American Guinea Pigs

The American Guinea Pig, or Cavia porcellus, is the oldest and most popular breed of guinea pig. These guinea pigs have been domesticated for centuries and are descendants of the South American Tschudi breed. The American Guinea Pig is a popular breed because of it’s low-maintenance and friendly nature making them great for kids.

Key Facts on the American Guinea Pig

Length:8 to 19 inches
Weight:1.5 to 2.5 lbs
Lifespan:4 to 8 years
Color:Beige, cream, black, red & gold
Temperament:Active, friendly and low-maintenance
Best Suited For:Families, kids and inexperienced pet owners

Origin of the American Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs originate from South America around the Andes Mountains. The American Guinea Pigs closely relate to the Cavia Tschudii breed of wild guinea pig that inhabits areas like Peru, Bolivia and Chile. The domestication of guinea pigs occurred 4,000 to 7,000 years ago and guinea pigs were raised as livestock before entering homes.

The American, or English, Guinea Pigs started to be domesticated in the 1500s arriving in the United States in the 1900s. These guinea pigs today are mainly kept as pets or, in some cases, used as test animals in laboratories.

The scientific name for the American Guinea Pig is Cavia porcellus. The American Guinea Pig is part of the Caviidae family.

Description of an American Guinea Pig

The short-haired guinea pig breeds are among the oldest of all guinea pig breeds. These are also the most popular breed of guinea pig for purchase or adoption. It’s likely when you think of guinea pigs you’re thinking of a short-haired breed, like the American Guinea Pig.

The American Guinea Pig has straight hair and comes in a variety of colors and color variations. The name “American Guinea Pig” comes from what people call it in the United States of America. You may also see others reference this guinea pig breed as the “English Guinea Pig”.

This guinea pig has a solid, rectangular-shaped body resembling that of a brick. It is very similar to all other guinea pig breeds. These guinea pigs have a rounded Roman-type nose with short legs, large round ears and no tail. These guinea pigs typically weigh 2-3 pounds as a full grown adult.

American Guinea Pig Colors & Fur

The American Guinea Pig has a short and smooth coat. They are considered a “short-haired guinea pig”. Their coat has no curl and can come in a variety of colors.

There are several color variations of American Guinea Pigs:

  • Self (solid color): Beige, Black, Chocolate, Cream, Lilac, Red-Eyed Orange, Red and White.
  • Solid: Brindle, Roan, Dilute Solid, Golden Solid and Silver Solid.
  • Agouti: Dilute Agouti, Golden Agouti and Silver Agouti
  • Marked: Broken Color, Dalmatian, Dutch, Himalayan and Tortoise Shell
  • Tan: Black, Blue, Chocolate and Lilac

How to Care for Your American Guinea Pig

The American Guinea Pig is cared for much like other animals and other guinea pig breeds. A majority of the guinea pig breeds will follow the same daily care checklist that you should work through, however, being short-haired, there is a little less maintenance for these animals than others. Plus, the American Guinea Pig is one breed that often cleans itself leaving you not much to actually take care of.

To maintain a healthy American Guinea Pig you’ll want to:

  • Give them fresh vegetables and fruits daily.
  • Give them fresh water and keep the water flowing.
  • Clean their cage daily and clear out any soiled bedding to avoid sickness.
  • Make sure they have tons of hay throughout the day.
  • Make sure they have fresh pellets rich in vitamins and others to keep them healthy.
  • Make sure they are given the appropriate living space to exercise and play.
  • Engage with your guinea pig and show them affection.
  • Do health checks weekly to make sure they aren’t gaining or losing too much weight.
  • Keep their nails trimmed.
  • Brush their fur softly to make sure it’s not knotted.

American Guinea Pig Health

The American Guinea Pig is a hearty breed and maintains one of the longest lifespans of all guinea pig breeds. However, the American Guinea Pig still suffers from all the common health problems guinea pig’s get, such as pneumonia, diarrhea and scurvy.

Prevent Health Issues with Your American Guinea Pig

The best way to prevent health issues with your guinea pig is to maintain a healthy environment, feed them the appropriate food and properly groom your guinea pig.

Follow these guidelines to as a basic care routine:

  • Feed them plenty of clean and fresh hay.
  • Keep the cage and living environment free of urine buildup or other waste.
  • Make sure your guinea pig is getting adequate vitamin C.
  • Minimize their contact with other animals as other animals can transfer disease and vermin.
  • Keep them properly groomed with their teeth and nails.
  • Provide plenty of space for the guinea pig to roam, lay and rest.
  • Make sure you’re keeping your guinea pig in the correct temperature for their breed.
  • Keep an eye on any abnormal behavior or weight gain or loss.

To learn more, read our guinea pig checklists for a wide range of things you should be doing for your guinea pig on a daily and weekly basis. To keep the lifespan of the guinea pig as long as possible you’ll want to get in the habit of proper care and maintenance.

What is the Lifespan of an American Guinea Pig?

The lifespan of an American Guinea Pig is 4 to 8 years. Most guinea pig breeds will live an average of 5 to 7 years. The better care you give your guinea pig the longer their life expectancy will be. Their lifespan is affected mainly by genetics, environment and their diet.

