Piggie FAQs

In the 2 weeks since Piper has joined our family, I’ve fielded a lot of questions about the piggie lifestyle. Here I will attempt to answer them, but keep in mind I’m no expert and am learning as I go.

WHERE DID YOU GET HER? Macy did her research and looked at hundreds of piggies online. Her favorite was this little girl, from Jensen Farms (click here to go to their website, but be forewarned: there are a few typos and usage mistakes, so if you’re the kind of person who is bugged by that, peace be with you. I’m still trying to figure out a way to edit their stuff without coming across as a weirdo/know-it-all/grammar stalker).

HOW MUCH DID SHE COST? That’s kinda personal, but suffice to say that the price goes up in direct proportion to how big the pig will be when full-grown. In other words, be very wary of a breeding selling “mini” pigs for $200. Compare the price of a piggie to the price of a purebred dog or cat and it doesn’t seem so outrageous. Plus, with a lifespan of up to 20 years, you’re gonna get your money’s worth.

HOW BIG WILL SHE GET? This little piggie is estimated to be between 15 and 20 lbs when full-grown. The best way to tell how big a piggie will be is to look at the parents’ weights. Piper’s dad is 12 lbs and her mom is 20 lbs at 3 years old. Female breeder pigs (piggie mamas) are kept heavier than non-breeding females, though, so keep that in mind. A breeder can’t ensure a piggie’s final size, so beware of any such claims. Like all mammals, piggies’ growth is dependent upon food and exercise. Feed her a lot, she’s gonna grow. Exercise her a lot, she won’t get too fat. The age-old, simple equation of calories in vs. calories out applies. Be careful, though, because they are  good eaters and are quite appreciative of treats & snacks, so combine that with their all-around adorableness and it’s hard to resist feeding them as much as they want. Tammy, if you’re reading this: no more cookies for Piper!!

WHAT DOES SHE EAT? Pretty much anything. We bought pot-bellied pig food in a 25-lb bag at a feed store. Prices are comparable to dog food. I’ve never had a cat, so I can’t speak to how pig chow compares to cat food price wise.This one is by Manna Pro, and Purina makes one too. Check the nutrition label, though; the first bag we bought is for fattening up pigs to go to market. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. The pig chow has the right nutritional formula for her, but she also gets half a Flintstone’s vitamin every day. We have to chop it up and hide it in her food, but she’s worth it. For the pig chow, she gets 1/4 cup twice a day, along with whatever vegetable scraps we have around. Ok, the truth is, she gets a custom-blended tossed salad on top of her pig chow. When I’m making salad for lunch or dinner, I’ll throw the yucky parts of the lettuce, the stems of the spinach leaves, and the tops of tomatoes in a tupperware and save it for Piper’s bowl. She likes all three of the abovementioned veggies, plus carrots and cucumber. She doesn’t seem to like bell peppers or celery, but I’m guessing she would eat them if not offered her faves alongside. She loves strawberries and blackberries, and you haven’t lived until you’ve seen her eat an apple. I have videos of her eating but can’t figure out how to upload them. Stay tuned.

WHERE DOES SHE SLEEP? In Macy’s bed. Under the covers. Less-spoiled piggies can sleep in a crate or dog bed. 

WHERE DOES SHE DO HER BUSINESS? In the backyard, like a dog, or in a litter box, like a cat. She seems to prefer the backyard but doesn’t like to go out in the cold (luckily she lives in Texas!). Whether outside or in the litter box, she is very focused and takes care of business as soon as her feet hit the grass or the pine shavings. If you do use a litter box for a piggie, don’t use kitty litter or any kind of pelleted litter because they can confuse it with their pig chow and get sick. No one wants to see a backed-up piggie.

DOES SHE GET ALONG WITH OTHER ANIMALS? Yep. Our researched indicated that piggies get along well with any animal. Our dogs, and our doggie BFFs, were divided into two camps regarding Piper: the “couldn’t care less” camp, and the “I want to investigate/prove my dominance” camp. She’s a bit leery of the dogs but I expect they’ll become good friends in time.

