Silkie (Sheltie) Guinea Pigs: A Complete Guide

When it comes to introducing Silkie Guinea Pigs, it’s hard to know where to begin!

These little creatures are so fascinating and unique, with a rich history and a charming appearance that makes them a favorite among pet enthusiasts.

Silkie Guinea Pigs, also known as Sheltie Guinea Pigs, are a breed of guinea pigs that are distinct from other breeds due to their long, flowing hair and distinctive coat patterns.

They’re often described as resembling miniature collies or shelties, which is where they get their nickname from.

If you’re considering getting a Silkie Guinea Pig as a pet, you’re in for a treat! These adorable little creatures have a lot to offer, from their friendly personalities to their quirky habits and behaviors.

But before you take the plunge, it’s important to understand what you’re getting into.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Silkie Guinea Pigs, from their history and physical characteristics to their dietary needs and common health issues.

We’ll also provide tips on how to care for your Silkie Guinea Pig and keep them happy and healthy.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to be a responsible Silkie Guinea Pig owner, and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the companionship of one of these wonderful little creatures.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the world of Silkie Guinea Pigs!

History of Silkie Guinea Pigs

Believe it or not, the origins of Silkie Guinea Pigs can be traced all the way back to the Inca Empire in South America, where guinea pigs were domesticated and kept as pets, as well as for food and medicinal purposes.

Over time, guinea pigs made their way to Europe, where they became popular pets among royalty and the upper class.

It wasn’t until the 20th century that Silkie Guinea Pigs were specifically bred for their unique coat and appearance.

The breed first emerged in England in the 1960s, where breeders began selectively breeding guinea pigs with longer hair to create the Silkie Guinea Pig we know and love today.

Interestingly, Silkie Guinea Pigs are still a relatively rare breed, particularly outside of the United Kingdom where they’re more commonly found.

This is partly due to the fact that breeding Silkie Guinea Pigs is a complex and time-consuming process, requiring careful attention to the animals’ genetics and coat patterns.

Despite their relative rarity, Silkie Guinea Pigs have become a beloved pet among guinea pig enthusiasts around the world.

And with their charming personalities and distinctive appearance, it’s not hard to see why!

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Physical Characteristics of Silkie Guinea Pigs

Listed below are the physical characteristics of Silkie guinea pigs:

  • Coat: The most distinctive feature of Silkie Guinea Pigs is their long, soft coat that flows all the way down to the ground. Their coat is typically dense and silky to the touch, hence their name. Silkie Guinea Pigs come in a range of colors and patterns, including solid colors, tri-colors, and brindle patterns.
  • Body: Silkie Guinea Pigs have a stocky, compact build and are typically slightly larger than other guinea pig breeds. They have short, sturdy legs and a broad, round head with large, expressive eyes.
  • Ears: Silkie Guinea Pigs have medium-sized ears that stand upright, giving them a curious and alert appearance.
  • Weight: Silkie Guinea Pigs can weigh anywhere from 2 to 3 pounds, with males typically being larger than females.
  • Lifespan: Silkie Guinea Pigs have a lifespan of around 5 to 7 years on average, although some have been known to live up to 10 years with proper care.

Overall, Silkie Guinea Pigs are a strikingly beautiful breed with a unique appearance that sets them apart from other guinea pig breeds.

Their long, flowing coat is a delight to pet and groom, and their expressive faces and adorable personalities make them a joy to be around.

Temperament and Personality Traits of Silkie Guinea Pigs

Silkie Guinea Pigs are known for their friendly and docile nature, making them a great choice for first-time guinea pig owners.

They are sociable creatures that thrive on interaction and love to spend time with their human companions.

Here are some common personality traits you can expect from Silkie Guinea Pigs:

  • Affectionate: Silkie Guinea Pigs love attention and affection from their owners. They’ll often snuggle up with you, climb into your lap, and even nuzzle your hand for pets and scratches.
  • Curious: Silkie Guinea Pigs are naturally curious creatures and enjoy exploring their surroundings. They’re known for their playful nature and love to investigate new toys and play areas.
  • Gentle: Silkie Guinea Pigs have a gentle nature and rarely bite or scratch. They’re easy to handle and enjoy being held and petted.
  • Vocal: Silkie Guinea Pigs are fairly vocal animals and will often squeak and chirp to communicate with their owners. They have a wide range of sounds they use to express their emotions, from happy chirps to distressed squeals.
  • Social: Silkie Guinea Pigs are social animals and thrive on companionship. They should always be kept in pairs or small groups to prevent loneliness and depression.

