Although some people would never consider sharing their home with a pig, there are many people who are charmed by the intelligence and the personality of their pet pot-bellied pigs. There is no doubt that when given the proper care and training, a pot-bellied pig can make an interesting and much-loved addition to the home. However, many people find that pigs are demanding pets and are overwhelmed by their needs—as shown by the abundance of shelters overflowing with pot-bellied pigs.
Pot Bellied Pigs Live a Long Time
Pot-bellied pigs will live an average of 12 to 18 years, with some getting to be older than 20 years. Responsibility for their care (with respect to both time and finances) is not to be taken lightly.
One of the considerations is how large your pet will grow. While they are classified by size, there are disagreements about the names, weights, and heights of different classifications. These are the most common sizes seen:
- Pot-bellied pigs, pot belly pigs, Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, Chinese pot-bellied pigs grow to a range from 125 pounds to over 200 pounds and 16 to 26 inches tall. Some breeders also use this range for miniature pot-bellied pigs.
- Miniature pot-bellied pigs (as designated by certain breeders) grow to 35 to 60 pounds. and 15 to 16 inches tall
- Teacup pot-bellied pigs grow to 35 to 45 pounds and 14.5 inches tall.
- Toy pot-bellied pigs grow to 35 to 40 pounds and 14 inches tall.
- Royal Dandies grow to about 29 to 39 pounds.
- Micro Mini Pigs grow to 18 to 30 pounds and 10 to 12.5 inches tall.
- Dandie Extremes grow to about 12 to 29 pounds.
- Mini Julianas grow to 15 to 28 pounds. and 8 to 12.5 inches tall.
It is also possible to be misled by unscrupulous breeders who breed pigs before they are fully mature and at full weight, claiming the offspring will be the parents' size at maturity.
Pot-Bellied Pigs Are Smart
Pigs are very intelligent. Pot-bellied pigs are quite trainable, much the same as a dog (they can be house trained, leash trained, and will learn a few tricks); however, their intelligence can make them a bit of a handful, too. They are curious and playful, but also headstrong and sensitive. They will become easily bored and possibly destructive if not provided with enough activities and enrichment.
Feeding Pot-Bellied Pigs
Pigs are unrelenting in their quest for food. They can learn to open the fridge, cupboards, and pantry—wherever food may be lurking. They can become demanding, begging for food, and even getting aggressive with kids that have food. Pigs also "root" or dig/explore with their snouts and in doing so may overturn items in the house, including wastebaskets, and can disrupt the landscaping outside.
You should provide an area of dirt outside for rooting, scattering your pig's food so he can search for it. Rooting in the dirt is also a source of minerals such as iron and selenium for your pig.
The adult diet should include:
- Pig pellets that are low protein, low fat, high fiber. About 1/2 cup per 25 pounds or 2 cups per day for adults.
- Fresh, non-starchy vegetables to make up 25 percent of the total daily diet
- 1 children's chewable multi-vitamin daily
- Alfalfa hay or bran are good sources of extra fiber
They are easily overfed and many are obese when fully grown. If there is a fat roll over your pig's eyes, it indicates he is overweight and you should discuss diet with your vet. Don't feed your pig fatty or salty foods and don't give him table scraps, dog food, or cat food.
If your pig stops eating, it is a sign that something is wrong and you need to take him to the vet.
Caring For Your Pig
- Potty train your pig to use a litter box or go outside. Use praise rather than treats as a reward.
- Give your pig a space of his own, such as a tent or sleeping box.
- Provide an indoor rooting box so he can move the rocks around. It's a good place to put a treat or to place his some of his chow.
- Your pig needs exercise to prevent constipation. Regular access to the outdoors for exercise is a necessity.
- Pigs only sweat through the snout, so it will be wet if he is hot. Their normal rectal temperature is 99.3 F.
- Pig proof your house as you would for a toddler.
- Pot-bellied pigs will need to be spayed or neutered by an exotic animal vet.
- Regular hoof trims are needed throughout their lifetime
Pot-Bellied Pigs Can Have a Temper
Another problem some owners have encountered with their pigs is aggression. Pot-bellied pigs can be territorial and have a drive to be dominant ("top pig"). Unless shown that the humans in the household are number one, pigs can exhibit a form of aggression known as dominance aggression (also seen in dogs). Pigs need to be taught to respect their owners by setting rules and boundaries, teaching the word "no," and using gentle but firm discipline.
Pigs respond well to positive reinforcement (e.g. using praise and treats when the pig is doing something desirable) and do not do well at all with physical punishment. From day one, the owner should be setting the rules and enforcing them. Consistent rules, praise for good behavior, and correction/redirection with lots of repetition and patience will help produce a well-mannered pot-bellied pig with a good relationship with its family. Neutering or spaying is also a must to control those raging hormones.
Other Pot-Bellied Pig Considerations
Pot-bellied pigs should be obtained from conscientious and reputable breeders and you will need a lot of good quality pot-bellied pig food. Pigs are social animals so they need lots of attention and interaction. Of course, as with any other exotic pet, an owner needs to check local regulations to make sure pot-bellied pig ownership is permissible where they live.
For people with appropriate expectations, a pot-bellied pig will make a rewarding, entertaining, much-loved pet.