But what is the truth about the new craze of "teacup," "micro-mini" and other super-small pigs such as the "Royal Dandy." They are just so cute and many movie stars are buying them up. You see them on the news and in the tabloids, so you want to own one too.
First let's look at pigs and their sizes. Below is the average size of normal pigs.
Farm Hog - 700 to 1200 pounds at maturity.
Feral or wild hogs - 450 to 700 pounds at maturity
Kune Kune Pigs - (Originally from New Zealand) 100 to 250 pounds at maturity.
Potbellied pigs - 80 to 140 pounds at maturity.
(And they mixed ALL these breeds to get a smaller pig???? Let me do my math.)
When do pigs mature? Not until they are over 3 ½ yrs old. So just how do these breeders get them to stay so small? Read on for the truth.
Back in the mid 1980's when the Viet Nam pigs were brought over to Canada and then down into the United States, people thought they would stay small because they were being bred young and sold young. But the truth of the matter was that they didn't stop growing until way over three years old. All of them were way over two hundred pounds when they died. But breeders started breeding them down by picking out the smallest of the litter and breeding it to another small one from another breeder. Breeders call this "line breeding" but in essence it is "inbreeding" which produces smaller pigs. But the problems become more pronounced. The more inbred, the longer the snouts and legs become. Also they would take a pig with one of those squished up snouts and breed with another like it so that the snouts because shorter and more squished looking. Again problems have developed in practicing this procedure. They actually develop problems within the snout which causes a lot of breathing problems. Some of these problems are not seen until the pig begins to age. But by then the breeder has sold it and it is no longer their problem but the problem of the new owner.
The good thing that did happen to the potbellied pigs was when they did get them smaller, the veterinarians would give an average range of 80 to 140 pounds as being normal. Yet that was not enough. Breeders wanted to make more money on them because the funds had dropped to nothing on the average potbelly and people heard the word miniature and thought of that miniature toy poodle.
Today we have over three hundred pig sanctuaries and rescues across the USA. Most are 501(c)(3) non-profits and all are now bulging at the seams and over-flowing with unwanted pigs that don't stay forty pounds. And they root just like normal pigs. So they get dumped in kill shelters, on back roads, and some sneak in and put them over the fences of nearby sanctuaries. Potbellies are selling at auctions for one to five dollars. Many backyard breeders are now breeding them with other type of pigs, and of course they get a lot larger.
One teacup breeder that I spoke with on the phone told me that her "teacups" were guaranteed to stay small. That she had mixed the potbelly with the ferals and Kune Kunes. But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to look at their normal size and see a problem in the future. All the mini, micro-mini, and teacups will produce a recessive gene from time to time, and then the pig turns out normal, but way too big for the "teacup buyer." So another pig gets dumped through no fault of it's own.
Another problem with the "teacups" is their health. Their life span is shortened to an average of 5 to 6 years compared to a normal pig that will live to be 15 to 20 years old. Their bones quit growing but their inner organs continue to grow and become crowed on the inside until something has to give. The pig dies a painful death most of the time. The more inbred, the more the health problems.
Pigs are herd animals. They do make great pets for the right people but the right people are few and far between. If you can't have two then they require lots of interaction so they feel that they are a part of a herd. The family becomes their herd and with it comes all the problems of a herd. They set a pecking order and if you don't have a dominate personality, it will rule you. Some owners over-feed them until they are so fat they can't walk and arthritis sets in and they become crippled. This is no life for any pig.
So the bottom line is . . . If size is important to you, don't get a pig. If you do, please do your research and learn about them and their care first. Don't wait and then break the heart of a pig that has grown attached to you and loves you. No one will criticize you for not getting a pig, but if you get one and dump it or abuse it, they will.
If you would like more information on "teacups, micro-mini, and miniatures," please contact us for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org . If you buy from a breeder, don't just take their word that it will stay small. Contact sanctuaries and see how many of them are in the sanctuaries around the country. You owe that much to yourself and to the pig you might think you want.
More Info on Teacups and other miniatures at http://www.teacuppig.info/