California Potbellied Pig Association, Inc

Adoption Information - Is a Potbellied Pig Right for Me?

Pig Placement Network

So, you are thinking about getting a potbellied pig and want to know if you are doing the right thing. This flyer should answer many of your questions. In addition to reading up on pet pigs, we recommend that you take the time to actually visit several pet pigs before making your decision. Piglets are cute little butterballs for only a short time; so make sure you meet a full-grown, adult piggy before adopting. If you would like to make friends with a pet piggy, we can arrange a meeting.

Frequently asked questions about Vietnamese Miniature Potbellied Pigs . . .

What are some of the pros and cons about having a pet pig?Potbellied pigs (PBP’s) make good companions, but only for the right caregiver. On the plus side, pigs are smart, clean, generally non-allergenic, odor-free, flea-free, charming and inexpensive to feed. Pigs are social, bonding easily with humans. They'll readily roll over for a tummy rub, as well as snuggle in bed with you. They don't bark, prowl the streets or spread rabies. Compared with dog droppings, mild smelling "pig berries" are a breeze to clean up. While pigs are highly trainable and can learn at a faster rate than dogs, pig behavior is vastly different from dog behavior. As eager as a dog can be to please his master, a pig's respect, trust and cooperation must be earned. If the pig had it his way, you would be pleasing him. In nature, pigs are regarded as prey, and are therefore naturally suspicious, cautious creatures. They have to be coaxed and rewarded. You cannot force a pig to do anything he doesn't want to do; it has to be his idea. Don't expect your pig to eagerly greet you at the door and fetch your slippers. Having a pet pig is kind of like having a perpetual two-year old child. It is because pigs are so intelligent that they can be so stubborn, demanding and manipulative. Pigs can become easily bored, grumpy, depressed, sedentary and even destructive and aggressive, if not given adequate attention by a loving caregiver. While the daily cost of keeping a pig is relatively low, if a pig becomes ill, vet bills can be unmanageable for some people. Qualified potbellied pig vets are unavailable in some areas.

Can you take a pig for a walk and play catch with him?A pig can easily be trained to walk on a leash and harness and to ride in a car. Yes, you can take a pig for a walk, but unlike a dog, piggy will take his own sweet time checking out every gum-wrapper and leaf on the pavement. While you can teach a pig to retrieve an object, a pig will only cooperate if amply rewarded with treats. A pig does not retrieve for the joy of it.

Do pigs bite? That's like asking if dogs or cats bite. If given a reason, sure they do. While pigs are generally gentle by nature, they are also territorial and emotional. A pig can become aggressive when competing for food or attention. As with a dog, it is important to teach him good manners and let him know who is "top hog" in the family.

Are pigs affectionate? A pig is not going to jump up and lick you in the face. Their affections are expressed more subtlety. Pigs love to be scratched, rubbed and massaged. Most pigs don't like to be picked up, but will gladly lie on the sofa with you and enjoy a long cuddle. Pigs appreciate and seek out human company.

How long do potbellied pigs live? With proper care, a potbellied pig can live an average of 15 to 20 years. Your pig will live long if you make sure he doesn't become obese, and if you provide him with ample social interaction, stimulation, outdoor time and physical exercise. If your pig becomes ill, making certain he receives prompt veterinary care will also help ensure a long, healthy life.

What happens if I get a pig and later decide that I don't want him? Pigs become attached to their human families very quickly, and are easily depressed when separated. Do your homework first and make sure a pet pig is really right for you and every member of your family. A potbellied pig sanctuary adoption program will help find the right pig for you, help you "piggy proof" your home, and support you in caring for your pig. If you find that you do not want to keep the pig, we request that you contact our organization as soon as possible. Municipal animal shelters (pounds) frequently auction off pigs or destroy them right away. "Free to good home" ads sometimes result in a piggy ending up on someone's dinner table, or worse still…. Pig sanctuaries across the country are currently at capacity, so there are few good options for unwanted pet pigs. Are you really ready to keep a pig for its lifetime?

What are the zoning laws regarding pigs as pets? Each city and county has its own zoning codes about pet pigs. Many cities prohibit farm animals, including swine. Many have revised their codes to allow potbellied pig, as miniature pigs are considered companion animals. Before getting a pig, check with your city, county and homeowners association to determine the exact code. Get the code in writing!

