Some people might be familiar with the Huacaya alpaca, but there are actually two breeds of alpaca: the Huacaya and the Suri alpaca. The Suri Alpaca is a pretty rare animal. Of the 3.7 million alpacas in the world, it’s estimated that less than 10% of those alpacas are Suri alpacas.

Both alpacas share similarities and differences. Let’s take a quick look at the differences between the two types of alpacas.

divider-multipet The 2 Types of Alpacas Are:

1. Huacaya Alpaca

alpaca standing on grass
Image Credit: Thomas Devenish, Shutterstock

As mentioned before, the Huacaya alpaca is the most common alpaca. Around 90% of the global alpaca population is made up of Huacaya alpacas. These alpacas are native to Peru, where they live in the Andes Mountains at an elevation of 4,000 feet above sea level.

However, alpacas have been domesticated and exported to most of South America. They’re highly adaptable animals that can live in just about any climate. So, they’ve been shipped out of South America too.

Huacaya alpacas are popular amongst wool farmers for their spongey fleece that produces robust, durable wool. Their rounded and bulky frame helps them have a lot of wool since it takes quite a bit of hair to keep them warm at high elevations.

The wool from alpacas is lighter than sheep, making it popular for light clothing and sheet material. Huacaya alpacas also produce good meat, but they’re never bred for slaughter.

2. Suri Alpaca

suri alpaca
Image Credit: TheusiNo, Pixabay

Suri alpacas are the rarer alpaca breed, making up just 10% of the global alpaca population. When the Spanish Inquisition found its way into Brazil, they attempted to eradicate endemic livestock animals favoring the “higher valued” European livestock animals.

As a result, most of the Suri alpaca population was destroyed. So, while they are considered genetically superior to the Huacaya alpaca, they are vastly outnumbered after being culled.

Suri alpacas are unmistakable with their long, lustrous coats. Unlike the Huacaya alpaca’s tightly wound hair, their hair drapes down their bodies. Suri alpacas have fewer overall hair fibers; having fewer hairs less than 35 micrometers in diameter is a breed standard for the Suri alpaca.

Their wool is stronger and higher quality than that of Huacaya alpacas, but it lacks memory, so to keep it in the correct shapes, it has to be blended with other fibers. It also dyes well, making it very popular in the textile industry.

divider-multipet Final Thoughts: Alpaca Breeds

Most of the alpacas you see will be Huacaya alpacas, as they make up at least 90% of the global alpaca population. However, if you ever get the chance to pet a Suri alpaca, you should take it since their coats are so soft and luxurious! Unfortunately, alpacas still need a helping hand from humans to help them recover from the eradication attempt during the Spanish Inquisition.

Featured Image Credit: sharonang, Pixabay