November 25, 2014
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Pig-ture perfect
How much is that piggy in the window?
Victor Kinoian (left) and his step-brother, Joe Palazio, each hold a micro pig. Kinoian plans to breed and sell the pigs come the spring.

There are designer dresses, handbags, even dogs, but now there’s a new trend: designer pigs. That’s right, celebrities like Paris Hilton are now carrying around pigs in their Louis Vuitton purses, but they’re not the 50-pound porkers you’d see on the farm. They’re “micro” or “teacup” pigs, specially bred pigs that stay the size of piglets through their adult years.

Cranston residents Victor Kinoian and Justin McHugh are hoping to jump on the bandwagon and put some cash into their piggy banks by breeding and selling the newest wave of designer pets. Their business, called My Pet Piggy, LLC, and is just getting off the ground, and is still in the earliest phases. In the spring, Kinoian said he’ll set up shop on a farm in Hopkinton, where he’ll breed and sell the small pigs to savvy pet owners.

Right now, Kinoian is just getting his feet wet – he currently has five micro pigs that he’s treating as pets in order to learn about the care and behavior of the animals. But he didn’t just jump into the business blindly. Kinoian has been researching these miniature pigs for many years, and just got his first one several weeks ago.

The pigs, which range in color from white and pink to brown and black, can weigh anywhere from 15 to 35 pounds when fully grown. That’s about the size of a Cocker Spaniel. Kinoian said the smaller the better, as the tiniest pigs go for the largest sums of money.

“Fifteen pounds is extremely lucky,” he said.

A pig is considered “miniature” when it’s anywhere under 35 pounds. Most of the pigs they own right now are well under a year old; at about 6 months, Kinoian said the pigs are half their adult size.

“Micro” or “teacup” pigs are genetically engineered, and haven’t been around for too long. Kinoian said the trend started in Europe several years ago, when they started breeding the smallest pigs from each litter. The process continued until they ended up with these permanent piglets.

Kinoian said he plans to do the same thing come the spring, and is working with another breeder to obtain the highest quality pets.

Though they’re cute and compact, these pigs aren’t for everyone.

“They’re like babies,” said Kinoian. His first pig, Tank, a 4-month-old the size of a Yorkie, has become attached to him. It recognizes Kinoian’s smell, and prefers to be held by him. Unlike a dog or cat, pigs can only be held one way: cradled like an infant. Otherwise, they squeal, a piercing noise of distress.

The pigs Kinoian plans to sell will be spayed or neutered and litter box trained. Pigs can also be leash walked outside, like a dog. Kinoian said they eat a healthy diet of veggies, though they can also eat feed from a farm supply store and the occasional Cheerio will never hurt them.

Kinoian said he is still learning about bath time, a process the pigs don’t enjoy much. Despite stereotypes, the pigs don’t carry an offensive smell. In fact, some smell quite lovely, depending on what type of lotion you use; pigs need to be moisturized because their skin dries out.

And don’t forget to pamper them, because pigs are extremely smart. Kinoian said pigs are just behind chimpanzees and dolphins on the list of smartest mammals. It’s their intelligence, he said, that prohibits their owners from getting away with hastily handling them or switching up their routines.

Apart from their unique needs and high IQ, pigs are like other pets. They interact well with other animals, and Kinoian’s two pit bulls get along well with the five pigs sharing their home. Usually, the pigs are pretty quiet, squeaking out only the occasional squeal or snort. Cross them and they will nip, but not to injure, just to warn.

Pigs aren’t like cats or dogs, and because of this, Kinoian is only taking serious inquiries from those that have done their research.

The asking price is another hurdle. Kinoian said most pet pigs on the market go for somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000. However, the guy behind My Cousin Piggy plans to sell his pigs for $950 to $1,200.

If you’re considering pig ownership, it’s important to check your local regulations. Some cities and towns in Rhode Island prohibit pig ownership, like Providence. But most don’t have laws on the books, said Kinoian, since micro pigs are such a new fad.

To find out more about My Pet Piggy, e-mail thislittlepiggy910@yahoo.com.


Comments
4 comments on this item

There are no such breeds as "Micro" or "Teacup." These are marketing names and you will not find them included on any comprehensive breed list.

Healthy miniature pigs range in weight from 90 to 250 pounds when they reach full skeletal maturity around 5 years of age.

While miniature pigs take about 5 years to reach full maturity, they are able to breed and produce litters at just a few months of age.