Overall, Silkie Guinea Pigs are gentle, affectionate creatures that make great pets for families and individuals alike.

With their playful nature and love of human interaction, they’re sure to bring joy and companionship to any home.

Diet and Nutritional Needs of Silkie Guinea Pigs

A healthy diet is essential for maintaining the overall health and well-being of your Silkie Guinea Pig. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Hay: Hay should make up the majority of your Silkie Guinea Pig’s diet. Timothy hay is the best choice, as it’s low in calcium and high in fiber. Your guinea pig should have access to fresh hay at all times.
  • Pellets: In addition to hay, your Silkie Guinea Pig will also need a high-quality guinea pig pellet. Look for pellets that are specifically formulated for guinea pigs, as they will provide the necessary vitamins and minerals your guinea pig needs. Make sure to feed your guinea pig the recommended amount based on their weight and age.
  • Fresh veggies: Fresh vegetables should also be a part of your Silkie Guinea Pig’s daily diet. Some good options include carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, and leafy greens like spinach and romaine lettuce. Be sure to introduce new veggies slowly and in small amounts to prevent upset stomachs.
  • Fresh fruit: While fruit should be given in moderation due to its high sugar content, it can be a tasty treat for your Silkie Guinea Pig. Good options include apples, strawberries, and blueberries.
  • Fresh water: Your Silkie Guinea Pig should always have access to fresh, clean water. Use a water bottle or heavy ceramic dish to prevent spills.

In addition to a healthy diet, it’s important to provide your Silkie Guinea Pig with plenty of opportunities for exercise and play.

Make sure they have plenty of room to run and play in their cage, and consider providing them with toys and tunnels to keep them entertained.

Housing and Environment for Silkie Guinea Pigs

Silkie Guinea Pigs need a clean, safe, and comfortable space to live in. Here are some things to consider when setting up their housing:

  • Cage size: Silkie Guinea Pigs need plenty of room to move around, so a spacious cage is a must. The minimum recommended size for a pair of guinea pigs is 7.5 square feet, but bigger is always better. Consider getting a cage with multiple levels to provide more space for your guinea pigs to explore.
  • Bedding: Choose a safe and absorbent bedding for your guinea pig’s cage. Some good options include paper-based bedding or fleece liners. Avoid using cedar or pine bedding, as the oils can be harmful to your guinea pig’s respiratory system.
  • Hideaways: Silkie Guinea Pigs love to have a place to retreat to when they feel nervous or anxious. Provide them with a cozy hideaway, such as a cardboard box or igloo, where they can feel safe and secure.
  • Toys and Enrichment: Silkie Guinea Pigs are intelligent and active animals, so it’s important to provide them with plenty of opportunities for play and exploration. Consider providing them with toys, such as tunnels or chew toys, to keep them entertained.
  • Location: Choose a location for your Silkie Guinea Pig’s cage that is quiet and away from any drafts or direct sunlight. Avoid placing their cage near any loud noises or disturbances that might startle them.
  • Socialization: Silkie Guinea Pigs are social animals and should always be kept in pairs or small groups to prevent loneliness and depression. Make sure your guinea pigs have plenty of opportunities to interact with each other and with you.

Remember, the key to keeping your Silkie Guinea Pig happy and healthy is to provide them with a clean, safe, and comfortable environment where they can thrive.

With the right care and attention, your Silkie Guinea Pig will be a happy and beloved member of your family.

Grooming and Coat Care for Silkie Guinea Pigs

Silkie Guinea Pigs have long, luxurious coats that require regular grooming to keep them healthy and looking their best.

