Miniature pig

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Miniature pig
Full-grown miniature pigs
Sus scrofa domesticus

A miniature pig (also mini pig, or micro pig, or teacup pig) is a breed of pig developed and used for medical research or for use as a pet. Miniature pigs weigh between 75 pounds (34 kg) to 150 pounds (68 kg) when fully grown, while farm pigs may weigh more than 700 pounds (320 kg). They were first used for medical research in Europe before being introduced to the United States in the 1980s. Since then, the animals have been used in studies by scientists around the world, and have also risen in popularity as companion animals.


In the 1960s, pigs that grew to be 150–200 pounds (68–91 kg) were sent to zoos in Western nations[1] and were used for medical research in the fields of toxicology, pharmacology, pulmonology, cardiology, aging, and as a source of organs for organ transplantation.[2] These comparatively smaller pigs were easier to work with than the larger farm pigs, which typically reach weights of 300-500 pounds.[3]Pot-bellied pigs also became a fixture in many zoological parks where their small stature, sway backs, and potbellies attracted the attention of visitors.[citation needed] The purchase of a few potbellied pigs by wealthy pet owners helped start a new trend in pet pigs.[citation needed]

The popularity of miniature pigs grew in the 1980s, with pet potbellied pigs appearing everywhere from New York apartment complexes to small hobby farms. However, the trend was short-lived, mostly due to city ordinances forbidding raising farm animals within the city limits. Furthermore, many owners came to realize that even a 165-pound pig was difficult to handle in most housing situations.

The 1990s and 2000s saw a rising trend of marketing pet pigs that were supposed to be much smaller than even the potbellied pigs, and therefore suitable pets for house and apartment owners. While multiple animal protection groups and pig breeders question or deny the existence of true "miniature pigs",[4] there are currently breeders selling piglets claimed to be miniature pigs in North America and in the United Kingdom.[citation needed]

In the mid-1980s, Keith Connell of the Bowmanville Zoo in Ontario imported breeding potbellied pigs to Canada, which became the foundation for the potbellied pig in North America.[5] Because of customs laws, only their offspring could be sold in the United States. US zoos were the main target for the piglets, but private owners soon began purchasing them as pets. Up to five additional imports were made in the following 10 years. To track the pedigrees, the Potbellied Pig Registry Service, Inc (PPRSI) was created to preserve these bloodlines and establish a breed registry in the United States. This registry was dissolved in the late 1990s.[5]

The Miniature Potbellied Pig Registry Service, Inc (MPPRSI) was established in 1993 to provide a registry for those pigs who were pedigreed in the PPRSI and met the breed standard, when fully grown not being more than 15 inches (38 cm) tall and weighing under 55 pounds (25 kg).[6] All of the foundation pigs were dual registered in PPRSI and MPPRSI.[5]

In May 2015, the China Academy of Agricultural Science announced that its research team had successfully produced F-25 (the 25th generation) of inbred Chinese Wuzhishan Mini Pig (WZSP), with an inbreeding coefficient of 0.99519.[7]

Medical research[edit]

Miniature pigs have been used for medical research, including toxicology, pharmacology, pulmonology, cardiology, and aging.

As pets[edit]

Young mini-pig on the streets of Condesa neighborhood (Cuauhtémoc borough, Mexico City) during an earthquake in May 2014

Miniature pigs, also known as micro pigs, pocket pigs, and or teacup pigs, have seen an increase in popularity as pets, especially following Paris Hilton's attempt to purchase one in 2009 (She ended up with a much larger breed.).[8] They are intelligent animals and can be house-trained.[9] They do not shed and tend to keep themselves clean.

