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The Truth About Teacup Pigs

This article was written as a response to the question: Anyone Owned a Teacup Pig? Are These Good Pets for Families?
Teacup Pigs are a newer pet but are they worth the fuss and extra cost. Learn the facts about teacup piggies.

In recent years there has been an increase in the demand for such a pet as a “teacup” version of a regular sized animal. Most breed registries do not recognize this category of size in their animals as this is a gimmick used for marketing, and in fact are generally unhealthy, and poorly bred animals, stunted intentionally for the purpose of money.

The word “Teacup” is often associated with tiny dogs, being poorly bred, runts, or stunted through poor nutrition, the “breeders” (and I use that term loosely) price the animals high because cute sells, and small is cute.

In recent years the word “Teacup” has been applied to other animals, including pigs. Make no mistake Teacup Pigs are not healthy pets.

Trouble With Teacup Pets

Some of the problems common in teacup pigs, and other teacup animals are listed below:

  • Heart Deformities, often resulting in a short lifespan.
  • Digestive system deformities (very common in teacup pigs).
  • Liver deformities, known as shunts.
  • Prone to Hypoglycemia.
  • More at risk to head/brain injury as the soft spot on their skull may not harden correctly.
  • More susceptible to illness and stress.
  • Tend to have more fragile bones.
  • More dental problems.
  • Higher rate of Epilepsy.
  • More prone to dehydration.
  • Other deformities in offspring due to inbreeding often used to get such small animals.

One of the worst things that happens is their outsides stop growing, but their insides (intestines) continue to grow so by the time the pet is an adult, it has full sized organs in a part sized body. As you can imagine this causes the pet great pain, distress, and possibly illness, requiring expensive surgery.  Your Teacup Piggy could end up breaking your piggy bank.

The Reality of Teacup Pigs

Teacup pigs are a result of poor breeding. Most reputable breeders (of any animal) take the parent animals to shows to prove their worth as breeding animals. They cull runts and generally do not breed them. They may sell them at reduced prices as pets only, and ensure they are spayed or neutered. Good breeders breed only the best animals, and their desire is to produce even better animals according to the breed standard. Remember “teacup” is NOT a breed standard.

In the teacup industry, not only are abnormally small animals bred but they are also often stunted through poor diet and nutrition. Fed only enough to stay alive, but not so much that they grow at a proper rate.

In some case the people who buy the pets find themselves strapped with a high veterinary bill, in other cases people find that with proper food the pet grows to an alarming size.

The Problem with Pet Pigs in General

Pigs are highly intelligent animals, on par with small dog breeds. They are social animals and do best when kept with other pigs, or at least other pets. If their mental needs are not met they become depressed, or destructive. Many people are not equipped or prepared to deal with a lifetime commitment of a large pig they thought would remain the size of a house cat.

Pet Pigs are not legal in some areas. Anyone interested in getting a pet pig of any kind is advised to do further research. If you are buying any animal labeled as a teacup and are being asked to pay a high price (anything more than the cost of vaccinations and deworming already done) you should INSIST on seeing show records of the parents (yes there are shows for pigs) to prove they were worthy of being bred, AND should get some sort of health guarantee and genetic guarantee IN WRITING.

Related Links

Caring for Pets with Daily Medical Needs

The Balance of Nature on the Farm

Miniature Chickens: The Bantam Breeds

Four Novelty Animals no Farm should be without

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Comments (20)

I applaud you for the honesty and integrity of the truth of this article. It is sinful what they are dong to animals to please such crazy whims.

Well said Brenda, and Susan Kaul above. It is outrageous what is being done to some breeds of animals in the pursuit of some peoples ideas of a hobby or even a living. More should be done to crack down on these practises.

Ranked #9 in Farm Animals

I had never heard of teacup animals before, Brenda. What a wonderful article, bringing this to everyone's attention.

Thanks for this informative article on little known breeding practice results for pigs.

I had a pet pig.. it was very small when I got him.. but he grew to be a full size pot bellied pig.. cute big or small.. he ate anything.. his favorite was Captain Crunch... he ate with my daughter... she would take a bite and give "Hammy" a bite.. lol. What I am getting at is.. that this pig was supposed to stay small.. but it didn't.

Adrienne

I was thinking about getting a "teacup pig" but after reading this, you totally opened up my eyes to the truth about these pigs. thank you.

very well written with great awareness, thumbs up!!!

I totally agree with all the comments. Mankind seems to be the only creature that really feels that nature should be corrected.

Juliani Pigs

The article is correct. I have a farm in Kansas where I raise painted miniatures (Juliani) breeding stock. They are much smaller than a feeder pigs, but a FARRRR cry from teacup (about 40lbs within 4 years).

