Can Guinea Pigs Have Down Syndrome

Can Guinea Pigs Have Down Syndrome?

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Rodents can be the host of several parasites that can cause diseases in humans. But it doesn’t mean that they cannot be affected by diseases. As rodents like guinea pigs can also get several types of diseases and syndromes. Down syndrome is a type of syndrome that can effects humans and several other animals equally. As guinea pigs and humans have few similarities so can guinea pigs have down syndrome? We will look at this fact in detail in this article, so let’s start.

Like humans, guinea pigs also have chromosomes in pairs with different chromosomes number. As humans have 23 sets of chromosomes but the guinea pigs have 64 sets. But still down syndrome is not described in guinea pigs scientifically. It means that guinea pigs don’t develop down syndrome.

Can Guinea Pigs Have Down Syndrome?

Before getting to any conclusion at first let’s have a look that what is down syndrome? Actually, down syndrome is a genetic disease in which chromosome 21 develops an extra chromosome. As humans have 23 total sets of chromosomes that’s why this syndrome is also called Trisomy 21.

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As guinea pigs also have chromosomes pairs so can they have down syndrome? However, simply putting the answer is no. They cannot get this genetic condition as until now not a single case is observed. However, there are several other similar conditions that guinea pigs can get.

For example, congenital hypothyroidism is a disease that can affect guinea pigs similar to the down syndrome in humans. As this condition produces when the thyroid hormones do not work properly due to their less or no amount. And this can lead to the following issues in guinea pigs.

  • Slow growth
  • Short Limbs
  • Improper muscles shape and movements
  • Improper size of ears
  • Forget to open eyes

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Is Down Syndrome An Illness?

However, down syndrome is a genetic condition that we already discussed. As this syndrome occurs when an individual develops an extra chromosome 21. So we cannot say down syndrome is an illness. But it can cause numerous other health issues.

For example, the extra or the partial pair of chromosome 21 can cause distinct facial features. Following facial features would be the result of down syndrome.

  • Flattened face
  • Short Head
  • Short neck
  • Protruding tongue
  • Improper ears shape
  • Unbalanced Muscles Tone
  • Wide and short hands
  • Short height
  • Excessive Flexibility

Not only this but it can cause retardation in the mental and physical growth of a person. And it can increase the risk of diseases like heart diseases, Alzheimer’s, gastrointestinal disorders, etc.

 Moreover, this down syndrome in humans can also shorten their life span. Usually, it is observed that people with down syndrome get a life of 40-50 years.

Can Animals Get Down Syndrome?

If we summarize down syndrome as a condition with abnormal muscles and facial expressions, then several people conclude that animals can have down syndrome. But the reality is against this fact. As down syndrome in animals does not exist.

However, animals may have abnormal shape ears and muscles but this is not due to down syndrome. As any abnormality in thyroid hormones cause these conditions in animals.

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All the animals have different pairs of chromosomes than humans. Like the dogs have 39 sets of chromosomes and cats have 19 sets of chromosomes. So their division is also not similar to human chromosomes with 23 sets. That’s why if any animal develops any genetic disorder then it wouldn’t be similar to down syndrome in humans.

However, there is no scientific proof for this syndrome in animals but it is possible that it is not detected yet. As I earlier said that chromosomes disorder can enhance the risk of several diseases and shorten the life span of an individual. So it is possible that an animal born with this syndrome is unable to survive and thus this syndrome is not detected in animals.

What’s so ever, more scientific study is needed in this area. But until now there is no down syndrome in animals. This genetic condition only can happen with humans.

What Health Problems Guinea Pigs Can Have?

Down syndrome is not detected in guinea pigs but this doesn’t mean that they cannot get any other health issues. As they can get the following health-related issues,

Respiratory Infections:

This can be the common infection in guinea pigs in which their air sacs can fill with fluid or pus. In guinea pigs, this infection is caused due to Brodetella and Streptococcus. 


Guinea pigs are herbivores and they can eat only fresh food. As their gastrointestinal tract is sensitive towards food which they eat in a day. So a little change in their eating style or food will lead the severe diarrhea conditions.

Vitamin C Deficiency:

As primates, guinea pigs are unable to manufacture their vitamin C. So they have to take it from their diet. And a diet with a low amount of vitamin C can cause vitamin C deficiency in guinea pigs.

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Guinea pigs can also get malignant tumors in which skin and breast tumors are more common.

Urinary Issues:

The metabolism of guinea pigs is so fast that they have to pee every 15-20 minutes. And like humans, they can also get urinary calculi.

Closing Words:

Down syndrome is a genetic condition in which due to the extra chromosome 21, several changes in an individual’s body occur. But can animals like guinea pigs have down syndrome? Simply put no, guinea pigs cannot have down syndrome and until now not a single case of guinea pigs with down syndrome record.

But this doesn’t mean that they cannot get any other health issues. As they can get tumors, vitamin C deficiency, urinary problems, respiratory infections, etc.

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