Dwarf Hamster Breeds

Reviewed By: | Last Updated: Nov 27, 2018.

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In the recent past, dwarf hamsters could only be found through professional breeders but as the popularity of these small types of hamster breeds among small pet owners has increased, some of these dwarf hamster types are becoming more readily available at local pet stores. Often it was only possible to buy the larger Syrian Hamster at the pet store.

Little Dwarf Hamster Type

Types of Dwarf Hamsters

Currently there four dwarf breeds of hamsters that are available as pets and include the: Campbell, Winter White, Chinese and Robo (Roborovski). Read More…

See also: Syrian Hamsters


The Campbell and Winter White are often considered to be Siberian hamsters which also includes a breed called the Djungarian. The Chinese and Robo are considered to be two separate breeds from each other and the Siberian. The exact classification of breeds varies among professionals and breeders and are often interchangeable. In the end, for the average pet owner, it’s not all that important. That said though, always ask for a picture of the pet you are ordering if you go through a breeder. You can avoid a mix up by going to a pet store to personally pick out your new pet. You can also go to animal shelters like the Best Friends Animal Society network to adopt an unwanted hamster. We strongly recommend this option if your local shelters accept and adopt unwanted small animals.

Characteristics and Traits

  • Adults only grow 3.5 to 4 inches in length (9-10cm)
  • Weighing 3/4 to 1 3/4 ounces (25-50g)
  • Limited color and coat variations
  • Faster and more jumpy than the larger Syrians
  • Can live by self or in a mixed gender community
  • Campbell: curious and easiest to handle dwarf breed
  • Chinese: often shy and loves to tunnel in bedding
  • Winter White: more vocal and loves to exercising
  • Robo: awake during the day more than other dwarfs




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The Dwarf Campbell’s Hamster

The Campbell’s dwarf hamster tends to be more curious and outgoing than the Chinese or Robo dwarf. This means this dwarf breed is quick and agile and will spend the majority of its time running around playing or exercising on it’s hamster wheel. Taking this into consideration and in combination with its small stature, makes it a less than ideal option for small children. In addition, the Campbell’s dwarf can be a little nippy when agitated or stressed. You wouldn’t want a hard to handle hamster for a small child since it could lead to a run away hamster or just as likely, an injured hamster.

Small Pet Identification Guide

Facts

  • Over 40 color variations now available
  • Adults grow to a length of 4 inches (10cm)
  • Weighing up to 1 and 3/4 oz (50g)
  • Males are slightly larger than females
  • Diabetes found in some genetics lines in UK
  • Life Span of 1.5 to 2 years (3-4 years at most)


Hamster Community

Like all dwarf breeds, you can keep Campbells singly, paired up or in a small community. If you do decide to keep a community of dwarf Campbells in a single hamster cage, you should be aware of a few things about how to take care of a dwarf hamster:

  • Though not as territorial as the larger Syrians, small fights can break out.
  • Being rather vocal little guys, their scuffles might not be as serious as they appear.
  • You only need to separate them only if hamsters have visible scratches or cuts (check their underbellies)
  • Males tend to be easier to house together than females. Separating sexes will avoid unwanted babies.
  • With mixed gender communities, litters of baby hamsters will occur ever 18 days.

History and Background

The Campbell’s hamster (Phodopus Campbelli) was first discovered in Mongolia in 1902 by W.C Campbell. Over the years, this dwaft size hamster made it’s way into the small pet world. At first these little guys could only be obtained through breeders, but as the demand for a small hamster increased, local pet stores started carrying them. The Campbell’s hamster was the first dwarf breed to be seen in pet stores.

Early on, the Campbell’s dwarf was limited to a single color variation, that being the traditional gray back, white belly and prominent black dorsal line. However, through breeding programs, these little pets now come in almost as many color variations as the larger syrian hamster breed does. With all the multiple color options available, the fact that it’s the largest and thought to be the most good natured dwarf breed, makes it the most in demand and readily available dwarf hamster breed found in local pet stores.

