Other common names: Vietnamese Potbellied Pig; Vietnamese Potbelly; Miniature Pot-Bellied Pig; Pot Belly Pig; PBP
You may have seen these pigs advertised as mini-pigs, often touted as great pets that will stay under a certain weight. Don't be fooled!
The truth is that no matter how cute (or smart!) these 'little' pigs are, they aren't good pet-material for the average person or family. In fact, if you're looking for a pet, you'd be better off looking into guinea pigs. Because a full-grown potbellied pig will weigh anywhere from 100 - 250 lbs. (or more!), and that's a whole lot of pig to love -- not to mention feed, house, and clean up after.
Still think a potbelly pig is the breed for you? Then you may be interested to know that potbellied pigs are descendants of wild swine originally found in southeast Asia. And they weren't traditionally kept as pets. Instead, they have been a staple food source in countries like Vietnam and Thailand for centuries, particularly relied upon by family farmers and other smallholders with limited space. Then, in 1984, a Canadian named Keith Connell exported potbellied pigs to Canada and Sweden and later to other countries as a dwarf swine breed.
They eventually became popular worldwide as pets because of their relative small size. Unfortunately, the evolution of the potbellied pig from a dwarf livestock breed to an exotic pet has not been very successful. While they are indeed smart and personable animals, their adult size and lifestyle requirements, and the fact that many cities and communities do not allow the keeping of pigs as pets, has resulted in a majority of potbellies needing rehoming / rescuing.
As the Pigs Peace Sanctuary explains, "In 1985 potbellied pigs were introduced to the United States and promoted as the perfect house pet. People were told that a pig was easier to house train than a dog, pigs would stay small and adorable and pigs didn't require a lot of room. People were not told, however, that pigs do not stay small. The average adult potbellied pig weighs 150 pounds. Research concluded that many pigs were passed from home to home, often in a matter of weeks. Some were set free to fend for themselves, and many endured years of abuse and neglect as people tried to manage them with confinement and control. Many shelters will not take miniature pigs. They consider them livestock and send them to stockyards and slaughter. Other shelters euthanize pigs immediately without trying to find them a home."
Appearance / Health:
Potbellied pigs are characterized by their small size (averaging a little over a foot all and 3 feet long and weighing from 100 - 250 pounds). The ears are upright, and the tail is straight. The body color is typically “black and white” which ranges from solid white to solid black with all patterns of black and white in between.
As the name implies, the belly is round and low. The back is often deeply curved. Overweight Potbellied pigs are seen with their bellies touching the ground and folds of fat drooping down over the eyes.
Despite their energy and gregarious nature, pigs are sensitive animals. They are easily stressed by travel, vaccinations, extreme temperatures, and new surroundings. Stress makes them susceptible to ailments like pneumonia and bronchitis (due also to their small lungs relative to their size). They are also susceptible to animal viruses like influenza. Pigs commonly suffer from mad itch (or pseudo rabies), dysentery, and parasites (lice, ticks, and ascarid worms).
Healthy pigs have shiny hair, bright eyes, strong appetites, and high energy. Their normal temperature is 102.5F. Deviations from the normal temperature and other signs of poor health including diarrhea and coughing should promptly be brought to the attention of a veterinarian.
Behavior / Temperament:
As omnivores that love to eat, pigs can provide you with hours of entertainment while they explore their surroundings in search for something to munch on. They use their sensitive snouts to smell and unearth a potential meal. They're also very intelligent and social animals that quickly get used to the presence and affection of humans.
Some pigs are intelligent enough to learn tricks, obey commands, and use a litter box. Because they have no sweat glands, they tend to cool themselves by rolling in water or mud. The mud that dries on their skin serves as a sunscreen and protection from parasites like ticks, lice, and flies.
Potbellied pigs have gained popularity as pets because they are small compared to other breeds. However, even a 'small' pig is still a pig and most will grow large and become difficult to manage, especially indoors. As pets, they are not like cats or dogs that appreciate being held; in fact, they tend to panic when they’re picked up off the ground (assuming you can actually lift them).
Housing / Diet:
Pigs are active, curious animals that require room to explore, exercise, and just be their natural energetic selves. Sufficient space, relative to their size and weight, is a primary consideration because pigs that are crowded or confined to small spaces become stressed, and healthy growth and development is hindered.
Although constantly roaming and appreciative of open yards and fresh air, pigs also require a shed or housing that will let them sleep on a dry and clean area at night. Ideal ambient temperatures are 60-70F. Warm shelters with wood chip bedding are a must during cold months; water misters are recommended for the hottest months.
Pig housing should also include a feeder and a drinking water dispenser (usually a water barrel). Access to a water source makes it convenient to clean or hose out the pig shelters (and the pigs) as needed. Chain link fencing, shade trees, and a pond are recommended for backyard habitats.
