Is a pig right for you?
Pigs are unique and fun companions and can make the most wonderful family members for the right people. But a pig isn't a good fit for all lifestyles, personalities, and situations. They are not dogs, and are not interested in going on a hike or jog, fetching a stick, or fawning over you. They are not cats, content to fend for themselves all day. They have their own traits, behaviors, and needs. It's important to meet a variety of pigs of different ages and temperaments before deciding to bring one home. Please don't get a pig on impulse because they're cute; do your research first! A mini pig can live up to 20 years or more, and is a lifetime commitment.

The number of unwanted pigs in need of new homes is staggering, and is often due to unrealistic expectations, misinformation, and unpreparedness on the human's part. Enthusiastic animal lovers are deceived by marketing terms like "teacup pig," "micro-mini," and "dandy," and by breeders who claim that their pigs will stay under 50 pounds or some other unrealistic weight. In truth, mini pigs generally weigh between 80 and 175 pounds (some a bit more and some a bit less) when they reach full size around age five. If a full-grown pig weighs significantly less than that, they were most likely underfed as a piglet to stunt their growth, leading to major health problems and a shortened lifespan. Even the term "miniature pig" can be misleading; it refers to any pig under 300-350 pounds or so, which is indeed miniature in comparison to an 800 to 1,000 pound farm pig! Note that a hundred-pound pig is not the same size as a hundred pound Saint Bernard; while 100 pounds is 100 pounds when it comes to lifting your pig's carrier into your vehicle, pigs are extremely compact, so are much smaller in stature than a dog of similar weight.

Rescue groups across the country are overloaded with pigs in need, and Pig Placement Network has many hundreds of pigs waiting for new homes at any given time. In addition to misinformation and lack of preparedness, reasons for rehoming range from a long-distance move to zoning issues to the death of a caregiver or life changes that make caring for the pig difficult. Pigs can reproduce at a very young age and rapid rate, so failure to spay and neuter companion pigs is another major cause of unwanted piglets. Even when pigs are rehomed due to "behavior problems," most of these issues can be resolved with improved understanding of a pig's needs and natural behaviors. Making adjustments to the environment, changing the humans' behavior, and training the pig in a firm but compassionate way can completely turn things around.

There are many benefits to adopting a pig rather than buying one from a breeder. First and foremost, you get the satisfaction of knowing that you're giving an animal in need a lifelong home and doing your part to combat the crisis of unwanted pigs. Depending on the situation the pig comes from, you may be able to learn details about their personality and quirks, especially if they were in their previous home for a long time. This information can help ensure that the pig is a good fit for your family. Pig Placement Network (and many other rescue groups) can assist in the matchmaking process, provide education and guidance in pig parenting, and support you if questions or concerns arise in the future.

This article poses some questions to consider thoughtfully if you think you might be interested in a companion pig. Please explore our resource library to learn more about pigs and their behavior, health, and care. There is an enormous amount of information available online, but not all is of equal quality, of course, so we aim to direct you to the most truthful and reputable sources. If you feel that a pig may be a good addition to your household or want to learn more, please submit an adoption application so that one of our adoption coordinators can discuss your situation and needs with you and help you come to the right decision for your family.

If after careful consideration, you decide that you are not in a position to adopt a pig, but would still like to spend time with them, contact a rescue group near you to see if they could use volunteers. That could end up as a win-win-win for you, the organization, and the pigs who benefit from your care and attention.

Do I have the time, love, patience, and attention to offer a pig throughout his or her lifespan?

Pigs are sensitive, intelligent, and social. Change is hard for them; they need stability and trust. Too many pigs end up discarded or relegated to a lonely pen because the novelty of a new animal wears off, the family experiences changes (including a new baby, an aging relative, an increased work schedule, or more frequent travel), or issues arise that they are not prepared to address. Undesirable behaviors, such as aggression or destructiveness, are often a pig's way of expressing frustration or boredom, and can emerge with changes in the home or may indicate that something in the environment is not working for the pig. Pigs can also become very depressed without attention, and will grieve lost relationships. Pig Placement Network's president and cofounder Susan Magidson offers consultations, using her 30+ years of pig experience to help problem-solve and resolve these issues; please reach out as soon as concerns come up to keep the situation from worsening.

What age, sex, and personality would be appropriate for me?