Here are some tips for grooming and coat care:

  • Brushing: Silkie Guinea Pigs should be brushed at least once a week to prevent matting and tangling of their long hair. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently remove any knots or tangles, starting at the ends of the hair and working your way up to the root.
  • Bathing: While Silkie Guinea Pigs don’t need to be bathed as often as other breeds, it’s still important to keep them clean. If your guinea pig’s coat becomes soiled or dirty, you can give them a bath using a mild shampoo formulated specifically for guinea pigs.
  • Nail Care: Regular nail trimming is important to prevent overgrowth and discomfort for your guinea pig. Use a small, sharp pair of nail clippers to trim the tips of their nails, taking care not to cut the quick (the pink area inside the nail).
  • Eye Care: Silkie Guinea Pigs have long hair around their eyes, which can sometimes become tangled or dirty. Use a damp cloth to gently wipe around their eyes to keep them clean and prevent any irritation or infection.
  • Ear Care: Check your Silkie Guinea Pig’s ears regularly for any signs of infection or debris. Use a damp cotton ball to gently wipe the inside of their ears and remove any dirt or wax buildup.
  • Diet and Hydration: Proper diet and hydration are also important for keeping your Silkie Guinea Pig’s coat healthy and shiny. Make sure they have access to fresh water at all times, and feed them a balanced diet of hay, pellets, and fresh veggies.

By following these tips for grooming and coat care, you can help your Silkie Guinea Pig look and feel their best.

Plus, regular grooming is a great way to bond with your furry friend and show them how much you care!

Health Issues and Common Diseases of Silkie Guinea Pigs

Like all pets, Silkie Guinea Pigs can experience health problems and diseases.

It’s important to be aware of the most common health issues that affect guinea pigs so that you can take steps to prevent and treat them.

Here are some common health issues and diseases that Silkie Guinea Pigs may experience:

  • Respiratory Infections: Guinea pigs are susceptible to respiratory infections, which can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and discharge from the eyes or nose. To prevent respiratory infections, make sure your guinea pig’s living environment is clean and well-ventilated.
  • Dental Problems: Silkie Guinea Pigs have continuously growing teeth, which means they are at risk of dental problems such as overgrowth, malocclusion (misaligned teeth), and abscesses. Symptoms include drooling, weight loss, and reluctance to eat. To prevent dental problems, make sure your guinea pig’s diet includes plenty of hay and chew toys.
  • Skin Conditions: Silkie Guinea Pigs have long hair, which can sometimes become matted and trap dirt and bacteria against their skin. This can lead to skin conditions such as mites, fungal infections, and abscesses. Symptoms include itching, hair loss, and scaly or crusty skin. To prevent skin conditions, make sure your guinea pig’s living environment is clean and their coat is properly groomed.
  • Bloat: Bloat is a condition that occurs when the digestive system becomes blocked, causing gas to build up in the stomach. Symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, and a bloated or distended abdomen. To prevent bloat, make sure your guinea pig’s diet includes plenty of fiber and avoid overfeeding.
  • Vitamin C Deficiency: Silkie Guinea Pigs, like all guinea pigs, require a diet that is high in Vitamin C. A deficiency in Vitamin C can lead to scurvy, which can cause symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, and joint pain. To prevent Vitamin C deficiency, make sure your guinea pig’s diet includes fresh fruits and vegetables that are high in Vitamin C.

If you notice any of these symptoms or suspect that your Silkie Guinea Pig may be experiencing a health issue or disease, it’s important to take them to a veterinarian who specializes in small animals.

With proper care and attention, you can help your Silkie Guinea Pig stay healthy and happy for years to come.

Breeding and Reproduction of Silkie Guinea Pigs

Breeding Silkie Guinea Pigs can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to approach it responsibly and with proper knowledge.

Before breeding your guinea pigs, you should make sure you have a solid understanding of their reproductive cycle and the care required for both the parents and any potential offspring.

Here are some things to keep in mind when breeding Silkie Guinea Pigs:

  • Age: Female guinea pigs can begin reproducing at around four months old, while males can begin reproducing at around three months old. However, it’s generally recommended to wait until females are six to eight months old before breeding them, as they are better able to handle the stress of pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Mating: When it comes to mating, it’s important to introduce the male and female guinea pigs in a neutral territory and supervise them closely. If they show signs of aggression or discomfort, they should be separated. If the mating is successful, you should be able to observe the male and female grooming each other and cuddling.
  • Pregnancy: Guinea pig pregnancies typically last around 68 days, with litters ranging from one to six pups. During pregnancy, the female guinea pig should be provided with a healthy and balanced diet, and you should take steps to ensure that she is comfortable and stress-free. A nesting box should also be provided for the pregnant guinea pig to give birth in.
  • Care of Offspring: Once the pups are born, it’s important to provide them with a clean and safe environment. The mother will typically nurse the pups for around three to four weeks, after which they should be introduced to solid food. It’s also important to monitor the health of the pups and provide any necessary medical attention.
  • Breeding Responsibly: If you do decide to breed your Silkie Guinea Pigs, it’s important to do so responsibly. Make sure you have homes lined up for any potential offspring and that you are prepared to take on the responsibility of caring for them. It’s also important to avoid breeding guinea pigs that are closely related, as this can lead to genetic problems in the offspring.