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Winter White Dwarf Hamster

The Winter White hamster (Phodoppus Sungorus) is one of the several dwarf hamster breeds that make for suitable small pets. This breed is also known as the Western, Siberian, White Russian and even the Furry Footed Hamster. Winter Whites originate from the southern and western portions of Siberia and eastern Kazakhstan where the winters are cold and snowy. They were bred in captivity in the 1970’s and have since become available in pet stores but not as available as the Syrian of Campbell’s dwarf hamster.

Features

The body of the Winter White hamster round and oval about 3 to 4 inches (8-10cm) in length with a short tail. A fully grown Winter White hamster can weigh 1/5 to 2 ounces (40-60g). It has black eyes, larger than those of the Campbell’s. In addition, comparing it to the Campbell’s, the Winter White has smaller ears and thicker fur.

The color of this breed is not limited to all white like the name would suggest. In nature, its color is a grayish brown upper with a whitish gray belly divided along the midsection with three distinct arches. During the winter months the fur will become more white. There are also modified color variations but they don’t turn colors as the natural ones do. These colors include:

  • Sapphire (blue/gray)
  • Pearl (white with black speckles)
  • Sapphire pearl (white with sapphire speckles)
Winter White

Facts

The Winter White dwarf, even though it’s originally from a area where the winter days are short and cold, they do not hibernate. The will sleep longer and wake up later on in the day though. On average they spend less time out of their burrows or hamster houses than the Campbell dwarf; nearly twice as much. Due to the cold nature of their habitat, they live in communities and the males help take care of their young. See how to take care of a hamster for care information.

The Winter White hamster is known to cause more allergic reactions in humans than any other breed.

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Russian Dwarf Hamster

A Russian dwarf hamster is the term used to identify the following three varieties of hamsters: Campbells, Winter White and Robo or Roborovski. They are all referred to as Russian hamsters because of the region they were first discovered in. the Winter White is from Southwest Siberia and Eastern Kazakhstan; the Campbells was discovered by W. C. Campbell in Northern Russia, China and Central Asia; the Robo lives in the desert areas of Northern China and Mongolia and was discovered by Lieutenant Roborovsky.

While all three breeds of Russian dwarf hamsters are closely related, you should avoid housing mixed genders of different varieties to keep from creating new hybrid species. There is no telling how healthy or unhealthy the offspring would be. It’s likely there would be no problems what so ever but to be safe and to keep the breeding lines pure, keep each variety in their own separate hamster habitats.

Caring for This Breed

Russian hamsters, like all dwarf breeds can be housed together in communities or be kept by themselves in their own cage. There are usually no problems with these communities but sometimes small fights might breakout. In these situations you should separate them for a time being and only separate them permanently if the fighting is intense and there are visible signs of injury. Give your Russian dwarf hamsters plenty of space to run around and escape from any bullying. A larger habitat with multiple habitats and hamster tubes and tunnels will help provide a happier and healthier environment for the community.

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Chinese Dwarf Hamster

The Chinese dwarf hamster (Cricetus griseus) is the least attainable type of hamsters and it’s not often that you will find it available at a local pet store due to it’s low popularity. While is often referred to as a dwarf hamster but it’s actually classified as a rat-like species; it most resembles a mouse. Originating from the Mongolia and northern China, the Chinese hamster is adapted well for climbing as this region is rocky and mountainous. These little guys are known to be active both day and night during the summer months.

Features

The Chinese dwarf has certain features that makes it easily recognized among the other hamster types. For starters, this breed has more elongated body shape than the Campbells, Robo and Winter White hamster. An adult can grow to 4 to 5 inches (10 -12cm) and weigh 1.5 to 1.75 ounces (40-50g). It has a longer tail than these other breeds as well, up to an inch in length. The Chinese hamster has short stubby legs to make its body appear even longer. It’s coloring is a gray top, light bottom and a black stripe. However, the most notable feature and probably the reason for it’s lack of popularity is that the male species have very prominent sex organs; about the size of its head.

Caring for This Breed

You can keep a community of these in one hamster cage but when a female Chinese Dwarf is pregnant, it can become aggressive towards males. If the males don’t have a way to escape this wrath, the female can kill the males. Provide plenty of hiding places as well as dwarf sized tubes and tunnels to connect different living chambers. This should ensure the safety of all the hamsters in the cage. Learn more about how to take care of a hamster.