How big are potbellied pigs? PPB's can range between 75 and 250 pounds, with the average pig weighing around 150pounds. Miniature pigs continue to grow until they reach maturity at 3 to 5 years of age. Comparatively, farm pigs can weigh in excess of 1000 pounds.

Is there such thing as a Teacup or Micro-mini Potbelly Pig? Though breeders and pet shops might claim they have micro mini pigs, far too frequently, such pigs have stunted growth due to under-feeding and poor nutrition. Rarely do we see a pig that remains under 50 pounds at maturity unless it has health problems that are often a result of inbreeding. Starving a pig to keep it small is no different than starving a human child to keep it small. It’s cruel and it doesn't work.

Can the size of the parents determine the ultimate size of the offspring? To some degree, yes, but there are no 100% guarantees. Babies born to small pigs often grow up to be larger than their parents. When looking at the parents for sizing, make certain the parents are at least 3-5 years of age and that their growth has not been stunted from malnutrition or inbreeding.

What should I feed my pig? Pigs thrive on a diet consisting of grain, fruit and vegetables. Feeding your pig high-grade commercial potbellied pig chow, such as Mazuri (Purina), Champions Choice (Ross Mill Farm) or Manna Pro, supplemented with low-calorie fresh produce snacks will keep your pig fit and trim. Do not feed your pig dog or cat food. The quantity of feed depends on the age, size and activity level of your pig. Growing pigs and nursing moms need more calories than sedentary older pigs. We recommend that you feed your pig twice daily (1/3 to 1/2 cup of potbellied pig chow) and include low-fat foods such as apples, carrots, cucumbers, celery and leafy green vegetables (collard and mustard greens, spinach, etc.) and even air-popped corn (no butter, salt or oil) for special treats. Corn, potatoes, dried fruit, cookies, chips and nuts, etc, can pack the pounds on piggy. Most importantly, your pig needs access to plenty of fresh water. To ensure that your pig is properly hydrated, particularly in the summer months, add lots of water to his pig chow. The water will bulk up the pellets, making piggy feel fuller and more satisfied. Pigs are rooters and rummagers by nature, and therefore always act hungry. Don't let piggy cajole you into feeding him more than he needs. The occasional special treat is okay, but avoid feeding table-scraps. Your piggy is not a garbage disposal!

Can I keep my pig inside? While some potbellied pigs enjoy being inside the house, they also require ample outdoor time to root around, relax in the sun and engage in other piggy behavior. Pigs acquire certain critical nutrients from soil, so they must be given an opportunity to be outdoors. You can keep your pig outside during the day and allow him to sleep inside at night. While outdoors, your pig will need to be protected from the elements. Provide your pig with a properly secured yard, a house with bedding (blankets or straw will do) and with an overhead shelter (above the house) like a tarp or canopy to protect him from the sun, wind and rain. If given a choice, some pigs prefer to live outdoors, so you must be prepared to provide a proper outdoor home.

Where do pigs sleep? Many people provide Dogloo type doghouses for their pigs to sleep in outdoors and indoors. Pigs living indoors need comfortable soft bedding. Dog beds and blankets work well. Outdoor houses can be packed with straw or hay. Of course, piggy will love to sleep on the bed with you. Unless you don't mind this being an every night occurrence, don’t get him started!

Can I keep a pet pig in an apartment? We recommend against keeping pet pigs in apartments, condos or rentals. Pigs need ample outdoor space, which cannot be provided in an apartment or condo. Renters are too often at the mercy of their landlord and cannot provide a stable home for a pig. Even if a landlord approves a pig as a tenant, frequently, a renter will move and be unable to find another rental that allows pigs.

How do I 'piggy proof' my house? As you would do for any pet, make sure that household cleaning products, insecticides, medicines, lighter fluid and other toxins are out of reach. Remove plants that could harm your pig. Take potted indoor plants off the floor and don't leave handbags within reach. Pigs love lipstick and chewing gum! They are very cleaver with their snouts and particularly industrious when they smell food. If needed, secure your cabinets with childproof locks. Avoid feeding your pig out of the refrigerator. If your pig learns to open the fridge door, you might have to install a latch. Tape up computer, telephone and electrical wires where possible. We recommend that pigs be kept away from open swimming pools.

