Many things to consider before adopting pet pig

Pot belly, micro-pig, teacup pig and julianas are all names of breeds of pigs that many people think are pigs that do not grow any larger than a small dog. Animal lovers love the idea of carrying around these supposedly cute little pigs Many micro pig seekers, even big name celebrities, have been scammed by sellers and breeders into buying into the fantasy idea of a micro pig.

Back in the 1960s, in Vietnam the pot belly pig was extensively bred as they were compact, resistant to parasites and disease. Alsol, the breed provided good tasting meat and heavy lard, and was also smart. The pig was so admired for its intelligence and its size that it soon made its way into zoos in the United States and Canada. With the pig’s popularity, breeders soon saw an opportunity to sell the next great alternative pet to eager North Americans. Pot belly pigs, otherwise known as micro-pigs, became very popular.

According to, owning a pot belly pig has great advantages and disadvantages. They are sensitive creatures, have a docile temperament and possess a more compact size than the normal farmed pigs such as a duroc pig that are tall and can weigh up to 800 pounds. 

Pot belly pigs are as smart as chimpanzees and can be taught many commands and tricks.These mini pig breeds sound like a great alternative pet, yet there are challenges to ownership such as stubbornness and an instinctual need to roam, which can lead to runaway pigs. The adult size is unpredictable, and the pigs have a high maintenance schedule with hoof trimming and costly veterinary services.

Unfortunately, the  marketing of micro pigs has been unscrupulous, as the breeders want to push a fantasy of a sweet little piglet that will never grow past the size of a small dog. Buyers who have not educated themselves think that if they keep a restricted diet advised by the breeder, the pig will remain small and petite, fitting conveniently into their homes and lives. 

One such story is from the owner of Esther the Wonder Pig. Steve Jenkins and his partner  adopted what they thought was a micro piglet at the age of six months, but the seller had lied, and the piglet was a mere four weeks old. At the time, they thought, the pig would not grow much more than 30 pounds, but 650 pounds later, Esther the wonder pig was a lucky piglet as the couple who adopted her, adapted their lives and living situation to suit the real commercial size pig that she was. Although they had been duped, they committed to Esther as a pet. 

That is a happy ending, yet, the reality is that there are thousands of abandoned micro pigs in North America that have been surrendered to sanctuaries across North America. 

According to the busy caretakers at the sanctuary Hog Haven located in DeerField Colorado, “Sadly, only 2-5% of all pet pigs remain in one home during the course of their long lives, a 20-year average. One primary factor contributing to abandoned pigs relates to breeding practices. Because pig breeding is not regulated by the USDA or PACFA, false claims can be made to sell more piglets without consequence.” 

Sanctuaries like Hog Haven across the United States ask that before one acquires a pig as a pet, to ask these questions:


  1. Is it legal in your area to own a pig as a pet. Many cities have zoning laws to prevent this. You will end up having to find sanctuary for your pig.
  2. How big do mini pigs get? Can your home and land provide adequate space; otherwise, you will be surrendering your pig.
  3. What kind of housing do pigs require? Many can not live inside a home comfortably.
  4. Would a pig be compatible with your pet? Pigs are prey animals, and other pets may see them for exactly that. Dogs will attack pigs.
  5. Do you understand pig nutrition?
  6. Do you have access to suitable veterinary care?
  7. How do you transport a pig?
  8. How do you train a pig!? Are you able to put in the hours to do so?
  9. How much will it cost to keep a pet pig healthy? Can you afford it?
  10. What happens to unwanted pigs? Can you commit to a pet like a pig?


So there is a lot to ponder about before accepting the responsibility of having a cute mini pig. First, understanding that they will not stay small, that they are not really mini or micro, that there will be a lot of maintenance involved to keep the precious pig healthy and happy. 

Like with any pet, they are meant to be a part of your family, and that goes for pigs too.

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