I get calls all the time asking if my pigs are teacups and wanting them for indoor pets. Don't get me wrong, people do have them as pets (Clooney being the most high profile with a Juliani), but it is the exception vs. the rule.

Juliani Pigs

The article is correct. I have a farm in Kansas where I raise painted miniatures (Juliani) breeding stock. They are much smaller than a feeder pigs, but a FARRRR cry from teacup (about 40lbs within 4 years).

I get calls all the time asking if my pigs are teacups and wanting them for indoor pets. Don't get me wrong, people do have them as pets (Clooney being the most high profile with a Juliani), but it is the exception vs. the rule.

You have such knowledge and a big gentle heart to explain the tea cup pigs in such an article like this. I sure don't like the messing with mother nature to concoct an animal for money or pleasure since they are not well animals.

Christal Holland

There is definitely truth to this article but it is very one sided. There are mini pigs who don't get up to forty pounds, who are not in bred and who are fed well. I am one in Alberta and I work closely with breeders in B.C, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec to ensure that the mini micro, microjule breeds are healthy, happy pigs. What this article fails to recognize is that mini pigs can be wonderful pets, they're easily trainable and collectively, as breeders, we have many pigs who are under 13" full grown, who are not starved, nor inbred. We do not cull runts, they are loved as pets. Our pigs are not unhealthy and live 12-15 years. There are bad breeders out there but for those of us who are not, please try to educate on both sides.

Alyssa

You all know that pure bread dogs are a product of inscest, right? And thats why they are also prone to a ton of illnesses and abnormalities. Same with cats, and ferrets, and chinchillas. Breeding small offspring is not more destructive than breeding other animals in general. Something like this is just as ignorant and horse blinder-ish as the giggly pet owners who just think piglets and puppies are cute.

lily

There not that bad and not that unhealthey and stays little forever no matter what that is why they are teacups and not new born pigs the name teacup not babys so they do NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! get big.

Lily - teacup animals are stunted through poor breeding or nutrition, they may appear to be healthy but most suffer from aches and pains later in life, or other health problems, which often go undiagnosed by owners.

I think you just saved me from some serious heartache because I was looking at miniature pigs and found several ads for "tea cups" which sounded appealing because they were promised to be significantly smaller.

I agree that "teacup" animals are usually unhealthy and a bad idea. However, do you think that  if someone (or better more than one generation of breeders) were to breed the smallest but healthiest animals together without haste and make sure to not breed sick anymals with any kind of problems, they could get healthy teacup animals? (This is an honest question, I want to know your opinion, not argue).

Your question raises many ethics Phil. Reputable breeders only breed within the breed standard, they would never breed teacup animals in the first place as their goal is to improve the breed - not to "stunt" it or to create small pets.  I suppose it would be possible, however we are really playing with nature, trying to shrink dogs (pigs, horses) in a few generations rather than over thousands of years, and as such genetic problems are very common because while one part of the body might adapt okay to being small, other organs do not adapt so well.

I have never heard these terms before but I have never looked to buy another pig before.  I have a 48 lbs pig I attained in England, and I have had for about six years.  Other than dealing with some mites he has never had to go to the vet. He is healthy, plays and is very social.  I want to find another one since I have a new home that is larger.  I have been reading some crazy things out there at both extremes.  Selective breeding has been going on for a long time and the negative effects are apparent in show dogs with bad skin, snout and eye problems and so on.  I just wonder what you base this matter of fact article from.  I see all these comments of people but only a few questions and a so so answer in my opinion.  Reading this article and saying thank you for opening my eyes is no different from someone blindly taking the words from a seller.  I don\'t know what kind of pig I have. I bought him on a whim and learned to be a good pig pet owner.  I have also seen tiny pigs in Central America, vicious little things, they treed me when hiking.  I really believe the things would have eaten me.  They were scary.  One or two no problem as they looked to be only about 30lbs but there were hundreds of them. I know that little pigs exist as I have seen them. Of course some sites advertise 10lbs pigs.  I don’t know enough about them yet to say that is normal or healthy but that to me seems way too small.  I could be wrong as I don’t know about all species of the genius Sus.  It is important to expose those torturing animals but please elaborate on your claims.  I know I don\'t want to purchase a sickly little friend for my pig and most certainly at the cost of them here. WOW.  I paid 60 pounds for this little pig.  About $120 at the time and people thought I was crazy to pay that much.  I see them advertised in the thousands.... Please educate me more on what is going on in the US. 

I know this has been posted some time ago, but I was wondering if there is any chance you would still have the research you obtained to write this article. I am writing a paper for one of my classes and am having difficulty finding any scientific information that the breeding of these animals results in. Any information would be greatly appreciated!!! Thank you!

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