Should you adopt a mini pig?
There is nothing cuter than a teeny weenie mini pig. Well, I haven’t really seen a mini pig, only regular piglets, which are so cute, too. Would I like to have a little mini pig running around with my dogs? Oh, yes, I would, but if I’m being realistic, I will probably never own one. They are quite costly, and they really are not the ideal pets, from some of the articles I have been reading. If you do decide to get a pig for a pet, you will need to really read up on them to know what you are getting into.
Mini, micro, teacup and pixie — there are lots of different names that breeders use to describe their pigs. The problem is none of them are regulated, so it’s tough to know exactly how big your little pig will get. There are 15 to 20 breeds of mini pig, and all of them are 150 to 180 pounds at full size — but compared to full-size farm pigs, which hover around 600 pounds, they are mini.
A breed of very tiny pigs doesn’t exist in nature. Because pigs can take up to five years to reach their full size, it’s tough to tell how large your new pet will become. Your best bet is to visit your pig’s parents in person so you can see how big they are.
Have dreams of bringing your little piggy home and snuggling on the couch or playing fetch together? Pigs and their humans bond eventually, but it is a slow process. Being the pack leader with a pig is important. They might head butt, nip or bite if they think you’re lower on the totem pole.
Pigs live to eat, which can be both good and bad. Pigs are fast learners and can be very much focused on learning if food is involved.
Pigs also have high social needs and they hate to be alone. Most pigs do best when they can hang out with their own kind. Pigs enjoy their company with humans and they like the belly rubs and treats. They don’t live to be with humans, though — that’s why successful pig owners have at least two pigs.
Check out this article, “8 things you should know before adopting a mini pig,” by Marygrace Taylor, to get more info on pigs: www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/pets/a20706352/mini-pig-care/.
If you are looking for a new pet to add to your human family, be sure to check out The Central Aroostook Humane Society, located in Presque Isle at 24 Cross St. You can also check out our Facebook page to see what pets are up for adoption.
Please be responsible: spay and neuter your pets.
“I learned long ago to never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty.” (From www.graceylevine.com)
Gail Weider is a member of the board of directors for the Central Aroostook Humane Society.
itcan be good, it can be indifferent and it can be tragic, it all depends on the pig and dog.
Dogs: are carnivores...and in some breeds particularly (breds commonly bred as hog dogs like bulldogs, catahoulas, pits ect) its NOT a combination id EVERY trust unsupervised, instinct is a powerfull thing and a quick game of chase results in a squeeling pig that can turn a dog into a killer in seconds form pure excitement.
PIGS: are OMNIVORES, they will KILL AND EAT meat if given a taste for it...I would NEVER leave a pig alone with smaller dogs or cats or any kind of small caged animals,
pigs are fast, intelligent and opportunistic....
DOgs and pigs play in different ways and similar ways too, chase is a ommon piggy game, but so is "shoving" and nipping (particularly shoving) and even a 30lb pig is INCREDIBLY and surprisingly strong.
ive seen pigs and dogs who were best frineds...but ive also seen it end tragically on BOTH sides...(dead pigs and dead dogs)
in terms of Mini pigs. be carefull, most mini pigs are derivitives of the potbelly (and any potbelly reaching 400lbs is GROSLY obease) even those tiny "teacup" juliianii pigs can reach 40lbs, which while seemingsly small,(and not tall) s an animal built for POWER these are the ulldozers of the animal world.
you also must be verycarefull, a lot of thie "breed em smaller" breeding for tiny toy and teacup piggies is resuting in a lot of health issues. pigs are geneally very hardy creatures and ive seen some realy ill minis.
unscrupulous breeders alos tend to not feed momma right during pregnancy to stunt babies and maeem smaller (they will usually go either of 2 ways being sickly and small or getting to the oamrla 30-40lbs or, pull baby pigs of momma for the bottle (bottle raising a pig is NOT easy) and thus negating adequate nutrition.
