Texel Guinea Pigs – Things You Need To Know
The Texel Guinea Pig, also known as the Longhaired Sheltie or Curlies, is the third most popular cavy breed despite it being one of the newest recognized breeds by the American Cavy Breeders Association (ACBA). It was finally recognized as a separate breed in 1998 and has been continuously increasing its popularity within homes around the world.
This breed resulted from genetic breeding and is a cross between a Silkie Guinea Pig and a Rex Guinea Pig. It all started in the 1980s from England and is a fairly new breed together with the Skinny and Teddy guinea pig.
It is under the long-haired category of guinea pig and is typically not recommended for first-time owners or children. This is because of the consistent grooming and extra attention that is required for this breed.
Physical Features of the Texel Guinea Pig
A unique feature of this breed is its long, curly hair or ringlets all over its body. The curly hair comes from the Rex Guinea pig gene while the long hair is from the Silkie. The Texel has a slightly longer hair than the Silkie, but due to its curls, it might appear shorter. Its facial hair length will vary from one Texel to another but it is typically short like the other breeds.
It is a popular breed in guinea pig shows mainly because of its coat. The texture of its fur should be springy and soft that is attainable through daily and careful grooming. One of the specific features that it has are the curls on its belly even at birth which should be dense and wooly as it ages.
The curling happens first from the undercoat at the rump and sides of a Texel. The curls usually develop from the base of the coat and coil outward to the ends. According to ACBA, the best Texel appearance would have an overall ringlet development on the topcoat and a bit on its undercoat.
Its length is within the range of 7 to 12 inches and has a compact body. A Texel’s head is broad and round with a gentle curving profile. Some within the breed have a natural parting in the middle of their back. Their overall appearance looks more like a Silkie but with curls.
The Texels come in many different colors and patterns and all of them are acceptable in competitions. The color may range from a solid color of brown, red or beige and is termed as self. Texel may also come in Dutch colors, having a colored head with a white blaze and its head and back are of the same color.
There is another type of Texel that has a denser and shinier coat than normal Texel guinea pig and it is aptly called Satin Texel. However, it is not yet recognized as a separate breed by the ACBA.
Just like any long-haired cavy, the Texel has a calm disposition probably because of the human touch required for grooming. It is less vocal compared to other breeds and is easier to handle in general. However, it is more playful than the other cavy in this category.
The very same temperament you can see in long-haired pigs doesn’t show in the Texel; whether it is intentional or unintentional during the breeding selection. But Texel is still laid back with a tad more energy than other long-haired breeds.
This might be because it requires less grooming compared to other long-haired cavies. It is in fact dissuaded in the US to perform regular grooming with tools because it might damage the curls. The grooming process which is specific for a Texel will be given more light below.
Care and Maintenance
You may use aspen wood shavings as a bedding for a young Texel guinea pig. But as it grows older, it is better to use a different bedding since it will easily become tangled in its fur. Recommended beddings are paper beddings, horse hay pellets or towel linings. Towels though are usually avoided for white colored cavy due to possible staining to its coat.
Beddings should be changed regularly or as soon as you observe any soiling. This would help prevent possible microbial growth in your pet’s housing and keep its hair clean as well.
There is a daily and weekly grooming routine for a Texel especially if you are planning to attend shows or to just even preserve its uniqueness which is its curly coat. It is not recommended to use wrapping or a comb for its grooming to prevent damaging the curls.
Daily grooming will just require your fingers to untangle the hair twice a day. This is to minimize the possible dirt that clings to its body and prevent matting as well. Only the fingertips are used to untangle hair all over the body especially the belly and the hind legs. Fluffing the hair layers will also help in maintaining its coat.
There is also the weekly coat maintenance using a spray mist filled with water and your fingertips to define the curls further. You would have to mist every layer while working through the hair using your fingers. The water will help in maintaining the curls for a lasting effect. Do not soak the coat with water and your fingers should do the drying instead.
You may also use a concentrated detangler that contains no water or alcohol for coat maintenance. You usually use 1 to 2 drops of the concentrate and rub it against the palm of your hand. It should be applied again lightly on the coat – starting from the head down, to retain moisture and minimize tangling.
Just like the other cavies, Texels don’t require a regular bathing session unless a situation calls for it. A once a month bathing will do using a light shampoo without any conditioning action. This is because a conditioner may tend to straighten the natural curls of Texels.
Lather them up as gently as possible and avoid scrubbing their bodies harshly with a shampoo. You should only dry pat a Texel using two towels to remove all the excess moisture.
It would be harmful to your cavy if you let it catch the chill but, by any means, do not use a blow dryer on it as this may remove the ringlets and cause its body to overheat. Do not also forget to fluff its coat again after a refreshing bath.
