Vietnamese Potbelly pigs are a dwarf swine breed which were developed in the 1960's from the Í breed of Vietnam. They were originally brought into Sweden and Canada and have since moved into a number of countries.
Seven years ago, when Canadian Keith Connell imported the first potbellied pigs into North America, he had no idea what he had started. Originally, he intended to supply the pigs to zoos, but a private buyer interested in the pigs as pets started the porcine pets on their way to worldwide distribution and fame.
In 1986, when the first potbellies were sold into the U.S., their market price ran well into the thousands of dollars. Recently, as the breeder market became satisfied, the price of pets has come down to match that of pedigreed dogs and cats, making them an affordable alternative to canine and feline pets.
These pigs came to the United States from Canada. The original Canadian pigs averaged 250 lbs. and, therefore, were miniature pigs when compared to domestic swine that weigh 600-1500 lb. Full grown potbellied pigs weigh an average of 70-150 lb. with some reaching 200 lb. or more; they average 3-ft. long and 15-inches tall. Full growth is not reached until about 5 years of age. Colors range from solid black to solid white, with a variety of spots in between.
People ask, "Which make better pets, males or females?" We have found that as long as either sex is neutered or spayed, it really doesn't matter. Unspayed females suffer from "PMS" and strong mood swings; intact males produce a pungent odor in addition to displaying other unpleasant traits-neither are desirable pets. A neutered male is called a "barrow," an intact male is a "boar," a female that has never had babies is called a "gilt" and a female that has given birth is a "sow."
Most people who purchase these pigs want them as pets, but these pigs do not necessarily stay small, cute, or cuddly. As stated above, their average weight is close to 100 lb., and they do not like to be picked up or held. Unlike cats and dogs, pigs are prey not predators, so being lifted up or restrained causes them extreme alarm.
at three months old.
For Additional Information: North American Potbellied Pig Association
Don Harper, Whistling Wings Farm Inc., Biddeford, MainePhotographs:
Mason, I.L. 1996. A World Dictionary of Livestock Breeds, Types and Varieties. Fourth Edition. C.A.B International. 273 pp.
Don Harper, Whistling Wings Farm Inc., Biddeford, Main