Do Guinea Pigs Smell?

Before you decide on a new pet, you might ask yourself, “do guinea pigs smell?” and if so, “is it worth it?” Fortunately, guinea pigs are relatively fastidious pets who handle most, if not all, of their own grooming. There are just a few reasons a guinea pig might start to smell.

Trio of young guinea pigs

The Short Answer: Do Guinea Pigs Smell?

Guinea pigs have a natural scent, but the answer to do guinea pigs smell in a negative way is typically no. These critters handle their own grooming and typically don’t smell of anything more than the hay they eat.

Reasons a Guinea Pig Might Smell

There are a few reasons why a guinea pig might smell, and most are readily fixable at home. When you know what you’re looking for, chances are you can make a quick change to fix the smell problem.

Cage Conditions

Guinea pig fur picks up any oils or scents that are in their bedding. This issue applies equally if they’re living in a cage with shavings with a high oil content as it does to living in a cage that requires more frequent cleanings.

The two solution options are swapping bedding or cleaning out the cage more often. Swapping to a different bedding option is often a long-term solution, and the swap may change how often you need to clean the cage anyway.


Sick guinea pigs will often have changes in scents. This could be due to the sickness itself or a lack of ability for your guinea pig to groom itself while sick. In either case, the best option for the guinea pig is to see a licensed veterinary professional.


Like people, your guinea pig’s diet can affect their scent. An unbalanced diet can cause scent changes for your piggle as things work their way through the digestive, and some of the results can be quite offensive scent-wise.

The best way to fix this is to swap diets to something more suited to your guinea pig.

Long hair guinea pigs on grass

Grooming Struggles

Most guinea pigs handle their own grooming well. However, there are times when guinea pigs need a little help, like when they’re ill. Remember, guinea pigs are not strong swimmers and tend not to react well to soap, so you will probably have more luck with a wet towel than you would with a sink.

Sometimes, long-haired guinea pigs have grooming problems as well. Typically, long-haired guinea pigs need their hair brushed out regularly rather than cleaned with water. Brushing prevents accumulation and evenly distributes oils, so your guinea pig can take it from there.

What About the Grease Gland? Do Those Make Guinea Pigs Smell?

Grease glands are located near the guinea pig’s butt and are typically used for marking territory. Grease glands produce an oily substance with a smell, which tends to be more prominent in male guinea pigs. Typically, the smell isn’t enough to be offensive, though.

If it is, it may indicate a buildup. Having a veterinary professional examine your guinea pig is the best option if you think there is a buildup. They will also be able to alleviate the problem and provide further instructions.

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