Why Pigs Make Wonderful Pets
Having a pig as a household pet is nothing new. For centuries, pigs have held high status in Chinese and Eastern Asian cultures and hundreds of homes across America enjoy having pigs as part of their families and lives. There is no doubt that with care and training, a pot bellied pig can make an interesting and much-loved addition to the home.
Pigs are complex creatures and have many desirable qualities. They are intelligent (the fourth most intelligent animal after humans, primates, and whales/dolphins). They are also easily trained, affectionate, curious, playful, clean (no shedding), odor-free, relatively quiet (no barking), and usually non-allergenic.
Is a potbellied pig the right pet for you? Learn more about these affectionate creatures and decide for yourself.
Fact: Pigs are incapable of sweating.
Pot-bellied pigs are easily trainable and extremely intelligent. They require just about the same amount of training a dog would. (Having an untrained potbelly pig is much like having a two-year-old toddler around all the time. They will be very demanding and scream for what they want, at all hours of the night no less.) The good news is that they can be taught almost anything if you're willing to spend the time necessary to work with them. In fact, they enjoy the challenge of learning new things. They have been taught to play the piano, ride a scooter, drive a golf cart, ride in the car as a passenger, slam dunk a basketball, and more. They can be potty trained and litter box trained much more quickly than a puppy can.
In addition to being highly intelligent, they are known to be creative, playful, sensitive (you may even see your pig cry when it is sad), and curious. They love affection and human contact and will enjoy sitting in your lap for a belly rub while you watch TV.
Potbelly pigs can be territorial. Much like a dog protecting a bone, they may be aggressive when defending their space. This aggression can be toned down with time and training and the use of the word no, which they understand.
Potbelly pigs live 12-18 years on average and many live to be the ripe old age of 20. When they're three years old, they reach their peak weight, which averages 125 pounds. The snout of miniatures is significantly longer than most domestic pigs' and their ears stand erect. Their eyesight is poor but they have an excellent sense of smell.
Fact: Pigs are very clean, and will only use one corner of their pen as a toilet.
Housing and Feeding a Potbelly Pig
Their ideal living temperature is around 70 degrees. If you live in a colder climate, then you will need to make space indoors for the pig. Otherwise, the pig can live outdoors or both indoors and outdoors. No matter what, the pig will need to have an outdoor space to play and walk around in. A fenced-in area like what you would have for a dog is ideal.
A place where they can root around outside will prevent rooting behaviors inside. They love to eat and will root around endlessly in search of food. They can be fed commercially-prepared pig food but also enjoy fruits and vegetables. You will want to keep anything dangerous such as medications, drain cleaners, other pet food, etc. out of reach of your pig, just as you would for a small child.
Are You Ready to Take Home a Potbellied Pig?
- First, you must be sure that your area is zoned to allow potbellied pigs as pets.
- Be sure you have a reliable and responsible veterinarian in your area that understands the needs and care of pigs.
- 'Childproof' your house and yard and know what you will be feeding your new pet, where it will sleep, and how and when it will have access to the outdoors.
- Pigs love toys and love to play. Remember, a bored pig spells trouble! They love to shred paper and magazines so that's an easy thing you can leave laying around the house for them. Any toy that has food in it will be a great favorite so be sure to stock up.
- Be sure you have an area for your pig to root or a rooting box inside the house.
- If you also have a dog, never leave the dog and the pig unattended, even if they seem to be fast friends. Pigs are natural prey for dogs and they may fight (usually over food or toys).
- When it comes to training your pig, keep in mind that patience and food are required. If a pig is ever hit or harmed, they will remember it forever, and may never do what it is you want them to do. This approach to training does not work. Be sure you are prepared to give your pig the love, care, time, and training it needs.
Fact: Pigs have absolutely no odor.
Miniature "Teacup" Pigs: Different from Potbellied Pigs
The newest and most popular pig out there at the moment is called a miniature or "teacup" pig. Their genetic makeup is a mixture of several breeds: the miniature potbellied pig, Tamworth, Kunekune, and Gloucester Old Spot.
They start out small— a fraction of a pound— but they are not, by any means, the size of a teacup. An adult miniature pig will reach the size of a medium-sized dog in adulthood, measuring 12-16 inches tall and weighing 40-65 pounds. Like potbellied pigs, they can live for up to 18 years, are highly intelligent, low maintenance, quiet, and surprisingly clean.
The demand for these little guys is soaring and many celebrities, including Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint who plays Ron Weasley, have recently acquired one.
From what I have been able to gather, they are not only in high demand but are only bred and sold outside of the United States and at a very high price. Some breeders, such as Jane Croft of the Little Pig farm in Britain, require that the pigs be registered and will only sell piglets in pairs to insure the health and ethical treatment of the animals.
Remember, a bored pig spells trouble!
- Pig o' My Heart
A complete potbelly pig resource and adoption center which offers a wealth of information about the adoption, training, and care of the pet potbellied mini pig.
- North American Potbellied Pig Association
NAPPA is the oldest potbellied pig service organization in the world, offering education and information about the pet pig.