Q: Is it OK to shave my guinea pig?
A: You’ve got a wonderful little pet-at least two-or a few of them—and now you’re wondering if it’s okay to shave your guinea pig. In general, the answer is no.
Fluffball the Long Haired Guinea Pig with Hair Cut Short
There are very few circumstances under which an expert about the care and upkeep of a guinea pig would recommend shaving him.
Some people have difficulty considering any reason why anybody would want to shave a guinea pig. If you have one of the long-hair breeds, possibly you bought them for the lovely curly, flowing coat.
- The Sheltie, also known as the Silkie, boasts a smooth coat that flows away from his face. If you brush him and look down upon him, the pattern of the fur growth will look like a teardrop.
- The Texel is the same, except his fur grows in long, corkscrew locks.
- The Peruvian and also the Peruvian Satin have long sweeps of fur extending outward around his body. There’s a forelock growing forward rounding out the growth pattern.
- The Alpaca’s fur growth is much like the Peruvian’s, but his coat is curly.
- The Coronet is also like the Sheltie, but this breed bears a crest, shorter than the Peruvian forelock, on its forehead.
- The Merino is cousin to the Coronet but with curly fur. Like the Texel, this breed emanated from England.
The Pros of Shaving
Some people do, however, shave their guinea pigs. Here are the benefits:
- If the area where you live gets hot, you might want to shave your guinea pig to give him some relief from the heat.
- It’s a really good idea to trim their fur for hygienic purposes. You’ll want to trim the hair around his back end to avoid urinary tract infections. It’s also important to trim the fur around his feet so that it doesn’t pick up the debris from the bottom of his cage, which could promote the growth of bacteria.
- If his fur is shorter, your pet can be groomed much more easily—no knots.
- If his fur is shorter, your pet can be groomed much more easily—more glamorous!
The Cons of Shaving
Nevertheless, there are many people who are horrified by the idea of shaving a guinea pig. Here’s why:
- You will frighten your pet when you shave his hair.
- Your pet will lose more body heat. Even if you live in a comfortable or warm climate, he’s accustomed to carrying the weight of his coat.
- Your pet’s fur provides protection against the sun’s rays. If you shave him too closely, you’ll expose him to dangerous ultraviolet rays.
- If you plan on showing your guinea pig, you will be deviating from the standards of the breed.
- It’s a mistake to believe that shaving your pet will reduce any allergic symptoms suffered by members of your family. The allergens come from the skin of the animal itself and not from its fur.
If You Want to Proceed, Nevertheless…
Some people really cannot decide whether or not to keep their pet shaven until they at least try it. Here’s some advice to follow:
- People ask if they should bathe their pet first and then shave it, or vice versa. Definitely shave him first; then you can bathe him afterward to rinse away the tiny loose hairs.
- Since your pet will not want to be anywhere close to the clippers, use a towel to hold him firmly but gently in place.
- Check your pet supply store for clippers with a pivot motor instead of a standard rotary motor. Pivot-motor clippers are much quieter. They are also the preferred choice over magnetic motors; they actually operate with two electromagnets and they have twice as much power.
- Use a clipper that allows you to set the blade for clipping length. You don’t actually want to shave your guinea pig down to the bare skin—horrors! But if you just clip off about an inch of his fur, you’ll be eliminating a large part of your fur problem while allowing him to retain his natural cuteness.
Before you decide to shave him, give him a good brushing first to be certain how you want to proceed. You can use a baby brush on his coat, and a greyhound comb will keep the knots at bay. Long-haired guinea pigs re-grow their hair at a rate of about 2.5 cm (1 inch) per month, although every pet is different.
Avoid shaving the backs of their ears, since this most likely will not return.
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Guinea Pig Care