Pig lovers around the world keep pigs for several reasons. The reasons often vary depending on the pig breed. For instance, some people love keeping small pig breeds, such as the Vietnamese potbelly pig, as pets.
Other than that, keep feeder pigs for the pork and commercial value. Many still keep pigs, mostly because they want a variety of farm animals on their property.
Whatever your reason for keeping pigs, the breed or type of pig you keep plays a big role. Potbellied pigs, however, are often classified as livestock rather than pets, which is rather strange because they tend to be smaller than most pig breeds. In addition, they are intelligent, charming and quite affectionate companions — all qualities of a good pet.
Whether you keep your Vietnamese potbellied pig as a pet or as part of your livestock, one thing is for sure: with the right kind of care and training, this hog can be a wonderful addition to your homestead.
Let’s take a quick look at the Vietnamese Potbelly pig, including its origins, physical characteristics, and some reasons why it might be a good idea to have this breed on your farm.
Vietnamese Potbelly Pig History
A wide variety of potbellied pigs have been around for over 40,000 years. The Vietnamese potbelly pig in North America can trace its roots to the “Lon I” breed from the Red River Delta in Vietnam. The locals originally bred these domestic pigs for their meat.
Scientifically known as Sus scrofa domesticus, the Vietnamese Potbelly pig is a dwarf swine breed like many of the miniature pig breeds found on farms across the globe.
If you are a pig farmer in North America, there’s a good chance that the Vietnamese Potbellied pig you have on your farm is part of the breed developed in the 1960s. These pigs were originally brought into Canada and Sweden before being imported into the country.
Originally imported for the zoo, the Vietnamese Potbelly pig was brought into the country by Keith Connell, a Canadian who didn’t intend to breed them but to supply them to local zoos. During this process, a private buyer who fell in love with the miniature pigs bought them as pets, and that’s how the worldwide popularity and distribution of these adorable creatures began.
Vietnamese Potbelly Pig Appearance & Characteristics
Considered a small pig breed or a mini pig breed, adult potbellied pigs hardly ever get to the same size as other larger breeds. That is probably one of the main reasons why most people get these pigs as pets. However, they don’t always stay small, cute and cuddly as they age. Another issue with this approach is that, unlike dogs and cats, pigs aren’t predators; they are prey. They don’t always like being picked up and petted or held. This kind of restraining behavior can cause them anxiety.
The Vietnamese Potbelly pig tends to have black skin that comes with sparse hair. However, some breed varieties have a solid white color, and some have a variety of spots.
As the name suggests, the potbellied pig has a potbelly. This descended belly can sometimes get so large that it scrapes the ground while the pig is standing. This is especially true for pregnant sows. This pet pig has loose skin that has wrinkles, and if you find one that’s purebred, it will most likely have a straight tail.
As a mini pig, this breed is smaller than American and European farm pigs. Fully grown, they typically grow to about 15 inches tall at the shoulders and 3 feet long. On average, they weigh about 70 – 170 pounds with the males growing heavier than the females.
For the most part, pigs tend to be docile creatures. However, Vietnamese Potbelly pigs have a wide range of moods and behaviors. For example, a pregnant sow often tends to be quite moody, while an unneutered male pig or boar can produce a foul smell and become aggressive without warning. This is particularly true when it’s in the presence of sows or female pigs.
These pigs can be kept as pasture pigs since they like rutting with their snouts in the dirt or among leaves for different food items such as roots and insects. Being omnivorous, Vietnamese Potbelly pigs like eating:
- Small reptiles
Learn more about what do pigs eat. Since they have such a varied diet, these pigs tend to be quite hardy. Wild pigs have a lifespan of about 10 years because they face many threats, mostly due to their size.
Even though wild boars have tusks, their miniature size doesn’t give them that many advantages against predators. Indigenous potbellied pigs in the care of humans, however, tend to live much longer. Their typical age range is from 15 to 20 years.
In pigs, neutered male pigs are called barrows, while intact male pigs are called boars. On the other hand, a female pig that has never given birth to piglets is called a gilt, while those that have given birth are called sows.
Vietnamese Potbelly boars and sows become fertile at the tender age of 5 to 6 months. This is long before they can be considered physically mature for breeding.
When it comes to giving birth to piglets, potbelly pigs are unpredictable. They can either give birth to one or two piglets or go crazy and give birth to 12. It all depends on their specific crossbreeding and diet. When it comes to how long pigs are pregnant, this pig breed pregnant on average for 114 days.
Why Keep a Vietnamese Potbelly Pig?
There are several good reasons why you may want to consider keeping a Vietnamese Potbellied pig. They:
- Are quite smart
- Tend to be very loving creatures
- Make great pets despite not being too fond of being carried and petted
- Have a rather playful nature
However, it’s important to remember that if you keep these animals as pets, you will need to provide them with suitable living quarters, enough space to play around, and dedicate a bit of your time and energy to them.
These aren’t like tiny, teacup pigs but are still smaller than standard pig breeds. They are also quite easy to care for as ordinary farmyard pigs. They can find some of their own food, just like pasture pigs but it’s best to supplement to ensure they are getting the necessary nutrition. A Vietnamese Potbelly piggy can be a good companion that is not only docile in nature but also quite compassionate.
Do potbelly pigs have any health concerns?
The fact that they are quite small means that these pigs are always at risk of predation. However, in a farmyard setting, these pigs are quite easy to care for and don’t have any typical health concerns. That being said, you still need to have them regularly checked by a vet to ensure they are in good health. This is particularly true for pregnant sows.
Are indigenous potbelly pigs easy to domesticate?
The predominant potbelly pig breeds in North America are domestic pigs. In Vietnam, there are a lot of wild potbelly hogs that aren’t as easy to domesticate, but it can be done with the right degree of patience and crossbreeding.
How long do potbelly pigs live?
In the wild, they hardly ever go past their 10th year. On the other hand, domesticated Vietnamese Potbelly pigs can live up to 20 years, though there are factors that affect pig lifespan.