There are many different guinea pig breeds but one of the most popular ones that is often kept as a pet is the Sheltie Guinea Pig. The Sheltie, also known as the Silkie, is a long-haired guinea pig with a smooth coat and a shy, but affectionate personality.
They’re great pets, but there are important things that you need to know before you decide to adopt one of these furballs into your home.
In this guide, I’m going to go over everything you need to know about the Sheltie Guinea Pig. I will go over how long they live, their personality, how to groom them, how to care for them, and much more! Let’s get started.
Sheltie guinea pig fact sheet
|Name||Sheltie or Silkie Guinea Pig|
|Size||7 to 10 inches|
|Temperament||Sweet, affectionate, shy|
|Diet||80% hay, 20% nuggets/veggies|
Sheltie Guinea Pig History
The sheltie has its origins in the United Kingdom where it was first developed in the 1970’s as a result of crossbreeding the Self Black Guinea Pig and the Peruvian Guinea Pig. Because of its luxuriously long hair, this breed is often used as a show animal in competitions.
Also, because of its furry appearance and affectionate temperament, the Sheltie has become a popular breed among guinea pig lovers and many breeders have it available for sale.
The Sheltie is also known as the Silkie Guinea Pig. The naming depends on where you’re from, in the United States they’re more often known as Silkies, while in much of the rest of the world they’re often called Shelties.
Sheltie Guinea pig size & appearance
The Sheltie Guinea is a long-haired guinea pig with a soft, shiny, and smooth coat. Their hair can grow up to 24 inches in length! When you look at a sheltie from above, it kind of resembles a teardrop shape.
Their coat can be many different colors, ranging from black to white. They often have a coat consisting of many different colors.
The Sheltie guinea pig is kind of similar in appearance to the Peruvian Guinea Pig, but you can easily tell them apart by looking at which direction the hair grows. The coat of the Peruvian grows forward towards their face, while the Sheltie’s coat grows back over their body. The way their hair grows kind of makes it look like they style it that way on purpose, but it’s all-natural!
These cavies grow to a length of around 7 to 10 inches.
Sheltie Guinea Pig lifespan
Sheltie Guinea Pigs have quite a long lifespan. On average, these hairy cavies will live for 5 to 8 years. There are also reports of Shelties that for up to 14 years. But keep in mind, your average Sheltie, even with good care and a proper diet, will not live for 14 years. This is just the highest recorded age. Since the average sheltie will live for 5 to 8 years, you have to make sure that you’re ready to take care of it for such a long time.
It’s important to know this before you decide to buy a sheltie because you have to be prepared to take care of this furry creature for many years to come. If you’re not ready to commit to a guinea pig for so many years, it might be better to get a different pet with a shorter lifespan such as a rat or a hamster.
Sheltie guinea pig temperament
This breed is gentle, affectionate, and quite a softy – in fact, they’re considered to be the most gentle of all the guinea pig breeds. Because of their sweet and gentle nature, they’re a great pet for kids. Also, these animals need quite a bit of attention, love, exercise, and playtime, making them an ideal pet.
One thing to note is that Shelties are quite shy when they’re first introduced to new humans and it might take some time for them to warm up to you. However, once they’re used to your presence and know that you are not a threat, they’re very loving animals.
Caring for sheltie guinea pigs
Because shelties have such long hair they’re quite high maintenance pets. They need to be groomed frequently, ideally on a daily basis. The reason why it’s so important to groom your Sheltie is that bedding and urine or fecal matter can get stuck in their long hair, which needs to be removed. In addition, grooming helps to keep their hair in healthy shape. The grooming process is not hard, but it can be quite time-consuming. To groom your sheltie a stainless steel comb is ideal to brush their coat.
On top of that, you might have to bathe your sheltie occasionally. This can be done in the tub or in the sink, but you have to be very careful not to make the water too deep, otherwise, they’ll get scared. While guinea pigs can swim, they absolutely hate deep water. There are special shampoo’s you can use to wash your guinea pig’s coat which does a great job of cleaning their long hair.
After you’ve bathed them, you should dry both sides of the ear flaps and then let them dry up in a warm and quiet place. You can also use a blow dryer as long as you make sure that it’s on a very gentle setting with medium warmth. Too hot, and you might accidentally burn your Sheltie, too cold, and you might undercool them.
The diet of shelties is in essence no different from that of other guinea pigs. They are herbivores so they only eat plants. The ideal diet for your guinea pig consists of:
- An unlimited supply of feeding hay or grass. This should make up about 80% of their daily food intake.
- Commercial guinea pig nuggets.
- About a teacup of fresh vegetables per day.
- The occasional piece of fruit as a special treat.
- Unlimited access to fresh, clean water from a water bottle. Make sure to clean and refresh the water once a day.
One important thing to note is that you should be careful when introducing your guinea pig to new foods. If you’re feeding them something new that they’ve never had before (for instance, a piece of tomato) you have to start slowly so that their digestive system can get used to it. If they eat too much at once, they can get diarrhea.
Sheltie Guinea Pig Price
Most pet stores have shelties available but you can also choose to buy one from a breeder. Expect to pay around $10 to $40 for a single sheltie guinea pig.
Also, make sure that you account for the cost of buying a cage, food, toys, and vet bills. It costs around $40 a month to take good care of a guinea pig.
Other important things to know
Unlike some other rodents (looking at you here, hamsters!) Guinea pigs are social animals, and Shelties even more so. Because of that, it’s recommended that you do not get a single sheltie, but rather a pair. That way, they can keep each other company during the day and at times when you’re not around.
A single guinea pig can get bored very easily and will usually not be very happy. This can manifest itself in abnormal behavior and even aggression.