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Guinea Pig Breeders

Little Pigs

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I was a little taken aback after discovering how truly hated breeders are by the vast majority of guinea pig owners. Now yes, I completely 100% agree with the reasons against breeders: yes there are too many in shelters, yes it can be dangerous for the sows and yes, people should not breed with the intent for personal looks as this can lead to inherited diseases and conditions affecting their ability to lead a healthy life. But, if we sit back and do nothing then nothing will change. Inexperienced people will keep buying from pet shops only to realise they aren’t what they were expecting and surrender them to shelters and selfish breeders will continue producing unhealthy pigs solely for their ‘good looks’.

Personally, I believe there is only one way we can stop pet shops from selling guinea pigs with an untold backstory of inbreeding and mistreatment. I think if people who are knowledgable and breed only to improve guinea pigs genetics then it is absolutely fine. Is it not better that people breed them to be healthier? If not then it gives people only a narrow option: to buy guinea pigs from pet shops or rescues. But, no matter what you do that guinea pig will always come from a pet shop and as a result, you will be supporting it. Now I am not saying you shouldn’t adopt - because you should! I am just saying that without proper, caring breeders then pet shops will always be making profit so they will never stop selling guinea pigs. And yes, birth is extremely risky and stressful for sows but is it not better that they do so under conditions where people can give them the best chance and have access to proper treatment?

Please remember that this is just my personal opinion and I would love to hear what you have to say on this matter
 
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DM030819

If I suddenly decided to breed pigs so people could have access to healthier pigs my business wouldn't last long.

How could I compete with Pets at Home?

How could I get Pets at Home to change their supplier to me? Ultimately I'd have to sell them for more so I could provide them with better care whilst they were with me. So Pets at Home would just so continue to buy them cheaply.

Where would I get all of the pigs from to start breeding? Put a shout out on the forum? Maybe the whole forum can all chip in and we can be a super breeder business.

Ultimately we don't want to join the problem of breeding or want to compete. As sensible piggy lovers that advocate rescues we need to share our knowledge and experience about rescues and the wonderful things they do for pigs.
 

Lady Kelly

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I don't believe your point is about supporting breeders or not. I believe what you are referring to is regulation and possibly licencing to breed animals. I would welcome this as it would soon decrease the breeder and pet shop bad practices.
 

Bill & Ted

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My two boys came from a hobby breeder, they were not up to the standard they needed coatwise to show. I did not know this until I arrived there, it was a small holding so there was lots of pets and horses. It was love at first sight though so no walking away!

The advert in the paper just said baby Male guinea pigs for sale I just assumed they were from a home pregnancy. The lady was lovely and clearly cared for all the piggies and rabbits there (there was around 10 piggies in total and the same amount of rabbits). I was still taken aback though.

We had to wait a week for them as they were only 3 weeks old and she would not let them go until 4 weeks, she did clearly love animals but I can’t understand breeding animals for show and what they look like, our boys are suppose to be Dalmatians but what does that matter, how could she think they were rejects!
89405D10-D954-474A-A34C-901BF968D88D.jpeg
Here they are at a couple of months old x
 

Merab's Slave

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I think you make some valid points.
Perhaps a proper regulated licensing system would help make a difference.
Education is also important.
Without us constantly passing on our knowledge and encouragement for high welfare standards nothing will change.
Jemimah and her sister Keziah came from a pet shop who are supplied by only 1 breeder, at least locally.
They made sure I was prepared for guinea pigs, I couldn’t have them until they had settled down from being transported and only serious customers could get access to the animals.
Both girls came with birth certificates.
Given that there was no rescue within easy reach of me that I could find and I had a bereaved piggy in urgent need of companionship this was the best option.
All piggies deserve a good home.
 