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Roborovski Robo Dwarf Hamster

Robo Dwarf Hamster

The Roborovski dwarf hamster (Phodophus Roborovski) originates from the deserts of west and east Mongolia, China and Russia. It’s a hamster breed that has been sold as pets in pet stores since the 1990s. However, the Robo hamster is less available than the Campbell’s or the Golden Syrian hamster breeds.

Features

  • A fully grown adult Roborovski is 3.5 to 4 inches long (9-10cm).
  • Weighing between .75 to 1.5 ounces (25-40g).
  • The Robo is less full bodied than the Campbell’s.
  • Brownish yellow in color with no dorsal stripe.
  • The life span of this dwarf breed is around 3.5 years.

Caring for it

Like all dwarf hamster types, the Robo can live in communities or separately. Small fights might occur but the only need to be separated if the fighting is serious. As a small type of hamster, the robo is fast and hard to handle. They are not suitable for young children but can be tamed well. It’s also important to purchase dwarf sized hamster accessories so these little guys are not injured by hard to use wheels, balls or tubes and tunnels.

Don’t be alarmed if you notice your pet Roborovski sleeping longer than other types of hamsters. This is not an indication of your pet being sick or even bored; they are simply known to be the late risers in the pet hamster world. Their most active period is during the late evening around 9 to 11pm.

Robo Hamster Habitat

Hamster Care Info
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52 comments on “Dwarf Hamsters

  1. My dwarfriend hamster has a little lump on belly side and has scratched it raw. It must have been a bite. Can I put hydrocortisone on it?

    • Always bring a dwarf hamster to a vet and see if you can get that bump checked out. Juuuuust in case, it turns out to be mites. Hopefully, it’s just a little bump. Regardless you should ask a vet before putting anything on your hamster. Small pets like these are hard to care for, without much information on how much you can care for them, and what is normal, and what isn’t. Best suggestion: Vet!

    • My hamster will bare his teeth at me. he has a scratch spot close to his eye. Ive had him for 3 full days I would like to get him to trust me any suggestions?

    • I’m not sure what type of dwarf hampster to get. I want one thats cuddly (syrian) , but my mom is pushing for the Robo, what should I do?

  2. My three children are new Robo owners. The robos are sisters from the same litter, but each of my children care for one of them in their own room. They would like to let them play together when they clean the cages, but they are concerned that they will not be able to tell who’s hamster belongs to which child, as the hamsters look identical. Is there a safe way to mark each hamster so that the kids can tell which one is their’s? (We were thinking about how bird owners have leg bands to identify their birds. Would the hamsters eat the bands?) Any healthy & safe ideas would be appreciated.

    • Better late than never. I’m sure you already figured something out, but Robo hamsters are fast, and females tend to want nothing less than to not be touched. I wouldn’t recommend marking them in any way. Though a good idea could be to place something each hamster owns down. They’ll be drawn to their own item because it belongs to them considering they mark them. The problem with dwarf hamsters is that they’re too small to really place anything on them. They would need to be supervised, and can’t be left alone. They without a doubt try to make runs for whatever opportunity they can to escape. Again, I’m sure you’ve already figured this out. My only suggestion would be to place something down that belongs to each hamster, and also keep an eye on them. They’re not like dogs, they should either be together all the time or if you do as you’re doing and setting a play time, keep watch. Though friendly, they still tend to fight. Make sure they’re on the neutral ground each time so no one gets feisty or wants to start a fight. Good luck! Hopefully, you already had this all figured out by now though.

  3. I currently have a male Winter White,I was going to get a female Chinese Dwarf(and yes I know they would probably breed),but when I read she could get really aggressive to the male while pregnant,I thought twice.Can someone please tell me if my hamster will be ok if he gets a Chinese pregnant,or should I get another Winter White but female?