It is also important to have the Texel’s toenails clipped regularly because it can usually tangle with its coat when it scratches its body. This might trigger the start of matting in its fur and you would not want that as it is extra hard to remove matting for this breed.
This daily grooming requirement increases the bond between the owner and the cavy. This is also quite the advantage for pets that are to be put on shows because they will be naturally calm while being observed and touched by the judges.
Texel guinea pigs are also prone to digestive tract problems like any other guinea pig breeds so they could suffer from diarrhea, bloating, and intestinal parasites. You should be able to reduce the risk of illnesses by keeping an eye on the food that they eat.
Maintaining the vitamin C level in their body is also a must to prevent scurvy. They are also prone to coat and skin conditions like fur mites, lice, and fungal infections.
Entropion is an eye condition that is mostly observed in Texel guinea pig breeds. It usually starts at the lower lid and may affect one or both eyes. A young Texel may be born with edema in its cornea or an accumulation of water in the cornea and this can develop in the first few days after they are born.
There is really no treatment for this as it corrects itself 14 days after birth.
There is no permanent damage known to prevail in Texel guinea pigs if they are born with entropion. Seasoned exotic veterinarians will only usually recommend a topical antibiotic ointment to relieve the condition until everything goes back to normal.
Dental conditions are also prevalent in Texel pigs that do not have any proper chewing tools to file their teeth down. This usually leads to other dental infections and tooth problems that require surgery.
They have a typical lifespan of 5 to 7 years and in order to keep them alive longer, you must be aware of the causes and source of diseases specific to guinea pigs. It is also important that you have a veterinarian nearby for an annual cavy check-up or emergency situations.
Texel guinea pigs don’t have any special diet and will require the same diet as any other breeds. A good amount of Timothy hay should be provided to help with digestion.
A recommended diet for any guinea pigs includes guinea pig-specific pellets, various fruits and vegetables, and pesticide-free hay.
Breeding and Genetics
If you happen to develop an interest in breeding guinea pigs, one should have a worthy objective and to always keep in mind how to be a responsible breeder. Planning is a big thing for any breeding activity for animals as the sows – the female guinea pigs; require extra care and attention, including the pups after birth.
It is not exactly an easy thing to achieve a certain type of Texel when you have any specific characteristics that you want to pass onto the offspring. It is quite a rigorous thing to study as you have to consider a lot of things and you would want to get the best animals and pairings.
But even with this, there is still no assurance that all babies will have the traits that you want to see.
To get an idea on the genetics of a Texel guinea pig, here are some terms that are used to define this breed’s gene:
- Coat – it could be long or short. Its genetic code is “L” and for the long-haired Texel, a long coat is a recessive gene.
- Rosettes – also called the fur whorls. The genetic code is “R” and it is a dominant gene. This should not be seen in a Texel breed and is designated as “rr” in terms of coding.
- Star – this is responsible for a single rosette in the middle of the forehead and has a code “St” in a genetic pool. This should also be a recessive gene for Texel guinea pigs.
- Teddy – this is the term used for the gene responsible for the crimping of the hair. It is coded as the letter T.
- Rex – with a genetic code represented by Rx, this is a recessive gene responsible for the ringlets of fur. This has to be included in the gene pool of a Texel breed and it will be quite tricky to bring it out since it is a recessive trait. You need to make sure that both parents have this trait to get the curly Texel breed.
- Satin – this is a similar recessive gene as that of a Rex and is represented as “Sn” in terms of genetic code. It gives the sheen on a coat of the guinea pig and this is present in Satin Texel breeds.
A normal, matte Texel guinea pig would have a complete genetic code of “llrrststT – Sn – rxrx” which basically means a Silkie guinea pig with a ringlet coat and broad face. It looks complicated because genetics is one indeed and breeding heavily involves knowing the basics.
Start hitting the books, research or talk with other breeders to at least come close to your desired cavy if you are bent on kicking off a breeding program.
Where to Get a Texel Cavy
Even with its popularity, it is not common to see a Texel guinea pig in pet stores. You can usually get this guinea pig from a reputable breeder or better yet, you may be able to adopt if you look in shelter homes.
This type of cavy is very easy to the eyes so many people get attracted to it without knowing its maintenance requirements. So sadly, some Texel typically ends up in shelter homes.
As there are only a handful of honest Texel breeders, the price range of one cavy would be from $45 up to $75 depending on the breeder and this should include a health certificate.
You may also inquire from your local cavy clubs on where you can get a charming Texel breed. They would usually have a list of breeders and from there; you would be assured of a guinea pig’s quality and health.