What is the difference between a miniature pig, a micro pig and a teacup pig?  And are they real or just myths?

Can you tell which of these common phrases are true and which are false?

“My friend has an adult micropig that only weighs 10 pounds!”

“Miniature pigs don’t exist!”

“All small pigs are starved!”

“I was scammed by a breeder who said my pig was miniature but now it weighs more than 100 pounds!”

Answer – All the above phrases are FALSE, and here’s why:

Most full-sized pigs (farm hogs) are butchered when they are between 300 and 700 pounds.  If they are not butchered when they are young, they can grow to be over 1000 pounds.  The record size is reported to be over 1300 pounds!  Many people are surprised to learn that pigs are HUGE animals.

One thing hog farmers have always known is that pigs are very smart, clean and loyal creatures.  Many people who grow up on farms love to share their stories about their favorite pig growing up.  They bond very deeply and have always had a special relationship with the humans who raise them.

In the 1980’s the first Vietnamese Potbellied Pigs were brought into the United States from Canada.  They averaged in weight from 200 to 300 pounds as adults making them wildly popular as pets.  It was very appealing for families to get all the love, loyalty and intelligence of a pig in a pint-sized version that was less intimidating and easier to handle.

Today, there is a breed of pig referred to as the “American Miniature Pig”.  This breed has developed over many generations of breeding practices designed to make pet pigs smaller.  Scientists and medical researchers began the trend of breeding smaller and smaller pigs to make working with them in a laboratory easier.  Pet breeders have continued the trend and American Miniature Pigs are any combination of miniature pig breeds including Pot Bellies, Meishan, Gottingen, KuneKune, Juliana, feral pigs, and many other breeds.

The breed standard for a Miniature Pig says that they average 15-20 inches tall at the shoulder.  These are the pigs that are erroneously referred to as “teacup pigs” or “micropigs”.  These terms are marketing terms designed by breeders to sell pet pigs, these are not breeds.  Ethical breeders (like Lil’ Smokies Julianas www.lilsmokiesjulianas.com ) who are members of reputable associations such as the American Miniature Pig Association, the Juliana Pig Registry and Mini Pig Breeders Inc, are strongly discouraged (or even forbidden) to use these terms when selling miniature pigs.  While Mini Pigs are much smaller than Potbellied Pigs or farm hogs, they do not fit in teacups and usually weigh 50 – 100 pounds or more.

Another common purebred miniature pet pig is the Juliana.  The Juliana Pig Association and Registry website gives this breed standard description:

“The Juliana Pig is a small colorful pig thought to originate in Europe through selective breeding of various kinds of pigs.  The Juliana Pig, also known as the Miniature Painted Pig, is small, spotted, and conformationally sound.  It should not exhibit a pronounced pot belly or sway back, should have a long snout, and be slight in frame.  Temperament is of the utmost importance since the Juliana has been specifically bred to work with humans.  While the Juliana breed is reputed to be quite old it is unsubstantiated whether or not the modern Juliana pig is of the same ancestry”.  They also say Julianas should be 15 – 17 inches tall and are always spotted.  Registered Julianas are usually sold by reputable breeders at prices comparable to purebred dog prices.

All miniature pigs, including American Miniature Pigs and Julianas, are excellent pets.  Plus, they have the distinction of being small enough to live inside the home.  Pigs as house pets are wildly popular because they are incredibly easy to potty train, can be trained to do a wide variety of tricks, are relatively inexpensive to own and are not prone to many health problems.  They are comparable in size to a bulldog and comfortably fit through a dog door.

So, what about your friend who has a 10-pound adult?  Or your cousin who was scammed and has a 100+ pound miniature pig?  Why are some unusually small and others are unusually large?  And how do you avoid falling victim to a breeder’s scam?

First, only support ethical breeders who are members of the American Miniature Pig Association so you know that they have been screened and are held to a high ethical standard.  Also, you can purchase a registered Juliana so that you can research the bloodline and see the pig’s lineage to be sure it comes from quality bloodlines.  www.lilsmokiesjulianas.com is a breeder that only sells registered Julianas and is a member of not only the AMPA, but MPB too.  So, you know you are getting a well bred pig.

Assuming you purchase or adopt a well-bred miniature pig from a reputable breeder, there is still a huge range of pig weights once they go home.  So, the second thing to know about pig size is that weight is very dependent on how they are fed.

Pig growth can be “stunted” by feeding very limited quantities of food.  This practice is sometimes started at birth by an unethical breeder motivated to sell the world’s smallest pig.  The breeder will limit the nutrients the piglet is permitted to receive from its mother to limit growth.  This breeder may send piglets home with restrictive diet instructions to unsuspecting pet owners urging them to limit food to keep the pig small.  This is very unhealthy for the pig and perpetuates the “micropig” myth.

On the other end of the spectrum, many pet pigs are morbidly obese.  This too is very unhealthy for your pet.  Pigs are manipulative beggars and will convincingly pretend to be starving when they are in fact overfed.  Loving humans don’t want their beloved pet to be hungry and will feed them into obesity.  One of the disadvantages of owning such a smart pet is that pigs are more likely to train their owners than owners are to train the pig!  Some of the stories that start out, “my breeder scammed me”, are stories of overfed pigs.  Just because your pig weighs 125 pounds, doesn’t mean it should!

So properly feeding your pig is one of the most important things you can do for the health of your pet.  But we will have to save that discussion for another article.  Until then, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to hug a pig today!

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Ashley Aakre is an author and serial entrepreneur.

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Lil' Smokies Julianas specializes in raising rare and exotic registered miniature Juliana pet pigs.
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