Abyssinian Guinea Pig Breed Profile: History, Appearance, Care, and More!

Abyssinian Guinea pig sitting on a wall

Known for their cowlicks (formally known as rosettes), the Abyssinian guinea pig is one of the first guinea pig breeds recognized by the American Cavy Breeders Association. They are much more vocal than other guinea pig breeds. If you plan to adopt a pair of Abyssinian guinea pigs, you better familiarize yourself with different guinea pig voices and their meanings to better understand what your piglet is trying to communicate.

Like other longhaired guinea pig breeds, Abyssinian guinea pigs don’t require any special care. Therefore, they are recommended for responsible children. Continue reading to learn about Abyssinian guinea pigs, and then decide if an Abyssinian cavy would make a good fit for you.

Abyssinian Guinea Pig

Abyssinian guinea pigs are long-haired pigs with distinctive hairstyles featuring natural rosettes—each guinea pig has around six to eight rosettes spread across its body. For their long-haired coat, they are a pretty low-maintenance guinea pig breed as compared to other long-haired guinea grip breeds.

But before you jump on the bandwagon to the nearby Abyssinian guinea pig for sale. Well, wait! First, familiarize yourself with the breed by continuing reading. We will discuss all about the Abyssinian guinea pig breed, ranging from Abyssinian guinea pig colors to size, appearance, health, etc. 

Abyssinian Guinea Pig Breed Overview
Scientific NameCavia porcellus
Other NamesAbyssinian guinea pig, Abby guinea pig, Rosette guinea pig
OriginSouth America
Length8 to 12 inches
Weight1.5 to 3 pounds
Lifespan5 to 7 years
Coat ColorsBrown, black, roan, albino
Coat Color PatternsSolid, dalmatian, tortoiseshell, brindle, roan, tri-color, part-colored
MaintenanceModerate level maintenance
DietHerbivores (timothy hay)
CageAt least 24×35 inches
TemperamentDocile, calm, and gentle, easy to train
Suitable forFamilies with children, responsible beginners
Abyssinian Guinea Pig Scoreboard
Like to be held4.5/5
Grooming Requirements3.5/5
Good with other pets2/5
Good with other Guinea Pigs5/5
Good with Children4/5

Abyssinian Guinea Pig History

Given their name, one would assume that Abyssinian guinea pigs come from either Guinea or Abyssinia—present-day Ethiopia—but it is not the case. Neither they are from Guinea nor Abyssinia. All present-day guinea pig breeds originate from Andes Mountain, South America. And in South America, guinea pigs are considered a delicacy and not pets.

Abyssinian guinea pig is an old guinea pig breed, and it is believed that they were brought to Europe by the explorers. The Abyssinian guinea pigs’ long coats and friendly nature made them pricey exotic pets with luxurious coats and adorable personalities.

Abyssinian Guinea Pig Personality and Temperament

Girl laying on the floor watching her black Abyssinian guinea pig eating grass

Known for their gentle, affectionate, and outgoing nature, Abyssinian guinea pigs are one of the most common guinea pigs in homes and shows. They are exceptionally social in nature and love to be held by their loving owners and enjoy the company of children. Given their docile nature, Abyssinian guinea pigs make a great first pet for children, provided some adult is there to help them care for the grooming needs of these cute little furballs. Abyssinian guinea pigs don’t have as many grooming requirements as other long-haired guinea pig breeds. 

Abyssinian guinea pigs are a delight to be around. They are highly intelligent and easier to train. You can not only litter train your guinea pig but can also teach them tricks like how to stand up and train them to come running to you, as you call them. The extremely curious nature of these smart pants often lands them in trouble. So, whenever you get them out of their cage, ensure that they have your undivided attention and never let them out of your sight and reach.

Do Abyssinian Guinea Pigs Make Good Pets?

Abyssinian guinea pigs make perfect pets for first-time pet owners. Abbys get along with children and adults and enjoy interacting with their human companions. They like the gentle touches of their loving owners. They really appreciate it when their loving owners comb their hair or gently stroke them.

Do Abyssinian Guinea Pigs Get Along With Other Pets?