As with any species, every pig is an individual, each with their own personality and quirks. But generally speaking, pigs are extremely intelligent, very emotional, curious, change-resistant, and definitely know what they want! Their intelligence and curiosity can make them very trainable, whether it's potty training, harness training, or learning tricks. It can also mean they find all kinds of creative ways of getting into trouble and keeping you on your toes (including escaping enclosures, opening kitchen cabinets and refrigerators, or collecting and shredding laundry to make the perfect nest). Their emotional sensitivity means they can smell people's emotions, get their feelings hurt easily, and are generally rather dramatic! Since change tends to be hard for them, it's important to be patient when they go through a transition such as a move to a new home.

It's equally important to set clear, firm boundaries with your pig, as "spoiled pig syndrome" is a common cause of angst, and leads to far too many rehomings. Pigs don't generally feel an innate need to please their humans the way a dog might, so when you want them to do something, you need to convince them that it was their idea! The porcine social structure is very hierarchical, and a dominant pig will test humans and other animals in the home to find their position in the herd. They tend to be stubborn (hence the term "pig-headed"), and can sometimes use their smarts to manipulate people to get what they want.

But these complex personalities are part of the appeal for pig people; getting to know a pig's ins and outs and developing a deep bond with them can form an incredibly rewarding relationship. We encourage meeting a wide range of pigs before making a decision to ensure that you find the right pig for your situation (or to determine if a different species would be a better fit). Contact local pig rescues or network on social media for opportunities to meet different ages, personalities, and setups. If you are near southeastern Pennsylvania, Ross Mill Farm in Jamison PA is a wonderful place to meet a number of pigs available for adoption.

One key question for potential adopters is whether to look for a piglet or an adult. There are pros and cons to both, and much of it comes down to the specific situation and personal preference, but there are several factors to consider. Piglets are adorable, for sure, and allow the family the opportunity to raise the pig from a young age, shaping the baby (to some degree) into the adult pig they want. However, raising a good pig citizen is a big responsibility. Piglets need lots of attention and socialization, frequent bathroom breaks, kind but firm training, and another pig to help them become well-adjusted. A piglet also comes with many unknowns, as their innate traits such as dominance or intelligence may not yet be apparent. See PPN's "Piglet Care and Behavior" document to learn more.

An adult pig, on the other hand, may be more of a known entity, especially if they have been in their home for a long time. Their people can share details of their history, likes and dislikes, and idiosyncrasies. They are also past their rebellious "teenage" phase, and may be more independent. Older pigs may be more set in their ways, though, and the transition to a new home can be tougher on them. Learn more about the benefits of adopting an older pig here.

Applicants to PPN also often ask whether they should adopt a male or female pig. First of all, it is essential that all companion pigs be spayed or neutered to eliminate hormones from the equation. Once those hormones are gone, it mostly comes down to individual personality. Males will need occasional tusk trims, whereas females typically don't. If you need to get your new pig altered, spaying a female is generally a more involved and expensive surgery than neutering a male. Anecdotally, neutered males may tend towards being laid-back, submissive, and/or timid, while spayed females may be more confident, bossy, and/or dominant. There are many exceptions to these trends, though, so it's best to meet the pig in question and get to know them as an individual.

Do I have young kids, or am I getting the pig as a pet for an older child?

While pigs and calm children can get along just fine, chaotic homes or families with rambunctious kids or those who don't respect a pig's boundaries are not a good fit. If a pig is scared or annoyed by the children, overstimulated, or unable to retreat to a quiet space, they can become nippy or act out in other ways.

A dominant pig may try to assert authority over children in the home or become territorial. It's important to teach the pig to respect all humans and to teach the kids to read a pig's body language and honor their needs and limits. Even in a peaceful home, pigs and young children should always be supervised together. Pigs have an excellent sense of smell and are very food motivated, but don't have the best vision, so be particularly mindful of sticky fingers or kids who smell like snacks to avoid accidents!

If you are considering getting a pig as a pet for your child, remember that pigs can live for 20 years. What happens when your child grows up and leaves home? What if they lose interest in the pig? You, the adult, are ultimately responsible for your pet, so plan to have the pig under your care for the long run.

Do I have dogs or other animals? Can I adopt a second pig for companionship?

Pigs are highly social animals who naturally live in herds. The companionship of one or more other pigs hugely benefits a pig's well-being, and those living alone often become depressed or exhibit behavior issues. Piglets and outdoor pigs in particular need a friend for company, safety, and social skills. A piglet would never be left alone in the wild, so they can feel very vulnerable and anxious without a buddy to rely on.

