because of their intense personalities.

If you compare them side by side with such breeds, you’ll find them louder when they squeak compared to the others in the same cage (or home).

If you’re looking for a highly active breed, then the Abyssinian guinea pig is for you. Otherwise, it could sometimes be depicted as aggressive behavior.

However, that still depends on whether they have enough exercise or toys to play with (see below on the training and exercise sections).

Very social

Generally, the male Abyssinian guinea pigs tend to be louder than the females. They may even flirt quickly with newcomers that they’ve just met.

That is to say, their personality stands out from the rest of the guinea pigs because of their intensity.

Communicates easily

Unlike most guinea pigs, the Abyssinian guinea pig will do anything to get what they insist.

For example, if they feel like food, drinks, or playtime, they will presumably jump in their cage and clatter anything to draw attention.

They are naturally curious about what the humans are doing and want a piece of the action.

If you forget to feed them, you won’t miss out because they will probably annoy you all day until you give them fresh food.

The same is true if they want some TLC and exercise. Contrary to the smooth-haired guinea pigs, they tend to be not afraid of people and won’t easily get scared, making them easy to socialize.

Abyssinian Guinea Pig Cage and Training

Deciding on the cage is an important aspect of pet-keeping, and the Abyssinian guinea pig is no exception to that. Before you own this pet, make sure that their cage is well-built and suitable for them.

If you want to keep them outside, always consider an area where the weather conditions won’t be so violent. Better yet, get a hutch with a roof and other protection forms from the sun, rain, and snow.

They are very sensitive to heat due to their fluffy coats, so make sure they have enough ventilation and easy access to fresh sources of water.

Aside from the right amount of sunshine, they should also be placed in an area where it is not too drafty.

People who don’t have a lot of space at home, such as those who live in a condo unit, apartment, dorm, or small house, always consider an area with sufficient ventilation because they don’t do well in scorching environments.

Make sure that they also have sufficient room to move around because, like any guinea pig, the Abyssinian guinea pig certainly doesn’t like to slouch around!

Always consider giving your guinea pig a lot of room to exercise.

If not, and you have limited space, at least buy or make them some toys that allow them to climb up and down, roll around, and perform other fun activities to get them moving.

Keep in mind that the Abyssinian guinea pig is an active and loud breed, so they need a lot of action going on.

Caring for the Abyssinian Guinea Pig

To look after your Abyssinian guinea pig, here are some simple ideas about their maintenance:

Exercise and play

As you know, the Abyssinian guinea pig is a very active breed, so it would be best if you spend time playing with them as much as possible.

They also need to have various physical activities to keep their behavior from getting moody and destructive. Sufficient bonding time with your Abyssinian guinea pig, even just simple petting, will help keep them happy.

If you have other pets at home and if they are okay to mingle around with guinea pigs, you can introduce your Abyssinian guinea pig to them.

In this way, even if you aren’t home, they will have a buddy to keep them company since they are very social pets.

Even if you don’t have another guinea pig at home, they’ll less likely develop behavioral issues as long as they have company.


The Abyssinian guinea pig could get tired of the same food over and over again, so make sure you have some handy treats. Try to mix cubes of watermelon and other pet-safe fruits and veggies as part of their diet.

However, always keep Timothy hay and their regular guinea pig food as their main course.

Since the Abyssinian guinea pig has a very fluffy coat, they are bound to feel exhausted during the summer.

Make sure they have easy water access, and you can also give them cooling and watery foods. Watermelons are a great option but always take out the seeds first.


Like many guinea pig breeds, the Abyssinian guinea pig doesn’t need a bath in most cases unless necessary.

They are capable of self-grooming. Therefore, don’t bathe them frequently unless you are convinced that their smell is really bad.

Due to their excessively long coat, regular brushing is essential for the Abyssinian guinea pig.

Even if you don’t have a pet brush, an old toothbrush will do because the feeling of being brushed is quite relaxing to the Abyssinian.

Regular brushing, especially in the rear part, will remove mats and tangles and eventually keep your guinea pig away from skin infections.

Health and Issues

So what’s to expect about the Abyssinian guinea pig in terms of health? Here are some of the known health issues that these little fluffy pets commonly have:

  • Eye problems, such as microphthalmos and cataracts, can lead to blindness
  • Diabetes, which can come from excessive sugary foods and treats
  • Ovarian cysts for the females

The average lifespan of the Abyssinian guinea pig is about 5 to 7 years. However, you can change that number if you properly care for your little fluffy friend.

By giving them enough exercise, the right kind and amount of food, and all the TLC they deserve, they may reward you with additional years of living as companions that cuddle.

Taking to the Vet

There will be times that you need to take your little furry friend to the vet.

In this case, you’ll need to have a comfortable transport method for your Abyssinian guinea pig to make sure they won’t feel stressed throughout the trip.

One choice you can make is a pet crate that can be collapsed and stored when not in use.

They tend to be lightweight and are easy to set up. They should be breathable and yet secure so that your furry friend won’t easily escape.

Remember to be gentle but firm when you handle your Abyssinian guinea pig when taking them to the vet.

Communicate with your vet as much as possible about the health conditions, and don’t be afraid to ask the necessary questions.

By building a healthy relationship with your vet, your Abyssinian guinea pig will run into fewer health problems in the future.

Family-Friendly Breed?

Kids will love the Abyssinian guinea pig whether they are first-time pet owners or not. They are very lively pets that love to be petted around.

While they are sometimes bound to do mischievous acts, your children may find this funny and entertaining and would love to play with them.

Moreover, the Abyssinian guinea pig has a behavior of sitting on a person’s lap due to their affectionate yet intense personality.

They are human-oriented pets, so they should have no problem fitting into any household with proper care.

Finding an Abyssinian Guinea Pig

There are many shelters and breeders out there to find an Abyssinian guinea pig. However, it would help if you asked about the history of the pet, especially about their health issues.

The breeder and/or caretaker should be honest and present papers and certificates, if necessary.

One important fact you should know about breeding Abyssinian guinea pigs is that two roan-colored pets should not be bred together to avoid genetic disorders and the like.

Stick to other breed colors if you want a healthy Abyssinian guinea pig.

Veronica Jones

My name is Veronica Jones, owner and the writer of VetGuru. For as long as I can remember I have had pets! I have had so many pets during my lifetime, and many more to come I hope. For the most part, I will be writing about dogs and cats, but I also have experience with other pets as well.

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