DOES SHE PLAY WITH TOYS? Piper has several dog toys, and an activity box. The box is an under-the-bed plastic storage container full of wiffle balls and tennis balls. We hide a handful of grape tomatoes in amongst the balls and she pushes the balls around to find the food. Piggies love a sandbox to root around in, and the “hide the tomatoes” game would work in a sandbox as well. Breeders advise giving piggies a section of yard to explore. So far she hasn’t shown any desire to dig, but she likes to push the dirt around with her snout.

DOES SHE DO TRICKS? Piggies are very smart and can learn lots of tricks. Piper is learning to give kisses on command, and she picks up new things easily. She learned to use the litter box in a day. We videotaped her finding tomatoes in her activity box, and while Macy was watching the video, Piper heard us saying “find it!” on the video and promptly jumped in the box to start looking. I’m hoping to train her to do the laundry and load the dishwasher.

DOES SHE LIKE TO RIDE IN THE CAR? As long as she’s in my lap. I’m sure the sensible thing would be to put her in her crate for car rides, but she’s more of a lap-pig than a crated pig.

DOES SHE NEED VACCINES? Nope, just a dewormer. She will need to be spayed before she’s 6 months old.

DOES SHE SHED? STINK? Neither. Piggies have hair, not fur, so they don’t shed or have dander, which means they’re great for people with allergies. She doesn’t stink, either, which is more than I can say for the two dogs in our house. Our breeder said her pigs get a bath once a year, if that. Piggies’ skin is a little dry, so Piper gets a slathering of baby lotion once a week. She also needs sunscreen if she’s outside (don’t we all?).

IS SHE FILTHY? Not unless someone is eating tzatziki nearby, in which case she tries to dive into the container and cover her body with the tasty dip. Her snout gets a little dirty after she roots in the yard or if she has a particularly juicy blackberry, but a quick swipe with a baby wipe or paper towel fixes her right up. 

HOW EASY IS IT TO INCORPORATE A PIGGIE INTO YOUR LIFE? Very. She follows us around the house like a dog and loves to sit and nap in our laps. She can be left in her crate, or to roam Macy’s room, when we’re gone, and piggies like to go for walks on a leash. We’re working on the leash training, but so far she’s been easier to train in every area than the dogs. She was pretty needy the first day or so, but she’d been separated from her mama, had flown on a plane, gone for a long car ride, and thrown into a strange environment. I would have cried, too. 

DO PEOPLE THINK YOU’RE CRAZY FOR HAVING A PIG IN THE HOUSE? Perhaps. But who cares? Actually, the general response to her has been overwhelmingly positive. She’s cute, neat, non-stinky, well-behaved, and loving. What’s crazy about that? Some homeowners associations and city ordinances prevent piggies, so check into that if you’re thinking of getting one. If you really, really want one and your area prohibits it, remember the old “What they don’t know won’t hurt them” rule. But you didn’t hear that from me!

HOW DO PIGGIES COMMUNICATE? They make a variety of different sounds: up to 20 different sounds, in fact, from grunting and snorting to woofing and crying. Check out this excerpt from a breeders’ “Piggie Manual:”

Whining- well, that is pretty straight forward–they want food, someone made them mad, or is messing with them.

“Ahhhh ahhhh ahhh”– is a familial greeting. It means they see you as family.

“oink, oink, reeeeeee”- means they are searching for someone or something and they are a bit nervous.

“Woof”- it sounds like a bark. This has two meanings. Excited in a good way, they will bark and run and play. If they say it in a higher pitch it means DANGER and they will run away.

“Ooof” (while blowing air) – usually means annoyed, but can mean nervousness

“Rarararaa grumble grumble”- means I AM NOT moving off the couch!

Teeth grinding- can be confusing, it can mean they are teething and have discomfort, in pain, and some do it for contentment

Continuous oinking- I call this “echo location”- they are just oinking to see if someone is around,

Screaming- this means they are mad because they are hungry, confined, or can’t find you.

Grunts- they have soooo many of these…. Most are happy grunts, they have different sounding ones
that come with belly rubs, when you get the “right spot”, petting, happy I am eating food grunts, etc.