As far as other pets—cats and dogs—are concerned, Abyssinian guinea pigs, like other guinea breeds, do not do well. They actually don’t mind sharing their space or toys with cats and dogs, but their small size and curious nature trigger the hunting instincts of cats and dogs, making them attack and harm them.

That said, Abyssinian guinea pigs are highly social and love to have a cage mate. It is strongly advised that you keep them in pairs, at least. If your guinea pig has no cage buddy, you should try to make yourself available for interactive play sessions and bring your Guinea friend loads of small toys so that he can keep busy. Otherwise, your guinea pig would get bored and develop behavioral issues with nothing to do.

Abyssinian Guinea Pig Appearance

Black and White Abyssinian Guinea Pig in the lawn

Abyssinian guinea pigs have a short, cobby bodies with a short and erect mane and a prominent mustache. They have large bold eyes and a set of medium-sized drooping ears with good width between them.


A fully grown Abyssinian guinea pig is similar in size to the usual guinea pigs. They are about 8 to 12 inches long, with their weight varying between 1.5 to 3 pounds. If your guinea pig is over 3 pounds, they are obese, and you need to cut down on their caloric intake and increase their exercise level. Fat guinea pigs look cute, but the health issues they give rise to are not so cute. So, it is best that you keep your piggy’s caloric intake in check.


Abyssinian guinea pigs don’t have extremely long hair as other long-haired guinea pig breeds such as the Peruvian guinea pig, whose coat can grow up to 24 inches in length. The coat of Abyssinian guinea pigs can only grow up to 2 inches. Their coat is a bit rough and spiky. But worry not, it won’t pierce you on touch; it would just feel coarse.

What really sets them apart from all other guinea pig breeds is the swirls or cowlicks called rosettes or whorls on their coats. While the usual number of rosettes in Abyssinian guinea pigs is eight, some can have even 10, and some come with 6 rosettes. These rosettes are even in number and are set across two lines. These rosettes create a unique pattern of ridges parallel and at right angles to their bodies.

They come in all sorts of color combinations and patterns ranging from solid, Dalmatian, tortoiseshell, brindle, roan, tricolor, and particolored.

How to Care for an Abyssinian Guinea Pig?

Abyssinian guinea pigs are not high maintenance like other longhaired guinea pig breeds, but they do need a certain level of care. So, you should only bring home an Abby cavy for your kid or yourself if you can make time to take care of them. If you are ready to commit, let’s find out how to take care of the Abyssinian guinea pig.

Black Abyssinian Guinea Pig Sitting on a bench with a flower on his head


Abyssinian guinea pigs have the same dietary requirements as other guinea pig breeds. They need a constant supply of fresh Timothy hay. Munching on this hay will not provide essential fibers to guinea pigs but also keep the growth of their teeth in check. Besides hay, you should offer your guinea pig a wide variety of fresh vegetables like spinach, arugula, collard greens, squash, dandelions, etc. Treating your guinea pig with various vegetables would keep the diet interesting and provide them with useful vitamins and minerals.

Guinea pigs cannot make their own vitamin C and thus require an external source. While many vegetables offer some level of vitamin C to guinea pigs, that is not enough. Similarly, high-quality guinea pig pellets are fortified with vitamin C, but it breaks down with time. Therefore, unless you provide fresh pellets to your guinea, you should offer vitamin C supplements to your guinea pig to help them maintain a healthy coat and ward off scurvy.

Similarly, you can also occasionally offer fresh fruits to your guinea pigs as a treat. Apples and strawberries would make a great treat for guinea pigs as they are rich in vitamin C. That said, you should never feed fruits to guinea pigs in excess—it can cause digestive stress for your guinea pigs.


The unique coat of Abyssinian guinea pigs with rosettes might give you an idea that they are high maintenance like other longhaired guinea pigs. But it is not the case; Abyssinian guinea pigs are medium maintenance at max. Brushing their coat once or twice a week would be enough for them to maintain a healthy coat. Besides, you may also have to give them an occasional bath using guinea pig shampoo. You would also have to trim your guinea pigs’ nails regularly. You should get your Abyssinian guinea pig used to grooming sessions at an early age so that he doesn’t act all fussy when it’s time for grooming.

