An Illustrated Guide to Hair Cutting

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Betsy

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Overview
1 Why and when are haircuts necessary?

- Why are haircuts necessary?
- Which areas need the most attention?
- What is the purpose of a short summer haircut for long-haired guinea pigs?
2 Pre-cut bathing
- No baths, bum baths or full baths?
- Bathing tips
3 Haircut preparation
- What you need for a haircut
- Scissors or small dog clippers?
- Tips for unruly or skittish piggies
- Advice for very badly matted and filthy guinea pigs
4 Bum trim
- Tips for bum trims

- Step-by-step cutting method for a long-haired look
- Bum cut video with scissors
- Before and after pictures
5 Short summer haircut for hot weather
- Full body video with clippers

- After pictures

6 Thanks


1 Why and when are haircuts necessary?

Why and when are haircuts necessary?
Hair cuts are necessary so that guinea pigs are comfortable and can display natural behaviours. Just like humans need haircuts so do guinea pigs.

Short-haired guinea pigs
You can gently cut out tangles or boar glue in short hair piggies if they are not touching the skin. A very messy bum with poos stuck to hairs does also profit from careful cutting. The hair will grow back again.

Long-haired guinea pigs
The hair on long-haired guinea pigs grows out to great length which prevents them exhibiting natural species behaviour. Your pet piggies will require a regular haircut to keep the hair off the ground on the chest, sides and at the back end in order to allow this.
Any matted or tangled hair should be gently cut out. You also want to remove any hair on the sides or chest that your piggy can step on in order to allow it free movement.
If you love a long haired look, you can keep the top layer just off the ground but cut the lower layers shorter for your piggy's comfort.
Any hair will usually grow back to its genetically determined length.


Which areas need most attention?
In long haired guinea pigs, the bum end and the area around the legs and genitalia can tangle and mess up very easily when guinea pigs lie in their own pee and poop in their sleeping areas. Poops and wood chips can become entangled in long hair.It is important to keep these areas cut short to avoid discomfort and attracting vermin.Some guinea pigs are messier than others but all long-haired guinea pigs will soil up.


What is the purpose of a short summer haircut for long-haired guinea pigs?
Long hair, especially in guinea pigs with masses of hair or thick hair acts as an insulator. You piggy is basically lugging around the equivalent of a ski suit on a tropical beach. It is at a higher risk of overheating or suffering a heat stroke and will be generally more uncomfortable.
The condensation from sitting in an enclosed space (guinea pigs do not sweat) can help tangles form quickly all over the body.
Soiled hair at the bum will also attract flies and other vermin.
Once you have seen the delighted popcorns of a piggy free from the extra weight of hair, you will understand why!
 

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2 Pre-cut bathing

No baths, bum baths or full baths?

As a general rule it is not necessary to give piggies regular bath but a simple bum bath of the affected area with plain water will usually do the trick without upsetting the natural oil coat and the skin microbiome.
In many cases you can get away with just cutting off any soiled hairs in the area, especially in sows and cleaner boars.

A full bath is only recommended for medical purposes or if your guinea pig is badly soiled, tangled and filthy all over from condensation or dirt.
Please keep in mind that your guinea pig will be able to remove most of the dirt on its coat on its own by 'piggy washes' if kept in clean surroundings; this also applies to the grease from an over-active grease gland. Guinea pig skin is very delicate and should be disturbed as little as possible. Over-bathing and shampoos can contribute to dry skin problems or an overactive grease gland, which provides the natural skin protection.


Bathing tips
For bathing please see our illustrated step-by-step bathing guide: Bathing (including cleaning grease glands).

Please never use the sink or a bathroom basin as freak blind jumps can be fatal; rather opt for the bathtub or the shower floor instead. This will prevent escapes and bad accidents.
 

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3 Haircut preparation

What you need for a haircut

Before you start to give your piggy a haircut make sure you have everything ready close to hand.

Scissors and comb
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An ironing board or somewhere to put your piggie for a haircut. Some people use a low table, the kitchen counter, the bed, the floor or have someone else to hold their piggie with a bribe
Please do NOT use an ironining board or a high place if you have a skittish or particularly jumpy piggy because of the risk of bad injuries from blind jumps.
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A bribe for your guinea pig to keep still and let you give them a haircut. This can be anything but it’s best if it is your piggies favourite snack.
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Something to catch the fur as it comes off such as a newspaper.
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Scissors or small dog clippers?
Some piggies don’t like the noise of clippers and get frightened by them. In this case it is best to use scissors.


Tips for unruly or skittish piggies
If you have an unruly or skittish piggie it is better if you have somebody to hold them while you trim.
However, if this is not possible, put them in something with a bribe to nibble on while you trim away eg a log tunnel or wrap them up in a towel. If you don’t have anything to pop your piggy in, gently hold them under one arm while you trim.
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Advice for very badly matted and filthy guinea pigs
Sometimes it is easier to clip with the clippers and start all over again. Use some quiet clippers like these here:
Robot Check

It is usually quicker and easier for a piggy that isn't used to handling to just clip off as best you can (don’t worry it’s not a beauty contest!) so that they are comfortable. You can start to work on getting them used to grooming and than aim for a nicer cut later on when both of you have got the hang of it.

If your guinea pig is very frightened and stressed by the clippers you may have no choice but to use scissors. If the mat is too close to the skin, cut as much as the mat out as possible, then cut into the mat to loosen it to get it off bit by bit.

Some piggies may be so filthy that they may require clipping and several washes to get the filth out. In some cases they may also be crawling with lice in which case an insecticidal shampoo will be necessary (speak to your vet about which one to use as broad spectrum “of the shelf” shampoos are too weak to work properly and only mask the problem and don’t solve it).
 

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4 Bum trim

Tips for bum trims

Some guinea pigs need a regular bum trim. Attempting haircuts during the sleepy hours (day time) may be easiest. You may find that luring your piggy into a PVC plumbing pipe or log tube with the distraction of a bribe helps. if you have a piggy that likes to wander off someone else to hold your piggy in place while you trim may help.

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Step-by-step cutting method for a long-haired look
For day to day grooming, you can just use your hands, gently teasing out any tangles that you find you may find that tangles are very rare this way. You may find a metal comb is better than a plastic one as if you piggy decides to do a 180 ninja jump complete with comb, metal ones slide right out. You can then use scissors. You may find that wetting the hair makes it easier to brush out any tangles.

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First thing to do is go through the coat by hand, removing anything that may cause a tangle when being combed, hay, shavings etc. (picture 1) Once you've done that, comb through the hair as well as you can, any tangles that are near the ends leave instead of upsetting the piggy trying to get it out, it will end up being trimmed off anyway (picture 2) Then lift up the main 'skirt' of hair and trim the back end, back legs, genital area, and if necessary the sides (Pic 3 and 4 are before and after). Once done put the main skirt back down, comb through again to get it in place and then use the curved scissors to trim around the sides and back end of the piggy (remaining pictures).
The straight scissors are for fringes or trimming anything from their belly if they get themselves a little gross to avoid poking the skin or the face with curved scissors.

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