Will my pig need a mud wallow? Pigs do not have sweat glands, so they will attempt to cool down by rolling in mud or water. While piggy will be delighted by a wallow, they are not necessary. Provide your pig with a plastic wading pool filled with water or even keep your pig indoors in air-conditioning on hot days. Simple, inexpensive misting systems can also be easily rigged for outdoor pigs.

Will my pig get along with my dogs and cats?Pigs and cats frequently become fast friends and bedmates. Dogs, however, are another story. We recommend that you separate your pig from your dogs. While your small dog may eventually get along with your piggy, they must always be closely supervised. As tame as your dog may be, keep in mind that dogs are natural predators of pigs and can turn on pig even years after living together. A dog can easily kill a pig. Don't leave your pig and dog unattended.

I would like to get a pet pig for my child. Is that a good idea? Well, that all depends on the age and maturity of the child. If you are getting a pig for a teenager, ask yourself if you are prepared to take care of the pig when your child gets busy with high school activities. Who will take care of the pig when your child leaves for college? We recommend against getting a pig for young children. A pig has a very keen sense of smell and will be attracted to food odors on a child's hand. It is hard foursome pigs to differentiate between food and fingers, unfortunately. It is dangerous to leave a young child unsupervised with a pig. Children of any age are frequently intrigued with the idea of getting a pet pig, but quickly the responsibility of daily care falls in the hands of parents. Are you prepared for that?

Can a potbellied pig be housebroken?Yes! A potbellied pig can be housebroken faster than most dogs. If you teach your pig good habits from day one, your pig will not have "accidents" in the house. You can start a piglet with a litter-box if you’d like, but then quickly teach your pig to do his business outdoors in a designated spot. Young piglets need to urinate every hour or two. Mature pigs can hold it longer. We can give you specific instructions for housebreaking your piggy.

What type of training will my pig need? The more you interact and work with your pig the more bonded you will be to each other and the happier your pig will be. Pigs can easily learn tricks, such as sitting, turning circles, shaking hands, rolling a ball, retrieving an object, blowing a horn and even sinking a basket. It is not necessary to teach your pig tricks for the sake of tricks, but it is necessary to teach your pig good manners. Teaching your pigs simple things like 'sit', 'be gentle', 'good spot’ (for doing your business), etc., you will develop a system of communicating with your pig. Pigs love to learn, and are capable of learning many behaviors and words, even full sentences. A training session with your pig shows him that you are interested in him and that you care. And don't forget to pay your pig! Pigs are highly food-motivated and will do just about anything for a treat. When it comes to training a piggy, a single kernel of popcorn works as well as a handful. Once your pig has learned a few behaviors, reward him only after he's followed a series of directions. Reward him with a small treat and with lots of praise and enthusiasm, too! Keep the training fun and short, starting with 3-minute sessions and working up.

Should a potbellied pig be spayed or neutered? Male pigs should be neutered as soon as possible. Boars (uncastrated pigs) give off a pungent, musky odor that will stick to your clothing and furniture. They display sexual behavior at a very early age and can become quite difficult to handle if left intact. Neutering a male will also slow down the growth of his tusks. Females should be spayed as soon as possible, preferably before they come into season. If left unspayed, females frequently have uterine problems, such as tumors and infections. Find a qualified potbellied pig veterinarian to perform the procedure and insist that only isoflurane gas be used for anesthesia. (Also insist that a full hysterectomy be done not just an ovary removal.)  Injectible drugs such as ketamine and cocktails used on dogs can result in serious problems, even death. The older and larger your pig gets, the more anesthesia your pig will require and the more dangerous it becomes. Get your pig neutered and spayed as early as possible!

Does my pig need vaccinations or de-worming? Pigs should be vaccinated yearly, weather they come into contact with other pigs or not. All pigs should be given, at minimum, an annual dose of "Ivermectin", an antiparasitical agent that treats internal as well as external parasites. Some recommend quarterly doses of Ivermectin or other wormer. Yearly vaccinations are highly recommended up to at least the age of five.

