Potbellied pigs remain a popular pet, several decades after their introduction into the United States. New breeds or types of miniature pigs now exist, with breeders aiming to create smaller pet pigs. Breeding for micro mini or teacup sized pigs does not always result in tiny adult pigs! Before acquiring any potbellied or miniature pig, you will need to be prepared for a pet that may weigh 60 to 120 pounds or more as an adult. The best way to predict how big your pig will grow is to see how big both parents are at maturity. Much of your pig's growth will occur in the first 9 to 12 months of age but it will continue to grow until it is at least two or three years old. Do not be surprised if your 40 pound yearling pig ultimately grows up to be an 80 pound adult.
Pot Bellied Pigs
Skin is the largest organ in the body and acts as a physical barrier between the body and the environment. Besides acting as a barrier, the skin also provides sensory input about our environment, helps us regulate heat, provides immunes function, and produces the precursors to Vitamin D. The three layers of the skin are the epidermis, dermis, and subcutis. The epidermis is the most external layer of the skin. This layer contains flat-shaped cells called keratinocytes and pigmented cells called melanocytes. Underneath this layer is the dermis which contains collagen and immune cells. Beneath this is the subcutis which is where the major branches of the vessels and nerves lie.
Sow- Adult female pig
Gilt- Young female pig
Boar- Intact male pig
Barrow- Male pig neutered before puberty
Stag- Male pig neutered after puberty
The adult canine teeth, also known as tusks, erupt at about one year of age and continue to grow throughout a pig's life. Tusks grow larger in boars (unneutered males) than sows (females). The tusks of a barrow (a male pig neutered while young) will not grow as quickly as in a boar. Tusks can grow quite large, and are often sharp.
Yearly vaccinations are recommended for most potbellied pigs and miniature pigs. There are several vaccines labeled for use in production/farm pigs, and your veterinarian will determine which are appropriate for your individual pet. Several factors will be considered by your veterinarian, including your geographical area, the age and breeding status of your pig, and potential exposure to other pigs (directly or indirectly).
Female pot-bellied pigs are known as gilts if they've never been pregnant, and sows if they have produced at least one litter. Gilts are usually spayed at a young age to prevent undesirable traits such as odor, aggressiveness, mounting of other pets and people, and urine-marking. Spaying prevents diseases such as uterine tumors which are common in older intact gilts and sows. We recommend that a spay is performed when a gilt is between 4 and 6 months of age. If an intact gilt is already showing these behaviors, she may never lose these traits even once she has been spayed.
The average lifespan of potbellied pigs is approximately 10-15 years, with some pigs living into their 20s. The quality of care a pig receives throughout its life has a great influence on longevity. Pigs can be considered seniors at 10 years of age. Senior pigs are a new phenomenon in this country since the first pot-bellied pigs were imported to the United States only about 25 years ago. Agricultural swine medicine contributes greatly to our understanding of health and disease in pet pigs.
Your potbellied pig may need surgery at some point in its life. It is important to be prepared for this event so you have a suitable set-up at home for your recovering pig.
Male pot-bellied pigs (also known as boars) are usually neutered at a young age to prevent undesirable traits such as odor, aggressiveness, mounting of other pets and people, and urine-marking. A neutered male pig is known as a barrow. We recommend that this is done between 4 and 6 months of age. If an intact boar is already showing these behaviors, he may never lose these traits even once he has been neutered.
Pot-bellied pigs often live 15 years or longer. Arthritis is one of the more common problems of these senior citizen pigs, often causing crippling leg lameness. Fortunately there is hope for these arthritic pigs with a multi-faceted veterinary care program.