In terms of pigs in the hosue...heres the deal...you see a lot of youtube vids of piggies running round the house snuggling in dog beds ect...
the truth is most also have free acess to the outdoors and once mature spend MOST of their time outside.
pigs CAN be litterbox trained but being omnivored their poop is much akin to human poop and they pee...ALOT.
pigs are SMART, they learn quickly how to open things from the freezer drawer to the dog food container to your closet and clothes cdrawers, because of this intelligence they get bored very quicky...and a bored pig is a DESTRUCTIVE pig...you cannot keep an adult mini pig in a wire (or plastic) dog crate, even a 25lb pig is strong enough to break the welds quickly and break free...those snouts are designed to DIG, and dig they will they il rip out your carpet scratch up and chew your hardwoods and even destroy ceramic tile...its just instinct.
your trashcan is also NEVER safe.
pigs can be noisy, especially when picked up (instinctual they scream for momma to come save em and a momma pig is OT to be messed with lol) and when there excited...which is typicaly when theres food around...and when there playing, they squeal out of fear, stress excitement, joy...and sometimes just because they can.
the grunt is much more pleasant and not as annoying lol.
pigs are NEEDY...not in the dog or cat kind of way but in the mental stimulation kind of way, they crave stimulation, theiy would spend their days digging for food and grazing and pigs naturally travel great distances daily...so again we come back to bored pig is a destrictive pig.
pigs are also NIPPY...nothing you do or say will stop this, its how they communicate with eachother, they push shove and nip, pigs are incredibly thick skinned, so not much hurts them so they just don't get why you oh so squishy human react so silly when you get bitten...or pushed (and when they push you there right at that height to take you out at the back of the knee! lol) this nipping can be dangerous as even mini pig has the potential to do SEROUS damage...an adult pig should always be respected...no matter its size.
personally I LOVE pigs, I have 2 of my own right now and am looking for a boar to go with them...I have big pigs, Glostershire old spots, they WILL get 400+ lbs full grown
I brought them home as "bottle babies" JOKE! pigs don't like bottles though they id take to pan feeding very easily, however like ANYTHING with pigs food is full body sport and the more they can get on themselves, you, the floor and walls the happier they are! they were in the house for 2 weeks...litterbox trained but still...YUCK!
within 2 hours they figured ut how to open the dog food container...
within 12 hours of me putting a bungee cord over it they figured out how to open it again...within 12 hours of me using a spring loaded clip to latch it closd...theyd gotten in and eaten about 25 lbs of dog food in a sitting...
at only 3 weeks old they knew how to open the cabinates, and playpen, FORGET it...if they couldn't figure out how to unlatch it, they just barged right through it ifing it upand going uner.
I clipped it to a 36" wire dog crate (those thigns are heavy even for me) yup didn't help even at 3 weeks old tif they were people theyd been benching about 100lbs...
LOVED watching them fly around the back yard, and snuggling in my lap and watching them fallover when you find the sweet spot on their side...
but by 4 weeks of age they HAD to move outside...
BUT they were big pigs you say...
my pigs were aprox 2lbs when they came home and 4lbs each when I descide I could NOT keep them in the kitchen...they were MUCH happier outside and now they graze almost 4 acres with my 6 goats with no issues.
despite it, when I go in to feed I keep a riding crop on me...they are not "agressive' but they are pigs and pigs again push and shove and be pigs. and its not unusual for me to have to give e a fairly solid smack on the snout if they get too pushy..this is for MY safety (My girls are already 100lbs and could have tken me down at 30!)
and id NEVER EVER trust them around someone who wasn't pig savvy, they are smart enough to take advantage of people!
im raising livestock guardian dogs to be in with the pigs and goats, but for the most part I wouldn't trust dogs and pigs unsupervised together...
but they are FUN and INCREDIBLE companions in the right hands! I could spend HOURS watching them, talking to them, training them (my girls know a number of tricks, howver they always decide IF its worth their effort lol)
this is one of my girls when she came home...
that's a 5lb cat shes sniffing at...theys been moved into the yard about 3 days at this point
And my glorious girls now at aproximatly 5 months old and around about 100lbs a piece give or take 10lbs!
if your looking for a small breed and want to avoid the risks of bad breeding issues, look into the Kune Kune pig...there not "tiny" (but again most mini pigs wont stay that way lol) but they are sweet natured, spotted, HERITIDGE breed who don't "root" like other pig breeds (making them great as lawnmowers)
Pig Dog Interactions – A Dangerous Combination – Protect Your Pig
Pig Dog Interactions
A Dangerous Combination
Never leave a dog and pig together unsupervised. The result may be a mauled or dead pig when you least expect it.