    • Well, if you have enough space, you could, but be careful. If you’re not a professional hamster breeder, the babies might all die or something. I suggest not buyin, but if you really want to, then makes some hiding spots for the male.
      Either that or they’ll fight to the death

  4. I was sold 2 Russian dwarf hamsters and I was told they were sisters, they started fighting a lot and I separated them, they look nothing alike and are completely different in bother behaviour and appearance. Please give me tips in how to tell what breeds they are

    • They could be the same breed just two different breeds of mom and dad,like if a winter white hamster and a Chinese dwarf hamster had a baby it would be one breed but one could look like the mom and the other one could look like the dad,that’s the only reason I can think of,sorry if its not muchh help

  5. I have 2 dwarf hamsters bought from the same place but a year apart they told me both were robo one has a tail the other one don’t newest one has a white underneath and brown top no tail and likes to burrow under her bedding my oldest has a gray underneath brown top with a black stripe down the middle of her back and a tail that’s about an inch or so long she likes to sleep a lot and out at night between 9-11 pm when it’s dark can someone tell me the difference and what kind they are

  6. I bought a pearl white hamster but its characteristics is similar to robo hamster. It’s fast, have long Whiskers and sleeps alot. I don’t know whether the pet store owner is lying about the breed. It’s only 1 month old. Is it normal for pearl white to be like this?

    • Might not be a lie but a little mix-up! Remember hamsters have different personalities just like humans. Your Pearl White might just have the same amount of energy as Roborovski Hamster. But I don’t think there is a mix-up. Dwarf Hamsters, in general, are very active and very fast. Robos just tend to be faster and more active.

  7. I have a hamster gray in color. Really confused of it’s kind. The size is only 1 1/2 inch and been with us for a month. No increase in size. So little and cute for me.

  8. Last night I put my daughters hamster in its ball to run about an while I clean his cage. I think he is a Russian dwarf little white one with a light stripe down the centre of his back. When I finished his cage an put him back he showed sighs of distress. He normally would run round then go down the side of his wheel an dig all the sawdust away an then climb awkwardly up the side to his food bowl an stuff his face. This time he just kept going round an round in circles an sniffing all round an throwing him self backwards an seems to be walking to one side. At fist thought may be because the cage was clean and he just getting used to it. But this went on for hrs he never went back onto his little house were he normally sleeps I put a towel over the cage to make it dark it was so light so thought it may calm him down if it was dark. When I come to check on him he was cowered in the corner laying over his vitamin stone. When I lifted the towel I could she he was breathing so heave an flinching an dropping off to sleep. So I left him To sleep hoping this morning her would have slept her fright or distress off… but my partner said he was also going mad at early hrs this morning. As i speak now he is now in his hide away an I can see he as been at the food as he as made a little mess, last night he never went near it nor his water or the food dangling chomp stick witch we no he loves. I’m scared to even now look if he is sleeping incase he ain’t alive my daughter is 6 she will be devastated..an if he is sleeping I don’t wanna frighten him an make him feel distresses again… does anyone know what these signs r? I hope he OK. He is such a good hamster never bit either an she adores him

    Thanks jen.

    • It was a very good idea of you to put a towel over the cage at the time when he/she was in distress. They go by scent that’s their main sense they go by. For instance you could have had two sister/brother hamsters grow up together and put one of them in with another cage with different pee smell and then put it back and they would be in deathmatch mode fighting because they go by scent. Your hamster probably just didn’t know where was it takes time patience I hope everything goes well and he gets used to the fresh clean cage fast because days can be almost weeks to them. Don’t worry you didn’t do anything wrong. I just hope the hamster got used to it and nothing bad happened cuz some hamsters are just more you can say different personalities

    • Hi there, i have had a lot of hamsters and rats and my experience is that the smaller the hamster is, the easier it can become a little crazy sometimes. Those plastic exercise balls are good for keeping them safe from running away, but they are like small rolling prison cells for the hamsters. I wouldnt recommend using them at all if you can help it. I hope the hamster got better afterall. 🙂

    • When hamster do this it usually means that they are trying to get there sent back into their cage and get everything dirty again.

  9. I think everybody should only buy robo hamsters because there really active a lot and live longer then the rest of the breeds.

    • I completely agree. But since these are too my favorite dwarf breed of hamsters (Robo). And also hands down the cutest. I would not at all recommend Robo’s to very young children unless only the child’s parents tame it first before a child handles them. Once these little a.k.a. racecars hit the he ground. It would be a miracle to recapture without injuring them. Remember they go by smell and it takes patience. That’s why I don’t sell any to young inexperienced kids.

