Baldwin guinea pigs are one of the rare breeds, and are one of the few hairless guinea pigs. Because of the lack of hair, it would make sense that they need to live in environments that are a little warmer!
While they are hairless and tend to need less maintenance because of that, they still do require a little bit of extra thought because of the lack of coat. If you’re thinking about getting Baldwin guinea pig, make sure you’re ready to commit to the general guinea pig care. Oftentimes, first time guinea pig owners don’t realize how much time and effort goes into having guinea pigs in general, and we want to avoid that!
Baldwin guinea pigs were discovered by Carol Miller, a breeder from San Diego, California. She noticed the recessive hairless gene in her White Crested guinea pigs, and discovered that even if some piggies carry the gene, it doesn’t always cause hairlessness.
Physical Characteristics of Baldwin Guinea Pigs
Baldwin guinea pigs are interesting in that they are born with a full coat of hair, but it begins falling out soon after birth—around two days after in some cases! They’re usually hairless by the time they turn two months old. Everything else about their physical appearance is pretty standard. They can weigh anywhere from 1-3 pounds, and can measure to be up to 12 inches long. Despite having no hair, their original coats can come in Dutch, tortoiseshell, Himalayan, and self.
Baldwin guinea pigs are generally pretty vocal, but at the same time can be very mellow and gentle. They also tend to be very willing to cuddle, because they enjoy the warmth and heat that they can get from others! This helps them keep warm, which is why they enjoy being around the company of other guinea pigs and humans.
However, it’s good to remember that a lot of guinea pig breeds have some general personality traits, they do develop their own personalities from their individual living environment and what they experience!
In general, guinea pigs need a constant supply of hay and water, pellets, and around a cup of fruits and vegetables to supplement other nutrients they need, such as vitamin C, calcium, and others. It’s important to keep in mind that hay needs to be the largest portion of the guinea pig diet due to its high fiber content.
Younger guinea pigs need more calcium than older ones in order to support their growing and developing bodies, but older ones need more vitamin C to prevent diseases like scurvy. It’s important to make sure that your guinea pig has a balanced diet that doesn’t consist too much of any one thing, unless it’s hay, of course.
Baldwin Guinea Pig Grooming
Because Baldwin’s don’t have any hair, their level of maintenance is super low. They might just need some spot cleaning if they happen to get any poop or urine on their skin, but otherwise, they don’t need a whole lot of cleaning.
They will, however, still require other normal guinea pig grooming routines, such as pedicures. It’s also important that hairless guinea pigs skin is hydrated and healthy! If you find that your piggy’s skin is a little dry, you can use a tiny bit of all-natural coconut oil for hydration!
Your Baldwin guinea pig’s nails need to be trimmed at least once a month! However, this does depend on the individual guinea pig and their nail growth turnaround. For example, younger guinea pig’s nails grow faster than older guinea pigs!
Their diet also plays a role in how quickly their nails grow back. It’s also important to note that more active guinea pigs wear down their nails faster than less active ones. With this line of thinking, it would make sense that sometimes older guinea pigs might need a trim more often if they’re not moving around as much as their younger counterparts.
It’s important to note that guinea pigs usually have a low tolerance for nail clipping, this means you’ll need to be very patient with your piggy and only do a few at a time. Make sure to take some breaks in between, especially when your guinea pig gets fussy—just try again later!
It will always be easier to clip their nails when they’re relaxed and calm, and you can reward them for good behavior using treats or fresh veggies. If possible, make nail clipping a two-person job.
One can hold the guinea pig so their legs aren’t dangling, and the other person can do the nail clipping. If only one person is available, then gently swaddle or burrito wrap your guinea pig in a blanket and hold them how you would hold a football! Then you can begin clipping their nails slowly and gently.
For a one person job, we recommend using the pouch that comes in the Offbeat Piggy Play Package. This is designed specifically for holding guinea pigs in the correct way to do things like administer medication, petting, and in this case, cut their nails!
You can utilize nail clippers that are meant for small animals! Make sure you’re careful and don’t trim your guinea pig’s nails too short. This can cause bleeding and can be very uncomfortable and even painful for your guinea pigs. The bleeding can be stopped by applying styptic powder, or by gently pressing a paper towel to the affected area until it stops.
Note that guinea pig teeth are growing constantly, especially if their diet is rich in Vitamin C. However, their teeth are naturally worn down to normal lengths by the foods they eat.
If they don’t eat enough hay or fruits and vegetables, their teeth won’t wear down properly, and this can lead to root impaction among some other serious health issues, which can be painful for your piggies. When this happens, a visit to your vet becomes necessary for treatment.