Despite their social nature, pigs are also extremely hierarchical, and when a new pig appears, they will fight to establish their positions in the herd. Introducing two pigs takes time, patience, and thoughtfulness, and should be done with guidance from an experienced pig person.

However, it will be worth it when the pigs have a better quality of life with companionship of their own species. Learn more about pig introductions here.

"What if I have other companion animals?" you many ask. "Can't the pig be friends with my dog/cat/goat/etc?" While there are plenty of homes with both pigs and dogs, this can be a very risky combination. No matter how sweet and gentle the dog may be, they are predators and pigs are prey animals. Pigs do not play like dogs do. They have different social interactions. They do not speak the same language, which can lead to misunderstandings. A misunderstanding, conflict over food, jealousy or territorial behavior, annoyance, defensiveness, and any number of other triggers can lead to a tragic outcome. Pigs rarely win a fight with a dog, and many do not survive. The dog can also sustain serious injuries. For this reason, it's imperative to introduce pigs and dogs slowly and cautiously, and then continue to closely supervise all interactions, with the ability to separate them when you are not present (or separate them fully if they do not get along).

As far as other species go, interactions can be mixed. Pigs tend to get along well with cats and chickens. Some horses hate pigs and will try to stomp or bite them. Sheep and goats may or may not be compatible, depending on the individuals involved. If you intend for your pig to cohabitate with other species, make sure you have a backup plan in case it doesn't go as you hoped. And always make sure that your pig can't access other animals' food!

A pig's human family also provides social interaction, of course, and there are plenty of single pigs who live happy lives. But if you have the ability to adopt two pigs (ideally a bonded pair so you don't have to go through the introduction process), it is well worth doing. It may seem that two pigs would be twice as much work as one, but the opposite is often true due to the benefits to both pigs' mental health.

Do I own my home? Do I have plans to move in the future? Am I zoned for pet pigs?

It's important that you are in a stable, long-term living situation that is appropriate for a pig before you decide to adopt. Apartments are generally not suitable for pigs, especially if they lack first floor access. Stairs are dangerous for them, and they all need plenty of outside time. Pigs who are unable to go outside will become bored, leading to destructiveness and other behavior and health problems. RV living is also generally a bad fit for pigs.

It is Pig Placement Network's policy that adopters must own their home. This is to ensure that the pig won't need to be rehomed in the future if the landlord changes their mind about allowing a pig in their rental or if the rental ownership changes hands. It can be hard to find housing where pigs are allowed, so if you expect to move, hold off on adopting until you are settled for the long term.

Whether moving to a new location or determining whether your current home is appropriate for pigs, it is vital to check your zoning to be sure that they are allowed. Just because you live in a rural area, your neighbor has chickens, or you know someone across town who has a pig doesn't necessarily mean that you are legally zoned to have them on your property. Find out if there are any restrictions (weight, number, property size, etc.) and get the ordinance in writing. Having a pig in violation of zoning ordinances means that the pig may be seized by animal control and you have no recourse. This is not a risk worth taking. Similarly, if you live in a community with a homeowners' association, get written confirmation that your HOA allows companion pigs before deciding to adopt one. If needed, there are ways to pursue getting your zoning ordinance or HOA rules changed; learn more about the process here and find additional resources here.

Do I have access to a pig-savvy veterinarian and the financial resources to cover unexpected vet bills?

Finding a vet who is willing to see companion pigs--and has sufficient expertise--is essential, but not always easy. Not all large animal vets will see pet pigs, even if they care for farm pigs, though some exotics vets have pig patients. Be sure to call the vet you are considering to determine whether you're comfortable trusting them with your pig's care. You'll need a knowledgeable vet to cover routine care, spay or neuter if needed, and emergency services. PPN's "Finding a Pig Vet" document suggests questions to ask veterinarians when evaluating them.

Companion pigs' routine care--including exams, hoof and tusk trims (which can also be done by a farrier or other pig expert), vaccines, and deworming--is generally pretty inexpensive. Bills from an emergency can add up quickly, however, so it's important to have access to funds to cover emergencies that may arise. The cost of spaying or neutering can vary widely, so before adopting an intact pig, check with your vet to be sure you can afford the surgery. Spaying and neutering are not optional, but rather essential to your pig's health and good behavior (as well as preventing unwanted piglets). You'll also need to have a way to safely transport your pig to the vet when needed; transporting them in a crate inside of an SUV or other enclosed, climate controlled vehicle is the safest approach.

