Pick a Pygmy Pet: Pigs!

Pygmy Pigs, also known as teacup pigs, miniature pigs, dwarf pigs, and micro pigs, have become America’s top trendy pet. The term itself refers to a small breed of domestic pig, such as the Pot-bellied pig of Vietnam or the Göttingen minipigs of Germany. These tiny creatures have small, perked-back ears, a potbelly, a chubby figure, a rounded head, a shorter snout, and tiny legs.

Their breeding history is slightly foggy, but we know that pygmy pigs began showing up in the mid-1970s; labs across North America and Europe bred them for use in medical research within the fields of toxicology, pharmacology, pulmonology, cardiology, aging, and as a source for organs for organ transplantation. Pigs are very useful in studying human disease, and—due to their high intelligence—are very easy to manage in a laboratory setting. Though your pygmy pets might have seemed destined to become close companions, they were originally bred for research purposes.

However, these tiny pigs don’t stay small forever. Most breeds of teacup pigs grow up to be between 75 and 200lbs—around the size of a medium/large dog. Though this is significantly smaller than adult farm pigs, which can weigh up to 1,100 pounds, a 200-pound pet is not what most people expect when they purchase a pygmy animal. Moreover, teacup pigs have a long lifespan—they outlive dogs, and they often outlive cats. Their lifespans are often around 15-20 years. If you adopt a pygmy pig, you’re in it for the long haul.

As a result, laws vary on the legality of keeping pigs as house pets. If no such laws exist, your pink little friend may be considered, exclusively, as livestock. If this is the case, be sure to double-check your sources; some towns and cities have ordinances disallowing farm animals within city limits. Pigs are intelligent, adorable, and rewarding pets—just be sure to understand the repercussions in your choice of companion.