General Facts About Mini-Pigs

By Gregory Rich, DVM; Laurie Hess, DVM

There are many breeds of miniature pigs (mini-pigs), including the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig. These mini-pigs are pets and are different from those found on farms. Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs (also called Asian or Chinese pot-bellied pigs) were first domesticated as pets in Southeast Asia and became popular in the United States in the 1990s.

Purebred pot-bellied pigs are typically all black with straight tails and upright ears. In addition to pot-bellied pigs, the term mini-pig includes an additional 14 recognized breeds of small pigs, including Julianas, KuneKunes, and several others.

How big do mini-pigs get?

Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs typically weigh between 70–150 pounds (32-45 kg) but can be as heavy as 200 pounds (90kg), with a height of 14–20 (36-51 cm) at the shoulders. The adult size and weight of other mini-pig breeds is more variable. Typically, the size of a mini-pig may be estimated from the size of its parents. Mini-pigs reach about half their adult size and weight by one year of age, but will continue to grow until four to five years of age.

How long do mini-pigs live?

Pot-bellied pigs typically live for 14–21 years, with an average of 15–18 years. To reach maximum lifespan, they must be fed a nutritionally complete diet and receive proper medical care.

What is the best housing for mini-pigs?

The optimum environmental temperature for a mini-pig is 60ºF-75ºF (16ºC-24ºC) with a humidity around 50%. Since pigs do not have sweat glands, they can easily overheat when temperatures get above 85ºF (29ºC). Shallow pools or a covered pen are essential for pigs housed outdoors.

If you intend to keep your pig indoors, place child-safety locks on all cabinet doors. Mini-pigs love to root around and investigate, so care must be taken to secure cabinets and place harmful cleaning agents and pesticides outside a pig’s reach. Pigs housed indoors should have a litter box so they can urinate and defecate in one location. They will need some form of bedding to sleep in. Comforters, beach towels, blankets, or sleeping bags are good, soft choices for bedding. Mini-pigs should have daily outdoor time in a fenced-in yard to allow time for foraging, rooting, and playing.

How do mini-pigs communicate?

Mini-pigs communicate both with sounds and with body language. They make at least 20 different calls, including barks, squeals, grunts, and screams. They typically make low-pitched grunts when they are contacting each other, while high-pitched squeals and screams indicate more urgency, and barks indicate alarm or play.

Auditory (sound) and olfactory (smell) cues are much more important in pig communication than are visual signals. Aggression in pigs is typically communicated by thrusting the head upward or sideways against another pig and sometimes by biting. Submission is indicated by turning the head away. Young pigs explore their environments by rooting (digging) and mouthing newly encountered objects.

Can mini-pigs live with other pets?

Pigs in the wild are prey species, while dogs and cats are classified as predators. Therefore, while dogs and cats can be trained to live harmoniously with mini-pigs, they may cause a predatory response, especially in dogs. When frightened, a mini-pig will run away from trouble and/or squeal. Because of this, mini-pigs should never be left alone unsupervised, even with the friendliest of potentially predatory pets, like dogs and cats.

Can mini-pigs be trained?

Mini-pigs are very smart and can be trained to walk on a leash/harness and to sit, stay, come, and retrieve objects. They also can be trained to walk up a ramp into a car or a pet carrier and to roll over on to their backs so that their hooves can be trimmed.

Pigs are very food-motivated, so low-calorie treats, such as juicy pieces of fruit and vegetables, can be used for training (see handout "Feeding Mini-Pigs" for more information). These food items should only be offered as rewards during training, or the pig will not be motivated to work for them.

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