Different Hamster Breeds: The Differences and Similarities

Hamsters undoubtedly make great pets, but it’s not as simple as picking one up from your local pet shop. Well, it kind of is. But if you don’t know about the different hamster breeds, you may end up with a hamster not suited to your family. 

Did you know there are 19 types of hamsters in the world? That’s a lot! But today, we’ll be going over the most popular breeds you’re likely to introduce to your family.

So, let’s go over the differences and similarities between hamster breeds so you can decide which one is best for you. 

Syrian Hamsters

Size: 6 to 7 inches

Weight: 90 to 140 grams

Lifespan: 2 to 4 years

Coat colours: Golden brown is the most common coat colour for Syrian hamsters, but they can be many other colours (including cream, brown, grey, and black). 

On the list of popular hamster breeds, Syrian hamsters are by far the most popular. They are also known as the golden or teddy bear hamster.

Temperament and Handling

The Syrian hamster is known for being sweet and friendly. They’re more than happy for you to handle them, which is made easy as they’re the largest hamster breed. They also get on very well with children.

Health and care

Syrian hamsters are notoriously solitary creatures. So, never put them in a cage with another hamster. Trust us; you’ll regret it if you do! 

On the subject of cages, as this breed is the largest, they’ll need a bigger cage than some of the other hamsters on this list. So, if you have limited space, you may want to opt for one of the smaller hamster breeds.

Chinese Hamsters

Size: 4 to 5 inches

Weight: 40 to 45 grams

Lifespan: 2 to 3 years

Coat colours: A dark stripe down the back, generally grey and black colours with a white belly.

Chinese hamsters are certainly in the top 5 hamster breeds but are not usually people’s first choice. This breed is smaller than the Syrian hamster, with some distinct differences we’ll outline below.

Temperament and Handling

The Chinese hamster breed is quite timid and docile around us humans. With that said, around other hamsters, they can get aggressive. So, it’s best to keep them away from other hammies. This breed is also known for being grumpy and nippy.

Health and care

To prevent a bored and grumpy Chinese hamster, provide them with a large cage and lots of toys. Chinese hamsters love to dig and hide, so lots of bedding and tunnels can make them happy too. 

You could say this hamster breed is slightly more high maintenance than others. However, another hamster breed may be best if that’s not your thing.

Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamsters

Size: 2 to 4 inches (never any bigger)

Weight: 40 to 60 grams 

Lifespan: 2.5 to 3 years

Coat colours: Gray-brown coat with a white underbelly.

Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamsters are small and cute, so they’re a popular choice. However, they’re not quite as friendly as Syrian hamsters. They also don’t live quite as long. 

Temperament and Handling

This hamster breed is a little more highly strung than others. So, they’re known to nip and bite if startled. However, they are a delightful breed; just be more mindful when handling them. 

Health and care

Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamsters are tiny, so you must get a cage with close-set bars. Otherwise, they can easily escape or get stuck between the bars. No one wants that!

When it comes to pairing Campbell’s with other dwarf hamsters, they can do well. But introduce them to living with another hamster when they’re still young. Once they’re an adult, it’s too late to introduce them to co-habiting.  

Winter White Russian Dwarf Hamsters

Size: 2 to 4 inches

Weight: 70 to 90 grams

Lifespan: 1 to 3 years

Coat colours: White/grey with a dark stripe from head to tail.

Winter White Russian Dwarf hamsters are another popular dwarf breed. However, this hamster breed doesn’t live as long as the other breeds, which is something to bear in mind. But they have many other perks!

Temperament and Handling

Want the ideal balance between cute and cuddly? Then, a Winter White Russian Dwarf Hamster may be perfect for you. This breed is incredibly mellow and sweet and loves to be held. 

However, due to their size, they may be too tiny for younger children to handle safely. 

Health and care

An aquarium to house your Winter White is the best choice for this breed. They’re so tiny, and cages with bars will leave you with a hamster on the run. 

This breed also loves to work out, so a hamster wheel and several things to climb on are a must. They’re also friendly, so don’t mind a cage mate of the same sex. 

However, this hamster breed isn’t a good choice if you struggle with animal fur. Most allergy issues have been reported with this breed than any other. 

Roborovski Hamsters

Size: 1.5 to 2.5 inches

Weight: 20 to 25 grams

Lifespan: 3 to 4 years

Coat colours: Sandy brown coat with a white belly (but other variations do occur)

Roborovski, also known as Robo hamsters, are the smallest hamster breed. Yes, they’re adorable, and kids may love them, but they’re not the best option for families with small children. This breed is tiny but fast, which can be a problem. 

Temperament and Handling

Roborovski hamsters are incredible escape artists. So, handling them isn’t always a good idea. As soon as they’re out of their cage, it’s going to be hard for you to hold onto them. 

Although they’ll try to run away from you if you handle them, they’re very social. Robo hamsters do well with a same-sex friend and can even live with a group of hamsters.

Health and care

As mentioned, Robo hamsters love socialising, so getting two can be a good idea. They also love to run and are extremely fast. So, they must have a good wheel to sprint on to stay happy and healthy. 

Hamster Breeds Overview

From a fluffy, friendly Syrian to the tiny Roborovski, ensuring you understand the hamster breed you’ve bought is vital. All hamsters want to be loved, safe, and provided with their basic needs. So, learn about your breed and give your hamster the best care possible.