Mini Pig Facts and Myths

Myth: Mini pigs do not exist.

FACT: Mini pigs do exist. While sizes may vary considerably, healthy adult mini pigs may mature as small as 50 pounds at 5 years old. Over the years, mini pigs have been bred down in size through selective breeding and mixing of breeds. These breeding programs have been in existence since the 1940’s in laboratories and continue today across the US and Canada. Selective breeding is the process of choosing individual pigs with specific characteristics or traits to produce change and consistency. These programs often focus on personality, color, size, and conformation. This is the same process that has been used to create and identify distinct breeds of dogs.

 

Myth: There are no pigs under 300 pounds.

FACT: Healthy mini pigs average from 50-150 pounds. Some smaller bred mini pigs average 50-80 pounds. However, the AMPA focuses on height instead of weights. Mini pigs weighing more than 150 pounds should have their body condition examined to make sure they are a healthy weight for their frame.

 

Myth: Teacup, micro, nano, pocket pigs etc. are breeds of mini pigs.

FACT: These labels do not describe a breed of pig. They are simply terms that some breeders use to describe pigs of various sizes. These terms are confusing because they are used inconsistently without guidelines. A better representation of size is to look at the mature height of parents and grandparents. The AMPA is classifies mini pigs as “The American Mini Pig,” which can be a mix of up to or more than 12 different breeds of pigs that have been brought into the United States and from there have been mixed and created the smaller mini pigs, originally for research purposes.

 

Myth: Mini pigs are just potbellies.

FACT: Mini pigs are not all Vietnamese Potbellied Pigs. The American Mini Pig or smaller mini pigs of today have been mixed with several different breeds and some have no potbellied genetics at all. These are a smaller mixed breeds of swine with a distinct build from that of other miniature breeds, such as the Gottengin, Yucatan, Minnesota Mini Pig.

Myth: Mini Pigs only stay small in size if they are starved or malnourished.

SIZING CHART AND NUTRITION LINK HERE!

FACT: Mini pigs come in all different shapes and sizes depending on their genetics, diet, environment, and lifestyle. Mini pigs can be small in body composition and height and be completely healthy. Mini pigs should be fed a diet of 2% of their body weight. One should be able to feel a mini pigs hips with gentle pressure, but should not see ribs, spine, or hip bones sticking out which are obvious signs of malnutrition. Other signs of malnutrition are sparse hair, a bony face that looks larger than their body, and prominent hips. The AMPA ethics committee will use sight, body conditioning and sizing chart for any disputes on underweight mini pigs.

Myth: Pigs are chubby or fat.
SIZING CHART AND NUTRITION LINK HERE!

FACT: Mini pigs should not be fat. You do not see fat pigs in the wild. Not being able to feel their hips, large jowls doubling their face size, rolls of fat or immobility are all signs your mini pig is overweight. Mini pigs face and body should be proportionate and streamline. In fact, mini pigs are more slender bodied. Overfeeding your pig can be just as detrimental as underfeeding or a malnourished pig and is scene more often.

Myth: A fat pig is a happy pig.

FACT: Pigs suffer physically and mentally from obesity. The excess weight puts a huge stress on their body. They develop painful arthritis and lose interest in everyday activities. Allowing a Mini Pig to become obese is irresponsible.
http://www.carrsconsulting.com/thepig/petpig/petpignotes/weightproblems.htm
Myth: Mini Pigs are tiny like Chihuahua’s and can fit in your pocket.

FACT: Mini pigs should not be compared to small breed dogs. Pigs are three times denser in muscle and bone structure, therefore pigs are more dense and heavier then dogs, even when comparing to medium sized dogs at the same height. When full grown, most can expect their mini pigs to be in the 14-18 inch size range on average.

Myth: Mini pigs maintain their colors from piglets to adults.

FACT: Mini pigs can change drastically in looks from piglets to adulthood, hair coloring can be one of the most drastic changes. In fact, mini piglets do not maintain their stripes and most often turn a chocolate brown sometimes with golden tips. Red piglets most often turn chocolate or even grey. Pink pigs do not stay pink once their hair comes in they are most often white. If you are choosing a pig on color please remember a lot of the time their coloring will change over time. The same goes for facial features and blue eyes. The AMPA encourages you choose your mini pig on health and personality.

Myth: Mini Pigs do not need to be spayed/neutered to make good pets or to keep them healthy.

FACT: Mini Pigs that have not been spayed or neutered are far more likely to have health and behavior problems related to the hormones and reproductive tract. Both genders can become aggressive in a home environment when left intact. Males may hump and ejaculate on family members, pets, and inanimate objects. Females have a very high risk of reproductive cancers or deadly infections. This health risk is eradicated with spays and neuters. Female pigs are also susceptible to being impregnated by wild boars that will find a way onto your property. According to The Merck Veterinary Manual, “Early spaying also reduces the risk of ovarian cysts, uterine tumors, and cystic endometrial hyperplasia.”

http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/exotic_and_laboratory_animals/potbellied_pigs/reproduction_of_potbellied_pigs.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2786936/
http://www.carrsconsulting.com/thepig/petpig/petwhyspey.htm
Myth: Mini Pigs can have their tusks clipped as babies.

