The Sheltie Guinea Pig is best-known for its coat, which is long and luxurious. In fact, Sheltie Guinea Pigs are also known as ‘Silkies,’ in reference to this striking feature. The fur of the Sheltie Guinea Pig is downright plush to the touch.
It is no wonder then, that so many have sought to make these guinea pigs pets. Fortunately for these people, Sheltie Guinea Pigs are also quite friendly. As animal companions, they are nothing short of delightful.
Of course, any pet needs proper care to really shine. There are some things that are required to keep your Sheltie healthy, happy and secure. These include a cage, bedding, a water bottle, and more. The list is not a large one luckily, but each item is of importance.
The Need For A Sheltie Guinea Pig Cage
The first thing you will need is a cage. This will prevent your Sheltie from getting into things they should not, becoming lost, etc. The bars will also help keep aggressive pets and small children out – though it is kindest to your guinea pig to keep these dangers far away in the first place. In a nutshell, a cage is first and foremost for security.
This in mind, you will want to find a cage of sturdy material. Most plastics will simply not do, as it is easy for guinea pigs to chew through. There are some hard plastics that are an exception to this. Metal, however, is the optimum choice.
Some other aspects of the cage you will want to keep in mind are the size and the bar spacing. With regards to size, guinea pigs are active critters and need room to run around and exercise. This means that the cage you pick should be no less than 7.5 square feet; 10.5 or more is ideal. The more room, the better, basically.
As for bar-spacing, some cages have bars that are too far apart for guinea pigs. At worst, they will be able to escape, at best, they might catch their paws in the gaps painfully. To prevent these things, pick a cage with bars that are nice and close-together.
Once you’ve found a Sheltie Guinea Pig Cage such as this, you are well on your way.
Bedding For Comfort and Hygiene
When it comes to creating a home for your Sheltie Guinea Pig, bedding is also key. A cage without bedding will be bare and bleak – not to mention messy. Bedding serves as a comfortable surface upon which guinea pigs can eat, sleep and play. Proper bedding should also absorb smells and odors effectively.
Bedding no doubt harkens back to guinea pigs in the wild, where they sleep in leafy, sandy dens. Having a soft material to nestle into plays a big part in their well-being. This in mind, you should not take Sheltie Guinea Pig bedding lightly. Luckily there are several materials that can serve as guinea pig bedding nicely. The two most popular of these are paper and wood shavings. Tissue, natural paper and paper pellets are also some types that are available.
Paper bedding is soft, absorbent and affordable
This is no doubt the most popular bedding material largely due to its convenience. What you need for paper bedding can be easily found at home. The proper kind of paper is all that you require. The best are brown paper bags or basic white computer paper. Both materials are reasonably soft and flexible, ink-free, and readily available.
Once you have your paper, all that you need to do is tear it into shreds, and it is a suitable guinea pig bedding material. You can make this even simpler by using a shredder to do the job.
Some recommend newspaper as a suitable bedding material. It is not, unfortunately! This is because newspapers are chock-full of ink. Ink is toxic to guinea pigs, so this is too risky. Sheltie Guinea Pigs are quite chew-happy and are sure to consume some accidentally. Not only this but should the newspaper become wet, the ink may leak, which can be rather messy.
Tissue paper, however, is a fine paper alternative.
Make Sheltie Guinea Pig bedding out of tissue paper
Using the same process as above with paper, tissue paper can also be made into bedding for a Sheltie Guinea Pig. Just make sure that the tissues are free of lotion, fragrances, etc. Tissue used for bedding should be clean and chemical-free.
Toilet paper and tissue paper can be used interchangeably.
Certain kinds of wood shavings make a great bedding material
Aspen wood shavings are a popular Sheltie Guinea Pig bedding material that is ready-made. These are not to be interchanged with other wood shaving types, as they are not suitable for this. Cedar and pine in particular even create toxic fumes when they come in contact with urine.
Instead, choose aspen wood shavings from your local pet store or online. Do not purchase these at a lumberyard, as they will not be sanitized for mites and bugs appropriately.
Sheltie Guinea Pigs Need Companionship
Adorably enough, in the wild, guinea pigs travel in herds. This means that they are pack creatures, and when left on their own, they will get lonely.
Those who work a good portion of the day will probably want to get their guinea pig some additional company.