Piper makes a “chuff chuff” sound when we pick her up; piggies don’t like to have their feet off the ground, so the transition from standing to being picked up and getting settled in one’s arms elicits the chuffing. There’s the “I need to potty” grunt that has a different intensity. She makes another specific grunt when she’s following us and trying to catch up. If she’s unhappy, say if someone is eating and not offering her a taste, she will give a little screech. She sighs and sneezes, which is just about the cutest thing ever. She also wags her tail like a dog when we say her name, when she’s eating, or if she’s just plain happy. Then there’s the “piggie flop” she does when she’s being scritched in the exact right spot: we’ll be scratching away and all the sudden she flops over onto her side. Whump! Piggie down!

ARE THERE ANY DOWNSIDES TO OWNING A PIGGIE? We’ve tried really hard to think of one. Not that our family is a piggie brain trust or anything, but even after a lot of thought and careful consideration, the only thing I can come up with is that her pee stinks. 


28 Comments on “Piggie FAQs”

  1. David Benbow says:

    Very good explanations. I’ll refer people here when they ask about our new pig, Milo.

    And his pee definitely stinks (and in Minnesota, he wouldn’t set foot outside for anything).

  2. Eddie says:

    So don’t sniff pig pee? Got it!
    She is definitely a lot of fun and far easier to care for than I would have imagined. I am already looking at my dogs and wondering, “why can’t you two be more like Piper?”

  3. Jan Baird says:

    Cute post. I never knew that much about pigs so you’ve enlightened me a lot. Since I’m an animal lover, War Horse really appealed to me. Not about a pig, but about a beloved pet who could have been a pig.
    XOX
    Jan

  4. Mandi says:

    So cute! You are making me want a piggy of my very own with all of those darling photos.

  5. bcoffee1 says:

    I love her! You will now truly be giving us the “pink underbelly” scoop:)

    XOXOXO,
    Brenda

  6. Christy says:

    She’s so freakin’ cute. Can’t wait to see how she reacts to my crew!

  7. PinkHeart says:

    Just love your “piggie posts!” Will be show to my DD again tonight. 🙂

  8. Reading this just makes me smile. So I can only imagine how much smiling you’ve been doing!

  9. wendy says:

    Lauren told me to be sure to read about Piper, and OH MY GOSH. That is some serious Cute that you have running around your house now.

  10. kristina says:

    So cute! I have spoken with a couple breeders, including the one you got Piper from but haven’t decided on who to go with yet…

    One question…are their hooves (is that what they’re called??) softer or hard? We have wood floors and although I really don’t care about them getting scratched to pieces…my husband kind of does lol.

    Thanks!
    Kristina

    • Hi Kristina! Glad you read the FAQs and are looking into breeders. The hooves are hard, like a fingernail, and the ends that point away from the pig are pointed and rather sharp. I don’t think they would scratch wood floors, though. We have tile downstairs, so I don’t know for sure but because the bottom of the hooves is flat, I don’t think they’d scratch. Also because little piggies don’t have any defense mechanisms (their large size being bred out of them), they’re known to be pretty helpless defensively; if they could scratch with their hooves it seems that would be a defense. Maybe it’s a stretch, but it makes sense to me! Let me know if you have any more questions, and definitely let me know if you end up getting a piggie!

      • Jenni Watson says:

        No, they don’t scratch the flood floors. We have one little rescue piggie who hasn’t mastered wood yet but the other one can do it well. In both cases the pad of the foot is the part making reliable contact with the wood. Not the harder, fingernail like material. The hoofs, if kept at an appropriate length, do not extend far enough and sharp enough to scratch into the wood. However should a piggy be both overweight and in need of a trim I could see the problem occurring.

  11. kristina says:

    Thanks for getting back, not sure why I just now see it lol. Good to hear about the hooves…I’ll tell my husband. I am GOING to get a pig but we’re in the middle of moving so I think I need to hold off for a good month or two. For now I’ll just enjoy your Piper via blog 🙂 (We also have a Piper…Lab mix ;)) Thanks again!

