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The Pros and Cons of Owning a Pet Pig

In the United States, pigs are considered an exotic pet and zoning laws exist as forms of control over where they can be kept. Ironically, this is because pigs are recognized by the law as swine animals that exist for meat production purposes. Swine are found in thick herds, which often make disease easy to spread. A pet pig’s “exotic” status comes from their high authority in Chinese and Asian cultures, where pigs have been kept as pets for centuries. Extremely intelligent and social, pigs can be demanding pets. Their size also calls for some modifications to the standard duties of owning a pet. Even miniature pigs can weigh up to 125 pounds, making them miniature only in regards to hogs developed for food production. Pet pigs should not be treated to be the same as or have the same needs as a pig bred for production purposes. A complete guide to their behavior and body, below are the pros and cons of owning a pet pig.

 

Pros

Easily Trained

Because of their intelligence, pigs are extremely adaptable and trainable. Similar to intelligent dog breeds, they can quickly learn performance tricks and be potty trained for the indoors. A pig’s obsession with food plays a part in their trainability. Food is their number one priority and therefore their number one motivator. With a willingness to do anything for food and a high level of intelligence capable of understanding a rewards system, pigs are very eager to learn and easy to train. A pig’s brain is ranked among the most developed, following in line behind that of a dolphin. Their mental capacity allows both of these animals to be very socially dependent, advanced in communication and expression.

Socially Affectionate

Pigs are very advanced communicators and offer a language that is far more intricate than the standard barking and growling of dogs. They are not known for much growling, but pigs do bark as well as squeal, cough and laugh. Like dogs, a pig usually barks at signs of danger or a potential threat. To say hello or in anticipation of something pleasurable, dogs also bark. However, pigs say hello with laughter and literally squeal at the anticipation of something desired, such as food. When pissed, pigs replace the usual expected growl with a deep coughing. Very communicative, pigs crave company and are very affectionate. A pig is a pack animal. Along with apes and dolphins, they are very social and need close companionship. Pigs crave the body heat and closeness of a pack. Luckily, they make warm and cuddly bed partners.

Innocently Curious

When not eating or socializing, pigs have their nose to ground the ground searching. Pigs are instinctively curious and rooting is their natural way of exploring. Basically blind, pigs rely on their nose and memory for navigation purposes. Pigs can smell things buried up to 25 feet underground. They also have an excellent memory and the intelligence to use it. Pigs keep their nose to the ground to get a feel for their environment. After a good sniff, they’ll be able to run around without seeing any walls, but without hitting any of them either.

Naturally Clean

Pigs may be very high maintenance socially, but physically they are low pressure animals to maintain.  They only need to see a vet once a year for regular vaccinations and hoof trimmings. Also, a pig’s bristly hair is hypoallergenic. It never sheds, making pigs a good pet alternative for people who suffer from pet allergies. Being very clean and generally odorless, pigs will also never roll in their own poop or drag home dead animals. A pig’s low maintenance physical needs are very helpful since they can live up to 20 years in age. They spend the first two to three years of their life growing and at 60 pounds and two feet tall, all pigs have short little legs and a big belly. A 60 pound pig qualifies as a manageable house pet and is the minimum weight for most pigs, which generally weigh up to 175 pounds.

 

Cons

Purposefully Manipulative

A pig’s intelligence allows them to keep an ultimate goal in mind and, just like humans, they can be very manipulative. They are intelligent enough to pin point a weak spot, remember it and use it to their advantage. This is especially true in regards to food, their primary motivation. Pigs are unrelenting in their quest for food and will turn any good favored inch into mile given the opportunity. Pigs easily learn new tricks. They are also intelligent enough to know which tricks benefit them the most. Pigs will learn how to sit and perform for food just as they will learn to open the fridge, cabinets and any door that stands between them and their priority.

Potentially Destructive

Both headstrong and sensitive, pigs need adequate attention with consistent rules. Giving a pig enough social attention is the best way to avoid the mess of opened doors and overturned trashcans. Neglected and bored pigs are always the most destructive. Their harmless explorative rooting turns into torn up carpets and flooring. They’ll also eat drywall and turn over plants just to sniff through the dirt. Along with a need for companionship, a pig’s pack animal instinct gives them the need for a recognized leader. In the absence of one, a pig will assume the position.  Very aggressive and demanding, pigs that consider themselves pack leader may charge at strangers or children, especially for food.

Reliably Messy

Rooting is a pig’s natural way to both familiarize them with an environment and find food.  When outside, pigs will tear up any yard in search of vitamins and minerals from the ground. They are known to eat anything from acorns to worms. This natural need to root cannot be broken and guarantees a mess. To avoid disappointment, the best course of action is to accept it and dismiss any hopes of a meticulous yard.

Easily Stressed

While overall physically low maintenance, pigs do come with some unique health risks. They are not built for any kind of exertion and very susceptible to heat and stress. With a big stomach and inactive lifestyle, a pig’s tiny, little lungs are easily damaged by lung infections. Brought on by disagreeable weather or stress, pneumonia can kill a pig quickly. Pigs are built for a low stress and cool environment. They are absolutely incapable of sweating. During the summer months, pigs have to lower their body temperature to avoid getting over-heated. They’ll need a “mud hole” or kiddy pool to stay cool.

 

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