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AD12

Obviously if there were no breeders at all then there would be no pigs. I don't know much about the world of guinea big breeding, so I'll talk about rats since I know more about that. Rats (and other rodents) that are found in pet shops mainly come from rodent mills. They're bred back to back in disgusting conditions. No thoughts given to health. No knowledge of genetics. So this will often lead to a whole host of health and temperament issues cropping up. There are responsible ethical rat breeders out there who know their genetics and breed healthy friendly animals. The more people that go to these responsible breeders, the less people that buy from pet shops and therefore less demand and less are bred in the disgusting conditions of rodent mills. There are bad breeders out there too, but there are a lot of good ones. If people avoided individual breeders altogether then the only animals available would be plagued with health and temperament issues and more would be suffering in those mills. I know this forum is against intentional breeding, but I think the OP raised a really good point.
 

ktsjs

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where i live the pet shops source from the spca rather than pet shops but sadly there still are a lot of breeders. i got 2 of mine from a breeder because while i don’t agree with supporting them, i could tell from the pictures that they were in bad shape & sure enough when i got them they were underweight and infested with mites and lice. i think that while trying to stop breeders is ideal, there isn’t enough resources for the spca to actually achieve that. i think it’s more important to focus on the way they’re being treated and the conditions they’re living in and it’s really up to the people who run into irresponsible breeders to recognise signs of neglect and alert the spca.
 

Swissgreys

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In Switzerland there are literally NO guinea pigs in rescues, and most rescues have a waiting list.
When I contacted a rescue about taking on a pair/trio, I was told I could expect to wait up to 12 months.
But just like in the UK and US most pet shops in Switzerland sell guinea pigs.

So after having owned guinea pigs in both the UK and Switzerland I believe it comes down to 3 things.

1. All breeders here must be licensed, achieve minimum standards of care (which are actually quite high), and are inspected annually.
2. All male guinea pigs not being used for breeding are neutered at 2 - 3 weeks old. As a member of the general public it would be very difficult for me to obtain an entire male. If I wanted to buy one direct from a breeder I would need to prove I am also a licensed breeder.
Pet shops never have entire males, so even if staff mis-sex guinea pigs on arrival, there are never any accidental pregnancies because males are neutered before reaching sexual maturity and leaving the breeder.
3. Pet shops are only allowed to buy from licensed breeders, so there is simply no market for backyard breeders who may want to avoid the system of controls and yearly inspections, and try to undercut registered breeders by offering cheaper animals.

Naturally this system has been in place for years and it works very well, but I can not begin to imagine the logistical nightmare of implementing it somewhere that currently has no regulations on breeding.
But it is a proven system which shows it is possible.
 

Lady Kelly

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In Switzerland there are literally NO guinea pigs in rescues, and most rescues have a waiting list.
When I contacted a rescue about taking on a pair/trio, I was told I could expect to wait up to 12 months.
But just like in the UK and US most pet shops in Switzerland sell guinea pigs.

So after having owned guinea pigs in both the UK and Switzerland I believe it comes down to 3 things.

1. All breeders here must be licensed, achieve minimum standards of care (which are actually quite high), and are inspected annually.
2. All male guinea pigs not being used for breeding are neutered at 2 - 3 weeks old. As a member of the general public it would be very difficult for me to obtain an entire male. If I wanted to buy one direct from a breeder I would need to prove I am also a licensed breeder.
Pet shops never have entire males, so even if staff mis-sex guinea pigs on arrival, there are never any accidental pregnancies because males are neutered before reaching sexual maturity and leaving the breeder.
3. Pet shops are only allowed to buy from licensed breeders, so there is simply no market for backyard breeders who may want to avoid the system of controls and yearly inspections, and try to undercut registered breeders by offering cheaper animals.

Naturally this system has been in place for years and it works very well, but I can not begin to imagine the logistical nightmare of implementing it somewhere that currently has no regulations on breeding.
But it is a proven system which shows it is possible.
I think this model is one all countries should aspire too as they can't be sold as lone pets either. This would raise the price of buying guinea pigs which would discourage the "easy pet" and "child's pet" attitude that we have here in the UK. It would also prevent a lot of the health problems from the mass breeding we have and also mean that those buying are much more committed to seeking healthcare for their pets when they are ill.