What type of health problems do pigs have? Given proper care, most pigs have few health problems. However, there are several serious problems that occasionally arise. Pigs can become easily constipated, leading to impacted bowels, a life threatening condition. It is important that you provide your pigs with a high-fiber diet and plenty of fresh water. Male pigs can also have serious urinary tract problems, which can be costly to repair. Keeping your pig well hydrated can also prevent these problems.  The biggest health problem in potbellied pigs, unfortunately, is a condition caused by their human caregivers. Obesity is the number one cause of health complications and death in potbellied pigs. Morbidly obese pigs can become blind from fatty skin folds that obstruct their vision. Obese pigs will inevitably have crippling joint problems and sometimes have respiratory problems, both conditions leading to immobility and death. Don't let your pig get fat!

Do my pigs hooves and tusks need to be trimmed? While castrating a male pig will slow down the growth of his tusks, tusks will still have to be trimmed from time to time. Female pigs have very slow-growing tusks that rarely need to be trimmed. Both male and female pigs need to have their hooves routinely trimmed, usually once or twice a year. Prepare your pig for vet visits and trims by handling his feet and tusks.

Can I take my pig on vacation?Yes, some pigs can travel well, but you have to prepare them. Practice riding in the car long before your vacation. Secure your pig inside an airline kennel and don't let them ride loose in the car. AAA auto service has a list of pet-friendly motels. If you take your pig out of state you will need a health certificate and blood test within ten days of traveling.

Can I board my pig at a dog kennel? Some kennels will take pigs, but most are not designed to accommodate a pig. Pigs don’t do very well if kept on cement, especially wet cement for any length of time. You are better off hiring a pet-sitter or boarding your pig at a potbellied pig sanctuary.

Do potbellied pigs come in different colors? Potbellied pigs come in a variety of colors including black, white, red, brown and pinto. Most potbellied pigs are black with white markings. White pigs are hardest to maintain because they sunburn easily and easily show dirt. They are also prone to drippy eyes.

Do potbellied pigs shed? Yes and no. Pigs do not shed the way dogs shed. Most pigs will "blow" their coats once or twice a year. They will loose all their hair in the summer months and it will reappear by winter.

Should I get a male or female pig? Once a male pig has been castrated and a female has been spayed, there is very little difference between the two. It is all a matter of personal preference.

I've heard that two pigs are better than one. Is that true? Through our many adoptions, we find that pigs do better in pairs or small groups. While a single pig can make a fine companion, when they reach maturity they can sometimes start to exhibit undesirable behavior. This rarely happens in a two-pig household. Pigs, being herd animals, seem to do better when they have another pig around. Most people with two pigs report that it is easier to keep two than one. We recommend getting accustomed to your first pig then adopting a second one a short time later. We can help you find the right companion for your pig as well as help you introducing two pigs together.

Where can I find out more about potbellied pigs as pets?Though there is no single definitive book about potbellied pigs, there are many books, magazines and websites that are packed with information. Do an Internet search on "pet pigs”, “potbellied pigs", "miniature pigs" and you will not be disappointed.

Once I've determined that a potbellied pig is right for me, how do I go about getting a pet pig?Contact a legitimate sanctuary, or rescue group, they will help you find the piggy of your dreams! We recommend that you adopt a pig from a rescue program or sanctuary. There are many wonderful pigs just waiting to go home with you!

Checklist For A Good Piggy Caregiver

Honestly answering the following questions will help you determine if a potbellied pigs is the right type of pet for you:

Is my area zoned for potbellied pigs? If so, what is the exact code?

Is this an impulsive decision or have I really thought it out?

Have I taken the time to visit an adult pet pig?

Do I understand that pigs can be in excess of 100 pounds at maturity and that they can live 20 years?

Would I be better off getting a cat, bird or other type of pet that requires less attention?

Do I have enough patience and time to give to a pet pig?

Am I willing to learn how to work with my pig?

Can I really afford to provide vet care for my pig?

Can I provide adequate outdoor space for a pig?

Are my children too young to have a pig as a pet?

Am I expecting my children to take responsibility for the pig's care?

If my older children are leaving for college soon, am I willing to care for the pig?

Does everyone in my house agree that we should get a pig?

Do I have someone to care for my pig while I'm away?

Am I planning on moving in the near future?

Am I renting?

”…pigs are very beautiful animals. 

Those who do not think so do not look at anything with their own eyes

but through other people's eyeglasses."
G. K. Chesterton