Tortoise and White Breed Standard

Updated 1st January 2024

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Standard of points

Update June 2009
Head, Eyes & Ears Head to be of good size, bold and broad, with a gently curving profile. 10
Muzzle to be of good width and gently rounded at the nostrils.
Eyes to be large, bright and bold and set with good width between.
Ears to be large and drooping, and set with good width between.
Body Shape To have short, cobby body with good width across shoulders and body. 10
To be fit and of good substance, with plenty of firm flesh.
To have good size appropriate to age.
Markings To consist of square cut patches of black, red and white colour, of uniform shape and evenly distributed on each side of the body on either side of a central 'line' formed by the meeting of patches of different colours. 60
of which
Head Markings Head ideally to have two colours divided down the centre. (5)
A different colour on each side of the head divided by a blaze of the third colour is almost as desirable.
Line & Distribution of Patches Patches to be placed on each side of the body so as to give no overlaps over the central line top or under. (30)
Each side of the body of the cavy to have three or more patches.
Each side of the cavy to have patches of all three colours.
Shape & Clarity Patches to be square-cut with straight edges and of equal size (25)
of Patches Patches to be clean-cut and distinct from each other, with no intermingling of colours.
Colour Colours to be rich, even, of glossy sheen and carried well down to the skin to avoid any appearance of flakiness, with patches free from hairs of a different colour (brindling or roaning). 15
Black to be jet black.
Red to be rich; may be lighter than ESCC Red but must not be pale or ‘washed out’.
White to be pure and clean.
Eye colour to be dark, but a blue tinge (when the head has a white patch) is not a fault.
Coat To be soft, clean and groomed free of guard hairs. 5

Guidance notes

The Tortoise & White is a smooth coated cavy, carrying a chequerboard pattern of square-cut patches of black, red & white, of equal size, with a dividing ‘line’ formed by the meeting of patches on opposite sides of the body running the length of the cavy both top and underside.

No patches should overlap the central line, either on top or under side.

There is no set sequence for the patches; but in considering the quality of a Tort & White the overall balance of patches and colour on each side and top & under is important.

On well marked exhibits 4 or 5 patches on each side would be preferable to three, but not at the

expense of a loss of uniformity in the size and shape of the patches.

Each patch should consist of a solid colour, clearly defined from surrounding patches, and with no intermingling of hairs of a different colour.

Because a fault that is seen readily on the top side of the cavy has a greater adverse impact on the overall appearance than one which is ‘hidden’ underneath, preference should be given to a cavy with a good top and less good under than one with the opposite characteristics.

However, patching on the belly must be taken into account when considering overall quality.

When assessing the Tort & White, the quality of the markings is by far the most important aspect of the cavy; and minor faults in type, such as a straight head or ears not drooping, are of very little significance. However, soundness of all of the three colours is important to creating the overall impact of the patchwork.

Because it is extremely difficult to fix the desired markings on the Tortoise & White, judges should not be too harsh in assessing ‘good attempts’ with clear patches and solid colour.

Specific disqualifications

  • None

Specific faults

Line Faults

(In descending order of significance, i.e. worst faults first, but dependent on extent of failing)

  • Band. A patch of colour going all the way around the body
  • Belt. A patch of colour going more than half way round the body
  • Overlap. A patch of colour overlapping the centre line, top or under
  • Solid Head. Head of a single colour
  • Dutch-pattern Head. Head with the same colour on each side of the head with a blaze of a different colour. This is a minor fault

Distribution Faults

(In descending order of significance, i.e. worst faults first)

  • Missing Colour. An absence of any of the three colours on either side of the cavy
  • Shortage of Patches. Less than three patches on any side of the body, two patches being better than one. (N.B. In the case of a cavy with only one or two patches on the side, both would apply)

Clarity Faults

  • Brindling/Roaning: Intermixing of any colours (white for roaning) where patches meet

Colour Faults

  • Brindling/Roaning:(To be penalised according to extent of failing)
  • Intermixing of hairs of a different colour (white for roaning) within patches
  • A small amount of brindling or roaning should not be too harshly penalised on an otherwise well marked exhbit

Some young cavies may show evidence of roaning that will disappear with the adult coat. This should not be viewed as a serious fault.


  • Cavies showing excessively light, ‘washed-out’ colour should be severely penalised
  • A flesh ear is not a fault

Wash 2: Designed by Simon Neesam for the British Cavy Council © 2020