What I disagree with in this debate is that without breeders there wouldn't be any piggies in rescue. This is often said as a negative thing and all I can say is good! There shouldn't be any piggies in rescue. There shouldn't be people giving up their lives and putting all their funds into caring for animals that members of the general public can't be bothered with, bred and can't manage, or feel aren't worth putting there own money into. Wouldn't it be nice to only have well cared for piggies go into rescue when a change of circumstances means that the owners can no longer provide the best care.

One of my own pigs came from a breeder and one from a non reputable rescue. Both of these are treated in the same way and I ask them as many questions about the animals and their care as they ask me. I only buy if I am happy that there is nothing untoward. I would be more likely to buy from breeders if we had a good model like Switzerland
 

Freela

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I am very opposed to 'backyard breeders' who just breed for profit or so their kids can see 'the miracle of birth' or whatever. I've seen this with dogs among friends and friends of friends and it makes me angry. A few years back, a friend's sister thought it would be fun for the kids if the dog had puppies, so she bred her lab (no pedigree, no genetic testing, bought on Craiglist) with a friend's lab (no pedigree, no genetic testing, bought on Craigslist.) Long story short, she ended up with a huge litter of puppies and couldn't find homes for all, ended up keeping a couple and selling most to family and friends. My friend has one of these dogs, who is now about five or six years old and having hip joint problems because these are common in labs and neither parent had been genetically tested for hip joint soundness. This (admittedly very sweet) dog has pain and is going to end up needing major surgery or being put down (probably being put down because my friend can't afford hip replacement surgery for the dog, there is no relief for vet costs in Canada, and even if she had pet insurance, it wouldn't cover a lab's hips without genetic clearance anyhow.) There's no need for that... why breed dogs who may be genetically programmed to suffer? I'm willing to support breeders who pay for genetic clearance and only breed dogs with good genetic histories for major problems. We have bred the weaknesses into many breeds, it only seems fair that we try to breed them out. I think that strict licensing should be in place to ensure that the only animals bred deliberately are genetically tested so that we are breeding out problems instead of breeding in more problems and producing animals who are going to have shortened, painful lives. They don't deserve that!

That said, I'm not sure that my 'genetic testing' preference really works for guinea pigs. I'm really not that knowledgeable about guinea pig genetics or how much is known about guinea pig genetics... if we had genetic knowledge of, say, genes associated with teeth/jaw issues, or genes associated with bladder stone formation, and we could test parent pigs for those issues and produce offspring less likely to have them, I can see supporting breeding with that point in mind. However, most of the genetic/breeding info I've seen has to do with color and coat type that, while pretty, isn't going to produce healthier animals. Even if we could genetically test the parents for inherited issues, I can't see the general public being willing to pay that kind of money for a guinea pig. Where I live, buying a pedigreed dog with genetic health tests behind it is going to run you potentially thousands of dollars. Testing the parent dogs is expensive. Testing guinea pigs would be equally expensive, and you would have to do it more often because they have shorter lives and smaller litters. I don't know many people here who would spend a hundred dollars or more on a guinea pig. Sadly, they are still seen as 'disposable pets' here for the most part. People think I am nuts that I take my pigs to the vet when they are sick. I think the 'good' breeders would be losing money hand over fist and it wouldn't be a sustainable model. I do think that basic licensing and inspection should be done to guarantee clean, safe conditions at the very minimum, and although we are ahead of the US and some other countries in terms of that kind of inspection, we are far behind parts of Europe and other parts of the world. My pigs are pet shop pigs... I really didn't have much choice where I am. I adore my pigs, but I shudder to think of where they came from originally. I have no clue, but I suspect it probably wasn't a very nice place and their parents did not have very nice lives, and I'm sure that no forethought was put into trying to produce healthy piggies. :(
 

