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Why Potbellied Pigs Make Wonderful Pets

Eliza has a love of outdoor adventures and shares her experiences here.

Potbellied pigs make affectionate, playful, intelligent pets!

Potbellied pigs make affectionate, playful, intelligent pets!

Pigs as Household 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 potbellied 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.

Behavioral Characteristics

Potbellied 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.)

They Can Learn Almost Anything

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.

They're Social and Affectionate

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.

They're Territorial

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.

Physical Characteristics

  • Life Span: Potbelly pigs live 12–18 years on average, and many live to be the ripe old age of 20.
  • Weight: When they're three years old, they reach their peak weight, which averages 125 pounds.
  • Appearance: The snout of miniatures is significantly longer than most domestic pigs', and their ears stand erect.
  • Senses: Their eyesight is poor, but they have an excellent sense of smell.

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.

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What Do They Eat?

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?

Here's a checklist to help you plan ahead for a pet 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.

After You Bring Home Your Pet Pig

  • 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 they 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.
  • 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).

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. The demand for these little guys is soaring, and many celebrities, including Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint who plays Ron Weasley, have acquired one.

How Big Do They Get?

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.

Where Do You Get 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.

Balls are a good thing to have around.

Balls are a good thing to have around.

Learn More

  • 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.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Thanks for stopping by. I would love to hear from you!

TerriCarr on April 14, 2014:

I know someone who had a pet pig. She had it for years and loved it. However, she acknowledged that it was quite difficult to find a roommate who wanted to share living space with a pig.

anonymous on September 12, 2012:

We are Miniature TeaCup per piggy liscenced breeders since 2006 and we are thankful to you for your wonderful article. We are proud to be in such a wonderful pet piggy industry. Our father/stud is an amazing gray with black dalmatian spots and at three years old he is only 8lbs in weight... Yes the size of a football. Healthy, happy and adorable. We ship our small breed of Piggys all over the USA and have liters available all year round. Our piggy prices amazingly enough start at $300 & up. We are her to educate like you to our clients about this exotic small breed of domesticated pets. Yes they are smarter than a dog and cleaner than a cat and they do Fly... If you every have any questions or in need of a reputable teacup pig breeder please feel free to give us a call at 386-212-1199 Florida

anonymous on June 25, 2012:

Don't know why people make comments that pigs don't shed. This is NOT true. And when someone buys a pig they will find out. Potbelly pigs shed there coats once a year, around June normally. Its called "blowing their coat". And I mean ALL of it. Their coat totally falls out within a couple of weeks in the spring and eventually grows back at the end of summer.

AaronSquid on March 01, 2012:

Nice lens, I didn't realize that pigs could be trained like that. I guess they are no more destructive than a large, overexcitable dog?

JEMArtistry on March 01, 2012:

Very informative lens. Those miniature teacup pigs are adorable.

RomeSal on April 11, 2011:

Pigs have attained symbolic status all across the world - some positive as in the Oriental culture while they have retained a rather caustic appeal for many other cultures where a pig is considered "Haram" and unclean.

Regardless, I think they are cute and adorable often inspiring many a painting or as a favored object of interest for a child eg. as a plush toy.

Thank you for your information :)

I001l01I02l on March 29, 2011:

pigs are so cute

GramaBarb from Vancouver on September 08, 2010:

Super advice in this lens. A must read for any pet owner. Blessed.

Argamon on March 26, 2010:

This was a blast to read - very informative and classy!

Indigo Janson from UK on February 26, 2010:

They sound like wonderful pets. I love that you put the emphasis on their wellbeing and on responsible ownership. I also like your pink theme! :-)

Beas on January 28, 2010:

It is commonly thought pot bellies are tiny but they are great! Did you convince your husband yet?

CherylsArt on January 14, 2010:

I've never owned a pig before myself but have heard of others having them as pets. Great info. Featured it on

anonymous on November 24, 2009:

Well, I had never considered getting a pig for a pet but you make a very good argument for one. Spreading my Angel wings to bless this lens for it's creative nature and information.

Laniann on November 24, 2009:

A pig sounds like a wonderful pet. I read a book about someone rescuing abused pigs. It took awhile for the pigs to trust the new owner, after a spell they did. The pigs became very friendly, loving and a lot of fun to have. 5*

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