Pigs and dogs typically do not mix well in a household environment. There are some pigs and dogs that do not mind each other’s presence or even seem to enjoy each other’s companionship. However, they should NEVER be left alone unsupervised for any length of time, no matter how well they get along or how closely they are bonded. It doesn’t matter if the dog is well trained. Instincts will override training at the worst of times. If you aren’t there to intervene, the consequences can be fatal.
Dogs are predators and pigs are prey. This is at the very core of their DNA. Normal pig behaviors (running away, charging, biting, challenging) and sounds (squealing, screaming) from a pig can trigger the predator instinct in an otherwise docile and friendly dog. It’s not the dog’s fault, they are only acting on instinct. It doesn’t make the dog cruel or heartless. It is simply their place in the world as a predator. Dogs and pigs speak completely different languages resulting in confusion, frustration, stress, and aggression.
Dog families are formed by packs with specific social order, respect, communication, body language. Pigs are herd animals with a different social hierarchy. Pigs are continually challenging and reassessing the order of that herd in order to keep the strongest on top, to protect and lead the herd. Usually, the pig starts the fight but the dog finishes it. Pigs have no defense against the jaws of the dog. It only takes seconds for the dog to rip the ears off the pig and maul them, often resulting in the pig’s death or thousands of dollars in medical bills and permanent disfiguration.
As pet parents, it is our job to protect our pigs and our dogs. To put their safety and welfare above our own desires of a multi species family. It’s not worth the risk.
The truth is, pigs are jerks. By nature they are driven to challenge herd mates in order to make sure the strongest herd member is leading them and keeping them safe. The pig can continually challenge the dog as a fellow herd mate. A pigs challenge is viewed as aggression by the dog and the dog can react aggressively. This is when fights can happen. The dog can quickly rip the ears off the pig and cause severe damage. Many pigs have lost their ears, their sight, their hearing, and their lives to dog attacks from the docile family dog that they were such good friends with.
On the other hand if the dog is submissive enough to walk away from the pig’s challenges, then the pig becomes confused. In pig herds they will head swipe or slam into another pig to instigate a challenge. The other pig will slam back. They will do this until a winner is declared and the loser retreats. This is the pig’s cue that all is well in the world and their herd is safe with the strongest leading them. When a dog walks away from a pig, it confuses the pig. He doesn’t know why the dog left. The battle has not be resolved. He doesn’t know who the leader is. He doesn’t know who is protecting the herd. He will continue to challenge the dog trying to elicit a “pig response” from the dog. This leads to stress for the dog and frustration for the pig as neither of them are getting the response they expect. The dog thinks if he retreats he is showing submission. The pig thinks the dog is avoiding the challenge so will try and try again, as he does not feel safe until a leader is established for the her. The continued challenges cause great stress for the dog, who thinks the pig is relentless and a bully. This is often viewed as “increasing aggression” when in reality it is simply miscommunication. The miscommunication starts off so simple but ends in heartbreaking tragedy.
When a pig and dog misunderstand each other, there is no winner. There is no pig big enough to hold their own against a dog’s jaws. Pigs have also been known to maim or kill small dogs and puppies during these conflicts.
The Big Problem With Mini-Pigs
In 2012, as a favor to a friend, Canadians Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter adopted a three-pound (1.4-kilogram) "mini-pig" named Esther. Or so they thought. Within two years Esther wasn't so mini. In fact, she weighed 500 pounds (227 kilograms).
"We didn't want to believe it," says Jenkins, "but at four months it became painfully obvious she would be larger than we thought. She grew about three-fourths of a pound a day. And she's still growing now."
Like thousands of others before them, Jenkins and Walter had been duped into thinking that their tiny pig would stay tiny—perhaps small enough to fit in a teacup—and make as good a house pet as any dog or cat.
But as the couple soon learned, those promises are essentially marketing ploys—ones that unscrupulous breeders have been using more and more frequently over the past 15-plus years. Since 1998, the number of "mini-pigs"—a catch-all term that characterizes just about any small-breed pig—in the United States and Canada has risen from 200,000 to perhaps as many as a million.
To keep the animals' size down, many breeders have been inbreeding and underfeeding their pigs, telling buyers that piglets are actually adults, or—as in Esther's case—passing off commercial pigs originally intended for food as a smaller breed of pig.
Most of these animals end up in overburdened shelters or are euthanized once they outgrow their suburban habitats.
But there may be some good news. Reputable breeders and rescuers are working to educate the public and regulate the trade in the U.S. and Canada. And the number of sanctuaries has grown significantly—from a handful in the 1980s to a few hundred today—thanks, in recent years, to 21st-century fund-raising efforts.
