Pot belly or Teacup pigs are miniature pigs that are fast becoming one of the “must have” pets. They get their name from the fact that they are around the size of a tea cup when first born, and at this stage are very, very cute! But don’t be fooled by the words “miniature” or “tea cup” – they can still grow to the size of a medium to large sized dog, depending on the breed.
There is a growing distinction in the media between potbelly and teacup pigs. Make no mistake – they are the same pig with a different name. There have been reports that some “teacup” pigs can be as small as 35 lbs fully grown. This is, in my opinion, is due to unscrupulous owners misrepresenting the breed as breeders have found that people want to small, cute piggies and will pay more to have one. For more information on pig size, please read my article on teacup pig sizing.
Potbelly pigs still make great pets and you could keep a teacup pig in a large city backyard. I would really recommend a bit more space though – somewhere around 1-2 acres of land for the pig to feel happy, comfortable and at home.
Teacup pigs have a projected lifespan of around 12 -15 years and need the same amount of attention as most dog breeds – as an owner, you still need to keep them entertained otherwise they will get bored and start chewing on anything you keep laying around. They are more intelligent than a dog – so much so that it’s difficult to train them to do some of the more ‘standard’ tricks that a dog can easily do – fetching for example. If you train your pig to fetch you same way you train a dog, you will fail with your pig thinking “why would I want to get that ball – what’s in it for me??”.
On the other hand, they respond very well to positive reinforcement while training and can be trained to perform many interesting tricks. Like a dog, they need to be exercised and have daily leash walks or they will gain weight. They will eat anything put in front of them and it’s not difficult for your piglet’s weight to spiral out of control, especially when they start getting aggressive when you don’t feed them on demand. Thankfully, there are techniques that can be used to control this anti-social behavior.
Advantages of Teacup Pig Ownership:
• Intelligent and affectionate companion
• Odor free, clean and non-allergenic and no shedding of hair
• Lives a long life of 12-15 years
• No fleas
• No barking
• Easily trained when the proper techniques are used
• Non destructive when properly trained
Some of the disadvantages of owning a teacup piggy:
• Vets may be difficult to find that know about pigs
• Zoning laws may not allow ‘swine’ – even as pets
• When not trained properly can become spoiled and aggressive
• Like dogs, require a constant commitment – they can’t simply be left to their own devices