Thanks to celebrities such as Paris Hilton, the idea of pigs as pets is becoming popular. There are some definite advantages to raising a pig as a pet, but there are also several factors that you should be aware of.
Do pigs make good pets? Pigs can make great pets because they are highly social and highly intelligent. However, that same intelligence can also cause problems because pigs can get easily bored and destructive. Pigs tend to be very domineering. When fully grown, hogs are very heavy and can be difficult to manage.
Still, it’s hard to resist a piglet. Piglets are super cute and adorable. If only they would stay that small.
But they don’t.
Can you keep a pig as an indoor pet? You can keep pigs as an indoor animal. Pigs can be potty trained like a dog, but they have a very strong rooting instinct. Pigs need a nest and a place they can root and nest in. It makes more sense to provide grown hogs a place in a garage or nearby structure than to turn a room in your house into an indoor “barn” for your pet pig.
There are many aspects of owning a pig as a pet that you should consider. There are also many levels of having a pig as a pet. Pigs can be outdoor pets that kids take care of or they can also be indoor pets. Pigs can be farm animals raised for a specific purpose.
This article will explore the many aspects of raising pigs as pets. It will discuss indoor and outdoor pigs as pets.
We will discuss miniature pigs and the issue with teacup pigs. I’ll help you make sure you don’t spend thousands on a teacup pig to a dishonest dealer.
Reasons Pigs Make Good Pets
There are many benefits to choosing pigs as your next pet. Pigs are very intelligent. They have a better sense of smell than dogs and can smell underground as well as above ground. Pigs are very social animals and when given the chance, they are also very clean.
This can make pigs an excellent animal for a pet.
Did you know?
Some law enforcement agencies have looked at using pigs due to studies showing the benefits of pigs over dogs.
Let’s go over some of the reasons pigs make great pets.
Pigs are Intelligent
Pigs are very smart. Pigs can be potty trained, taught tricks, and trained in other ways. They know their owners and can keep their area clean and sanitary. They are also very adaptable animals. Wild pigs have been shown to solve problems quickly and adapt in new situations.
Pigs are Social
Pigs are highly social animals. They bond to other pigs and to their human caretakers. In the wild, pigs usually live in groups of 8 or so pigs. If pigs are treated humanely, they usually respond with better behavior.
Most pigs fare best as a pair or small group rather than alone; this is because pigs are naturally social creatures. However, it can take a lot of time to introduce a new pig to another, unknown companion, so many pig pet owners ended up adopting two, already-bonded pigs* instead of one. (Having multiple pigs also prevents them from getting bored enough to get into trouble or becoming aggressive towards you!)
Because pigs are social, they are also known to pair well with other pets, too. This is especially true when it comes to cats; pigs and cats tend to share mutual opinions for one another, and often do not experience issues with their relationship.
Many Breeds Are Hypoallergenic
Many smaller pig breeds are 95% hypoallergenic because they have hair instead of fur. They also rarely shed, making them ideal for households with dog or cat allergies.
Pigs are Easy to Train
Pigs’ high intelligence makes them quite easy to train, just as easy as dogs. Pigs have been trained to find truffles in the forest, to use a computer mouse with their snouts, and to solve jigsaw puzzles.
They can be potty trained and trained to come when called. They can even be trained to sniff out drugs and other illegal drugs.
Pigs Provide Easy Communication
Outside of standard intelligence, pigs also have high emotional intelligence. From excited squealing to deep snorting, owners are easily able to tell what a pig needs based on their modes of communication.
Pigs Provide Companionship
Pigs’ high emotional intelligence also makes them great animal companions! They love to root in blankets, and as a result, can easily be very affectionate cuddlers.
Difficulties Of Having Pigs As Indoor Pets
Pig owners all over the world praise the intelligence and joy of having pigs. But, there are also some cons to owning a pig as a pet. Let’s cover some of the difficulties of having a pig as a pet.
Many of these negatives can be overcome if you provide the right environment for your pig.
Pigs Grow Large
Pigs grow very large. The average adult pig will grow to 800-1000 pounds. “Miniature pigs” are bred to be smaller. They typically reach a size of about 200-300 lbs as an adult.
If you purchase a “teacup” or “miniature” breed of pigs, it’s important to know that even these pigs will grow to a much larger size before they are finished. We’ll cover teacup pigs later in this article.
A 200 lbs hog in the house can cause a lot more damage than a piglet. It can make a difference in how quickly your flooring, furniture, and belongings wear out and break.
A 200 lbs pig won’t look as big as a 200 lb dog because pigs are so dense. But, it is still a lot of weight to move if you need to force your pig to an area against its will.
Consider the size of a pig if you have kids in the house and want an indoor pig.