      • I agree with you but the winter whites in my opinion are really sweet . I have a winter white named champ who died Monday he was the sweetest little thing ever but like you said maybe it’s not a good breed for younger children

  10. whats my hamsters breed? she is a dark almost black grey with whit from her chin to chest. iknow shes a dwarf but which type?

    • A little more specific please, but if the hamster doesn’t have a black stripe down it’s back (dorsal) or a long tail not a knub. It kinda seems like you have a type of Russian breed. I can’t think off top of head right now the name of breed. But second thought Robo’s are not that dark colored. Get back to me on more features n I can tell u for sure.

  11. I have a dwarf hamster but I don’t know what type it is. He has white fur at the bottom and the top of his head and back are brown.

    • A key practice to do is wash your hands before attempting to hold your hamster, also the best way I know is to set your hand in the cage but be still. Hamsters are curious animals and they walk up and get to know your smell. Doing this a number of times during the day will help build trust with your hamster and gradually your hamster will walk over and on your hand. Just be sure not to make quick movements, this will scare your hamster. It could take up to a week to be successful but just go at a pace that your hamster is comfortable with. I have been a breeder/owner of all types of hamsters for 10 years.

    • That’s strange I’ve only ever had Robo’s but mine never ever bite unless I’m breaking up a fight or they think my finger is food through the cage but they never intentionally bite. You must tame it like another comment said or just might be an evil one LOL.

      • And I’ve bred roborovski hamsters which means I’ve had over 30 of them in my time and they never bit me intentionally but when you break up a fight they lock on and you will bleed. But only because the hamster thinks it’s still in the fight with another obvious hamster.

    • Yes there is many videos on youtube on how to tame your hamster. But sometimes your hamster will bite you because it might smell something sweet on your hands or something that smells like food.

    • Of course you can. They’re all the same species, just different variants. That’s just like have two of the same dogs, but different color pelts.

      • NO, you should never do this. But don’t worry it is a common misunderstanding that different hamsters are different breeds, they’re not, it has been genetically proven they are different species and should only live in same sex and species pairs. Not to mention the fact Chinese and Syrian hamsters should always remain solitary.

  12. my hamster wont open his eyes wont eat and its shaking and its in a ball i dont know whats going on with it can someone please tell me what to do or help?

    • it sounds like it has a sickness of some sort. it’s hard to say what it is based on this description. Are there any other signs? I would consider calling a vet. Also, make sure your hamster continues to drink water.

    • Your hamster is probably in a state of tortor, meaning that they go into a kind of form of hibernation for a few hours to raise their body temperature because they are too cold or the room they are in is too cold. If their limbs are not tight and you can flex them they are most likely in tortor. If they have been in this state and are not eating or drinking then you SHOULD call a VET ASAP!!! Especially if their bottom and the surrounding fur are wet this could be a sign of wet tail which is very fatal. Call you vet IMMEDIATLY if your hamster shows these signs of illness. But if your hamster is a Syrian, or Roborovski then they cannot get wet tail thankfully!! Thank you and I hope this info was helpful!!!🙂🙂

  13. Oh no my hamster keeps laying on its side on the side of its cage also on its back i dunno what to do someone help me asap

    • Are there any other symptoms that you observe? It’s hard to tell what the issue might be based on what you mentioned. You can take a look at our illness directory to help diagnose the potential problem.

  14. i am looking for a hamster. i have never had one before and hope to soon get one. everyone says a dwarf hamster would be a good breed to start with. i need a small to medium size that isnt scared easily, easily tamed, and fairly “cuddly” 🙂 (plus easy to care etc.) would a dwarf hamster be my best choice for first time ownership? if so what breed? Thanks

    • The larger syrian breeds are the best for beginners since they are easy to handle and mild mannered. In terms of the dwarf breeds, the Winter White and the Campbell
      ‘s dwarf breeds are the easiest to train and handle.

      • do these breeds need larger than normal cages? would say a 17 in by 11 in cage be too small with tubes? one last question when you say “large” do you mean they are large considering all hamsters or just the breed?

      • Well, every hamster needs a good size cage regardless of the breed. That cage sounds about standard and with some tubes, it can make a nice home. Syrian hamsters are larger than the dwarf breeds

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