SkyPipDotBernie

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I am very opposed to 'backyard breeders' who just breed for profit or so their kids can see 'the miracle of birth' or whatever. I've seen this with dogs among friends and friends of friends and it makes me angry. A few years back, a friend's sister thought it would be fun for the kids if the dog had puppies, so she bred her lab (no pedigree, no genetic testing, bought on Craiglist) with a friend's lab (no pedigree, no genetic testing, bought on Craigslist.) Long story short, she ended up with a huge litter of puppies and couldn't find homes for all, ended up keeping a couple and selling most to family and friends. My friend has one of these dogs, who is now about five or six years old and having hip joint problems because these are common in labs and neither parent had been genetically tested for hip joint soundness. This (admittedly very sweet) dog has pain and is going to end up needing major surgery or being put down (probably being put down because my friend can't afford hip replacement surgery for the dog, there is no relief for vet costs in Canada, and even if she had pet insurance, it wouldn't cover a lab's hips without genetic clearance anyhow.) There's no need for that... why breed dogs who may be genetically programmed to suffer? I'm willing to support breeders who pay for genetic clearance and only breed dogs with good genetic histories for major problems. We have bred the weaknesses into many breeds, it only seems fair that we try to breed them out. I think that strict licensing should be in place to ensure that the only animals bred deliberately are genetically tested so that we are breeding out problems instead of breeding in more problems and producing animals who are going to have shortened, painful lives. They don't deserve that!

That said, I'm not sure that my 'genetic testing' preference really works for guinea pigs. I'm really not that knowledgeable about guinea pig genetics or how much is known about guinea pig genetics... if we had genetic knowledge of, say, genes associated with teeth/jaw issues, or genes associated with bladder stone formation, and we could test parent pigs for those issues and produce offspring less likely to have them, I can see supporting breeding with that point in mind. However, most of the genetic/breeding info I've seen has to do with color and coat type that, while pretty, isn't going to produce healthier animals. Even if we could genetically test the parents for inherited issues, I can't see the general public being willing to pay that kind of money for a guinea pig. Where I live, buying a pedigreed dog with genetic health tests behind it is going to run you potentially thousands of dollars. Testing the parent dogs is expensive. Testing guinea pigs would be equally expensive, and you would have to do it more often because they have shorter lives and smaller litters. I don't know many people here who would spend a hundred dollars or more on a guinea pig. Sadly, they are still seen as 'disposable pets' here for the most part. People think I am nuts that I take my pigs to the vet when they are sick. I think the 'good' breeders would be losing money hand over fist and it wouldn't be a sustainable model. I do think that basic licensing and inspection should be done to guarantee clean, safe conditions at the very minimum, and although we are ahead of the US and some other countries in terms of that kind of inspection, we are far behind parts of Europe and other parts of the world. My pigs are pet shop pigs... I really didn't have much choice where I am. I adore my pigs, but I shudder to think of where they came from originally. I have no clue, but I suspect it probably wasn't a very nice place and their parents did not have very nice lives, and I'm sure that no forethought was put into trying to produce healthy piggies. :(
I know that pets at home guinea pigs, come from a huge field full of alot of hutches, right down south somewhere, apparently you can see it on google earth, and they take pets at home staff members to see this. Its how they are transported that also makes me shudder. I imagine its a van, racked out with tiny little cages. No wonder small pets turn up stressed with illnesses
 

Bill & Ted

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All this mass breeding is quite sickening to supply pet shops like P@H, although there conditions front of shop do seem clean and spacious compared to some I’ve seen at garden centres and the like. I do think we live in this awful throw away society that we buy stuff, get bored with it, and throw away! Pets should not be part of this, but it’s easy come easy go. The breeders seem to fill that need unfortunately, they should be licensed and inspected. My boys cost £8 for the two (we were expecting to pay £8 each which is incredibly cheap) she said she knew they were going to a good home, so she was happy with that. I think she just wanted rid but at this price people won’t pay for vet bills, they’ll just go out and get more, that’s if they still want to keep piggies? It’s all very sad
 

