Male Or Female Guinea Pig: Differences In Personality, Size & More

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Guinea pigs make amazing pets, so if you’ve settled on welcoming a guinea pig into your family, then rest assured, you’ve made a good choice.

However, there are still a few things you need to consider before deciding on which guinea pig is right for you. One major consideration is whether you should get male (boar) or female (sow) guinea pigs.

How To Tell The Difference Between A Male Guinea Pig And A Female Guinea Pig

guinea pig sexing

On the face of it, boars and sows look the same. Both sexes have two teats just in front of their back legs, so that’s not an indicator of a female, as you’d expect. You’ll need to do a little more investigating.

Looking directly at their genitals, females will display a ‘Y’ shaped opening, while males will have a single line in an ‘i’ shape. It can be difficult to sex a guinea pig if they’re too young as the shape of their genitals may not become clear until they’re sexually mature.

During their first mating season, you’ll also see the boar’s genitals fill out, and they’ll develop noticeable testicles.

What’s The Difference In Temperament?

are male guinea pigs nicer than females

Getting a guinea pig with a temperament that matches your needs is extremely important, especially if your guinea pig will be interacting with children.

Male Guinea Pigs (Boars)

Territorialism

Male guinea pigs are more territorial than females and tend to need their own space.

It is possible to have two males living together if they’ve been together from a young age, but they might not want to snuggle up with each other all the time, so they’ll need two places to hide and sleep, meaning a bigger cage.

Aggression

Boars will be more aggressive during mating season and may compete with other males, especially if there’s a female in the vicinity. You might notice some humping behavior and some ear and fur biting. It’ll generally calm down when mating season is over.

With people, male guinea pigs are rarely aggressive and will only bite if they feel threatened or scared.

Personality

Male guinea pigs usually have very laid-back personalities, especially around people.

They aren’t as close to their housemates as females are, so they’ll develop a stronger bond with you and will, as a result, usually feel more comfortable spending time with you.

Their individual personality traits will also stand out much more than a female’s.

Female Guinea Pigs (Sows)

Territorialism

Females aren’t very territorial as they’re used to living in larger family groups in the wild. They tend to all snuggle down to sleep together and love being with the other sows.

However, there will always be an alpha female who is ‘top pig’. She’ll have to reiterate her dominance every so often by urinating over the top of other females’ pee and humping other females when they cross a line.

Because they aren’t territorial, you won’t need quite as much space for two sows as you would for two boars.

Aggression

While all guinea pigs are non-aggressive, it is easier to ‘upset’ a sow than a boar. They don’t tend to bond as well with people as boars do.

They might feel threatened by your behavior more easily. It’s unlikely that they’ll bite, but you may experience more teeth chattering from a female as a sign that they aren’t happy with you.

(See the meaning of teeth chattering and other guinea pig noises.)

With other guinea pigs, sows usually aren’t aggressive at all. You might notice some teeth chattering and a few quick nips if you introduce a new pig to the gang, but nothing too serious.

Personality

Sows do have great personalities and are usually very loving if you get them out to play as a group. They’ll follow each other around in a piggy conga-line to explore.

However, as they aren’t as independent as boars, you’re unlikely to see their unique personality traits quite as much. While they will approach you, it’s generally for a food incentive and not just because they’re curious or want to cuddle you.

Bottom Line

Both males and females have non-aggressive temperaments most of the time, and either would make a good pet for a child, but boars are more likely to develop a stronger bond with you.

What’s The Difference In Affectionateness?

are male guinea pigs more aggressive than females

Male Guinea Pigs (Boars)

Boars are notorious for being affectionate with people. Because they’re more confident and independent, they’ll be more curious about what you’re doing and approach you for attention.

They typically love new experiences and are more likely to seek attention, and are usually bolder and braver when it comes to human interaction.

Female Guinea Pigs (Sows)

Sows are affectionate when they get to know you, but it does take them much longer to trust than a boar. They rely much more heavily on their guinea pig support network, and you’ll always be secondary to them.