Will those measures be enough to curb the surprisingly big mini-pig problem?
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How It All Began
The novelty of petite pigs in the U.S. began in 1986, when a few dozen Vietnamese potbellied pigs were imported to American zoos. Private breeders took notice. Some began to breed (or inbreed) and underfeed their potbellies and other small-breed lines, such as New Zealand's kunekune and the state of Georgia's Spanish-descended Ossabaw Island pigs.
These strategies produced pigs much smaller than, say, a thousand-pound farm hog (455 kilograms). But they're never the size of a Chihuahua, as some breeders promise. And their weight is impossible to predict.
Until now, the mini-pig trade in North America—and to a lesser extent Europe—has been a hazy, unregulated industry, with few if any rules. But some individuals and nascent organizations are trying to change that.
The recently established American Mini Pig Association comprises 250 breeders across the country working to create a strict code of ethics and height-based breed classifications. Jaimee Hubert, one of the founders, hopes to launch the organization's website this year.
At the same time, she and others are trying to strengthen purchase contracts, extensively interview prospective buyers, and disseminate accurate information about mini-pigs. If reputable breeders, rescuers, and sanctuary owners agree on one thing, it's that education is key.
"Understanding the nature of your pet, whether it's a pig or a lizard, is vitally important to being a successful caretaker for that animal," says Susan Armstrong-Magidson, a breeder turned rescuer who has run the Pig Placement Network, a fostering and adoption system, since 1998. "Had the people buying them—from a roadside stand, county fair, or backyard breeder—been given more information, they may not have bought the pig in the first place."
Hubert says bad breeders can ruin things for the good ones.
"It really irritates us," she says. "We're just as mad as everyone else about it. We have to spend an exorbitant amount of time educating. And we're taking a lot of flak and having to defend ourselves."
Hubert says sanctuaries are quick to blame all breeders for the overwhelming numbers of rescued mini-pigs. Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, estimated a total of 300,000 in 2009—a figure that's grown in the years since.
But, says Hubert, breeders who are reputable understand that they're responsible for the pigs they bring into the world. It's their duty to spay and neuter piglets, match them with dedicated and informed owners, and find new homes for them if anything goes wrong. Places that don't, Hubert adds, are no better than puppy mills.
Rich Hoyle, a 20-year sanctuary veteran who founded The Pig Preserve in Jamestown, Tennessee, eight years ago, says he's seeing more rescued minis with congenital problems—such as deep recessed eyes, males born with retained testicles, and females born without an anus—because of poor breeding practices. On many rescues, the herd of 50 to 100 pigs he encounters are descended from one pair of siblings.
"These poor inbred and half-starved pigs are inundating sanctuaries," says Hoyle. "Probably 90 percent of the so-called micro pigs"—that's one of the mini-pig's many nicknames; others include teacup pigs and pocket pigs—"will either be dead or in a sanctuary before they are two years old."
Fortunately, there are more sanctuaries than ever to receive them.
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Lana Hollenback founded the Forgotten Angels Rescue and Education Center in Deer Lodge, Tennessee, in 2008 as a resource for individuals and other sanctuaries that need new homes for pigs. These days she fields ten calls a day for false minis.
Armstrong-Magidson's Pig Placement Network adopts out 60 pigs a year from her boarding program at Ross Mill Farm in Rushland, Pennsylvania. She says phone calls—mostly concerning pigs under two years old whose owners thought they would fit in their pocket—have been "increasing tremendously" over the past few years.
And then there are Esther's owners, Jenkins and Walter. As Esther grew, so did the couple's resolve to keep her. That meant upgrading from their 1,000-square-foot home (93 square meters) and moving to a place large enough to open a sanctuary for Esther and other farm animals. This year, people from 40 countries donated more than $400,000 to make their Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary a reality.
Jenkins, a real-estate agent, and Walter, a magician, say the "Esther effect"—their term for how one pig has caused them to rethink their entire way of living—is inspiring them to do more. To make sure the sanctuary in Campbellville, Ontario, is eventually self-funded, they want to open a year-round bed and breakfast, which would give visitors ample time to interact with the pigs and walk the area's forest trails. They also plan to open a meatless restaurant, with food grown in a community garden that becomes an ice rink in winter.