Breeding Silkie Guinea Pigs can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to approach it with proper knowledge and responsibility.

With the right care and attention, you can help your guinea pigs have happy and healthy offspring.

Training and Socialization of Silkie Guinea Pigs

While it may not be as common as training a dog or cat, it is possible to train and socialize Silkie Guinea Pigs.

With patience and consistency, you can help your guinea pigs become more comfortable with handling, handling them, and even learn a few tricks.

Here are some tips for training and socializing your Silkie Guinea Pigs:

  • Handling: One of the first things you should do when you get your guinea pigs is to handle them regularly. Start by picking them up gently and holding them close to your body. This will help your guinea pigs become more comfortable with being held and reduce their fear of humans.
  • Socialization: Silkie Guinea Pigs are social animals and need to be kept with at least one other guinea pig. When introducing a new guinea pig to your current ones, it’s important to do it gradually and in a neutral area to avoid any territorial disputes.
  • Treats: Guinea pigs love treats, and using them can be a great way to train and reward them. You can use small pieces of vegetables or fruits as a reward for good behavior.
  • Training: While they may not be as trainable as dogs, guinea pigs can learn simple tricks such as standing on their hind legs or running through a small obstacle course. Start by using treats to encourage them to follow simple commands and slowly build up to more complex tricks.
  • Patience and Consistency: Like any training, it’s important to be patient and consistent with your Silkie Guinea Pigs. Don’t get frustrated if they don’t pick up on something right away, and be sure to reward good behavior consistently.

By training and socializing your Silkie Guinea Pigs, you can help them become more comfortable and happy in their environment.

With a little bit of effort and patience, you can build a strong bond with your guinea pigs and enjoy a rewarding and fulfilling relationship with them.

Frequently Asked Questions about Silkie Guinea Pigs

What is the difference between a Silkie Guinea Pig and a Sheltie Guinea Pig?

Silkie Guinea Pigs and Sheltie Guinea Pigs are two different names for the same breed. The breed is officially called the Silkie, but it is also commonly referred to as the Sheltie.

How long do Silkie Guinea Pigs live?

Silkie Guinea Pigs can live up to 5-7 years with proper care and a healthy diet.

Do Silkie Guinea Pigs need a special diet?

Silkie Guinea Pigs need a diet that is high in hay, fresh vegetables, and a limited amount of pellets. It is important to avoid feeding them sugary treats, as this can lead to health problems.

Can Silkie Guinea Pigs be kept outside?

While Silkie Guinea Pigs can be kept outside, they are sensitive to temperature changes and need to be kept in a well-ventilated and temperature-controlled environment.

Do Silkie Guinea Pigs need exercise?

Yes, Silkie Guinea Pigs need exercise to stay healthy and happy. Providing them with a large enclosure or playpen, toys, and a variety of hiding places can help keep them active and engaged.

Can Silkie Guinea Pigs be trained?

Yes, Silkie Guinea Pigs can be trained to a certain extent. They can learn simple tricks, and with patience and consistency, they can become more comfortable with handling and socialization.

Do Silkie Guinea Pigs require grooming?

Yes, Silkie Guinea Pigs require regular grooming to keep their long hair from becoming matted and tangled. This includes brushing, bathing, and trimming their hair as needed.


Congratulations, you have reached the end of our complete guide to Silkie Guinea Pigs! We hope that you have found this guide helpful and informative in learning more about these adorable and fascinating pets.

Silkie Guinea Pigs are a unique and charming breed that can make wonderful pets for the right person or family.

By understanding their physical characteristics, temperament, nutritional needs, housing requirements, grooming needs, and potential health issues, you can provide them with the care and attention they deserve.

Remember, every Silkie Guinea Pig is an individual with their own personality and preferences, so it is important to get to know your pets and tailor their care accordingly.

With patience, love, and a commitment to their well-being, you can enjoy many years of happiness with your Silkie Guinea Pig companions.

Thank you for reading, and we wish you and your furry friends all the best!


Hello, I am Mohini, the founder of this blog. I am a qualified Animal Nutrition. I am here to help everyone understand their pets better.

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