In fact, it is best to buy guinea pigs in pairs, right from the get-go. This will make sure that they are familiar with each other, and can get along okay.
When adopting guinea pigs, do it in twos, and make sure the pairs are the same sex. Otherwise, territorial disputes and breeding are an inevitability. Not only are these situations stressful to deal with, but they can cause serious harm to your guinea pigs.
Same-sex pairs, however, usually get along peacefully. More than this; the guinea pigs will often develop affection for each other, and consider one another family.
With a pair of Sheltie Guinea Pigs, you will get to see behaviors you wouldn’t be able to in a lone one. You may see them groom, cuddle, and even play with one another.
If you are afraid that with companions your guinea pig will not need you anymore, there is no need to worry. Sheltie Guinea Pigs are really friendly fellows and like to have a big family. In fact, you can form real bonds with a Sheltie Guinea Pig. You just need to make friends initially.
Making friends with your Sheltie
As with any pet, you should begin socializing your Sheltie right away. For instance, if you would like to be able to hold your Sheltie Guinea Pig, start getting them used to this. Pick them up often, and gently. Do not scoop a Sheltie Guinea Pig up all of a sudden. This will startle them, which is negative reinforcement about being held and carried – the opposite of what you want here.
Rather, accustoming them to human touch from when they are young will help them develop warm and friendly behaviors.
Administer plenty of pets/cuddles to your Sheltie Guinea Pig as well.
Next, bribe your Sheltie with treats! Food is a universal love language among animals. Offering sustenance to them when you could be caring for yourself alone is a recognizably benevolent gesture. With a treat every now and then, your Sheltie Guinea Pig will realize you are looking out for them and see you as a friend more quickly.
Finally, you may play games with your Sheltie! These are quite basic. You can hide treats for them to find, which serves a bonus of exercise and mental stimulation, or you can pull treats on a string. As you can see, treats are what most entice them to play.
You will be able to tell if your Sheltie Guinea Pig is happy because they are very expressive. They will ‘wheek’ in excitement at mealtime, chitter when they are angry, warble when they are nervous, and hop, AKA ‘popcorn,’ with joy.
What To Feed Your Sheltie Guinea Pig
Sheltie Guinea Pigs require mostly fiber. They can get this from a few good sources – hay, fruit, and vegetables. The bodies of Sheltie Guinea Pigs are not equipped to handle much starches or sugars. This calls for a careful balance dietarily.
Along with this, guinea pigs do not produce their own vitamin C. They must get it from an external source, either naturally, in fruits, veggies and greens, or supplementally, in pellets. A diet containing all of these things is ideal for the Sheltie Guinea Pig. Out of these foods, hay is the biggest staple.
Sheltie Guinea Pigs need plenty of Hay
Above all, Sheltie Guinea Pigs must have access to unlimited hay. The plant is packed with fiber, and low in starch and sugar comparatively. This makes it perfect for Sheltie Guinea Pigs to eat and chew.
In fact, hay serves the dual purpose of keeping guinea pig teeth healthy. Like many rodents, the teeth of guinea pigs will constantly grow. In order to keep them at the proper size, guinea pigs must chew frequently. Hay is one of the best ways they can do this.
Make sure that hay is available at all times for your Sheltie Guinea Pig. Pick out hay that is fresh and mold-free.
Guinea Pig pellets are fortified with vitamin C
Along with hay, Sheltie Guinea Pigs may have pellets each day. Give them a serving-size, according to the box. Pellets will make up the smallest part of the diet of a Sheltie Guinea Pig.
Along with being a sound source of vitamin C, pellets have a hard texture and are good for a Sheltie Guinea Pig to chew.
We use Kaytee Guinea Pig pellets which we find is a well-balanced staple food for all guinea pig breeds.
Feed fresh vegetables and greens daily
Like hay, vegetables are an excellent source of fiber. However, unlike hay, vegetables contain a fair amount of starch and sugar, too. This means you will want to limit portions for your Sheltie Guinea Pig accordingly. Generally, guinea pigs may have a ⅔-1 cup of fresh veggies and greens a day.
Along with their value nutritionally, vegetables also serve as something for Sheltie Guinea Pigs to chew. Crunchy vegetables are especially good for this and can help keep Sheltie Guinea Pig teeth healthy.