    Kristina

  12. […] the vet visit, we trekked across town to Wabash on Washington, the feed store, to buy another bag of pig chow. Piper made a trip to Wabash about a week after we got her and was quickly befriended by the folks […]

  13. […] Our little piggy needed to be spayed. Not because we worry about roving male pigs bursting in on her unannounced and leaving a litter of bastard piglets, but because female piggies can come into heat at 12 weeks of age (yes, you read that right — 12 weeks old; talk about babies having babies) and because they can come into heat every 3 weeks. While there was no need for piggie hygiene products, being in heat was bothersome nonetheless; there was the uncharacteristic bitchiness and the restlessness and the excessive friendliness on her part. […]

  14. […] Our little piggy needed to be spayed. Not because we worry about roving male pigs bursting in on her unannounced and leaving a litter of bastard piglets, but because female piggies can come into heat at 12 weeks of age (yes, you read that right — 12 weeks old; talk about babies having babies) and because they can come into heat every 3 weeks. While there was no need for piggie hygiene products, being in heat was bothersome nonetheless; there was the uncharacteristic bitchiness and the restlessness and the excessive friendliness on her part. […]

  15. […] Then comes Disco, whose main nickname is Biscuit, and somehow I managed to conflate the two names to create Bingo, much to my favorite girl’s chagrin. She couldn’t for the life of her figure out why I kept flubbing that sweet dog’s name. Bingo didn’t mind the flubbing. She survived being shot or stabbed in the mouth as a young pup, so she’s pretty forgiving of a city-slicker who messes up her name. I love Bingo for that, and also because she has the softest face, which reminded me of my sweet Harry. And because she likes to sleep all the way under the covers, which reminds me of our little piggie.  […]

  16. Josh says:

    Did you get her from a lady named Chris Jensen out of the beaumont area?

    • Hey Josh, we sure did get Piper from Chris Jensen. She was at their sister farm in Ohio so Chris flew our little piggie to Houston and picked her up at the airport.

      • Josh says:

        I got my piggy from the sister farm as well. And I’ve had so many new phones since then, I’ve lost Chris’ number and email. And I tried clicking on the website, but apparently it’s not working anymore? I’m looking to get a second piggy and can’t find a way to get ahold of her. 😦

      • I thought I had Chris’s cell phone number but I don’t. If their website is no longer functional, I’d suspect they’re no longer in the piggies-selling biz. Try ranchpony.com. Tim & Cindy live in the North Houston area and sell piggies. She’s super knowledgeable and helped me find a vet for Piper. If she doesn’t have an upcoming litter, she can probably point you in the right direction.

  17. swall314@gmail.com says:

    SInce it has almost been a year, I was wondering how big she is now?

  18. Ashli says:

    Pigs do shed! They blow their coat once a year. Our pig just did it for the first time this year. Dixie is a 1 1/2 years old. I got concerned when she started loosing her hair. I did some research and it is normal. It looked like we gave her a buzz cut when she finally shed it all.

  19. Paige says:

    does she scratch your hard floors? If so how do you stop her from doing that?

  20. Paige says:

    I live in Wisconsin, so does that mean I would have to bundle her up in winter?

    • Hi Paige, I don’t have hardwood in my current house but did in our last house, and Piper’s hooves did not scratch the wood. The pads of her hooves are unbelievably soft. As for having to bundle her up for a Wisconsin winter, I’m not sure about that. I have seen many of our piggy friends on Instagram wearing coats and sweaters, and there are several people who make things like coats and harnesses specifically for pigs. When pet pigs are young, they can fit into dog clothes, but as they grow and their bodies take on the potbelly shape, it can be tricky. Check out these sites for an idea of what items are available for pet pigs: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SnortLife and http://www.piggear.com. If you are serious about getting a pig, I highly recommend you read through the Instagram feed of Central Texas Pig Rescue (@CTPR) and check out their Facebook page for insight into what it’s really like to own a pig.

  21. colleen says:

    Not all pigs are the same. I have a vietnamese pot bellied pig, and he sheds every year. He started out as small as a toaster and now he’s 200 pounds, and no we don’t overfeed him. I read before we got him that they will grow to be about this size if fed properly, a lot of people underfeed or starve their pigs to keep them small. Our pig is a mini pig, which means any pig under 300 pounds. Unfortunately, your info is wrong with dogs and pigs. Everywhere I have read says they don’t get along. We have both and are always making sure they are getting along. Also, pigs prefer to be the only pig in the house. He is 5 years old, healthy. and happy.


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