Pigs have always been popular animals, but now they’re speaking to our hearts, rather than our stomachs.
For the right people, pigs make marvelous pets. They’re intelligent, affectionate, and each piggy has their own charming personality.
Dreaming of adopting a piggy of your very own? Here’s everything you need to know to get started.
What’s The Difference Between Mini, Pot Bellied And Teacup Pigs?
You’ll see all of these “breeds” and more on breeder’s websites, newspaper ads and classifieds websites.
Pot-bellied pigs are a breed of domesticated pig that originated in Vietnam. As adults, their average weight is between 75 and 125 pounds. They tend to have a sloped back and a large belly that hangs close to the ground.
Kune Kunes are a miniature pig breed from New Zealand. They are known for dangling wattles under their chins and spotted fur patterns. Adults weigh 135 to 220 pounds.
Miniature pigs were originally bred in zoos or used for medical research. Also known as the domestic pig, the term “mini pig” can actually describe any breed of small domestic pig, including the pot-bellied pig. You can expect a mini pig to grow to be between 50 and 300 pounds when full grown.
Teacup pigs are like unicorns; sadly, they do not exist. Healthy, full-grown pigs will never be under 50 pounds.
Farm pigs are processed to make pork products. They grow to be 750 to 900 pounds, which is why a 200-pound adult pig is considered “miniature” in comparison.
The Great Teacup Pig Scam
Any ad that uses the word “teacup,” whether the seller is offering pigs, chihuahuas or any other type of animal, is almost certainly a scam. There’s no breed of any animal called a “teacup.”
Sellers of “teacup” pigs may try to deceive buyers into paying thousands of dollars for a pig that they mislead people into thinking will grow to be no larger than 15 pounds in weight.
Teacup breeders will breed runts from each litter, resulting in smaller and smaller pigs with each breeding. Pigs bred for size, not health, are being born with severe genetic defects – deeply recessed eyes, males born with retained testicles, and females born without an anus.
Even the smallest pigs will grow to be over 50 pounds – sometimes up to 300 pounds – by the time they reach full adulthood at 5 years old.
Pigs can reproduce long before they are fully grown. So, when you ask to see the piglet’s parents, you may be presented with a deceptively tiny breeding pair. A piglet’s parents may still be piglets themselves.
Teacup breeders will also instruct buyers to adhere to a strict diet to keep the piglet from growing to be too large.
Strict diets lead to malnourishment, which leads to poor skeletal development, numerous medical issues, and even an early death.
Are There “Good” Mini Pig Breeders?
Bad breeders are making it difficult for legitimate miniature pig breeders to prove that their businesses are ethical.
Good breeders do exist, though, and they’ll be straight-forward about their breeding practices, whether their pigs make good pets, and how much you can expect them to weigh as adults. They will not sell piglets to people who live in apartments, or even people who live in houses with average gardens.
Pigs need to live with other pigs to be happy. They need fields to roam, root and explore.
If you’re looking for a good breeder, ask questions even when you already know the answers – avoid a breeder who claims that their pigs stop growing at a year old, that they can live in an apartment, or otherwise seems like they’ll say anything to get you to put down a deposit.
Do Domesticated Pigs Make Good Pets?
Pigs are quick learners and respond extremely well to positive reinforcement training. Though domesticated pigs have only been kept as pets for less than 100 years, they’re as smart as dogs, show empathy, and emotional sensitivity, and love to explore.
Even farm-size pigs like world-famous Esther The Pig can spend most of their time indoors. They’re easily litter-trained and can be taught to relieve themselves outdoors. However, even pigs who live in houses need large outdoor areas for exercise and mental stimulation.
Pigs are cuddly, love to be scratched and pet, but they typically do not like to be held or carried. They can be taken on walks with a harness and a leash, but if they grow to be over 100 pounds, it can become impossible for them to climb stairs or hop into a car.
As a pig grows larger, they become more and more expensive to feed. Most typical veterinarians will not work on pigs, and it may be impossible to transport the pig in a car, so many pet pig owners have to find an exotic vet who makes house calls.
What A Pig Needs?
Bagged pig food provides your pig’s complete daily nutrients, but it can be expensive and hard to find in local pet stores. You can ask your local pet store to make a special order for you, or order online and have the food shipped to your doorstep.
Pigs also need fresh vegetables each day, and limited fruits to prevent your pig from gaining excess weight from the natural sugars.
You may also need to trim your pig’s hooves, as they will overgrow if your pig does not spend much time walking on concrete. Most mini pigs only require a yearly hoof trim, but you’ll need to handle their feet often so they will easily tolerate trimming.
If you’re going to litter-train your pig, you’ll need a large litterbox with flat sides so they can easily step in and out.
You may also need to build ramps to help your pig get in and out of your house and your car. The bigger the pig, the harder it is for them to climb stairs.
Pigs aren’t crazy about toys, but you can try to see if they’ll play with dog or infant toys. You’ll want props that you can use to teach your pig tricks, as well as food toys to engage them as they eat dinner. Like dogs, pigs enjoy Kongs and food puzzles.
A pig’s favorite thing to do is root – that is, to dig around in the dirt – so you may want to provide a sandbox or an outdoor digging area in your garden. You can even buy a plastic kiddie pool and fill it with colorful balls. If you scatter their pellets at the bottom, your pig will spend hours rooting for their food.
The Best Way To Adopt A Mini Pig
Phony “teacup” pig breeders will sell their pigs to just anyone – and most of those piglets end up euthanized or in sanctuaries before they even reach adulthood.
There might be a pig sanctuary near you that can help you adopt a healthy, happy miniature pig. Check PetFinder to locate an adoptable oinker near you.
You may not be able to find a baby piglet to call your own, but it’s for the best. An adult pig from a sanctuary will have reached its full size already. The pig’s guardians will be able to tell you about their needs and their personality. The sanctuary will not let you adopt a pig unless they are sure you are equipped to handle it. They’ll be able to answer your questions and help you find an exotic animal veterinarian.
A mini pig breeder can go out of business in months, leaving you with no support.
Adopting an adult pig means you’ll miss the cute baby pig phase, but it’s the truly the kindest and most responsible option.
Small pig breeds are full grown at 5 years old and, on average, live to be 20 years old. Rescuing an adolescent pig will give you plenty of wonderful years of oinks and grunts.
Do you dream of having a pig of your own? Do you already love a pig? Tell us in the comments!
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