Abyssinian

Abyssinian Breed Profile

Fur Short, up to 1.1 in (3 cm), stands on end
Rosettes Yes
Characteristics None
Lifespan 4-6 years
Suitable for Beginners

Breed Characteristics

Cheeky Abyssinian guinea pigs love to play around and have very friendly personalities. Just like the American, it’s ideal for beginners as grooming is quick and easy. Abyssinian guinea pigs might look a little prickly as their dense fur stands on end thanks to their many rosettes, or whorls. Their hair won’t prick your fingers when you touch it, but it is coarse.

Petting Guinea Pigs

Speaking of which: we can’t say it often enough, but guinea pigs are not cuddly pets. They don’t like being petted and will freeze in fear when touched. This is often misinterpreted as a relaxed animal sitting nicely. The good news: guinea pigs are great to watch and it’s a real joy to look at them as they feed, explore, snuffle about and popcorn with joy.

Can You Teach Guinea Pigs Tricks?

With a little patience and tact, you can teach these cute pets tricks e.g. go back into the cage, sit and stay or come to their name.

Rosettes

Abyssinians taking part in competitions (“who’s the fairest guinea pig in all the land?”) must have at least eight whorls. Ten is even better: four on the body, two on the hind quarters and two on the hips. The more symmetrical the better. Breeders also find it especially beautiful when the rosettes are the same size and have a little center. Most Abyssinians only have six whorls. But who cares? After all, they’re just as lovable without a medal. 

Abyssinian Guinea Pig Abyssinian Guinea Pig - Photo: Nikol Mansfeld/Shutterstock

Ridgeback

If an Abyssinian guinea pig only has two instead of four whorls on its body, the fur on its back doesn’t fall down to the sides, but stands upwards or forwards. This creates a “comb”, and the guinea pig can be called a “Ridgeback”. There’s also a dog with a similar name: the Rhodesian Ridgeback. The fur on their backs grows in the opposite direction to the rest of their coats.

Fur Care

Thanks to its short coat, the Abyssinian is very easy to care for. Sometimes, bedding, straw or hay can get caught in the rosettes and the piggy can’t get it out. You can give them a helping hand by using a soft brush to remove any dirt.

Did You Know?

Other languages call this guinea pig the “rosette guinea pig”. It’s not completely clear why they’re called Abyssinians in English. They were definitely not named after Abyssinia, an outdated term for an area spanning modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Abyssinian Guinea Pig Abyssinian Guinea Pig - Photo: Local Blue/Shutterstock