FACT: Mini Pigs do not have visible tusks as babies. The piglets are born with needle teeth that are very different from the tusks that develop as they mature. These needle teeth may be clipped shortly after birth to prevent damage to the sow and littermates. These needle teeth are very sharp and can inflict gashes to any soft tissue they come across, including children playing with the piglets. If these needle teeth are not clipped they will fall out naturally with the first set of teeth.

http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/digestion/pregastric/pigpage.html

http://www.sites.ext.vt.edu/newsletter-archive/livestock/aps-01_11/aps-0431.html
Myth: Mini Pigs should have their tusks removed.

FACT: Removing the tusks of a pig requires a risky surgery. Tusks are not rooted in the same as teeth and cannot be “pulled”. Tusks are made of ivory and are part of the jaw. Surgery to remove the tusks is invasive with potential to break the jaw bone or cause life threatening infection According to The Merck Manual, “Removal is challenging even for skilled surgeons and may result in mandibular fractures.”

http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/exotic_and_laboratory_animals/potbellied_pigs/management_of_potbellied_pigs.html
http://petpigs.com/resources/pig-care/taking-care-of-tusk-teeth
Myth: Mini Pigs are quiet pets.

FACT: Mini Pigs are quite vocal. They communicate with a wide range of vocalizations. They chat, oink, grunt, bark, whine, bellow, shriek, scream, wail, coo, grumble, gurgle, moan and groan. They communicate and express many emotions or moods with sound: greetings, fear, anxiety, pain, stress, excitement, hunger, fun, bored, startled, scared, anticipation, in-heat, startled, isolated or lonely, farrowing, and nursing. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “Communication in pigs is mainly vocal”.

http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/behavior/normal_social_behavior_and_behavioral_problems_of_domestic_animals/social_behavior_of_swine.html

http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1533&context=psychfacpub
Myth: Mini Pigs make easy pets.

FACT: Mini Pigs make wonderful pets for the right family. Not every family is the right fit for a mini pig. While many families do enjoy having Mini Pigs as pets, they are highly intelligent animals that require structure, training and attention.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9170640
Myth: Having a Mini Pig is like having a dog.

FACT: Mini Pigs are vastly different pets than dogs. Dogs by nature are a predator animal while pigs are a prey animal. They each react differently to threats and challenges. Pigs and dogs have different routine healthcare needs. They also communicate in different ways and have different family hierarchy rules. In general, pigs are more sensitive to change. Some pigs will grow to be protective of the home and family. Some pigs have more of an independent personality. Pigs do not have the desire to please the way dogs do, but they will work for food!

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9170640
Myth: Mini Pigs are full grown at 1 or 2 years old.

FACT: While some breeders will claim that their young pigs won’t get any bigger, pigs actually are not considered full grown until 5 years old. This is a common selling point for unethical breeders to convince buyers their pigs are smaller. When looking at parent pigs, they will not be considered full size until 5 years old.

Myth: All Mini Pigs grow at the same rate. Example, littermates will be the same size at 6 months or a year old.

FACT: Every pig will grow at his or her individual rate. Pigs each have their own genetic size predetermined and will reach that size on their own timeline. Some pigs will have rapid growth rate in the first year while some will grow significantly in the second or third year.

Myth: Nose rings are a humane way to keep the lawn tidy.

FACT: Nose rings cause pain by design. They are intended to prevent pigs from following their natural instincts and behaviors by inciting pain. This is not a humane way to treat our beloved pets and may cause behavior issues as they become frustrated without an outlet for their desire to root. The Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) standards prohibit nose ringing. The Animal Welfare Approved also states “Scientific evidence suggests that ringing a pig does not simply stop it rooting – it also affects its ability to feed and other exploratory activities.”

http://animalwelfareapproved.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/TAFS-16-Nose-ringing-pigs.pdf
Myth: Mini pigs can eat anything, such as table scraps, slop, kitchen leftovers, dog food, or chicken feed.

FACT: Mini Pigs have very specific nutritional needs. Just like with humans, excessive calories, sugar, high fat or fried foods can cause obesity and bowel upset. Mini Pigs are best suited to a Mini Pig complete pelleted feed with low fat, low protein and high fiber.

http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/management_and_nutrition/nutrition_pigs/nutritional_requirements_of_pigs.html

http://extension.missouri.edu/p/G2320
Myth: Mini Pigs cannot get fleas.