'Teacup-sized' immature miniature piglet

Breeders claim that micro pigs can potentially make great pets, but that there are considerably more risks involved when buying a micro pig over other common pets, such as cats or dogs. The biggest concern is that, since there is no established breed of "teacup pig", there is no guarantee that the pig sold as such will actually stay small.[10] It may be possible to reduce the risk of ending up with a large pig by looking at the pig's parents and grandparents if possible.[11] However, since pigs can breed years before they fully mature, unscrupulous or ignorant breeders may show off parent pigs which are not fully grown themselves, so have not reached their full adult size.[12] Some breeders may falsely claim that a mini-pig is guaranteed to stay under a certain weight, and sometimes will recommend a diet regimen that starves the animal and unnaturally stunts its growth.[13]

In 2012, a website was created for the Juliana Pig Association & Registry (JPAR). There is no evidence of charter or bylaws for an organization of this name, meaning that it is an informal group unlike most other major animal breeding groups such as the American Kennel Club and the Livestock Conservancy.This registry claims to be concerned with the lineage and breeding of a subset group of miniature pigs called Juliana pigs. Despite this, there is no evidence presented from any independent source that "Juliana" or "Miniature Painted" is a breed of pig. JPAR records lineage, size, and age on every pig entered and has an online database that is open to the public. JPAR has a breed standard, Code of Ethics for responsible breeding, and consequences for falsification of information for farms that make false claims about their pigs.[14] The JPAR website was created by Meg Sorhus, owner and operator of South House Farms, which sells miniature pigs.[15] Her farm's website is the only link in the "External Links" page of the JPAR website. Despite the fact that Sorhus' farm is located in Missouri, a second website came online in 2014 for a similarly unofficial organization named the American Juliana and Miniature Pig Registry, based in Edinburg, Texas.[16]

Some towns and cities have ordinances disallowing farm animals within city limits; a pig is usually considered a farm animal regardless of its size. As well, many small animal vets will not treat pigs. Since these animals have a life span of 15 to 20 years, they require long term commitment. Due to their ability to bond, combined with their need for attention, people who have limited time for a pet may find a pig far more than they can handle. Additionally, if pet pigs are not properly trained when they are young, just like a dog they can strive for dominance and become aggressive.[17]

There are multiple animal rescue organizations set up to find new homes for pet pigs which have grown too large or otherwise unmanageable for their owners

Other notable references[edit]

A Yucatan miniature pig is the unofficial mascot of the Animal Rescue League of Boston.[18]

The world's smallest wild pig species is believed to be the 28 inches (71 cm) long wild pygmy hog which lives in Assam, India.[19] It is an endangered wild species, not appropriate for domestication.


  1. ^ John Pukite (1999). A field guide to pigs. ISBN 1-56044-877-6. 
  2. ^ Sachs, DH; Galli, C (2009). "Genetic Manipulation in Pigs". Current Opinion in Organ Transplantation 14 (2): 148–153. doi:10.1097/mot.0b013e3283292549. PMC 2687522. PMID 19469029. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ [1] - Miniature Potbellied Pig Registry Service, ref>The Truth about "Tea Cup" Pigs
  5. ^ a b c "History". Miniature Potbellied Pig Registry Service, Inc. Retrieved 4 Feb 2013. 
  6. ^ About Miniature Potbellied Pigs - Miniature Potbellied Pig Registry Service, Inc.
  7. ^
  8. ^ History of pigs in research Andrew David Thaler, on October 14th, 2012
  9. ^ Mini Pig Care guide
  10. ^ You must have been told a porky: 'Micro' pig grows to 25 stone and takes over its owners' home By Daily Mail Reporter PUBLISHED: 12:51 EST, 27 July 2012 | UPDATED: 15:00 EST, 27 July 2012
  11. ^ Minimizing risk when buying a micro pig About Micro Pigs and their size - UK
  12. ^ Teacup Pigs All the Rage, But Animal Welfare Group Urges People to do Homework Before Taking One Home October 28, 2009
  13. ^ "Instead of providing breed-appropriate feed and portions, her breeder recommended tiny, toy breed puppy-appropriate food and water bowls." [2]
  14. ^ Sorhus, Meg (2012). "Juliana Pig Association & Registry". South House Farms. Retrieved 2015-12-18. 
  15. ^ Sorhus, Meg (2012). "Juliana Pig Association & Registry - Contact Us". South House Farms. Retrieved 2015-12-18. 
  16. ^ "American Juliana & Miniature Pig Registry". 2014. Retrieved 2015-12-18. 
  17. ^ Pot Bellied Pigs as Pets
  18. ^ Meet Rosie a Yucatan miniature pig May 10, 2009
  19. ^ Mini pigs are big success on farm 15 October 2007 BBC News