Pros and Cons of Potbellied Pigs

Although having a pig as a pet can be a rewarding experience, as with any animal, they do require a great deal of effort and commitment. Pigs are not maintenance free animals and are not as easy to care for as a cat or dog.

Vietnamese potbellied pigs have been heavily promoted as house pets — the Sanctuary does not endorse this belief and does not believe that pigs should be raised full time as house pets.

Anyone considering a pig as a pet should know that potbellied pigs are expected to live 10 to 15 years and a full grown pig often weighs well over 130 pounds.

Pigs are intelligent and have been placed fourth on the intelligence list (humans, primates, dolphins/whales, pigs). Because of their high level of intelligence, pigs that are kept as FULL time house pets can become bored easily and are often destructive when finding ways to entertain themselves. It is not uncommon for them to root up carpeting or linoleum floors, eat drywall, overturn house plants and root through the dirt.
Pigs that have been neutered or spayed are generally sweet natured and sensitive animals. In fact, pigs are so sensitive that you can hurt their feelings. Pigs are herd animals and have a pecking order similar to that of chickens. Each member of the herd has a particular standing in a pecking order and a pig will usually vie to be “top pig” in the herd. When raised in the house the family members will become the pig’s herd. At around 18 months of age, the struggle for “top pig” will begin. To determine the order standing, pigs fight. They will charge their opponent, snapping and swinging their head. When the opponent is a family member or a guest that has come to visit, this can be quite dangerous. There is no approved rabies vaccine for a pig.
Pigs can be litter box trained. Outside pigs generally use one corner of the yard as the bathroom Pigs do root. Anyone desiring a perfectly manicured lawn should not have a pig. Placing a ring in their nose is cruel as rooting is a natural instinct for pigs. By rooting, they obtain necessary vitamins and minerals from the ground as well as food. They have been known to eat worms and grubs and also will root to find acorns or truffles
Pigs generally enjoy hardy health. Pigs should receive yearly vaccinations, yearly hoof trimmings, and a yearly physical. Due to the size and difficulty in transporting, a vet willing to make house calls is recommended Pigs are very susceptible to pneumonia. The biggest cause of pneumonia is weather, but it can also be brought on by stress. Pigs can “stress out” quite easily. Because of their small lung size, bronchitis or pneumonia can kill a pig quickly
Pigs have bristle like hair. People allergic to dog and cat fur may have no reaction to the hair of a pig. NOTE: We have received a few calls about allergies to the pig or the dust from the pig food. Finding a vet knowledgeable in the health care of potbellied pigs can prove difficult. Vet care can be expensive, depending, of course, on your particular area and the health condition of your pig. Emergency treatment and/or specialized surgery can be especially expensive. Pot bellied pigs should not be treated as domestic farm hogs. Also spaying a pig is quite different from a dog or cat.
Pigs are generally clean, odorless animals Pigs need a pool or puddle for cooling off in hot weather. They do not sweat and must have a way of lowering their body temperature when they become over heated. They need plenty of bedding in their sleeping area during the colder months. In the winter, they love to bury themselves under straw and blankets
Local zoning laws may not allow pigs as pets. If your zoning does not allow pigs, we urge you not to challenge your zoning.
At around 12 to 16 weeks of age, a female pig will go into her first heat. She will then go into heat every 21 days and can become quite moody. An intact male (not neutered) has a strong, foul odor and becomes sexually active at six to eight weeks of age. Spay and/or neuter your pigs.


PIGS urges anyone considering a pig as a pet to contact your local shelter, humane society, or local rescue group. Potbellied pigs are also being sold at livestock auctions. Please consider rescuing a homeless pig instead of purchasing one from a breeder or pet store.

For more information on homeless pigs, please feel free to contact PIGS, RR1 Box 604 Shepherdstown, WV 25443 or phone/fax: 304-262-0080. You can also e-mail them at or visit the PIGS, a Santuary web site>.

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