Pigs might fly before you’re allowed to have one as a pet.
Let us guess: you saw that new Nicholas Cage movie, “Pig,” and were so charmed by the close relationship Cage’s character had with his beloved truffle pig that you want one of your own. Or, you love “Charlotte’s Web” and “Babe.” But hold your horses, or rather pigs, for a minute.
Yes, pigs are nice animals. They’re highly intelligent, social and friendly. You can also house train them and walk them on a leash. And yes, they’re extremely cute. Because of these attributes, unprepared owners can assume having a pig as a pet is a piece of cake. But there are a lot of different factors to consider when keeping a pig as a pet, especially for apartment renters.
Compared to traditional pets like dogs and cats, pigs are a whole other animal, literally. In some cases, pigs may not even legally be allowed in apartments. Here are some reasons pigs may not make the best pets for apartment dwellers.
Are pigs allowed in apartments?
The short answer is yes and no. Whether or not your apartment allows pigs varies, depending on factors like local laws and your landlord’s rules.
Pigs fall under the category of non-traditional pets. Animals like dogs and cats are traditional because they’ve been bred for domestic living. Non-traditional pets include rodents like guinea pigs, ferrets, reptiles and birds.
1. Your landlord and lease may not allow it
Since pigs are not traditional pets, many landlords won’t allow them as pets. If they do, they’ll likely have very specific conditions attached to protect their property from damage. Check your lease or ask your landlord directly.
While you could try to sneak in and hide a small pig, the potential for discovery and a nasty altercation with your landlord is too high. You could face eviction, higher fees and other penalties. So, always seek permission for having a pet pig in writing or submit a pet resume when applying so the landlord is aware.
Even if you’re allowed pigs in your apartment, here are some things to consider.
2. It might be illegal in your city or municipality
Your landlord isn’t the only obstacle to having a pet pig in your apartment. Many cities and municipalities have laws against keeping farm animals within city limits. If you can have one, you’ll need to follow very specific regulations and rules. Always research your local laws before purchasing a pet pig. Otherwise, you might need to re-home them or move out of the city.
3. They can get too big
If you’re considering getting a pig as a pet, you’ve likely heard of the terms teacup pig or miniature pig. Because of their small size, you think these would be the perfect option for a pet pig. But a teacup pig is not an actual species.
Some of the most popular smaller pig breeds that could make suitable pets include the Vietnamese potbelly pig and Kunekune pigs. But even these can get pretty big, growing bigger than cats and dogs and weighing anywhere between 50 pounds to well over 100 pounds.
There’s also the chance you’ll purchase a small pig thinking it’s already reached full size. But then, it continues to grow and becomes a full-size farm pig. Then, you have a full-size problem.
4. They’re expensive
Purchase costs. Special vet bills. Pig feed. Housing supplies. Any license fees. Granted, there are costs associated with having any pet. But pigs can still run up a hefty bill between all the above and more. This is especially true of porcine-specific health issues like skin disorders. Talk about a piggy bank.
5. They live a really long time
Although everyone hopes their beloved pet lives as long as possible, you may sign up for longer than expected with a pet pig. Wild pigs usually only live a few years or up to a decade, depending on predators and the environment. But with shelter, food and safety, pet pigs can live anywhere from 15 to 20 years. Just like with any pet, getting a pet pig is a commitment for life. They can also be very difficult to re-home, so really consider the consequences of surrendering one.
6. They might not get along with your other pets
While pigs are very friendly and social, they don’t always mix well with your other pets of different species. Dogs, in particular, are a problem. Both dogs and pigs are aggressive toward each other over food and territory.
7. They require special care and attention
Pet pigs need special care to stay healthy and happy. They need to get regular exercise, with either multiple daily walks or a secure, well-fenced outdoor area to play in. That outdoor area needs clean shelter areas to prevent your pig from exposure to too much sun or cold.
Regular visits to a specialized vet are a must. If you’re not home with them a lot, they’ll likely require a companion. They need a special, well-balanced diet, not slop or leftovers. This is just a beginner’s summary, so unless you have the time, energy and money to give a pet pig the specific care they need, it’s best not to get one.
8. They can get destructive
There’s a reason pigs find truffles, as you saw in the movie “Pig.” They love to root around, dig and get into things. So, if you don’t offer plenty of outdoor space to exercise and play, enrichment and other factors to keep them occupied and entertained, those natural tendencies and wild animal habits could get destructive fast.
They can knock things over, tear up the carpet and flooring, rip furniture and much more. Easily startled and scared by loud noises or disturbances, a frightened pig can panic, running around your apartment destroying things. Living with a pet pig in an apartment, you can quickly understand the meaning of the word pigsty.
9. You may need to pay extra security deposits
Those wild habits leave a high potential for lots of damage to an apartment. If your landlord does allow pigs, they may require a much higher security deposit or pet deposit as collateral. So, your move-in fees would be even higher than usual.
10. You’ll have to pay for repairs
If your pet pig does end up doing damage, it’s not just your security deposit that you’ll lose. You’ll likely have to pay out-of-pocket for repairs. Depending on the damage, this could be hundreds to thousands of dollars.
This is why it’s also important to take dated photos of your apartment before move-in. That way, you won’t have to pay for any pre-existing damages your pig didn’t cause.
11. They can create a lot of noise
When scared, pigs also squeal and scream very loudly. Even in an apartment complex with good soundproofing, your neighbors are bound to hear an upset pig. Mad neighbors and complaints about loud noises, which could even lead to the police or legal intervention, are another reason not to keep a pig in an apartment.
12. They can smell
Pigs themselves don’t smell. It’s their manure that gives people the idea that pigs are smelly on their own. While you can keep your pig clean with regular bathing and grooming, their waste is another matter. You can house-train them, but the place where they do their business will still smell strong. And accidents happen, so they may leave a large, smelly surprise on the floor. In an apartment complex, those smells can go through walls and linger unless you use top-quality cleaners and odor eliminators.
Other types of animals to consider for an apartment pet
Whether it’s not allowed or you’ve decided it’s not the best option for you, you’re not getting a pig as a pet for your apartment. Luckily, there are many other animals that can make great apartment pets. If you wanted to get a pig because of its friendliness and sociability, you can get a dog instead. Many cat breeds are also very friendly and social.
If you really want an alternative, non-traditional pet, there are many different routes. Rodents like hamsters, guinea pigs and gerbils are very sweet, snuggly and easy to care for. Rabbits can also be wonderful companions. If you’re willing and able to put in the time and energy for proper care, more high-maintenance pets like reptiles or birds are also an option.
Living in an apartment with a pet pig isn’t as happy as a pig in clover
Even if your apartment allows pigs, they’re not the best choice in pets. While you’re in love with the idea, their happiness and quality of life matter above all else. So, if you can’t provide the best care and home for them and give them what they need, it’s better to either shelve that dream or start looking for places to live out in the countryside.