Of course, some veggies are better for guinea pigs than others. Certain vegetables and plants are even toxic to them. This means that, when it comes to feeding your guinea pig vegetables and greens, you will need a guide in order to do it safely.
The following are a few veggies and greens that are good for Sheltie Guinea Pigs, and a few that you will want to avoid entirely.
Bell peppers are one of the best veggies for Sheltie Guinea Pigs
In fact, bell peppers contain a great deal of vitamin C. This makes them an invaluable source of the vitamin for Sheltie Guinea Pigs nutritionally. Bell peppers are also rich in other vitamins and minerals, and they come in a colorful variety. Offer your Sheltie Guinea Pig a bit of each color to try.
Finally, bell peppers are very low in sugar and starch and high in fiber comparatively. This makes it an ideal food item for the Sheltie Guinea Pig dietarily. You can feed your Sheltie Guinea Pig bell peppers as often as every day.
Just make sure to remove the seeds prior to feeding bell peppers to your Sheltie Guinea Pig! These can affect them harmfully.
Romaine lettuce is great for Sheltie Guinea Pigs nutritionally
This leafy green is a favorite of most guinea pigs. Of all of the produce you offer, romaine lettuce will probably go the most quickly.
Romaine lettuce is highly nutritious, boasting generous amounts of both potassium and vitamin C. Not only this, but romaine lettuce is low in sugar and starch and high in fiber comparatively. This makes it another staple for the Sheltie Guinea Pig dietarily. Sheltie Guinea Pigs may have romaine lettuce every day.
Beetroots are good to include for the Sheltie Guinea Pig dietarily
This vibrantly-colored fruit is full of both fiber and nutrients. Sheltie Guinea Pigs can enjoy the roots and leaves alike. Just make sure not to overfeed them this, or it may result in red urine – which could easily give you a bit of a scare!
Simply make sure that the beets are fresh rather than pickled. Cooking the beetroots will remove some of the nutritional value, so leave them uncooked, ideally.
Guinea Pigs can have dandelion greens seasonally
Like romaine lettuce, dandelion greens are nutritious and fibrous and are typically great for Sheltie Guinea Pigs. While guinea pigs can be a bit picky at first when introduced to a new or unusual food, they will quickly come to regard dandelion greens as a delicacy.
Pick the dandelion greens from your own lawn, to ensure that they are free of pesticides. These are a risk at other places, such as the park.
Dandelions grow in plenty in spring and summer – feel free to let your Sheltie Guinea Pig indulge in them during these warmer months. Sheltie Guinea Pigs may have dandelion greens a few times weekly.
Carrots make a lovely Sheltie Guinea Pig snack
Sheltie Guinea Pigs tend to love carrots and can consume root and leaf alike. When shopping for carrots, try to find ones with the leaves intact for your guinea pig especially.
Now, before feeding your Sheltie Guinea Pig carrots, there is one thing you must know. Among the vegetables that guinea pigs can eat, carrots are some of the higher in starch and sugar. This means that the amount your Sheltie can eat will be smaller than with some other vegetables.
Specifically, Sheltie Guinea Pigs should have a few slices of carrot and a couple of sprigs of carrot greens 2-3 times weekly, rather than daily.
Carrots are packed with both fiber and vitamin A. In the proper portions, these are both highly beneficial for guinea pigs nutritionally.
Finally, carrots are nice and crunchy. This is great for assisting guinea pigs in keeping the growth of their teeth in line.
Sheltie Guinea Pigs may also have a tiny bit of broccoli, dark cabbage, kale, cauliflower leaves (leaves only), and cucumber safely.
What’s Bad For Your Sheltie Guinea Pig?
Just as important as knowing what is safe to feed your Sheltie is knowing what is not safe. Unfortunately, there are several common household veggies and greens that can harm your guinea pig, mildly or more seriously. Fortunately, being aware of these foods will help you avoid them with your Sheltie Guinea Pig entirely.
Iceberg lettuce has no nutritional value
It may come as a bit of a surprise that iceberg lettuce is bad for Sheltie Guinea Pigs. Indeed, this plant is comprised mostly of water, with literally no nutritional value. This palely colored green will cause guinea pigs diarrhea and general upset of the stomach.