Pig owners are advised to check with local authorities for legislation regarding the ownership and keeping of pigs in their homes and backyards. As omnivores that eat plants and animals, pigs will consume almost anything that is edible like fruits, roots, flowers, grass, insects, worms, all types of meat, and even leftover scraps from the dinner table.
Unlike ruminant animals (cattle and goats), pigs have a single stomach. For healthy and fast growth, pigs require a high-energy diet composed of grain (corn, oats, wheat, barley), plus protein and vitamin supplements. Most commercially available feed for pigs combine various farm grains and the necessary supplements to ensure rapid and efficient development.
Pigs are best allowed to self-feed or eat as much as they want during the day to enable them to grow as fast as they normally can. Feeding should always include a good supply of clean, fresh drinking water.
smart, Cuteset darn things, trainable, sweetest temperements, personable animal
unaltered male pigs, disreputable breeders, urinary tract infections, good escape artists, uterine tumors
mud baths, lawn mowers, clean animal contrary, hand feed, hate cats, minimal noise
My friends had a pot-bellied pig called Hilda. She lived on their small holiday-let business, so all the visitors would stand and talk to her. She was a great attraction and enjoyed the attention. To say Hilda was large would be an understatement, and anyway, pot-bellied pigs are known for their great size. But it’s worth noting because the reality of keeping such a huge animal needs to be kept in mind. Hilda had a good-sized enclosure with a shelter to sleep in and plenty of space to wander around. She often gouged hollows in the soil to sleep in and seemed to be quite happy with her life.
When my friends went away for a week, I took their place and looked after everything. Hilda included. I had been warned that she would try to get out if she saw an opportunity, so I was extra careful whenever I went to feed her or clean out her sleeping quarters. I had no qualms about being near the enormous Hilda, as she was a friendly pig and liked to have her ears rubbed.
Things went well except for one thing. And it was quite an important thing – Hilda’s pen wasn’t strong enough to contain her. I hadn’t realised this, and apparently neither had Hilda. But once she did, there was no stopping her. She was able to knock down the wire fences with ease, and went on three adventures during the week.
On the first great escape, it was fairly easy to coax Hilda back to her pen. I think she was as surprised as I was to find herself out in the open, and was agreeable about going home. The offer of food helped her make this decision. I did my best to firm up the security of the fencing but Hilda’s taste of freedom was stronger than the wire mesh. She was determined to go on a longer journey and I had no choice but to follow. Although slow and placid, Hilda was strong and not easily persuaded to change her mind once she’d decided on something. All I could do was go with her and make sure she was safe – fortunately, there were no roads nearby.
It turned out that Hilda had a particular destination in mind – pigs on the farm next to the property. When she reached the edge of their field, Hilda was content to stand and look at the other pigs. She made a few snorting sounds and they did the same in return. They were quite interested in Hilda, and formed a little gathering on their side of the fence, to look at her. The meeting had a comical quality but it was also quite touching – there seemed to be real connection between the animals. Eventually, Hilda was ready to go home, but she did make a return visit to her friends on the farm.
The experience is funny in retrospect. It caused stress and worry at the time, though – especially because it was someone else’s animal. I was afraid that Hilda would come to harm, or that she might do some damage. Luckily that didn’t happen, but the prospect of further escapes was always in my mind and I was very relieved to hand the responsibility of Hilda back to my friends. I would urge anyone thinking of owning a pig, pot-bellied or not, to construct a very strong enclosure first..
From Samanddoris Aug 23 2015 5:29AM
Staying hydrated is very important for many reasons but especially because of salt toxicity. Salt toxicity can cause nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, tremors, decreased appetite, seizures, coma and death. Pigs should always be provided with a clean, fresh, unlimited water supply. .
From Mia B 38 days ago
A Bigger Investment Thank What You Think
I decided to get Pinky after seeing YouTube ads with cute, adorable little pigs doing tricks. I found Pinky after responding to a “miniature/teacup pig” ad online. It turns out that this is a scam: what are advertised as miniature pigs are usually pot belly pigs. While they are usually smaller than pigs used for farming, they still usually grow to the size of a large dog. Also, since many are inbred to promote smaller and smaller pigs, they can develop genetic problems such as seizures or sugar issues. Pinky oinked night and day when we first got her, which kept the whole house up. She then developed pig mites, which meant we had to take her to the vet, and it can get expensive. She ended up being bigger than we were prepared for living in a small apartment, so we had to rehome her to a nice family who lived on a farm.
As I learned, only get a pig if you have a large yard for it to roam around in and are prepared for a large, intelligent creature that desires attention and gets bored if not provided with toys or games. Do not fall for the “miniature pig” trap; pigs are wonderful pets, but they are big..
From igual Nov 24 2015 5:47PM