Pros and Cons of Potbellied Pigs
PIGS is a sanctuary specializing in miniature and potbellied pigs, has compiled
a list of the pros and cons of keeping a pig as a pet. Although having a pig as a pet can be a rewarding
experience, as with any animal, they do require a great deal of effort and commitment. Pigs are
not maintenance free animals and are not as easy to care for as a cat or dog. Vietnamese potbellied pigs
have been heavily promoted as house pets -- the Sanctuary does not endorse this belief and does not believe
that pigs should be raised full time as house pets. Anyone considering a pig as a pet should know
that potbellied pigs are expected to live 10 to 15 years and a full grown pig often weighs well over 130
Pigs are intelligent and have been placed fourth on the intelligence
list (humans, primates, dolphins/whales, pigs).
Because of their high level of intelligence, pigs that are kept as FULL
time house pets can become bored easily and are often destructive when
finding ways to entertain themselves. It is not uncommon for them to
root up carpeting or linoleum floors, eat drywall, overturn house plants
and root through the dirt.
Pigs that have been neutered or spayed are generally sweet natured and sensitive
animals. In fact, pigs are so sensitive that you can hurt their feelings.
Pigs are herd animals and have a pecking order similar to that of chickens. Each member
of the herd has a particular standing in a pecking order and a pig will usually vie
to be "top pig" in the herd. When raised in the house the family members
will become the pig's herd. At around 18 months of age, the struggle for "top
pig" will begin. To determine the order standing, pigs fight. They
will charge their opponent, snapping and swinging their head. When the opponent is
a family member or a guest that has come to visit, this can be quite dangerous.
There is no approved rabies vaccine for a pig.
Pigs can be litter box trained. Outside pigs generally use one corner of the yard
as the bathroom
Pigs do root. Anyone desiring a perfectly manicured lawn should not have a pig.
Placing a ring in their nose is cruel as rooting is a natural instinct for pigs.
By rooting, they obtain necessary vitamins and minerals from the ground as well
as food. They have been known to eat worms and grubs and also will root to find
acorns or truffles
Pigs generally enjoy hardy health. Pigs should receive yearly vaccinations,
yearly hoof trimmings, and a yearly physical. Due to the size and difficulty in
transporting, a vet willing to make house calls is recommended
Pigs are very susceptible to pneumonia. The biggest cause of pneumonia is weather,
but it can also be brought on by stress. Pigs can "stress out" quite
easily. Because of their small lung size, bronchitis or pneumonia can kill a pig
Pigs have bristle like hair. People allergic to dog and cat fur may have no
reaction to the hair of a pig. NOTE: We have received a few calls about
allergies to the pig or the dust from the pig food.
Finding a vet knowledgeable in the health care of potbellied pigs can prove difficult.
Vet care can be expensive, depending, of course, on your particular area and the health
condition of your pig. Emergency treatment and/or specialized surgery can be especially
expensive. Pot bellied pigs should not be treated as domestic farm hogs. Also spaying
a pig is quite different from a dog or cat.
Pigs are generally clean, odorless animals
Pigs need a pool or puddle for cooling off in hot weather. They do not sweat
and must have a way of lowering their body temperature when they become over
heated. They need plenty of bedding in their sleeping area during the colder months.
In the winter, they love to bury themselves under straw and blankets
Local zoning laws may not allow pigs as pets. If your zoning does not allow
pigs, we urge you not to challenge your zoning.
At around 12 to 16 weeks of age, a female pig will go into her first heat. She
will then go into heat every 21 days and can become quite moody. An intact male
(not neutered) has a strong, foul odor and becomes sexually active at six to eight
weeks of age. Spay and/or neuter your pigs.
PIGS urges anyone considering a pig as a pet to contact your local shelter, humane
society, or local rescue group. Potbellied pigs are also being sold at livestock auctions. Please
consider rescuing a homeless pig instead of purchasing one from a breeder or pet store. For more information
on homeless pigs, please feel free to contact PIGS, 1112 Persimmon Lane, Shepherdstown, WV 25443 or phone/fax: 304-876-6766.
You can also e-mail us at FarmManager@pigs.org