Do Potbellied Pigs Make Good Pets?
Looking for a pet that’s intelligent, hypoallergenic, and undeniably adorable? A potbellied pig could be the new four-legged friend for you. Read on for answers to your questions about the basics of housing and caring for a pet pig.
Are Pigs Good House Pets?
That depends. Pigs are intelligent creatures, boasting the brain power of young children. This makes them relatively easy to train and socialize. At the same time, however, that intelligence and curiosity can get pet pigs into trouble. When they’re bored or unhappy, pigs may act out by rooting, pouting, or begging. They’re also known to try and outsmart owners in search of snacks. Pigs are most definitely not a good choice for owners who don’t have the time and patience necessary to build a strong bond.
Do Potbellied Pigs Get Along with Other Pets?
Pigs are social animals who enjoy spending time with one another. As pets, they’re also generally happy to share space with cats. Dogs, on the other hand, don’t tend to get along with pigs. Canines are natural predators who may bully their hoofed housemates. Pigs are also known to act aggressively toward dogs, particularly during meals.
How Big Are Potbellied Pigs?
It’s important to remember that the tiny piglet you purchase or adopt won’t stay that size for long. Potbellied pigs are much smaller than the hogs you’ll see on farms, but they can still grow to a fairly impressive size. What’s more, the genetic diversity of potbellied pigs and other small-sized pig breeds means that the weight and height of full-grown animals can vary considerably. Typically, potbellied pigs weigh anywhere between 75 and 200 pounds and stand between 14 and 20 inches tall. That means your “mini” pig could weigh nearly as much as a Newfoundland!
Decades of breeding have resulted in even smaller pigs and a number of unofficial classifications, such as:
- Miniature potbellied pigs
- Teacup potbellied pigs
- Toy potbellied pigs
- Royal Dandies
- Micro mini potbellied pigs
Want to make sure you’re prepared to house and care for a full-sized pig? If possible, Meghann Cant from the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) recommends asking breeders to see pictures of your pig’s parents. That’s just one step prospective pig owners can take to ensure they’re working with a reputable breeder or pig rescue organization.
What Do Pet Pigs Eat?
Potbellied pigs are omnivores who require a different diet than their larger, farm-based counterparts. While some human foods are safe for porcine consumption, snacks from the table and pantry should never make up the bulk of their diet. Only specially-formulated foods are guaranteed to provide the full range of nutrients that pigs require to thrive. Your veterinarian can help you develop a diet that’s suited to your pig’s unique nutritional needs.
How Long Do Potbellied Pigs Live?
Potbellied pigs live for an average of 15 to 18 years, and some can live well past 20 years. For maximum longevity and the highest possible standard of living, pigs require a complete and balanced diet, as well as routine veterinary care.
Should I Spay or Neuter My Pig?
All potbellied pig owners are encouraged to neuter their male pets to avoid unwanted behaviors like excessive rooting and mounting. Male pigs reach sexual maturity by 10 weeks of age and begin emitting an unpleasant odor, and females are mature by week 12. Males should be neutered between 8 and 12 weeks of age. While spaying is less common, pigs typically undergo the procedure between their 12th and 16th weeks.
Do Pigs Need Vaccines?
According to Veterinary Centers of America (VCA), vaccination for pigs is a controversial subject. There are no specific requirements and your veterinarian’s recommendations will depend on factors including your location and your pig’s lifestyle. Vaccinations typically begin around eight weeks of age with annual boosters following afterward. At minimum, VCA writes that most veterinarians will recommend vaccinating piglets against tetanus, erysipelas, and leptospirosis. Other common vaccinations include:
What Health Issues Are Common for Potbellied Pigs?
Pigs’ voracious appetites can make them prone to weight gain and obesity. When they’re overheated, pigs often become sullen and pant excessively. Pale porkers are apt to get sunburned and develop skin cancer as well.
Since pigs can’t sweat, they are considered exceedingly vulnerable to the elements. A shallow mud pit (also called a wallow) can serve multiple purposes for a pet. A pit will cool them down, protect them from insects, and soothe their dry, flaky skin. Regular hoof trimming is recommended to avoid diseases of the foot, hoof, and leg.
Are Potbellied Pigs Legal?
Though they’re bred specially as companions, potbellied pigs are still on the books as livestock in most places around the country. In recent years, this has repeatedly put both potbellied pig owners and local governing boards in the spotlight. According to The Washington Post, 2019 alone saw towns in Michigan, Georgia, and Minnesota reverse their bans on pet pigs, while other municipalities including Eureka Springs, Arkansas elected to uphold theirs.
Some cities and towns do not ban pigs altogether, but may place certain restrictions on pet parents, including limiting households to a single pig. Anyone interested in welcoming a potbellied pig into their home is advised to consult their local animal ordinances to ensure doing so is legal. While it can be heartbreaking to lose a pet, the experience of losing a pet parent could prove altogether traumatic for a displaced pig.
The American Mini Pig Association offers resources for pet lovers hoping to learn more about pig ownership, as well as those fighting to overturn local ordinances. They encourage anyone who has successfully fought for legal pig ownership to share their story and provide inspiration to others.