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Teacup pigs do not constitute a separate species or a recognized breed with distinct breed standards. The term refers to those pigs that are bred to be smaller, and are marketed as the ones that can fit into a teacup.

While dogs enjoy the status of being the most popular pets for centuries, other animals like cats, fish, birds, ferrets, guinea pigs, and hamsters are now common as pets. Even turtles, iguanas, snakes, and tree frogs are raised as exotic pets by animal enthusiasts across the globe. However, it may be difficult for you to imagine a huge farm pig as your pet, even though you adore the animal. Even if you want to raise pigs as pets, there may be space constraints due to their huge size. This is the reason why small-sized pigs got popular as pets. For a person who adores pigs, pot-bellied or teacup pigs appear to be an ideal option. Teacup pigs are claimed to be very small in size, as compared to the regular farm pigs and the pot-bellied ones. Go through this Buzzle article for a brief overview of teacup pigs.

What are Teacup Pigs

Teacup pigs are cute, little pigs that are now very much in demand as pets, due to their small size, attractive looks, and gentle nature. According to breeders, when fully grown, these pigs can have a maximum body weight of 65 pounds. So, the main feature of these pigs is their small size, for which they were bred for. In fact, the very concept of teacup pigs originated from people's interest in small-sized pigs as pets. Let us take a look at the origin and history of the concept of teacup pigs.

Small-sized Pigs: We all know that farm pigs are huge, and may weigh around 600 to 800 pounds. Raising such a pig as a pet, that too in a small apartment, doesn't sound a good idea. However, a small-sized pig can be an ideal option for those who vie to have one as a pet. This became possible during the 1980s, when people started adopting pot-bellied pigs.

Pot Belly Pigs: Though the name is derived from their pot-bellied body, this feature may not be seen in all sub-species. This small-sized pig breed originated in Vietnam. The characteristic features of these pigs are the straight tails, erect ears, and small size. Though the size of this pig is almost similar to a medium-sized dog, it can have a body weight that can range between 30 to 300 pounds.

Pygmy Hog: This is a critically endangered pig species that is now found in Assam, India. They are believed to be the smallest wild pigs that can grow to around 30 pounds in weight. However, they have nothing to do with the miniature pigs that are now marketed as small-sized pets.

Origin of Teacup Pigs: Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs were used for scientific research, as they were relatively small in size, as compared to regular farm pigs. However, smaller pigs were needed for research and this resulted in selective breeding of pot belly pigs. People started raising these small-sized pigs as pets. When compared to the typical farm pigs, pot-bellied ones are small in size. But it was soon realized that these pigs too can grow to a body weight of more than 200 pounds, and it became difficult to handle them in urban settings.

Sensing the increasing interest in small-sized pigs, special breeding programs were initiated during the late 90s. Breeders started selling small-sized pigs in various names. It is claimed that these pigs remain small in size and so, are ideal for apartments. The small-sized Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs were used for interbreeding with other breeds, like kunekune to produce offspring of a much smaller size. These small pigs are now marketed as miniature pigs, micromini pigs, teacup pigs, Julian pigs, etc. However, they are not found to have any consistency in size, shape, or other features, so as to be recognized as a breed. In short, teacup pigs do not comprise a breed or a species, but are bred to be smaller for marketing purposes.

Do They Remain Small?

While their small size is the most attractive feature of miniature teacup pigs, breeders' claims can be sometimes misleading. Even though these pigs are small in size at the time of birth and may even fit into a teacup, they may grow to a much larger size, that can be contradictory to the breeders' claims. Most of the pictures of teacup pigs circulating on the internet, can be either of newborn babies or photoshopped images. When fully grown, these pigs can be as big as large Cocker Spaniels.

The so-called teacup pig may not fit into a teacup for long. It may grow big, sometimes well beyond what you expected of a small-sized pig. Even though the maximum weight of teacup pigs is claimed to be between 15 to 65 pounds (the figure may vary with different breeders), they may grow to a body weight of 150 to 200 pounds, and a height of 21 inches. According to animal enthusiasts, what is going on is false advertising. According to them, the small-sized pigs that are being sold for extravagant prices are horribly underfed, malnourished animals that can grow big with proper nutrition. In some cases, the diet chart provided by the breeder may be aimed at restricting the growth of the pig, so that it remains small.

Teacup Pigs as Pets

Pigs are often claimed to be ideal as pets, due to their sweet, docile, and intelligent nature. They can be trained easily and are clean, and non-allergenic too. If you have enough space for accommodating a teacup pig, you can adopt one. Here are some tips to raise a teacup pig.
  • First of all, check whether it is legal to raise a pig as a pet in your area. If it is allowed, contact a reputed breeder, who has such pigs for sale. Most people go for sterilized teacup pigs.
  • As pigs are social animals, they need friends. If you have other animals, a single piglet will be sufficient. Otherwise, go for pairs.
  • You may use a dog kennel with a soft bed for the piglet to sleep.
  • They need exercise; so provide them with sufficient space to play. It will be a good idea to make a small pool, with anti-skid mats in the bottom. Make sure that the water level is up to the first leg-joint of the pig. They love to play in water or simply cool off in the pool.
  • They should not be allowed to play outside, if the sunlight is harsh. Light-skinned piglets may develop sunburns.
  • Feed teacup pigs with raw fruits and vegetables. They need fresh, clean water and grass, but meat or meat products are not at all allowed. Follow the instructions of your breeder as well as the vet.
On the other hand, pigs are not considered ideal as pets, especially in urban settings. As mentioned earlier, teacup pigs may not remain small, and in such cases, it will get difficult to raise one in a small apartment. They can be aggressive and damage things, when they get bored or feel hungry. It is really difficult to litter train a pig, an animal that is highly interested in eating. You have to clean the area where the animal is kept, at least twice a day to keep things clean, and to avoid stench. They can also inflict bites on your toes, as they search for food. With a good lifespan, raising a pig as a pet is like a long-term commitment. While it could be illegal to raise a pig (which is considered as a farm animal) within city limits, another possible drawback is non-availability of veterinarians who treat pigs.

In short, the teacup pig is not a specific breed and so, there is no fixed breed standard. However, they can be raised as pets, provided you have sufficient space in your house, and you have a basic understanding about pig care. Before adopting a teacup pig, collect enough information about the animal and then decide. Above all, approach reputed breeders, if you want such pigs.