Regular brushing and bathing will not only keep their coat free of knots and mats and get rid of dead skin cells and shed hair. It also promotes blood flow through the outer layer of skin, making your guinea pig have healthy skin and fur.

While grooming your guinea pig, you should be very careful as they have very sensitive skin, and their hair are easily pulled, which could be painful to guinea pigs. You may also want to offer delicious treats to your guinea pig throughout the grooming sessions, so they don’t try to get away.


Like other guinea pig breeds, you should ensure that your Abyssinian cavy is getting ample daily exercise. Balls and exercise wheels are discouraged as they may harm guinea pigs’ backs, toes, or legs. Instead, you should get your guinea pig out of its cage and let it run around for a while. While your guinea pig is out of the cage, you should ensure that your eyes are always stuck on him. If you have other pets, cats or dogs, in your house, you should make sure that they don’t come in direct contact with your little rodent.

Black Abyssinian Guinea Pig lying flat on grass in the shade of a wood


Abyssinian guinea pigs are pretty smart and thus easier to train. Training is a great way to provide for the daily exercise requirements of your guinea pig and strengthen the bond between you and your guinea.

Before you begin training sessions, you should ensure that you have a handful of your guinea’s favorite treats. Training is nothing but calling out the command repeatedly and providing the cavy a treat when he performs what is being asked of him.

Using this positive reinforcement technique, you can easily housebreak your Abyssinian guinea pig and teach him to stand up and come when you are calling their names.

Enclosure Set-up

As Abyssinian guinea pigs are a bit more active than other guinea pig breeds, you try to give them a cage bit larger than the usual 24 by 24 inches cage for an individual guinea pig. If you have more than one guinea pig, you should try to provide some extra space for each additional guinea pig. The cage should be at least 24 by 36 inches for two guinea pigs with at least 15 inches in height.

The floor of the guinea pig cage should be removable and sloid—not of wires—as wires put guinea pig feet at risk of being damaged. You should also place a small house made of cardboard or a commercially available guinea pig house available at pet stores. 

Abyssinian Guinea Pig Health

Abyssinian Guinea Pig is an overall healthy guinea pig breed; they are prone to several health issues like most other breeds. Below, we briefly discussed the most common health issues in Abyssinian guinea pigs.


Common in almost all guinea pig breeds, scurvy occurs due to the deficiency of vitamin C. As cavies cannot make their own vitamin C, they require it from external resources. Therefore, when there is inadequate vitamin C in the guinea pig diet, they experience scurvy. Guinea pigs suffering from scurvy would have a rough coat, unhealthy joints, diarrhea, weight loss, etc. To keep scurvy at bay, you should make Vitamin C supplements an integral part of your guinea pig’s diet. You can also try feeding vitamin C-rich veggies and fruits to your guinea pig such as strawberries, broccoli, squash, bell peppers, etc.


Guinea pigs have a sensitive and tiny stomach, which is easily upset by a slight variation in their food or eating certain foods like cucumbers in excess. So to avoid having to put up with your guinea pig suffering from diarrhea, it is advised that you give new foods to guinea pigs in small amounts and never make a sudden change in their diet. While introducing new food to your piggy’s diet, closely observe guinea pig poop and pee color, if it changes color or form take action according. 

Urinary problems

Abyssinian guinea pigs are susceptible to bladder stones, which are painful and, if left untreated, could even lead to the demise of your small furry friend. Urinary tract problems are a medical emergency, and it is best that take your guinea pig to a vet.

How Much Does an Abyssinian Guinea Pig Cost?

The cost of Abyssinian guinea pigs may vary from individual to individual, depending on the number of rosettes and how evenly they are arranged. Similarly, Abyssinian guinea pig coat colors may also play a role in determining their price. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from around  $15 to $75.

Abyssinian Guinea Pig Names

If you have planned to bring home a pair of Abyssinian guinea pigs, or you have already adopted two cute little balls of fur, you might be looking for good names for them. Well, look no further, here is a list of guinea pig names for you to kickstart your search for a perfect name for your unique little critters.


If none of the above names sounds good for your piggy friend, worry not, we have got a comprehensive list of guinea pig names along with tips. If you have a boy, you can check out our list of boy guinea pig names, and in the case of a female, you can check girl guinea pig names.

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