Your pedigreed cavy comes with a special name — here’s why you shouldn’t change it

17 Oct

If you’ve ever bought a cavy directly from a cavy breeder and had the opportunity to pick up that cavy’s pedigree, then you might have noticed that pure-bred pedigreed cavies come with special, two-part names. What’s that about?

Like many other pure-bred animals, cavy names follow a certain naming tradition that is intended to establish the cavy’s lineage, to some extent. Generally speaking, a cavy’s official name has two parts — a “prefix” name, and its given name. Some breeders have more elaborate given names than others, but most I know, including myself, stick to something simple. So it’s the prefix name that most newcomers to the cavy community may find unusual or confusing.

Essentially, the prefix name is a name that acts like a surname, except that it isn’t based on the sire’s name and it comes before the given name. The prefix name comes from the name of the caviary where the cavy was born. Each name is unique to an individual caviary. Ours, for example, is Legacy, short for Legacy Caviary. So a cavy born at my home might be named “Legacy Rodney” formally, and might be called just “Rodney” informally. Other breeders just use their own last name for a caviary prefix name.

Now, let’s say you’ve just bought a new cavy, but you don’t like the name it’s breeder gave it. Unless the cavy has been registered with ARBA, you’re probably safe to change the cavy’s given name to whatever you want. Most likely, the cavy won’t remember its old name. And of course, you’re always welcome to change the call name, even if the cavy has been registered. Nobody keeps track of what you call your guinea pig; it’s just the pedigree and registration records we’re concerned about.

But, it’s generally view as impolite to change the cavy’s prefix name. There are two reasons for this. For one, the whole purpose of the prefix name is to make it easier to trace a cavy’s lineage. It is possible at some future date that you may sell your cavy, or else that you yourself may want to track down where its parents came from. If the prefix names on the pedigree are changed, you can’t track the cavy’s origin nearly as accurately. Second, the prefix name can be seen as a sort of attribution. Even if you now own the cavy, if someone else bred it then they are due part of the credit for anything that cavy achieves. Just as you cite your sources whenever you borrow someone else’s work to write a research paper, you should also strive to accurately cite the sources behind your own cavy or caviary’s success.

So by all means, call your cavy whatever you wish. But for the sake of cavy genealogy, let’s strive to keep our pedigrees and records as accurate as possible.

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