Guinea pig shows are events in which guinea pig breeders and owners compete with one another to determine which guinea pig best meets various criteria in certain categories. Different shows involve different categories, but almost none of these categories involve the movement of the animal itself. Generally, these shows focus on the appearance of the animal due to its breeding and grooming. In this case, appearance does not necessarily relate to belonging to a specific pedigree, but rather conforming to various physical characteristics. Most guinea pig shows are fun places for cavy lovers to congregate and talk about guinea pigs, although there are some people who are very competitive.
Showing guinea pigs is usually a hobby rather than a profession, as selling bred guinea pigs is not often lucrative and prize money for winning shows is typically low. As such, these shows are often very friendly, with many hobbyists in attendance. A guinea pig does not usually need to be of a particular pedigree in order to participate, and many pigs that are primarily pets are often brought to the show. Preparation for a guinea pig show typically consists of grooming and bathing the animal, although some people attempt to alter the guinea pig's appearance with special food and treatment.
Judging guinea pig shows is different in various areas, but it is common for participants to bring their pigs to the show in a breathable container and transfer them to judging coops after placing an identification number on the cavy's ear with surgical tape. Judges look at and handle the pigs, eliminating those that are disqualified due to the show's rules first and then evaluating the remaining pigs. The process for longhaired varieties is often slightly different, usually involving bringing the pigs up to the judges one at a time.
Many children participate in guinea pig shows as part of 4-H or other organizations. Winning these events as a child can be a positive experience, and it is thought that caring for the animal, learning the process of showing the animal, and being a good sport at all stages of the competition teaches valuable social skills. Adults who participate in the shows often have been raising guinea pigs for a long time and may have one pig or many. It is very rare for this type of show to devolve into the vicious competition sometimes seen when passionate people compete, because the entire event is typically laid back and pleasant. Often, there are supplemental events and fun activities involved, or the show may be part of a larger fair, so going to a guinea pig show can be a fun experience even if one is not participating.