Pot-Bellied Pigs as Pets: Guidelines and Tips

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. March 23, 2017
Pot-Bellied Pigs as Pets: Guidelines and Tips

Although it may seem strange, it is increasingly common to have pigs as pets. Back in the Eighties the pot-bellied pig breed started becoming popular in America as a pet thanks to George Clooney's not so little companion Max, who grew to be more than 135 kg (300 lb). Since then, these farm animals from Vietnam have started to be seen as pets all around the world.

Pot-bellied pigs are popular thanks to their affectionate, curious and playful nature. They are also very intelligent animals if taught properly, and they do not need a lot of specific care. All these features, combined with their small to medium size and their adorable appearance, make this small pig breed one of the most sought-after.

Are you considering adopting a pot-bellied pig as a pet? Don't miss this AnimalWised article with guidelines and tips!

You may also be interested in: Rats as Pets: Guidelines and Tips

Can pot-bellied pigs live in a home?

Pot-bellied pigs can become beloved family pets if you get to know them well and teach them from the start. Piglets can be separated from their mother at 4 weeks old: this is when they are weaned, get used to solid foods, learn to recognize smells and are not afraid in the presence of humans or other animals.

As pets, these pigs are very loving, obedient, playful and intelligent, but you have to know how to treat them: without good training, they can become very stubborn and somewhat destructive. Males tend to be more playful, but females are more intelligent, so if you teach them with care, attention, affection and patience they will eventually eat from your hand, let you pet and bathe them, and even go for a walk on a leash. Pot-bellied pigs love exploring new places, being free and having company, especially if they are among their peers, although they are also happy with dogs or other pets.

They hate being lifted off the ground or being turned belly-up, as it makes them feel uncomfortable and unsafe and they will react by screaming or squealing. If you adopt a pot-bellied pig you will find that they emit a different sound for every occasion (gratitude, joy, pleasure, pain, etc), and squeal when something displeases them or when they feel a strong pressure on the body, like a hug.

Pot-Bellied Pigs as Pets: Guidelines and Tips - Can pot-bellied pigs live in a home?

What are pot-bellied pigs like?

The pot-bellied pig is the most common of all the smallpig breeds, and it is native to Vietnam. Their genetic is quite diverse, so there can be variety in their looks and size. They reach puberty at 3 months old, and they do not stop growing until 3 years old. Full maturity is reached at 6. Their life expectancy is of 15 to 18 years, although some live more.

They are between 40 and 50 cm (16 to 20 in) tall at the withers and they weigh 40 to 100 kg on average, although they can grow larger if their diet is not properly monitored. They look like most pigs - a large head and short legs - except smaller. Their coat is gray, brown or black, although they can have white markings.

Pot-Bellied Pigs as Pets: Guidelines and Tips - What are pot-bellied pigs like?

Feeding and caring for a pot-bellied pig

What do pot-bellied pigs eat?

Like all breeds, pot-bellied pigs are omnivorous animals, so they can eat everything, but it is advisable to offer a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and to not feed them dry feed for farm pigs, as that type of food is designed to fatten them up.

You can find specific feed for miniature pigs in some stores, but it is not common. Cereal compounds will be better for their diet. Of course, pot-bellied pigs must have unlimited access to clean, fresh water.

Caring for a pet pot-bellied pig:

Contrary to common belief, pot-bellied pigs do not smell because they do not sweat and, when kept as pets, they can be taught to defecate in a sandbox, like a cat. If their eating or sleeping area is closed to the litter, they will refuse to go near there: pigs are very clean animals. If you have a pet pot-bellied pig you should bathe it every 2 or 3 months, because it improves the health of their skin and fur. They molt once or twice a year.

In the summer, it is ideal for them to have a pond or inflatable pool where they can cool off and a shaded outdoors place to regulate their body temperature. As we said, the pot-bellied pig does not sweat: it does best at mild temperatures of 18 to 23 ºC (64.5 to 73.5 ºF).

They do not need much specific care, but they need to be vaccinated like dogs and cats. They are susceptible to stress, cold and heat, and they have a tendency to heart disease.

If you adopt a pot-bellied pig as a pet, you will need time to train it and play with it, as you would with a puppy dog. They also need exercise and long walks every day, so it isn't advisable to have them in apartments or small houses without a garden.

Pot-bellied pigs are one of the animals with the highest abandonment rates, because when they are young they fit in a hand and need very little care, but as they grow they greatly increase in size and need much more space. If you are not willing to waste time taking care of them, training them and giving them everything they need it is better not to have this type of pet at home.

Pot-Bellied Pigs as Pets: Guidelines and Tips - Feeding and caring for a pot-bellied pig

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Jeanne Melanson
I love pot-bellied pigs and had three of them years ago. They were Sara, Sammy, and Luck. They were so much fun. Well-mannered and litter-trained too. They used to love to take walks with me in the woods, or on the beach and were quite a conversation starter. People loved them. Thanks for sharing this information with your readers. Peace
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