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General What's Wrong With Satins?


Well-known Member
Cavy Slave
Feb 17, 2012
What's wrong with the breed Satin? I heard they have genetic or health problems. Is this true? If so it's such a shame as they are a really pretty breed.
Nothing, that I know of. I haven't heard that anything's wrong with Satins. Where did you hear that they have genetic or health problems? The only ones that I've specifically heard that tend to have genetics or health issues are the skinnies.
I'm not sure if it's satin specifically, but there are certain types of guinea pigs that should never be bred, because on they're own they're perfectly healthy, but any offspring they produce has an extremely high chance of being "lethal".
They are prone to bone disease likeosteodystrophy, or at least there is evidence suggesting they are.
@Mastershroom I think you're talking about Roans and Dalmatians. They can produce what are called "Lethal guinea pigs" or "Lethal Whites" But it is not just if they are bred at all. If you breed a Roan to a Calico for example, they will not produce lethals. However if you breed a Roan to a Roan, Dalmatian to Dalmatian, or Roan to Dalmatian each of the babies has a 25% chance of being a lethal. So if you have four babies, chances are one will be a lethal.
Oh, thought I would add, I found this when I Googled "Satin Guinea Pigs" (broken link removed)
Thanks. I think I remember reading about that bone disease now.
Per bpatters on this thread:

Re: Question about pet shop cavies and rescued cavies...
One case in point is the number of breeders who deliberately breed for satin pigs because they, and potential buyers and show judges, like the coat. But those pigs usually (some researchers say "always") get osteodystrophy, a very painful bone and joint degenerative disease. If they gave a damn about the health of the pigs, there would never be another satin deliberately bred.​
Satin is a genetic defect that makes the hair shafts into a hollow tube that refracts the light pleasingly. So far, not too bad. But since everything in the body has effects on everything else, whatever broken gene makes the hair hollow also has effects on bones, and they are not benign effects.

Lethal whites are pigs that have two broken copies of the roan gene. This gene, when it works, tells the embryonic pig's nerve and color cells when to leave the spine area and spread across the body. If the pig has one working copy, it makes the almost all the cells leave almost on time. So they can make it to the essential places like eyes and ears. The pig doesn't get all his color but ends up spotty. But if neither copy works, the pig gets no color, no ear and eye nerves, and problems with teeth and eye formation.
Miss Jean is right that they might be more prone to osteodystrophy. Not all Satins are stricken with osteodystrophy, but it appears that the genes that produce satin fur can cause bone problems, including osteodystrophy. It's a good example of unexpected negative traits that can appear when animals are bred for specific characteristics that are desirable.
There are researchers who say that all satin guinea pigs have osteodystrophy, but that it is much worse in some than in others. They're still researching whether that's true or not. But even if there's just a chance that a satin might have it, I wouldn't want to breed that pig -- osteodystrophy is a very painful disease.
Satins are beautiful, but I feel so sorry for those who develop osteodystrophy :( There should be some kind of law that only lets people breed guinea pigs or any animal if they are not in it for bad reasons. *sigh*
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