Please do your research! They myth of the "Micro Pig" has become a global problem, and rescues and sanctuaries are bursting at the seams with animals that are relinquished after they get "too big" or "too troublesome." Some animals come to us starved and malformed because the owners were given improper feeding instructions.

If you would like to learn more about having a miniature pig for a pet, please visit http://facebook.com/LilOrphanHammies

I have lived in several parts of the country- coast to coast- and have yet to know of or witness a pot bellied pig that is full grown, healthy, and weighs less than 70lbs. Full grown is age 5years. Of course the typical Pot Bellied Pig owner doesn't even keep their pet for that long and this is evident by just visiting pig rescues full of pigs 1+yrs. Unsuspecting buyers are lead to believe they are purchasing a rarity- a new breed with bogus guarantees. These pigs outgrow their families and/or develope behavorial problems because they are told bad information to not enough information on the proper care and training. Routinely dumped on craigslist and other media- these pigs under go extreme stress in which some never recover mentally. Some are even 'rehomed' to people intending to eat them but they will tell you a sweet story to think you've found the perfect home. And then there is ZONING. Most local zoning forbid the ownership of pot bellied pigs because they are classified as livestock. Pig ownership can be a rewarding, awesome, and lifetime experience but only if you know ALL the facts and are properly prepared for pig ownership. A good relationship with a healthy pot bellied pig should last 15-20 years!

My name is Justin McHugh. I am one of the owners of this company. Unfortunately there have been multiple accounts of misrepresentation and fraud in regards to these micro pigs. I have read multiple articles and personal testimonies of innocent people believing they were purchasing micro pigs and after a year or two their animal has over grown the weight they were told. I've also read multiple cases of pet owners being misled about what their diet and maintenance are. These scam artists have hurt a lot of people and jeopardized the safety and sanity of these animals. It’s completely unethical for people in this industry to conduct business like this. Our Company however, has proven evidence of our animals staying within the weight guidelines that we state. We work with partner farms down in Florida that can show evidence and prove that our animals are truly micro pigs. If you were to look on our website, Facebook or buyers guide we give more than enough information on how to feed and care for these animals. We cover almost all aspects from “Feeding, Bathing, Growth Cycles, Recommended Products, Habits, Zoning and Recommend Websites.” Besides the information that we personally provide we have multiple links to other legitimate micro pig farms that provide more in depth information that fully agrees with ours. I have to say this article doesn’t represent who we truly are. We are not some fly by Night Company who is trying to cash in on the hottest and latest trend. We are extremely passionate about our animal’s health and safety. Buyers have to meet our requirements in order to purchase a pig. They have to sign contracts protecting the animals and are provided with a Buyer’s Guide that is loaded with information to educate new owners. I appreciate your concerns.

During these last two years, we have met quite a number of new, often young, breeders who get into the business because they love the animals and want to work with them and make a living off of what they are passionate about. Many of these new breeders have, themselves, been taken by the same misinformation spread to prey on first-time pig owners; often paying thousands of dollars for "guaranteed breeding stock." Because pigs take 5 years to reach their full size, but are able to breed at just a few months of age, it is very easy to be taken with incorrect information.

In addition to rescuing for 20 years and having more than 20 collective years of experience with miniature pigs, we routinely research articles, breed listings and veterinary resources to ensure that we are providing correct information. "Micro," "Teacup," "Tiny," "Pixy," "Thimble," "Pocket," "Nano," "Dandy," and other combinations thereof are marketing names; not breeds. Despite research, we have also yet to find a resource that can legitimate "Juliani" or "Juliana" as a breed. You will not find these names on any recognized breed lists (national or global); and, the only parties advocating the "authenticity" of these names are breeders and entertainment sources. Most of these animals are Potbellied crossbreeds. Some are Gottingen or Kunekune crossbreeds or purebreds. Animals with striking colors and patterns can be achieved by crossing the traditionally black Potbellied pig with Kunekunes and other larger breeds such as Tams and Gloucesters; but these are animals that are larger than a pure Potbellied pig at adulthood. Occasionally, we see markings on piglets that let us know that they have wild boar in their lineage as well.

Miniature breeds stay in lower weight ranges, but there is no way to truly guarantee size. All domestic pigs are derived from animals that naturally range from 100 to more than 700 pounds depending on ancestry and their population's response to natural stressors. There will always be the odd pig that comes in under 90 pounds; but, this is the exception and not the rule. In 20 plus years, we have yet to see anyone be able to present an animal that has reached it's 5 year mark and weighs under 90 pounds unless it is either starved, or a runt.

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