Pigs Are Intelligent And Easily Bored
Pigs are intelligent, but that also means that they can get easily bored. Pigs need to be busy or they can cause a lot of damage. If you are planning on having an indoor pig, you will need to do more pig-proofing that a toddler would require.
Pigs can open the refrigerator, they can open drawers and get into mischief. They can get into clothes, food, and tear into food packages. There is endless trouble they can cause if they are bored.
Pigs Are Dominant Animals
Pigs have a very strong pecking order. They are very dominant. Withing a team of pigs, they will shuffle for the position as the dominant pig.
In a situation where pigs are heavily involved with people, they will often exert aggressive behavior against people. This tends to happen a lot more when pigs are indoor animals.
They see the house as their territory and can be very aggressive to visitors or other unfamiliar people. The best way to curb this response in pigs is to train them firmly from the time that they are piglets.
Spoiled piglets will grow up to be aggressive pigs. Piglets need daily, consistent training to respect all humans as being above them in the hierarchy.
This can be difficult to train if you have children in the home because of their smaller size.
Pigs Have A Strong Rooting Instinct
Pigs are superb rooters. They love to dig in the dirt and are fabulous at digging out the roots of plants to eat. It’s one of those instincts that helps them to survive in the wild.
Their rooting instinct can be curbed, but never completely disappears.
It can cause pigs to root in potted plants, attempt to dig in carpets and be a source of boredom when they aren’t able to root.
There are reasons why pigs should be allowed to root: the action can help benefit their health and well-being in different ways:
- Keeps Them Cool – Pigs are known for their fascinating inability to sweat, but that does not mean they never get hot. Pigs have a complex process of regulating their temperature, and rooting allows them to create cool holes in the dirt to lie in. On top of that, the dirt and mud that ends up covering them, as a result, offers protection against the sun’s rays.
- Keeps Them Active – Rooting is a common form of exercise for many pigs, so allowing your own pet to root will help it stay active.
- Helps Them Acquire Nutrients – Dirt contains minerals such as iron; allowing your pig to root in dirt gives them access to these minerals.
Many indoor pig pet owners will create a rooting space–such as a box, pen/fenced area, or tent–in a non-carpeted area for their pig so they can avoid damage to their floors or couch cushions.
If you plan on taking your pig outside to use the bathroom, use these opportunities to allow them to root outdoors in their natural habitat for a little while. If you have a decent-sized backyard, you can also set up a pen outdoors as well. (The extra exercise outside can benefit them!)
Pigs Are Omnivores
Pigs eat both herbivores and carnivores. They will eat meat and vegetation. This can be a good thing because a pig will eat nearly any table scraps.
But, on occasion, it can also mean that pigs become aggressive to their human owners. There are multiple instances, though rare, of pigs attacking and biting or attempting to eat a person.
This isn’t meant to scare from having pet pigs, but it’s important to be aware of it, especially if you have children or smaller pets already.
Pigs Can Be Expensive
The cost of owning any pet can be high, depending on the individual animal. But, consider some of the needs of your pig and how you plan to meet those needs. Will you be paying a vet to care for your pig, or do you have the resources and knowledge to do it yourself?
Consider some of the following needs, which will be covered later in the article in more depth.
- Will you trim your pig’s hooves yourself or pay someone to do it?
- Will you maintain it’s medicine and deworming or will you need a vet to do it?
- Will you need to purchase supplies for it such as a house, kennel, pigpen, or another encasement so it doesn’t tear up your yard?
- If it’s going to be an indoor pet, what kind of super-pig proofing will you need to do?
- Will you get it neutered or put up with it’s “loving” actions toward you and your other animals?
- Can you afford to pay for the “accidents” of broken household items, ruined clothes, and spilled food?
These are all costs to consider before you get a pig. Some of these costs won’t be an issue if you are planning to have an outside pet pig, while others may be necessary regardless of which kind of pet you have.
Pigs Can Be Noisy
One thing new piglet owners should be warned of is their noise. Piglets will squeal very loudly for their food, especially when hungry.
Do not discipline your piglet if it is disruptive; this is just its natural instinct. To prevent it from happening in the first place, provide food at optimal times of the day, ideally in the morning and evening.
Common Pet Pig Breeds
Pigs can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. It’s important to know which breed is the right one for you? The following are some of the most common pig breeds that are adopted as pets.
Pot-bellied pigs are one of the most popular types of pigs, but they aren’t a single pig breed. The Pot-bellied pig can be one of 15 breeds that hail from Southeast Asia. Specific breeds of pot-bellied pigs include the Vietnamese pot-bellied, Chinese, or Asian pot-bellied pig.
The specific ancestry of a pot-bellied pig in the United States is very hard to determine because most pig’s ancestry is not tracked.
Because there are so many breeds that make up this pig, they can have quite a range in size. They range in size, usually standing between 16 to 30 inches tall. They usually weigh an average of 90 to 180 pounds.