How do I intend to house my pig?

Pigs can live happy lives either indoors or outdoors, though even housepigs need plenty of outside time for exercise, grazing, and stimulation. Despite stereotypes, pigs are clean animals with minimal odor (although many do enjoy a mud bath, and they aren't the tidiest eaters!). They can be readily housetrained, and will avoid going to the bathroom where they sleep and eat. Rooting is a natural behavior, though the level of enthusiasm varies from individual to individual. If you have a manicured lawn or prize flower garden, it may be wise to set up an enclosure that limits the pig to a "sacrifice zone" where they can root to their heart's content! Indoor rooting boxes are also a popular form of enrichment.

Indoor housing options can include a room of the pig's own, such as a laundry room or spare bedroom; a securely fenced corner of a living room; or a large crate tucked in a quiet spot. Regardless of the location of their bed, they'll want lots of blankets to burrow in. It's important for your pig to have somewhere out of the flow of traffic where they can retreat and where you can close them in if needed. While some people choose to set up a pig-specific litter box, most pigs prefer to go to the bathroom outside. This outside time also provides stimulation that is essential for a happy and well-behaved pig. You'll want to thoroughly pig-proof your home before bringing your new buddy home; they will likely test and exploit any weak spot they can find!

Outside pigs need a secure enclosure (as large as possible, but we recommend 16x16' at the minimum) and a cozy shelter to protect them from the elements. Depending on the climate and situation, this shelter can range from a dog house to a barn stall to a shed to a garage. They will need a warm bed of clean, dry straw or blankets. Make sure they have shade and a kiddie pool or mud wallow for the warmer months, as pigs don't sweat and can overheat or sunburn easily. While all pigs can benefit from a friend, outdoor pigs can become particularly lonely, so we recommend adopting a pair for an outside setting.

For more about pig-proofing and setting up your pig's space, see PPN's "Bringing Home a New Pig" document. You can also find other housing ideas at these links: Indoor Housing and Outdoor Housing.

Do I have a support system for help when I need it? Who will watch my pig when I go away? Have I made a plan if something were to happen to me?

You are responsible for your pig throughout their life, so consider how they will receive the care they need when you cannot do it yourself. When you go on vacation, do you have a trusted pet sitter who is comfortable with pigs? Ideally, this should be someone your pig knows already. If not, make sure they have an opportunity to meet a few times in advance so your pig doesn't feel threatened by a stranger coming into the house. Boarding at a facility like Ross Mill Farm in Jamison PA can be an option; however, it can be difficult to find pig-specific boarding facilities in most parts of the country. Boarding at a vet or a dog kennel is very stressful for a pig, and is not recommended. Taking your pig with you on a trip may be an option, but many dislike travel. If you want to explore this possibility, plan well in advance to practice acclimating them to the car, beginning with short trips to see how they fare. Also plan ahead to find pig-friendly lodging if needed (not always easy to do), identify vets along the way in case of emergency, and check for any needed paperwork for crossing state lines or zoning concerns at your destination.

While it's not something we like thinking about, it's wise to consider your companion's future if something were to happen to you. Pig Placement Network is happy to help you with rehoming if needed, but this can take time, and rescues are generally at capacity. If you know someone who might be willing and able to care for your pig for the short or long term, have a conversation with them and make a plan if possible. You may want to add wording to your will that ensures that your pig will be cared for.

Even when you are available, pigs aren't always easy to handle, so you will likely need another set of hands at some point: to help lift a carrier into a vehicle, monitor a pig introduction, or restrain your pig for healthcare. Do you have strong, capable, and willing family members, neighbors, or friends who can show up in an emergency? If you don't have an SUV or van, can you borrow one from a friend to transport your pig when needed? (Securely closing them in a sturdy crate inside your vehicle is the safest way to travel.) Having access to other pig resources for support and guidance is priceless. Pig Placement Network works to provide education and help with problem-solving; please set up a consultation with Pig Placement Network president and cofounder Susan Magidson if you have issues or concerns. Your vet can also be a valuable resource. And there are many local pig parenting groups on social media and elsewhere that can be great for networking (just remember to fact check any information you find on social media, as it may not all be true or applicable to your situation!).