On top of this, iceberg lettuce can actually prove somewhat toxic to guinea pigs and other rodents alike. This is due to a compound called lactucarium, which affects these small animals like a sedative.
Trade iceberg lettuce for romaine lettuce, which, as you can see, is far superior nutritionally.
Potatoes are very starchy and will harm Guinea Pigs physically
Starches and sugars are two things that Sheltie Guinea Pigs cannot digest in significant quantities naturally. Potatoes are incredibly starchy. This means that ingesting potato in any amount will make your guinea pig very ill. Not only this but should the potatoes be green or contain sprouts, they are downright poisonous. No matter what, they are unsafe.
Rhubarb leaves are poisonous to humans and Guinea Pigs alike
Rhubarb leaves pose a danger to both humans and guinea pigs. The leaves are so high in oxalic acid as to be rendered completely inedible. They are also chock-full of other poisonous compounds. This is one of the plants that you will want to fence off in your garden, to keep the dangerous plant away from your Sheltie Guinea Pig – and pets of any variety.
Onions and garlic are deadly for Guinea Pigs to consume
Never allow your Sheltie Guinea Pig to consume onions or garlic in any degree. To these little guys, they are deadly. Specifically, onions contain disulfide, which breaks up the red blood cells of a guinea pig and causes them to carry oxygen poorly. Garlic also causes this. The result is anemia, and death ultimately. Sheltie Guinea Pigs should not ingest onion or garlic in any degree, clearly.
Fruits Are Very Healthy Sheltie Guinea Pig Treats
Some fruits contain some truly vital nutrients for Sheltie Guinea Pigs. Not only this, they are full of fiber, and guinea pigs find fruit quite tasty. Along with pellets and veggies, fruit is another fantastic source of vitamin C.
Fruit, however, is considered a treat for Sheltie Guinea Pigs and is not something that they should have daily. This is due to the high levels of sugar inherent in fruit naturally. Luckily, in the proper serving, fruit is okay – more than okay. It can be invaluable to Sheltie Guinea Pigs nutritionally, and, as a treat, will make them happy.
Strawberries have Vitamin C
The greatest benefit of strawberries for the Sheltie Guinea Pig is their high level of vitamin C. Any additional source of this – within reason – is beneficial. Strawberries also contain smaller amounts of other healthy vitamins, and, like most fruit, are fibrous as well.
Blueberries make a great Sheltie Guinea Pig fruit choice
Sheltie Guinea Pigs may indulge in blueberries up to a few times weekly. These sweet berries are rich in fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants especially.
As with any fruit, the sugar levels in blueberries are relatively high, so do not overfeed your guinea pig with these. A few blueberries each week can aid in keeping your Sheltie Guinea Pig healthy.
Apples make a good Sheltie Guinea Pig snack
Sheltie Guinea Pigs may try all kinds of apples. The main guideline is to pick apples that are not too acidic, or too sugary. Go for moderately-crunchy, moderately-sweet apple varieties. You can always see how your Sheltie Guinea Pig reacts to each kind respectively.
With apples, there is one really important thing to keep in mind – the seeds are poisonous. They contain a toxic compound called cyanide. This means that, prior to feeding apple to your guinea pig, the seeds must be removed entirely.
Leave the skin on, however, as this tends to be a guinea pig favorite.
Apples have high amounts of antioxidants and fiber, so in the proper portion, they can be a really beneficial fruit choice. Sheltie Guinea Pigs may enjoy apples up to three times weekly, a small slice at one time.
Kiwis are very Guinea Pig healthy
Kiwis are packed with vitamin C, making them one of the healthiest fruits for Sheltie Guinea Pigs out there. They are still quite sweet and high in sugar, however, so like all fruits they must be fed to Sheltie Guinea Pigs in moderation. A thumbnail-sized piece will do nicely.
Before feeding your guinea pig kiwi, be sure to remove the peel. This is hard for them to chew, and they cannot digest it very easily. The fruit itself is safe.
Melons are a good way to hydrate your Sheltie
Comprised mostly of water, a piece of melon will help hydrate your Sheltie Guinea pig. This is particularly useful during the hot months when guinea pigs are prone to heat sensitivity. Melons are also not too high in sugar compared to many other fruits. This makes them a sound snack choice.
Offer your guinea pig a thumbnail-sized piece of melon 2-3 times weekly.
