Over the last few years, the media have run reports of “tea cup” pot belly pigs that are smaller and lighter than a cat and can be carried around in a handbag like a chihuahua. Unfortunately this is a blatant misrepresentation of the size of a tea cup pig and although they are the size of a tea cup when first born, they quickly grow in size and weight.
Some breeders have jumped on this bandwagon, realizing that they can make much more money by underfeeding the piglets and telling potential customers that their new potbelly won’t grow very big at all! They can be even kept in an apartment! Some will say that they have found a new breed of pig. There is no new breed of potbellied pig. Teacup pig, miniature pig, mini pig or any other variation is an invention by unscrupulous breeders and hyped by the media. Take it from me, if there was a true miniature pig available that was 30 pounds healthy and fully grown, I would be first in line to buy one.
Remember, miniature is a relative term and since some pigs can grow to 1,000 lbs, a 125 lb potbelly certainly qualifies as “miniature”.
Ok, so if they aren’t the size of a tea cup when fully grown, exactly how big are they? The average weight for the first 3 years are:
- Birth – 2-3” tall – 6-8 oz
- 1 year old – 12” tall, 60-70 lbs
- 2 years old – 14” tall, 80-90 lbs
- 3 years old – 16” tall, 100-125 lbs
The average size of a potbelly or tea cup pig in the United States is 125 lbs. If you hear of a potbelly that is claimed to be significantly out of this range, you should ask the breeder for 5 references from pig owners that own pigs at least 3 years of age. Call these people and ask them the height and weight of their pig. Note that most people underestimate the true weight as pigs are also quite ‘dense’ and will weigh a fair bit more than what you would expect.
Some potbelly pigs continue to grow until 4 years old, but they generally won’t grow in height – they will only put on weight. Most people consider the pig fully grown at 3 years old. The most important factor in determining the final pig size is genetic – meaning bloodlines and breed. Even then, just because a potbelly’s parents are small it doesn’t guarantee that all their litter will be the same size. There can be a large variance between siblings – just like a human baby can grow much, much taller than both of it’s parents.
Some people believe that food is a factor and although it’s possible to underfeed a naturally 125lb pig down to 90lbs or up to 150lbs, doing this can only be bad for your pet in the long run – just like doing it to a similarly sized human. Underfeeding and pig and stunting it’s growth will only produce weak bones (osteoporosis), poor hooves, skin and hair. Intentional stunting is very cruel and can also cause curves in the bones and massive changes in temperament and behavior with the pig becoming aggressive.