The alpha female can be an exception to this as they may see you as an equal in the pecking order and will take it upon themselves to investigate what you have to offer (usually food) before the others venture closer.

What’s The Difference In Cuddliness?

are female guinea pigs better than males

Male Guinea Pigs (Boars)

Males love cuddles. They’ll happily sit with you watching TV with their legs stretched out behind them to show how comfortable they are. They’ll easily relax around you and fall asleep in your arms.

Female Guinea Pigs (Sows)

Females also love to cuddle on the sofa. However, they’re more accustomed to hiding away to get comfortable as it offers more protection. Take a blanket so they can hide underneath and snuggle up together. 

Bottom Line

Boars are naturally more affectionate and cuddly as they’re more independent and confident.

What’s The Difference In Size?

size

You’ll need to consider the size of your guinea pigs. This will determine how much space you need to dedicate from your house.

Male Guinea Pigs (Boars)

Boars are generally bigger once they reach maturity, reaching lengths of 22-25cm (8.5-10in) and a weight between 0.9-1.4kg (2-3lb).

Female Guinea Pigs (Sows)

Sows are slightly shorter, normally stopping at around 22cm (8.5in) at the largest and weighing 0.7-1.15kg (1.5-2.5lb) at their heaviest. Although they may rival males on weight if they become pregnant. 

Bottom Line

Boars are generally larger and may require a slightly larger living space. However, their larger size makes them easier to handle for smaller children. 

What’s The Difference In Smell?

smell

One of the biggest factors when deciding on a pet is its smell, especially if you intend to keep them in the house with you.

Male Guinea Pigs (Boars)

All guinea pigs will smell if they aren’t kept clean. However, boars will naturally eat more than sows as they’re larger, and therefore, poop more.

Males also have a scent gland called a ‘grease gland’ that’s located on their bum.

They use this to mark their territory, and you’ll typically notice a heightened smell during mating season or if they’re kept in a cage near any females, as they use their musk to attract a mate.

You might even notice urine flicking as they attempt to spread their scent over a broader area.

Female Guinea Pigs (Sows)

Sows are usually cleaner than males and don’t change their scent over the mating period – or at least not to a level where you will notice the difference.

They will still smell if they aren’t cleaned regularly, so you need to keep on top of this and bathe them when necessary.

Bottom Line

Both males and females will smell and will need you to clean their cage regularly. However, males will give off a heightened smell during mating season, and they’re likely to require more cleaning and bathing than females.

(Check out our guide on how to bathe guinea pigs.)

Should You Get 2 Male Guinea Pigs Or 2 Females?

Is it better to have 2 male or 2 female guinea pigs

Guinea pigs live in herds in the wild and are very sociable. They need that interaction with other guinea pigs to feel safe and secure. This means that you should always get at least two. But which is the better pair?

Male Guinea Pigs (Boars)

Male guinea pigs need a friend unless you plan on giving them excessive attention yourself. This can be tricky as they don’t always bond well with other males, especially if females are around.

To keep two males together, they should have been introduced at a young age. That way you can almost guarantee that they’ll get along.

Female Guinea Pigs (Sows)

Female guinea pigs quickly bond with each other, and even an older female with a younger one will typically work out. This makes them flexible pets when it comes to living arrangements.

Bottom Line

Females are more flexible about who they live with, making them more low maintenance if you have a busy lifestyle.

So, Are Male Or Female Guinea Pigs Better Pets?

Both male and female guinea pigs make fantastic pets. They’re relatively low maintenance and aren’t aggressive. They’re the perfect starter pet for children too.

Males are easier to bond with and display more of an open personality, so if you’re looking for pets to spend a lot of time with, go for males. However, because they usually want more of your attention, they can be seen as higher maintenance.

Females, however, are more self-sufficient (and are less smelly too). While they will bond with you, it takes them a little longer to get to know you, and they will rely more heavily on their housemates.

If you have a busier lifestyle and hope to leave them to their own devices a lot, a pair of females is the right choice.  

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