Miniature Pet Pig Breeds for Your Family
Miniature pigs make great pets. They’re smart, curious, gentle and quirky. They also live a long time. Pet pigs can live up to 20 years with the right care.
But they’re also a challenge. Because they’re smart, they can be willful. And because they’re inherently farm animals, they can also be messy.
These are the most popular pet pigs and what makes them so great.
Why Should You Get a Vietnamese Pot-Bellied Pig?
The original "pocket pig," Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs became popular as pets in the 1980s. But they’re not as small as you’d think. Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs can grow up to 150 pounds, even if they start out as small as a teacup.
You might be surprised to find out, though, that the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig is actually endangered. Traditionally, a potbellied pig is a meat pig — even if they do make great pets — and if it wasn’t for their popularity explosion in the United States and Canada, they might have disappeared forever.
Due to their big size, a lot of Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs ended up rehomed. It’s a myth that you can keep pet pigs small by feeding them less. And a dangerous one. But if you’ve got the room for a very large pig, these animals are said to be sweet, loving and intelligent.
Tip: Don’t Believe Their Lies
A lot of breeders will call a potbellied pig a "teacup" pig. They get away with it because they start off very small, and it can be difficult to even imagine this very tiny piglet becoming a large, hulking animal.
The truth is, you often can’t tell how large a potbellied pig is going to get. And because pigs can be bred as young as 6 months, the size of their mother and father might not even be indicative of their full-grown size.
Be prepared for your pig to grow larger than you think it will.
Why Should You Get a Kunekune?
A Kunekune is a great pet for those who live on a farm. They can get up to 240 pounds, which may seem immense, but they make up for it with their friendly nature.
Kunekunes are often kept as pets because they are odorless and clean, especially compared to other pigs. But they are also kept for meat. When kept as a pet, they aren’t kept inside (although, they can be when they’re young).
Kunekune pigs are very low-maintenance. If you have land, you can set a pig out to roam, and it’ll more or less take care of itself and feed on grass. They aren’t generally aggressive and won’t usually root (as long as there’s enough food), which means they won’t cause a lot of damage.
Tip: Make Sure You Have a Space Outdoors
A Kunekune isn’t going to be kept inside, even if it is pretty small compared to a farm pig, which can get up to 1,000 pounds.
Create a pen for your Kunekune outdoors, including a shelter from the weather. While it might be cute to keep your Kunekune inside when it’s young, you may instill some bad habits.
Why Should You Get a Meishan Pig?
At 400 pounds with a 20-year lifespan, a Meishan pig is a big responsibility. But for those who want a pet that’s going to be a family member, a Meishan pig can be a great choice.
Meishan pigs come from China. They are intelligent, docile, and can even be housetrained (though at 400 pounds, you might not want to). They are low-maintenance, can have (and rear) up to 20 little piglets, and they’re generally gentle and nondestructive animals.
While they can be used for meat, Meishan pigs actually aren’t the best option for that because they grow slowly. And they’re a little lazy, so they might not be the most compelling or interesting pet to have. But if you want a friend on your farm, a Meishan pig could be it.
Tip: Don’t Expect a Lot of Excitement
Because the Meishan pig is more or less just a lazy fixture, you shouldn’t expect a lot of interactivity.
They’re still curious and smart (otherwise they couldn’t be housetrained), but they’re going to spend a lot of their time eating and lazing about.
Consider keeping multiple pigs or another farm animal so that your Meishan pig has company while it relaxes.
Why Should You Get a Gottingen Minipig?
Now we’re getting back into the truly small mini pigs. Gottingen minipigs were actually bred for laboratory purposes.
Pigs are often tested for medical purposes because they are similar to humans in a lot of ways. It’s easier to test on pigs that are smaller. Hence, the minipig. Gottingen Minipigs are known for being the smallest common miniature pig. That makes them an exceptionally popular pet.
A healthy Gottingen minipig can live up to 20 years, though you do need to be careful. Because they are somewhat exotic pets, breeders can engage in inbreeding, which can introduce health problems.
Buy from a reputable breeder, though, and you should be able to find hardy mini pigs with few health problems.
Tip: Watch Out for Those Backyard Breeders
How do you know that you’re purchasing a Gottingen minipig from a reliable breeder? Consider going through a shelter instead of purchasing directly from a breeder. Though there may still be health issues, animals at a shelter are less likely to have been strictly line-bred.
Otherwise, look at reviews, talk to the community, and be suspicious if the breeder makes unfounded claims, such as promising a certain, specific weight, or encouraging you to underfeed to keep your pet smaller.
Why Should You Get a Juliana Mini Pig?
The Juliana mini pig is a bit unique. It’s not a recognized pig breed. Rather, it refers to a selectively bred pig that’s been bred for its size.
A Juliana may be mixed with Gottingens and other mini pig breeds to create a smaller and smaller animal. A Juliana mini pig is probably going to be one of the smallest pigs that you can acquire — it should never get to 65 pounds even when it’s fully grown.
However, Juliana mini pigs are the result of selective breeding, which also means (like the Gottingen) inbreeding. Inbred pigs may not live as long and may have major health issues, so you do need to find a breeder who has been responsible with their breeding.
Tip: Take a Look at the Genealogy Chart
Ask to see the breed lines of the pig that you’re buying. If there’s a lot of inbreeding in there, you should walk away.
A responsible breeder is going to go out of their way to introduce new genetics from other breeders, rather than just breeding their own pigs again and again.
They should also be able to provide a health test, although they may charge you for it (this is normal).
Why Should You Get an American Mini Pig?