Common health problems in Baldwin Guinea Pigs
Unfortunately, there are some specific health issues that guinea pigs in general are prone to contracting, and much of it has to do with their living conditions and diet, two things that you can try to provide the best of as an act of prevention!
Pneumonia is one of the more prevalent diseases that guinea pigs tend to suffer from because of the bacteria that they pick up from their surroundings. According to research done by VCA Animal Hospitals, guinea pigs become carriers of the bacteria that cause pneumonia and stay asymptomatic—VCA calls these bacteria “opportunistic,” because they become dangerous when factors of the guinea pig’s health status allow for them to be. This includes stress or other illnesses that render the immune system weaker than normal.
Keep in mind that stress and the immune system are connected in general, so it’s important to do what you can to reduce their stress.
Symptoms include inability to eat, discharge from the eyes and/or nose, sneezing and trouble breathing. If your guinea pig has any of these symptoms, see your vet. They can take cultures of the discharge from their eyes and nose to help them figure out what’s going on with your guinea pig!
We believe that the number one way that we can prevent infections by ensuring that their living environment stays clean and hygienic! Our GuineaDad Premium Liners are made with fibers coated in an antibacterial agent that inhibits bacterial growth, which can help prevent infections from happening in the first place.
Guinea pigs have very delicate digestive systems, which makes them susceptible to issues involving it. When it comes to their diet, too much water or too much fiber can cause an upset in their usual digestion and cause diarrhea. With this comes loss of appetite, dehydration, weight loss, and things like low body temperature.
Like humans, guinea pigs can’t create their own vitamin C within their bodies, and need outside sources of it, especially as they get older. A deficiency of vitamin C can be detrimental to their health, as it can cause them to be more likely to contract diseases and infections.
Symptoms include things like rough hair, loss of appetite, diarrhea, decreased mobility, and swollen feet or joints are likely to be vitamin C deficient. To prevent all these health issues, make sure that your guinea pigs are getting plenty of vitamin C in their diet!
Guinea pigs are prone to the development of bladder stones, and usually form in the bladder or in the kidneys, or the tubes that drain the kidneys called ureters. When stones are lodged in the ureter or obstruct the urethra, it can become life threatening. Surgery is necessary to remove the stones a lot of the time, but regular check-ups with your vet can prevent emergencies such as these.
This is when sores form at the bottom the feet from pressure, which usually comes from the guinea pig being overweight. The sores can be painful and result in inability to be properly mobile. Treatment for this can be a little difficult, but a visit to your vet and following their treatment suggestions such as surgery, bandages, and antibiotics can alleviate the pain for your guinea pig.
One way you can relieve some of the pain that your guinea may experience in their little feet is by using the Guinea Dad Premium Liners. These liners are ultra-cushioned and made to be easy on their feet and soft to the touch for pure guinea pig comfort bliss. They’ll also help with preventing any further infection of the sores in your guinea pig’s feet.
According to the Humane Society, guinea pigs need a minimum of 7.5 square feet of space, but in general, a guinea pig needs companionship to thrive, so it's best to have two guinea pigs. This would mean they need a minimum of 10.5 square feet, but the more space the better—when it comes to guinea pigs, there is no such thing as too much space. You want to give them as much space as possible so they can roam around freely and be active, therefore staying healthy and youthful.
Where to find your own Baldwin Guinea Pigs
It's most ethical to adopt your guinea pigs from a shelter if possible. It’s common for new guinea pig owners to give them up for adoption quickly after acquiring them when they’re not prepared for the amount of care their guinea pig needs—especially if they’re higher maintenance and have special care needs.
Some guinea pigs in the shelters have been mistreated and not properly cared for in the past, prior to their arrival at the shelter. Shelters do the best they can, but many have limited resources in helping hands and funds, and they take in and care for as many guinea pigs as they can. When we adopt from the shelter, guinea pig parents not only provide better customized care for each guinea pig, but also help free up rescue centers' capacity to help more animals in need.
If guinea pigs aren’t available at your local shelter, you can “rescue” them from a pet shop, since some pet shops may not be able to put as much of their time and resources towards specialized care for the guinea pigs, because they have so many other types of animals to look after as well. This can especially be the case when it comes to piggies that have special needs.
What’s left to know?
Once you’ve read and learned more about Baldwin guinea pigs and the kind of care that they require to live comfortably and happily, you can decide whether or not you’re up to making the commitment of caring for one!
All guinea pigs are lovable and deserving of the absolute best care, and for their piggy parents to take the best care of them that they possibly can.