New Zealand Plumes

New Zealand Plumes have been a Main Show breed since the 1970's and are now one of the breeds under the NZ Unique Cavies Club, along with Tweeds, Bonnets and others.

So what is a New Zealand Plume? NZ Plumes are a roughcoat pedigree breed consisting of a ridge that starts behind the head and running along the top of the back of the Cavy about half an inch high aiming to form a high arched beautiful rooster tail that is lifted up by two rump rosettes.  We feel this breed is a breed you need to persevere with using selective breeding.  In the history of the breed it mentions the breed basics could have come from an English Peruvian to a Abyssinian pairing.  If you put an English Peruvian with a Abyssinian you will end up with a funny looking pet quality longhair or roughcoat with lots of rosettes, it does take generations to achieve a decent litter this way so its best to go to a breeder who has decent NZ Plumes.

An example we can pull from our 25 years experience with this beautiful breed is we were the first to introduce satins into New Zealand Plumes by breeding satin longhair and satin self into a small part of our NZ Plumes and then using selective breeding this was achieved after several generations.  If you wish to start with this breed my best advice is starting with pedigree NZ Plumes which is how we started out in 1992.  Thankfully there were a few NZ Plume breeders back then which helped us immensely.

In conclusion with NZ Plume genes, it takes time narrowing down the genetics.  This involves selective breeding which means breeding animals that are closely related genetically and this is done to isolate genes and bring out the desirable traits.  The desirable traits being a well raised ridge and a high arched tail that is more than a few hairs.

Lastly, they are a lovely breed with a great temperament and marvelous characters. They are easy to tame, and good with show boards.  New Zealand Plumes are our favourite breed and we love that we work hard on a breed that is exclusive to our country.

Written by With over 25 years showing nz plumes

MAMAKU TARZAN - Mamaku and Tintola Cavy Studs


Plume:     To be well raised from two rump rosettes, and as long and dense as possible.                                   40

Ridge:      To start on the neck behind the ears with hair running upward and                                              

                  getting longer towards the plume terminating in the plume itself.                                                         20

Coat:        Thick and short elsewhere and coarse.                                                                                                           10

Ears:         Rose petal shaped and drooping.                                                                                                                       5

Head:       Broad with prominent eyes and short fringe between ears, falling forward.                                  

                  Has short mustaches like Abyssinian.                                                                                                              10

Body:        Solid and cobby.                                                                                                                                                      5

Condition and Presentation:                                                                                                                                                 10

                                                                                                                                                                                                = 100  

Remarks: The ridge should start behind the head at about 1 cm long and progress along the length of the body, sharply rising in the length to form a high arched plume on top of the rump the plume to arch like a rooster tail and not fan out sideways over the rump. The plume to be as dense and as long as possible.  Coat apart from the plume to be no longer than floor length and untrimmed.

MAMAKU KING - Mamaku and Tintola Cavy Studs


Many years ago in the 1950's, a woman migrated from England to NZ with her English Peruvians and Abyssinian cavies. There were no cavy shows or clubs, so she mixed mated her cavies and sold the babies as pets.  She lived in Wellington. Christa Krey found her when she was looking for a pet for her 9 year old son and saw some of her longhairs, and bought some for herself. They had more than two rosettes and a coarser coat.

When the inaugural meeting to form a cavy club, was held in the Wellington area in January 1976 more than 70 people turned up with some of their cavies. Many of these were NZ Plume type and NZ Peruvian type with four or more rosettes, probably all going back to the 1950's pigs. Lots of these people wanted to show, but English pedigree imports were few at that stage and did not breed fast enough. Therefore the Committee of the newly formed National Cavy Club of New Zealand ( later renamed New Zealand Cavy Club because we were not allowed the word National when incorporating), drew up standards for two breeds, the NZ Plumes and the NZ Peruvians for members to work with to produce showable cavies.

There were some lovely NZ Plumes and NZ Peruvians shown for some time until more pedigree stock from English imports became available and breeders turned to those.  Just a few breeders persevered.


"A photo in black and white taken at one of the very early NZCC shows, showing in show winners, when we still used to hand out cups."  New Zealand Plume in photo.

MAMAKU ROBIN - Mamaku and Tintola Cavy Studs

 A bit about Genetics  ( reference Catherine Whiteway)

The American Crested cavy owes it's distinctive forehead rosette to a single dominant gene, named Star (St) . This has no connection with the genes producing Abyssinians.  The American Crested owes it's white in it's rosette to the "spotting" gene s, a partial recessive to S non spotted. Spotting refers to white marks of any shape or size. The markings are apparent at birth and remain unchanged throughout life. Ss pigs may have a white blaze, foot or head spot. Pigs with ss have varying degrees of white in the coat. Ss spotting tends towards the Dutch pattern  ( many T&W pigs have a Dutch pattern even with three colours) Minor genes can help to fix the pattern.

Back to rosettes: the dominant gene R gives rosettes in the coat while rr cavies are smooth coated. The effect of R is enhanced by  the modifying genes mm, so that RRmm cavies are fully rosetted. Rrmm cavies may lack some rosettes. Where the genotype is RrMM or RRMM the cavy nearly always has the hair on it's toes growing backwards up the foot or in small whirls. The rest of the coat usually is smooth, though occasionally there is a ridge down the back and or two rudimentary rosettes on each side of the spine ( the basics for Bonnets). R-Mm cavies nearly always have the two rosettes and a marked ridge between them ( the basics for the NZ Plumes).

The appearance of " side whiskers" in the occasional individual in otherwise smooth stock may not be caused in anyway described, as the offending hairs grow behind the jaws and the rest of the cavy is smooth coated. Some different unnamed factor or factors may be at work.

© New Zealand Unique Cavies 2017