The Teacup Myth

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This growing myth about size in the mini pig world, is the number one cause for abandoned and displaced pigs. This inaccurate information needs to be exposed for what it really is, a marketing ploy to get you to buy a piglet that will only remain small for a very short amount of time. The sincere and educated pig community, more importantly those not focused on breeding as a sole income, are working very hard to fight and shed more light on these issues. Although there are good breeders out there, never buy in to one that repetitively states they are working very hard to continue to try and create a smaller pig. Creating a pig, of any mix or variation, under 60 pounds is not only unsafe but detrimental to the piglets overall health and longevity.

Some sound advice on Potbellied Pigs

“ All potbelly pigs (Vietnamese) and all smaller mixes, are a cousin to the original Heritage farm hog that easily exceeds weights of over 800 pounds. So in comparison, these pigs are in fact a miniature version of all hogs! A regular pot belly pig can weigh between 100-250 pounds and be at a healthy weight, some even exceed 300. Although the average weight for a “miniature variety” pig at full grown maturity, is generally between 60-150 pounds; this is a healthy average weight. A pig is not full grown till 3-5 years of age; most closer to 5 years. All pigs are individuals like humans and not only will a history of genetics play a large role in size, but each pig will be unique in its nutrition needs and lifestyle, which also play a large role in overall size.

An excerpt about the “teacup myth” from  Dr Bruce Lawhorn, DVM (2013):

  • The term “teacup” pigs has no strict definition, and it is difficult to make an educated guess of mature size without seeing the parent and grandparents, which is rarely ever possible. Mature size is also heavily influenced by adequate nutrition. In general, when pigs are “selected for smaller size,” in addition to nutritional stunting, many other possible problems of miniature pigs may be magnified. These include hypoglycemia, idiopathic seizures, musculoskeletal deformities, heart disease, cleft palate, atresia ani and reproductive problems such as dystocia and agalactia.”
  •  No breeder should ever be able to tell you what size your pig will be full grown, even if they have the parents on site. Genetics from well beyond the immediate parents play a larger role than most breeders think. At this time, there is no existing databases to provide distant lineage, genetics and statistics to prove that a smaller pig line does in fact exist and they are free of any health related issues or major medical complications, due to a smaller stature. Most pigs that have been excessively bred down, die in a matter of a few years from medical complications and organ failure. We have not found an excessively small pig at full grown maturity (over 5 years of age), that has not passed from complications. Until all the aforementioned requirements can be met, such pig sizes remain a myth and are not to ever be expected.
  • A competent breeder will welcome questions. They will have an extensive process they follow to insure that a pig is the appropriate animal or addition to your home and family. They will require you to sign a contract, especially covering details for if the pig ever becomes unwanted by the original buyer. All breeders should have a clause that requires the buyer to return the pig/piglet to the breeding establishment or requires a new buyer, to go through the same rigorous process of adoption via the breeder. They will also adhere to a strict care contract and demand the pig be returned if its care and veterinary needs are not met. Furthermore, a good breeder will always spay or neuter their piglets before they leave their establishment. This ensures there will never be any excessive/uneducated breeding or “accidental breedings.” If they do not offer altered piglets, they MUST have a spay/neuter contract that a buyer signs before the animal is allowed to leave. Usually they will require proof that the piglet was fixed before 6 months to a year of age.
  • Good breeder will never use ANY size terms when and if you ask about a full grown estimate. They will instead guide you to better understand that every pig is an individual and has it’s own individual needs. That there is a general weight bracket that most healthy pigs and mixes stay within, but nothing is guaranteed. It is a good idea to see the parents, however, this can also be misleading! Most breeders use under age breeding sows and boars. What this means is even the parents are NOT full grown. Most breeders start breeding their breeding stock from 6 months to a year of age, this is totally inappropriate and leads to health complications for the parents and gives false size information of litters. Would you look at a 12 year old human child that just had a baby and tell every one that the baby will stay the size of it’s 12 year old mom and dad? No, that’s babies having babies and that is exactly the problem that arises from these situations.

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