How Much Should American Guinea Pigs Weigh?

There is no “healthy” weight for a guinea pig. Most guinea pigs should be within a range of 1.5 pounds to 3 pounds as a full grown adult. If your guinea pig is below 1.5 pounds or above 3 pounds it’s likely you are not caring for them correctly. If your guinea pig is looking too skinny or too heavy you’ll want to speak with your veterinarian as an active guinea pig will typically keep it’s weight in check and any excess weight gain or loss could be the start of health problems.

Do American Guinea Pigs have Good Personalities?

The American Guinea Pig has one of the best personalities and characters of all the guinea pig breeds. These pets are very easy to care for and are very entertaining. The respond very well to handling and love affection. If you’re looking for a pet that is sweet and cuddly but also can act like a clown – the American Guinea Pig could be right for you.

The American Guinea Pig makes the perfect pet because they love to cuddle and they do not bite. They are one of the most economical breeds with a lovable character.

These guinea pigs are also great with other pets and animals in the house. All guinea pigs are considered herd animals meaning they like to be around other animals and guinea pigs. These animals look for companionship with other animals or humans.

Are American Guinea Pigs Good with Kids?

Yes, the American Guinea Pig is great with kids. These guinea pigs love to be handled and enjoy affection and the more you handle them and show affection the more they will respond to you. These guinea pigs to not bite and are very active making them great pets for kids. These guinea pigs also tend to not get as sick as other guinea pigs, especially with proper care, making them even better for kids who are often forgetful.

How to Train an American Guinea Pigs

The American Guinea Pig can be trained just like any other animal and other guinea pig breeds. They may not be able to fetch a stick but they can be trained to listen to commands. The guinea pig is a very intelligent animal and most breeds are very active and love to engage with humans. The American Guinea Pig is smart enough to learn a few tricks and commands if you have a lot of patience.

You shouldn’t try to train them early and should wait until they are around 9 to 12 months old.

You should try to train your guinea pig to use the litter box and obey basic commands like stop, stand up, come here, etc. The key is to pair the training with a reward of some sort like a treat or petting from the owner. By properly training your guinea pig you can get them to use the litter box to pee and poop instead of their cage along with making sure they listen to you when they are out of the cage.

Things to Know Before Buying an American Guinea Pig

If you’re considering adoption or buying an American Guinea Pig you should really know the basics of care, diet and their habitat. Guinea Pigs are pretty robust animals but it’s very easy to make them feel depressed or cause health issues without proper care.

Food & Diet Requirements

The American Guinea Pig requires the same basic diet all guinea pigs need. You want to make sure there is a good supply of high-quality timothy hay for them to eat. The hay will wear down their teeth and is high in fiber to help them with their digestive system.

According to the Humane Society, your guinea pig should eat around 1 cup of vegetables per day. They should have leafy green vegetables like romaine lettuce, kale, cilantro and parsley. You should provide a variety of vegetables for your guinea pig and change it up each day.

Some of the best vegetables for guinea pigs are rich in vitamin C such as broccoli or bell peppers.

Your guinea pig can consume fruit but you will want to be careful as most fruit is high in sugar which can make the guinea pig sick. You will want to keep the portion of fruit small and avoid fruits high in sugar and prioritize fruits high in vitamins and antioxidants.

Some of the best fruits for guinea pigs are oranges, apples, blueberries and strawberries.


Your guinea pig will need quite a bit of room to roam and exercise. Some guinea pigs can remain active for up to 20 hours a day. You should try to get the largest guinea pig cage possible. Make sure your cage has as much open area as it can so they can run around. Guinea pigs don’t like to climb so a larger and single level open space with things to do is more appealing to them.

Care & Grooming

You should build a daily and weekly care and grooming checklist for your guinea pig. You’ll want to spot check all of their health signs, such as weight, and handle all grooming. Before you bring a guinea pig home you’ll want to make sure you understand how to trim their nails, how to brush their hair and proper cage maintenance.

Guinea pigs ultimately don’t require a lot in their home to stay active but you should look into the basic supplies needed for a guinea pig such as a water bottle, food dish, toys and gnaw sticks.

Common Questions About American Guinea Pigs

How Much are American Guinea Pigs?

As pets, guinea pigs are one of the cheapest domesticated animals you can buy or adopt. The price of an American Guinea Pig is quite low compared to many other show guinea pig breeds.

An American Guinea Pig is between $10 and $50. In some cases, such as adoption, you can get a guinea pig for less than this range or even free. The one thing to keep in mind is that it’s cheaper to purchase an American Guinea Pig but the real cost comes with proper care and housing.

To properly care for a guinea pig you’re looking at around $100 to $500 per year per guinea pig on the lower end. This includes cages, toys, food, bedding and more.

Are American Guinea Pigs Intelligent?

Guinea pigs are very intelligent creatures and want to learn and explore. They do not want to sit in their cage all day long and need interaction and exploration to remain happy. The American Guinea Pig is no different than any other guinea pig except that they will require more engagement than others.

You should expect to entertain your guinea pig often by changing up their cage layout, letting them roam the house and spending quality human interaction time with your guinea pig. You can begin to teach your American Guinea Pig several tricks and habits at a young age.