Freela

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I know that pets at home guinea pigs, come from a huge field full of alot of hutches, right down south somewhere, apparently you can see it on google earth, and they take pets at home staff members to see this. Its how they are transported that also makes me shudder. I imagine its a van, racked out with tiny little cages. No wonder small pets turn up stressed with illnesses
I'm in Canada, so have no idea where our pigs come from in pet stores. I know it's not a nice outdoor farm in our climate, though. One of my cousins used to work for a major pet chain (that has since gone out of business in Canada thankfully) and she told me horror stories. I used to take my kids in to see the animals there when we were at the mall when they were younger, and once they were taking a delivery of rabbits- shipped in cardboard boxes that were very flat so that rabbits had to crouch and had no room to jump. It was horrifying! My pigs didn't come from there, but from the "good" shop (the only one still operating in my area, in fact... the other chains all disappeared after our laws about selling puppies and kittens tightened dramatically.)
 

SkyPipDotBernie

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Glad they shut down👍. I think petsmart in the u.s are meant to be very bad, i see a documentary on youtube an undercover one, and its shocking, i had to stop watching, the mills that supply petsmart were binning live injured and sick animals, and two workers were throwing mice around, and hamster. Treating them like they were pieces of dirt
 
A

AD12

I know that pets at home guinea pigs, come from a huge field full of alot of hutches, right down south somewhere, apparently you can see it on google earth, and they take pets at home staff members to see this. Its how they are transported that also makes me shudder. I imagine its a van, racked out with tiny little cages. No wonder small pets turn up stressed with illnesses
P@H (and most pet shops) get their animals from rodent mills. Look it up. Those heartbreaking images are burned into my brain.
 

SkyPipDotBernie

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P@H (and most pet shops) get their animals from rodent mills. Look it up. Those heartbreaking images are burned into my brain.
Apparently there is one in devon or dover, cant remember which. I think Dover. I have seen videos of them, and the animals are literally treated like throwing building bricks into a skip.

To think a rich man or woman somewhere is living a luxury life whilst making alot of money from this
 
A

AD12

Apparently there is one in devon or dover, cant remember which. I think Dover. I have seen videos of them, and the animals are literally treated like throwing building bricks into a skip.

To think a rich man or woman somewhere is living a luxury life whilst making alot of money from this
I really have no idea how people can work in those conditions and still sleep at night :(
 

Caris

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I think you could have a thousand good breeders, but people will sadly go for the cheapest option, because anything that involves more care and a better environment costs more and eats away at the profit. I think, instead, regulations need to change for pet shops.

I ended up getting my two boys from Pets Corner (can I mention the shop’s name?). They were slightly older (around 12 weeks, and had been together as a pair from the beginning) and they were the only guinea pigs there. I was told that they would not have any new pigs until they had sold the ones they had (words were actually "until they had a home"), whereas at P@H, in contrast, I was told that any leftover/slightly older/single guineas were put in the adoption centre when new stock came in. The guinea pigs at P@H were also in large groups, so you weren’t guaranteed to get two that liked each other (I’m also not sure if I misheard, but they’re also only sexed when they get to the store?).

I don’t know how much weight to put on it, but Pets Corner states that they only get their animals from “ethical” breeders who meet their standard and adhere to their contract (which I read and really hope is followed). If every other pet shop could do that, it would certainly be better for the animals. I also wasn’t allowed to have my two until I’d actually shown some form of proof that I had everything (right down to whether I had hay, a run, and food); the health check they went through was also very thorough. Contrast that to P@H where I saw someone get guinea pigs who had no idea what cage they needed, why they couldn’t live alone, and surely you could mix two from different cages together?, etc., etc.

I think it’s not just about breeding, but also about somehow ensuring that they go to the right homes. You can breed to improve genetics and health, yes, but if that animal still goes to a home where it's not going to get the best care, what then?
 
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