Sheltie Guinea Pigs may also indulge in a small portion of berries, cherries, mangos, oranges, pears and raspberries safely. Surprisingly – and conveniently – Sheltie Guinea Pigs can, in fact, eat most fruits. The primary exception is grapes, which some believe cause guinea pigs issues with their kidneys. Raisins, too, as they are much too sugary.
Foods That Will Affect Sheltie Guinea Pigs Harmfully
Along with the poisonous fruits and veggies listed, there are some other foods that are toxic to guinea pigs. These include beans, chocolate, candy, tomato stalks and leaves (though the fruit is okay), nuts, avocados, meat and dairy. The bodies of Sheltie Guinea Pigs are not equipped to digest any of these foods effectively, which makes them toxic in a certain quantity.
When it comes to nuts, the fat content is simply too high. Chocolate contains poisonous compounds and is far too sugary, as is candy. Beans give Sheltie Guinea Pigs digestive difficulty. Avocado and all parts of tomato plants but the fruit are toxic. Finally, Sheltie Guinea Pigs are obligate herbivores, meaning they physically cannot eat meat or dairy. Their bodies will not be able to handle it and will become sick, sometimes fatally.
Sheltie Guinea Pig Breeding And Young (Piglets)
Breeding Sheltie Guinea Pigs yourself is not recommended, really. There is a lot of risk. That being said, if you use the utmost care, you may indeed breed Sheltie Guinea Pigs at home successfully.
Just be aware that, for guinea pig breeding, there is a very small window of time. Specifically, Sheltie Guinea Pig females become sexually mature at 1-2 months, which is when they can begin to breed, and they must stop breeding at 5-6 months. At this point, their body will seal itself up in such a way that if they do become pregnant, they will need a c-section. This is an extremely invasive surgery that they might not survive.
With this in mind, know the age of your guinea pigs when breeding and never exceed this window.
Also, be aware that breeding your Sheltie Guinea Pig females will shorten their age ultimately.
There is not a lot you will need to do to encourage your Sheltie Guinea Pigs to breed. Simply introduce a male and female, house them together, and they will mate.
You will probably want to let your vet know, as they can help keep your female Sheltie Guinea Pig (also known as a ‘sow’) healthy throughout the pregnancy.
Sheltie Guinea Pigs typically give birth in just 2 months and have broods of around 3 babies. These are endearingly called piglets, and will be up and ready to go quickly! Piglets are born with hair and teeth and can see right away. Soon enough they are able to run, and along with nursing, they can consume adult foods. When it comes to care they are pretty easy.
The main concern with baby Sheltie Guinea Pigs is that they are delicate, in that they can become sick rather easily. To avoid this, keep up on hygiene and feed them properly. This is also another way your vet can be of assistance.
Sheltie Guinea Pig Grooming And Beauty
This long-haired guinea pig variety can grow up to 1 inch of fur monthly. To keep your Sheltie Guinea Pig trim and hygienic, frequent grooming is a necessity. This involves shortening their hair overall, so it does not drag or mat. You can also spot-clean your Sheltie, though you should never bathe them. Guinea pigs are too physically sensitive to get wet entirely. Instead, spot-clean areas that are dirty.
Sheltie Guinea Pigs do require a bit more grooming than short-haired breeds, but many say that their soft, beautiful coat and sweet disposition makes it worthwhile.
When you introduce your Sheltie Guinea Pig to their new home, they may at first be shy. With a secure cage and the proper care, they will become comfortable swiftly. Give them a while to warm up, and in no time your new little friend will want to cuddle and play.
Here’s a good video showing you how to groom your guinea pig.
The lifespan of a well-cared-for Sheltie Guinea pig is around 11-14 years. This breed is one of the longer living guinea pigs compared to some other breeds that only live 3-5 years.
Where Do Sheltie Guinea Pigs Originate?
This breed of guinea pig came to light in the early 1970s. The breed was developed by crossing Peruvians with Self (smooth) Blacks. In the US Shelties are known as Silkies and have fast become a popular pet to own thanks to their beautiful fur and cute looks.
Summary: Sheltie Guinea Pigs
As you can see, it is no surprise that, as a breed, the Sheltie Guinea Pig has such popularity. With their beauty, gentle temperament, sociability and playful nature, they make lovely pets.