FACT: Mini Pigs typically do not get fleas because their skin is tough and not the ideal host. The fleas will hop on and stay just long enough to invest a home, yard or other pets. However, piglets can get fleas resulting in poor health, poor hair, and anemia.

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ig138
Myth: Mini Pigs do not shed.

FACT: Mini Pigs do not shed continuously like cats or dogs but they do blow their coats up to twice yearly. This coat blowing occurs over several days to weeks. The pig will shed most or all of his hair while growing in a brand new softer coat.

Myth: Mini Pigs are dirty. FACT: Mini Pigs prefer a clean living area and will use the bathroom generally in one specific area. Piglets on average will use one area as their bathroom by the time they are a few days old. Pigs do root in the dirt with their snout for essential nutrients. They will also roll in mud as a natural sun screen and insect repellent. Smart pigs!

http://www.nature.com/news/2009/091127/full/news.2009.1111.html
Myth: Mini Pigs have a foul odor.

FACT: Mini Pigs do not have a body odor. Some pigs actually smell like maple syrup! Male mini pigs not fixed can have a foul odor, however fixed pigs do not smell. Pig farms may have an odor associated with the large amount of manure on site. Pet pigs are not forced to live in their own filth, so will not smell like feces. Odors are caused by large quantities of poorly managed waste at large pig farms. Pig feces does not have a strong odor and cannot be compared to the smell of a cat litter box.

Myth: Mini Pigs cannot sunburn.

FACT: Pigs are susceptible to sunburn. Pink pigs are especially vulnerable. Painful burns can happen if the pig is not provided adequate sun protection. Pigs should have adequate housing and shade to escape the harsh sun. Mud makes an excellent sun block and even mini pigs love to roll in it in hot months.

http://vetmed.iastate.edu/vdpam/new-vdpam-employees/food-supply-veterinary-medicine/swine/swine-diseases/miscellaneous-lesions#sunburn

http://www.thepigsite.com/pighealth/article/400/sunburn
Myth: Mini Pigs have no routine health care needs.

FACT: Pigs can get sick just like anyone else. Recommended routine treatment options vary based on the owners preferences, the veterinarian, the location, and the lifestyle of the pig. All pet pigs should have a veterinarian familiar with their individual health and needs. Mini Pigs should be spayed or neutered. They may also require hoof trimming or tusk trimming. According to The Merck Veterinary Manual, piglets should be spayed or neutered by before 6 months old.

http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/exotic_and_laboratory_animals/potbellied_pigs/reproduction_of_potbellied_pigs.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2786936/
http://www.carrsconsulting.com/thepig/petpig/petwhyspey.htm
Myth: Trimming hooves at home is impossible.

FACT: Trimming the hooves of an uncooperative pig is not an easy task. The key is to work with your pig from a young age to desensitize him to hoof touching and trimming. Your pig should be familiar with hoof trimming long before such trimming is needed. In some cases a trip to the veterinarian or having a farrier come out is necessary, but hooves are easily trimmed at home with the right planning.

Myth: My regular vet will surely treat my pig, because he treats my dogs.

FACT: Veterinarians that are willing to treat pet pigs are far and few between. Not all vets will treat pigs, and some will treat them but have little to no experience or training with pigs. Securing a veterinarian experienced with pet pigs before bringing your pet home is very important to handle routine and emergency care. Most often times an exotic vet is needed.

Myth: If you want your pig to bond you need to raise him on a bottle from very young.

FACT: On the contrary, removing a piglet from the sow is dangerous to its health and can affect his long term behavior. Bottle feeding is very risky to the piglet as piglets can aspirate and die. The AMPA does not support bottle feeding pigs as a practice, only in emergency or orphaned situations and even then a small syringe should be used for more accuracy and control of fluids. Missing out on mom’s nutrients can weaken a piglet’s immune system. Also important is the social benefits the piglet receives from his mom and littermates. The sow will teach a piglet manners and discipline. This makes your job as a pig parent much easier down the road! A naturally weaned and socialized piglet will have no problems bonding with his new family and have less health and behavioral risks than a bottle fed baby.

Myth: Mini Pig’s age can be determined by the length of tail tassels.

FACT: The tassels do grow as the pig’s age, however this is not an accurate indicator. Some pigs at 8 months old may have a tail tassel touching the ground while a 3 year old pig may have a very short tail tassel. The length of tail tassel is affected by many factors such as nutritional, overall health, genetics, and environmental factors. Tail tassels vary from pig to pig, not necessarily by age.

Myth: Mini Pigs cannot breed until they are a year old.

