Hairless guinea pigs – the Skinny, the Baldwin, the Werewolf

There is a wide variety of guinea pig breeds: the Teddy, the Peruvian, the Abyssinian, just to name a few.  If you are into different and bizarre pets, having a hairless guinea pig for a pet could be for you. Hairless guinea pigs, as their name suggests, are guinea pig varieties that have no or little hair. Because they have little or no fur, these guinea pigs are great for people who are prone to pet allergies.

Hairless guinea pig varieties

There are two varieties of hairless guinea pigs—the Skinny and the Baldwin.

Baldwin guinea pigs are completely hairless as an adult but babies are sometimes born with hair. A few days after they are born, their hair falls off and they are completely bald at around 2 months of age. They have wrinkles and folds of skin even the head.

The skinny pig often has some hair on the face and feet that make its body seem “skinny”. Skinny pigs have wiry, frizzy hair on their head, face and paws and sometime have hair on the backs and the rest of the body, but generally look hairless and skinny. Skinny pigs may be found in a variety of color and pattern combinations of white, pink black, grown, red and others.

A variation of a Baldwin guinea pig is the werewolf. They are born without hair but the fur will slowly grow back on their bodies. Werewolf is not a recognised guinea pig breed.

Hairless Guinea Pig courtesy of http://margaretshairlesspigs.webs.com
Hairless Guinea Pig courtesy of http://margaretshairlesspigs.webs.com

Why are hairless guinea pigs hairless?

Skinny and Baldwin guinea pigs are hairless because of a genetic trait. For Baldwin pigs, the hairless mutation occurred after two Golden Solid guinea pigs (with hair, eyes open and ready to go) were bred. The breeding resulted in pigs that started losing hair around the eyes and nose which later progressed towards the rear of the animals until the hair was gone. When the pups grew and matured, their coat did not grow back and were completely hairless. Skinny pigs are a result of a spontaneous mutation which was first identified in 1978 among Hartley guinea pigs. In 1982, the Charles River Laboratories produced new batch of Skinny pigs for use in dermatological studies and these Skinny pigs have an intact thymus and healthy immune system.

What makes hairless guinea pigs different from other guinea pigs?

First of all, because they lack or have little fur, they need extra care. Hairless guinea pigs are sensitive to temperature changes. They should be kept indoors. Their environment needs to be kept between 68 ºF to 79 ºF. They should not be exposed to direct sunlight or where the temperatures can rise to extreme measures. Temperatures above 85 ºF can cause the guinea pigs to suffer from heatstroke.

Hairless guinea pigs also require more guinea pig food than those with hair.

They rarely need baths but their skin needs to be moisturized every week or as often as necessary as their skin tends to become dry and flaky. Occasional wipe with baby wipes containing Aloe Vera or a damp wash cloth will be helpful.

Hairless guinea pigs have no thick coat to protect from cuts and scrapes. Thus, they are easier to suffer from scrapes and scratches. Extra bedding should be provided to prevent injury. Make sure to check the toes and have the claws trimmed regularly.

Is a hairless guinea pig’s health the same as other guinea pigs?

When it comes to guinea pig health, hairless guinea pigs are not really physiologically different from their haired counterparts. They are also very energetic and have great personalities like other furred varieties. Like their hairy cousins, they are sociable and will seek love, attention, and a little cuddle to keep them happy and healthy. The diet is basically the same as the furred guinea pig varieties and they also require Vitamin C in their diet to prevent scurvy. 

Unlike some people are led to believe, hairless guinea pigs are not weak and sickly. They are immunocompetent which means that they have a healthy immune system if they are bred and cared for properly. Make sure you acquire guinea pigs that are from a strong healthy line and too much inbreeding should be avoided.

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