Why I Cringe When People Buy Teacup Pigs
Go ahead, Google it.
When you do, your search for “teacup pigs” will produce the following results: “We specialize in cute, happy and healthy miniature pigs, micro-mini pigs and Juliana pigs!”
Scroll down a bit and images of piglets nestled within mugs and other random bits of pottery appear alongside such slogans as “We have some of the smallest teacup pigs in the world!”
All of this mostly makes me want to throw up.
I know it sounds harsh, but here’s just a smattering of the reasons why the concept of a teacup pig turns my stomach:
The Paris Factor
Also referred to as “dandie pigs,” “mini potbelly pigs” and “pocket pigs,” these teacups have become increasingly fashionable over the past decade.
Enter celebutante Paris Hilton, whose penchant for accessorizing with pets took a detour toward the porcine with her purchase of a tiny piglet in 2010.
Here’s what she told Hello magazine back then: “I went online and found these tiny teacup pigs that stay under 12 pounds when they’re fully grown. They’re incredibly smart, lovable, really clean and litter trained.”
And here’s a photo of Paris with her “ultra teacup royal dandie piglet” in 2010.
All of this, of course, added kindling to the concept of impulse pig purchases and sourcing animals sight unseen online — neither of which is a recommendable practice.
The Teacup Designation
Whether we’re talking about teacup pigs or Pugs, I simply can’t stand the appellation. What’s so compelling about an animal who fits inside a teacup?
Just as with dogs, the word “teacup” purports to describe the size of a pig for marketing purposes alone. It is not a distinct species or breed of pig. It’s just a pig who’s been bred to be smaller than most.
The True Story About Size
Forget what Paris said — 12 pounds is not what these pigs weigh when fully grown. Try 40 or 50, if you’re lucky. Many of these pigs will weigh well over 100 pounds once they reach their maximum poundage — at which point they’re often surrendered to a rescue.
By way of illustration, here’s Paris with her 50-pound teacup pig in 2011.
The Pig As Pet Reality
Pigs are not like dogs or cats. They are like pigs, which means they’re really strong. And they can get rambunctious, if not outright destructive — especially when bored.
Unlike dogs and cats, who can live comfortably enough with human contact alone, pigs are highly social animals who do best when paired with other pigs. They’re not truly happy until they have others of their kind in their immediate company.
The Specialty Vet Bills
There’s also the health care issue to consider: Pigs require veterinary care, too. Moreover, they must be spayed and neutered, if they’re to behave like pets.
And what most people don’t get is that anesthetizing and sterilizing a pig isn't exactly the same as spaying or neutering a cat or dog, so exotic animal veterinarians are often a pig owner’s only option — and the procedure can be more expensive for a pig.
Good luck finding affordable pet pig care in suburbia!
In addition to keeping a pig healthy and happy, owners must also be in compliance with the law.
For example, in Miami-Dade County, all livestock is banned, unless the land is zoned for agricultural use. The fact that you don’t think of your pig as livestock won’t matter to your zoning board — or a neighbor who disagrees with your assessment of your pig as a pet.
In fact, zoning violations are one of the main reasons why people and their pigs are separated. There’s even a website devoted to pig owners who find themselves fighting zoning laws so they can keep their pets.
The Need for Rescue Groups
As the so-called teacup pig grows in popularity, so does the need for pig rescues. These facilities not only work tirelessly to take care of abandoned pigs, and place them in forever homes, but they also spread the word that the term “teacup pig” is an oxymoron.
Here’s a popular site run by a group of rescuers should you need any more inducements to experience the same visceral reaction that I do anytime I come across yet another duped individual and her currently tiny swine in training.
Don’t get me wrong — I think pigs are great. They’re whip smart, affable and entertaining. But as you may have realized after reading this diatribe, they are not for everyone — and way less so for the minions of well-meaning consumers who are done in by teacup pig industry untruths.
Check out more opinion pieces on Vetstreet.