FACT: Mini Pigs SHOULD NOT be bred until they are a year old or older. The AMPA suggests two years, with a minimum age of birth at 16 months old. Mini pigs sexually mature as piglets sometimes as early as 4 months old and some have reported even younger. While their body is able to conceive at a very young age, pregnancy at this stage is very dangerous and life threatening. Young sows often times are not mature enough emotionally as well and do not make the best moms. Male and female piglets should be separated at weaning and not reintroduced until males have been neutered. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, girl piglets may go into estrus as young as three months of age.

http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/exotic_and_laboratory_animals/potbellied_pigs/reproduction_of_potbellied_pigs.html

http://www.carrsconsulting.com/thepig/petpig/petpignotes/reproduction.htm
Myth: Mini Pigs and dogs make great companions.

FACT: While some dogs and pigs have become great friends, the two species have different communication, body language, and family dynamics. Dogs are predators by nature, while pigs are prey by nature. This can make their relationship very difficult. Pigs and dogs have all different personality types, while some dogs are curious and like pigs, others may show no interest, while others may be jealous or display aggression. Growing up together from young ages is often times more successful. Pigs should never be taken around strange dogs or dogs trained to hunt. Taking your pig to a dog park for example should never happen.

Myth: Mini Pigs are easy to train because they are so smart.

FACT: They are smart and can be amazingly easy to train, but they don’t train themselves! The key to successfully training a pig is patience, communication, consistency and timing. Furthermore, with pig’s high intelligence, training can go both ways. They are excellent manipulators and will train their humans to provide excesses and allow inappropriate behaviors.

http://www.carrsconsulting.com/thepig/petpig/petpignotes/training.htm
Myth: Mini Pigs don’t feel emotions.

FACT: Mini Pigs are very sensitive and emotional creatures. They feel all the emotions that we do. They feel excitement, frustration, anxiety, sorrow, mourning, urgency, and fear. They bond with their family and express joy at reunions.

http://www.livescience.com/6774-gauge-pig-happiness.html

http://machineslikeus.com/news/pigs-are-capable-complex-emotions
Myth: You can avoid zoning laws by registering your pig as a service animal or ESA on a website for a fee.

FACT: These online registries are fake/scam websites and should not be supported. They also do not protect you from zoning laws. Pigs cannot legally be classified as service animals. Pigs as Emotional Support Animals are not guaranteed protections from zoning laws.

SOURCES and information on ESAs and fake credentials:
http://servicedogcentral.org/content/fake-service-dog-credentials
http://servicedogcentral.org/content/node/595
http://servicedogcentral.org/content/ESA-flying
http://servicedogcentral.org/content/ESA-housing
http://2012.servicedogsfl.org/?p=22
http://servicedogcentral.org/content/ESA
Myth: Veterinary costs for spays, neuters, and routine or emergency care is the same as for a dog or cat.

FACT: Mini Pigs are often considered “exotic” pets. Not all veterinarians are willing to care for Mini Pigs. Those that are willing to provide medical treatment may have far higher costs than those for dogs and cats.

Myth: Mini Pigs sweat “like a pig”.

FACT: Mini Pigs only have a few sweat glands, but these are not effective at controlling body temperature. They will sweat from their snouts but do not sweat all over like humans. They use mud or water to cool off in the heat as the evaporation lowers their body temperature.

http://www.livescience.com/32118-do-pigs-sweat.html
Myth: If a Mini Pig is not around males she doesn’t need to be spayed.

FACT: Mini Pigs intended as pets should be spayed for their health and happiness. Intact pigs typically do not make good pets. Their hormonal surges cause havoc with their behavior. They are also vulnerable to roaming boars that can get into the yard when least expected. Mini Pigs that have not been spayed have a very high chance of reproductive cancer and life threatening infections. According to The Merck Veterinary Manual, “Early spaying also reduces the risk of ovarian cysts, uterine tumors, and cystic endometrial hyperplasia.”

http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/exotic_and_laboratory_animals/potbellied_pigs/reproduction_of_potbellied_pigs.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2786936/

http://www.carrsconsulting.com/thepig/petpig/petwhyspey.htmMyth: All pigs are cuddly, social, and affectionate.

FACT: Mini Pigs are individuals each with their own personality. Some may be cuddly, social, and affectionate. Others will be aloof, independent, bossy, or busy. Just like humans, they can all be very different in likes, dislikes, and overall personality.

Myth: All Mini Pigs need the same amount of food per day.

FACT: Mini pigs should get 2% of their body weight. This should be a healthy body weight, not 2% of an obese or underweight pig. Mini Pigs are as individual as humans in their caloric needs as well as their metabolisms and genetics vary. No two pigs need the exact same food or quantity. A Mini Pig’s diet will depend on age, health, activity, reproductive status, and genetics. Not all 6 month old pigs need the same amount of food. Not all 50 pound pigs need the same amount of food. A feeding plan should be designed and adjusted to fit the needs of each specific pig. Sight and common sense often come into play. The AMPA provides charts and research in the nutrition section to further expand on healthy feeding.

http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/management_and_nutrition/nutrition_pigs/nutritional_requirements_of_pigs.html