They also grow relatively quickly, reaching their max size around three to five years of age. Healthy pot-bellied pigs can live for 12-15 years.
Miniature Pig / Teacup Pigs
I am sorry to break this to you, but teacup pigs don’t actually exist. Teacup pigs are a marketing ploy by pig owners seeking to sell their pigs for a higher price.
“Teacup pigs” are usually pot-bellied pigs that have been cruelly starved to stunt their growth. They can still grow to as much as 200 lbs, although most will be about 150 lbs at full size. That is smaller than many farm pig breeds, which can grow to over 1,000 lbs.
There are only 2 ways to create a “teacup” pig.
- Starve the pig so it remains constantly malnourished
- Inbreeding, which causes deformities of unnatural smallness
Starvation causes constant discomfort for your pig. It makes pigs more moody and unhealthy. It is simply cruel. Many “teacup” breeders even advise the new owners to ration the pig’s food so it stays underfed and doesn’t grow as it should.
This makes the skeletal structure of the pig small and weak. It also means the organs, which continue to grow, are disproportionate to the size of the pig, which brings all sorts of health issues.
Inbreeding causes many issues including respiratory issues, squished snouts, and a shorter lifespan. It also usually means other deformities in the pig, which greatly shortens the lifespan of the pig.
While pot-bellied pigs should live for 12+ years, most “teacup” pigs (really potbellied pigs) only live a few years due to health issues.
Miniature pigs are the name used for smaller big breeds that don’t reach the massive size of 800-1,000 lbs.
But, miniature pigs are not miniature. They still reach a whopping 200 lbs or more when fully grown. Before you purchase a miniature pig, be ready to handle a 200 lbs hog.
Before you buy a miniature pig: Many people think that if the parents of a pig are small- that’s a good indicator that the babies will be small.
But, that’s not true. Here’s why:
Pigs take up to 6 years to reach full-size, but they can breed as early as 6 months. So you can have piglet parents of other piglets that are small and still not full-sized. Looking at the parents doesn’t tell you if they are fully grown or how big your piglet will grow.
KuneKune pigs are coming back from near extinction. Their name means fat and round in the Maori language, in New Zealand, where Kunekune pigs originated.
They are one of the smallest pigs available. Females will reach as much as 175 lbs, while males will grow to as much as 250 lbs.
Kunekune pigs are shy, gentle, and very calm. They may be one of the mildest breeds of pigs. They appear harrier than most pig breeds and are one of the only ones that don’t root.
They are known for their distinct “tassels” that hang from their lower jaw and are, on average, four centimeters long.
They can also subsist entirely on grass and hay. Because they don’t root, they won’t tear up your lawn as much as other pig varieties will.
|Breed||Female Size||Male Size||LifeSpan|
|Potbellied pig||80-140 lbs||120-200 lbs||12-15 years|
|Kunekune Pig||Up to 200 lbs||Up to 250 lbs||10-15 years|
|Mulefoot Pig||250-400 lbs||350-600 lbs||Unknown. Rare, only a few hundred known|
|Ossabaw Island Hog||Under 200 lbs||Under 200 lbs||15-20 yrs, Rare|
|American Guinea Hog||150-200 lbs||200-300 lbs||10-15 yrs, Very Rare|
|Meishan Pig||300-400 lbs||275-375 lbs||9-15 yrs, Critically endangered|
|Juliana Pig||50-80 lbs||50-100 lbs||12-15 years|
|Yucatan Hairless Pig||150-200 lbs||150-200 lbs||10-15 years|
Other Pet Pig Types
You may run across other pig breeds that are supposed to be very small. I’ve included a list of fake pig breeds that don’t exist and are used only as marketing ploys to sell “tiny pigs.” Each of these types of pig breeds is usually a Kunekune pig or a potbellied pig and not the “breed” you are being sold.
- Teacup pigs
- Toy pigs
- Royal Dandies
- Micro mini pigs
- Dandie Extremes
- American mini pig
If you run across these “breeds” of pigs, know that they aren’t real breeds and take that a red flag the breeder is trying to dishonestly sell a pig under false pretenses.
There are a number of questions to ask the breeder when you are considering a smaller pig as a pet.
- How old are the mom and dad?
- What is the official breed of this pig?
- Has the pig been spayed or neutered?
- Has the pig been dewormed? How long ago?
- Has the pig ever bitten anyone? Under what circumstances?
- How old is the pig?
- At what age was it weaned?
- Is this pig more social or independent?
- Are the parents related?
These questions and how the breeder responds to them will help you to gauge if your potential pig is likely to be inbred, have health problems, or grow bigger than the breeder is telling you.
Don’t forget to check out the next article in this series: How to care for a pet pig to find out everything you need to keep your pig happy and healthy.
If you’d like to read some additional stories on having a pet pig, check out these two articles.