The American mini pig is the American answer to the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig problem.
When pot-bellied pigs grew too large, breeders started to create a pig breed that would be much smaller. In a sense, the American mini pig is an all-encompassing "mutt" breed for miniature pigs. Pigs that are under 100 pounds.
Like Juliana and Gottingen pigs, these pigs may experience issues from inbreeding. But because the American mini pig shoots for a higher weight class, there are fewer complications and the breed standard tends to be a little more robust.
Tip: What is an American Mini Pig?
An American mini pig can be more robust than other mini pig breeds, so they’re a great choice. But they’re also more highly variable.
Don’t make any assumptions about the weight that you’re going to get in an American mini pig, because you could get a huge swing from 50 to 100 pounds.
The American Mini Pig Association may be able to point you to a rescue where you can get a full-grown pet pig rather than guessing.
Why Should You Get a Mulefoot Hog?
The Mulefoot hog is becoming a pet for an interesting reason. It’s less because of the hog itself and more because it’s critically rare.
It used to be a common meat pig, known for its mule-like foot (uncloven hooves). Like many other breeds of pig, they are known for being sensitive, gentle and intelligent.
Of course, at 600 pounds, it’s strictly an outdoor pet, even if it is a purely domesticated pig. But farmers who have an interest in conservation and rare breeds may want to dig into this one.
And 600 pounds is still a miniature pig, even if it’s not a micro pig or a teacup pig.
Tip: Meat Is a Type of Conservation
Some farms keep Mulefoot hogs for meat. In so doing, they’re still saving the breed from extinction.
The Mulefoot hog is considered to be a pretty good meat pig, as well as an attractive and intelligent animal.
So farmers who are still breeding for meat can still engage in conservation efforts, if they are so inclined.
Why Should You Get an Ossabaw Island Hog?
These small pigs lend themselves very well to being pets due to their small size. They are critically endangered, but American farms have been breeding them.
Interestingly, no one really knows how they were initially introduced, but many believe they were brought over to Ossabaw Island by the Spanish after which they went feral.
These pigs are interestingly adapted to the marshy lands that they come from. They grow and put on weight fast and start to breed quickly. Many believe that their small size comes from insular dwarfism, which also means that those who are grown off-island may become larger with newer generations.
Tip: They May Be Challenging to Find
Ossabaw Island hogs are pretty rare, even though there has been a resurgence of interest in them. But if you want a robust pig with very few health problems, it’s a great idea.
They have naturally developed their small size, rather than it being the result of inbreeding.
Why Should You Get a Yucatan Pig?
Another popular laboratory animal, the Yucatan pig is a Mexican breed of hairless pig. With large ears and a long snout, it’s a very unique and healthy animal. Yucatan pigs tend to look a little leaner than other pigs.
Many find Yucatan pigs appealing because they are, like other pigs, generally inquisitive and intelligent. And they are also easier than other breeds to keep clean.
Many other breeds of Mexican hairless pigs are critically endangered now, and all of the breeds are also used for meat.
Tip: Provide the Right Environment
Yucatan pigs should be given an environment where they can safely retreat from the sun and wallow in the mud, given that they are particularly vulnerable, due to their lack of hair.
Other than that, though, they should be just as low-maintenance as other pigs.
Do Miniature Pigs Make Good Pets?
Miniature pigs make great pets for those with patience. Because they are so intelligent and loving, they have big personalities.
They are prey animals, unlike cats and dogs, which means they tend to be timid and gentle. They can even be trained as service animals, and some of the smarter breeds can be housetrained.
For those who have never been around a pet pig before, some elements of pig behavior can be perplexing. Because they are prey animals, they can also become nervous fairly easily.
Consider meeting a pet pig before you commit to a life with one.
How Big Do Miniature Pigs Get?
You might be surprised to discover that all the pigs on this list are "miniature pigs," even the Mulefoot hog breed at 400 to 600 pounds. A standard farm pig can top the scales at 1,000 pounds. People seldom know how large pigs really get.
Many miniature pigs end up rehomed because people don’t realize that even the most common miniature pig will eventually be the size of a moderately large dog. Be aware that your pig could surprise you.
There is a pig placement network for adult pigs. If you truly want a tiny pig, consider getting a potbelly pig or micro pig that has already grown into adulthood. You're not going to be able to enjoy the fun of having piglets, but you'll be able to become a pig owner with a little less risk.
Where Do You Keep Miniature Pigs?
Even the smallest miniature pig isn’t an apartment pet. While you can keep some miniature pigs indoors, it’s more likely that you’ll find yourself creating an outdoor "pen" for them.
Most miniature pigs will do just fine outside, though they should have shelter available, a source of water, and a good variety of food.
Remember that while they make a wonderful pet, they also breed like crazy (which is part of why unscrupulous breeders exist). Pigs can breed as young as six months old, so keep your male pigs away from your female pigs unless you want to become a farm.
Why Shouldn’t You Get a Miniature Pig?
Miniature pigs come with a host of challenges. They live long lives, so they’re a commitment. They are smart and curious, which means they’ll get into things. They’re also somewhat naturally destructive. Some of them will "root," which means they’ll try to tear up your floor. In short, it’s not the pet for you if you love your possessions.
Another issue with miniature pigs is that they can be inbred. If someone is breeding pigs specifically for size and not for health or conformation, this is more likely. If you don’t want to get stuck with hefty exotic vet bills, you should look into your breeder.
Don't think that miniature pigs are just large, dense dogs. Their behavior will be very different, especially in the ways that they interact with their environment.