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5 Friendliest Hamster Breeds: Pictures, Facts, & History

Rachel Giordano

By Rachel Giordano

syrian hamster playing

Hamsters make excellent little furry pets and are easy to care for. They don’t require much room, and most tolerate being held once they trust you. They can even be excellent pets for children once a child learns how to gently handle the hamster and learn respectable boundaries.

There are over 20 hamster breeds in existence, with five domesticated species being the most commonly kept as pets, which also happen to be the friendliest. In this article, we’ll list the five friendliest hamster breeds to help you make the best decision for you and your family.


The 5 Friendliest Hamster Breeds

1. Syrian Hamster

close up of a syrian hamster
Image Credit: Johannes-Menge, Shutterstock
Origin: Syria
Lifespan: 2–3 years
Length: 6–8 inches

The Syrian hamster, also known as the Djungarian hamster, is considered the friendliest hamster breed. Also known as the Golden hamster, the Syrian hamster is also the largest breed you can own as a pet, averaging 5–7 inches in length with a height of 6–8 inches. They are easy to tame, quirky, and curious creatures. They are comfortable being held, which has earned the breed the nickname of “teddy bear hamster.” The Syrian hamster is the most popular hamster to own, and they are also excellent for beginner hamster owners due to their docile nature.

Syrian hamsters do best living alone. They are territorial and do not tolerate having a cage mate despite their friendliness toward humans. They are nocturnal and are active during nighttime hours.

2. Chinese Hamster

Chinese hamster
Image Credit: alexvey, Shutterstock
Origin: Deserts of Northern China and Mongolia
Lifespan: 2–3 years
Length: 3–5 inches

The Chinese hamster has a grayish-brown coat with a thin black stripe running down the back. The tail is longer than most hamster species, reaching 0.7–1.1 inches, giving this hamster species a long and thin appearance.

The first breed was spotted in 1900 in Beijing and was originally used as lab animals. They were later used in the Peking Union Medical College in 1919 and eventually exported to labs worldwide; Harvard Medical School used the hamsters in 1948 for lab purposes. In the 1960s, these hamsters hit the European pet market, and in the 1970s, interest in these hamsters grew.

Even though they are among one of the friendliest hamster species, they are rare in the United States, and some states do not even allow them as pets. The Chinese hamster is timid, shy, and a little harder to tame, but they make friendly companions once tamed. Keep in mind these hamsters are not recommended for children due to their timid nature.

3. Winter White Hamster

Origin: Siberia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Manchuria
Lifespan: 1–2 years
Length: 2–4 inches

The Winter White hamster is one of three Russian Dwarf hamster breeds and has a brownish-gray coat, but in the winter, the coat changes to cream or white, hence the name. Being from Russia, the coat color changes and acts as camouflage to protect them from predators in the snow. They are considered high-energy and sociable little creatures, making them ideal, friendly pets. They are easy to tame and are suitable for first-time hamster owners. These hamsters are docile and not considered territorial, making them perfect to pair with other friendly hamsters.

These hamsters are known as “pocket pets” due to their small size, and they have a short tail that disappears when they sit. They can interbreed with other similar hamster species, and it isn’t easy to find a purebred, depending on where you live. Nonetheless, they are full of personality and are extremely vocal.

4. Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster

Campbell's dwarf hamster in its cage
Image Credit: Vinicius R. Souza, Shutterstock
Origin: Mongolia
Lifespan: 2–2.5 years
Length: 2–3 inches

Another part of the Russian Dwarf breed, the Campbell’s Dwarf hamster, was named after Charles William Campbell, who was the first to discover the breed in 1902.

They are skittish and prone to nip if they feel threatened, so you may wonder why this breed is on our list. Truth is, they are friendly, but it takes time and patience to tame them. They are also not for the first-time hamster owner, and they do best in a home with older children who can handle the hamster properly. They are small and fast and will jump out of your hands quickly if frightened; however, most are friendly and will allow you to hold them.

They are often mistaken for the Dwarf Winter White Russian hamster due to their appearance and are one of the most common dwarf hamster species.

5. Roborovski Hamster

cute Roborovski hamster standing side ways
Image Credit: Nynke van Holten, Shutterstock
Origin: Gobi Desert, northern China, Mongolia
Lifespan: 2–3 years
Length: 2–3 inches

The last of the three Russian Dwarf species, the Roborovski hamster, was discovered by two scientists, Wsewolod Iwanowitsch Roborowski and Pjotr Kusmitsch Koslow, in 1894. Also known as the Robo Dwarf hamster, they are the smallest breed and were officially named as such in the Guinness Book of World Records 2003.

These little critters are energetic but shy. However, they may open up and be willing to play and interact with you once they gain your trust. They are fast, curious, and active, but they are not good climbers. They generally do not like being held and are not the easiest hamster species to tame. Given their small size, they can be hard to handle and do best being observed rather than handled, but they are fun to watch due to their active nature.


How Are Hamsters Classified?

Hamsters are classified as exotic animals and go by the scientific name of Cricetinae. There are many different genera of hamsters:



Hamsters make excellent little pets and don’t require much maintenance; however, you still need to learn how to properly care for one. Hamsters require sufficient housing, and the size of the enclosure will depend on the breed. Hamsters are typically acquired from a pet store, and the staff should be able to help you select the best breed to match your family. The staff can also help you gather all supplies and the type of housing required for your hamster’s specific breed.

Featured Image Credit: Johannes Menge, Shutterstock

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