"It's easy to make changes to your lifestyle when you've got that kind of motivation," Jenkins says. "We love Esther so much that it's not a stretch to make it our life's work."
Havens are opening elsewhere as well. The American Sanctuary Association now accredits 37 such places in the United States, and estimates there are a few hundred more. About 20 long-running sanctuaries rescue only pigs.
Since the early 2000s, Best Friends Animal Society has taken in stray pigs let loose in the desert or left behind when people move. The organization recently remodeled its living quarters for the pigs, using $500,000 it received via donations to turn the space into Marshall's Piggy Paradise sanctuary.
Meanwhile, mini-pig numbers at Marana, Arizona's Ironwood Pig Sanctuary grew from 329 in 2005 to nearly 600 today. Half the rescues in the past nine years were non-mini mini-pigs like Esther.
Too Many Pigs, Too Few Dollars
While the number of sanctuaries has been growing, the funding for them hasn't been keeping pace. That means overcrowding is becoming an issue at existing havens. At least ten pig sanctuaries have closed in the past two years from lack of space and funding.
Forgotten Angels' Hollenback says a big part of her job these days is persuading owners to say "no." The Pig Preserve's Hoyle calls it the "potato-chip theory"—thinking you can fit just one more rescued pig in the sanctuary is like thinking you can eat just one more chip.
"If you are not careful," says Hoyle, "you can 'just one more' yourself and your sanctuary right into bankruptcy. Our hearts sometimes get in the way of our brains."
The fiscal solution may lie in the wisdom of crowdfunding. In the past two years, crowdfunding sites have hosted thousands of campaigns for a variety of animal sanctuaries.
For contributing to Esther's home, the 7,461 online donors received an assortment of goodies, including a piece of Esther's blanket, a video chat with the pig herself, and an apple tree planted in their name (the apples will be used as food for the animals).
Esther's "dads" say they gladly ran a five-kilometer race in their Esther-adorned undies after receiving a $30,000 donation. And they've promised that if someone donates $1 million, they'll get married and let the deep-pocketed donor officiate.
Funding methods have come a long way since 1986, when Farm Sanctuary set up the first reserves in the U.S. for abused and neglected farm animals. Social media is a big reason why. Esther's Facebook page reaches two million people each week, and she's been "social" for only ten months.
As the mini-pig problem wears on, new sanctuaries continue to open—but not quickly enough. Virtually all of the existing ones are already at or exceeding capacity.
Hoyle says part of the problem is generational. "We know that there are not too many young people coming along behind us who are crazy enough to want to step into our shoes," he says.
Hoyle's wardrobe consists of dirty jeans, battered boots, and sweat-stained shirts. One of his trucks, covered in mud, rust, and "a few petrified pig turds on the inside," has almost 500,000 miles (805,000 kilometers) on the odometer. And his refrigerator contains more pig medicine than human food. But he wakes before dawn every day and works into the dark every night because, as he puts it, pigs don't respect holidays, bad weather, or doctor's notes.
To keep costs down Hoyle has learned to do routine veterinary procedures himself—a common strategy among sanctuary owners. He gives enemas to pigs that overindulge on acorns, trims their tusks and hoofs, and occasionally lances abscesses.
Hoyle has pared down his lifestyle to make up for donor shortfalls. He's built a financial cushion that will allow him to stay operational for six months with no support. He's networked with other sanctuaries, swapping pigs to level the cumulative load. And he's traveled from New Jersey to New Mexico to help stage emergency rescues from failed sanctuaries.
"We watch the flash-in-the-pan sanctuaries that so often hit the scene with a lot of fanfare and up-front money," he says, "and we wonder how long they will last before they go the way of so many before them. And lately, we have watched a few of our old guard lay down and die well before their time."
Jenkins and Walter are months away from moving to their new farm. They've already secured spots in the sanctuary for a rescued horse and donkey.
But they're already having to deny animals; if they gave in to current demand, they say, their future sanctuary would be at full capacity within a week. So they know they need to develop Esther's haven slowly and carefully.
"People know who we are, and they want their animals to come to us," Jenkins says, "which is beautiful, but heartbreaking—when you have to say 'no'—and terrifying."
It's a lot to handle for a couple who, just a few years ago, didn't know farm sanctuaries existed. But the Esther effect makes it worthwhile. Jenkins and Walter continue to care for the pig that inspired it all, feeding the not-so-little lady her 14 cups of food each day.
And mini dog pig
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