As soon as I had husband go-ahead I checked out rescues spread across 4 states first. An awful lot of large pot belly pigs! No Juliana, they only pop up every once in awhile. So then I started doing further research and looking around, seems to be a lot of cross breeding going on and selling piglets under false pretenses. They can breed as soon as 6 months of age, and they're still quite small at that age. The females shouldn't be bred until they're older than 15 months, both for their health and to lend a truer look at their adult size.
It's easy to find a "mini pig" or a "teacup" for $150, locally I see ads all the time for pot belly and kune kune crosses, which yields the spots but not the size. Pot belly females bred to Juliana males seems to be the most common. All claiming 30-50 pounds. A breeder simply cannot state what the future weight will be. Stipulating a very strict diet to keep them lean (potentially stunting their growth and leading to health problems) isn't something you hear about with any other animal. They'll eat themselves stupid if you let them, so you have to monitor what they're getting into.
But it's no wonder the rescues are full. If buyers are fed a line of baloney on how big these pigs will be, and if they don't also understand the care needs and social needs on top of it, there is going to be a lot of homeless pigs.
They are sassy, opinionated, bossy, snarky on occasion. Not a pet for the faint of heart. They can also be incredibly sweet, thoughtful, considerate, and friendly. They can develop really bad habits if left to their own devices. They cannot free range in a home without supervision. You have to fence them out from anything you don't want knocked over.
Blankets are their favorite toy. So is running full speed with an oink at every stride. It's hilarious to play with them, they catch on fast. They learn a huge variety of words, and when you see the recognition on their face you realize just how smart they are.
Priscilla came from a veterinarian who had rescued her mother when she was pregnant. She's matured into a very reasonable pet. She's fun to hang out with and she's generally very sweet. She's not spayed, so she can get moody, but she's never been mean. I would say it's ill advised to have one unaltered without the intention of breeding, their mood stability is not sustainable without something being done one way or another. In a pet situation, you want them altered as early as possible, to avoid developing bad habits. They're quite stubborn, and changing habits isn't easy on them. Once a behavior is in them, it can stick until the situation changes. They can even be skittish when a yard decoration is changed. They're very sensitive.
I tried to find a companion for Priscilla from a rescue. She showed a disdain for the dogs, preferred people for company. Between the two of use someone is home more often than not, and she seeks us out. But I felt she needed a yard buddy of her own kind, so I started looking for a neutered/spayed one in need of a new situation.
One male, a 5 year old Juliana just her size, had been left his whole life to do what he pleased. They catered to his every whim, to avoid the tantrums. That made him pushy and awful, and he'd turn violent if you didn't listen to him. He left a nice scar on my hand, from when he came up, sniffed, and then lunged. I felt bad for the owners, I recommended some sanctuaries, but I couldn't bring him to my house.
Checked out another one, just as bad. Another one who had ran the house also.
I'm stubborn too. A pig is just my sort of pet. I face those tantrums head on and yell right back sometimes. Interacting with them is a lot of fun, but they have to learn the parameters of expected behavior. "No Bite" needs to be taught early, not so much as a play nibble is allowed. Stealing human items is also a no go. Screaming for food will have no results. Tantrums lead to time out. Lot's of positive enforcement mixed with redirection training, swift and decisive corrections for deviant behavior. They hate to be ignored.
They just won't be good pets if they're left to their own devices, bored or lonely, penned or caged for long periods. Dog crates are terrible houses for them, they'll flip over everything.
I didn't know all that going into it. All the vet told me was "Don't give in". LOL Now I know what she meant! Starting with young piglets let us lay the ground rules and set the behaviors we wanted.
A couple of times when Priscilla was a teenager I second guessed our decision. We built her a custom pen, talked to her and worked with her a lot, laid out the rules, and realized just how firm we had to be on things. Now that she's over 2, she's an awesome friend. Her personality has bloomed, and she knows us as well as we know her, and she knows what's expected. She's really very easy. Now. HAHAHA
Going into it again with carefully sourced piglets, we opted for 2 to see how the social dynamic changes. Priscilla has no real interest in them beyond casual curiosity. She hasn't been mean or territorial with them, but she hasn't fully reached out in friendship yet either. We're transitioning them into the "pack" (We also have 3 German Shepherds).
I spent every evening for well over a year snuggling Priscilla on the couch. She'd nestle in along my leg or bury herself in my armpit. She acted like she was entitled to it. She could take a flying leap and end up on the couch, and she started doing it without invitation. Once while unattended, she had tried to make a burrow out of the couch, right in my spot.
We thought we would out smart her, we'd so far done so at every turn, at every little thing she tried to get away with.
We elevated the couch. We took the feet off, built a 10 inch tall wooden box, stained it to match, and set the couch on it. Let's see you get on there now little pig!
Didn't know they could fly. The older she got the farther and higher she could jump. 3.5 feet onto a wall was her record. And her only 15 inches tall at that time. She out grew couch time though, preferred her blanket pile.
So yeah, thinking about it, when you add any sort of size to the sort of creature they are, it's no wonder the rescues are full. If I had spare pasture I wouldn't mind taking in larger homeless pigs. They're economical to take care of. I could not even imagine trying to have one twice Priscilla's size (150 pounds or so) as a house pet.
It's very difficult to find truly small pigs. Temperament is crucial. Plenty of breeders are making small piglets in pasture environments from temperaments that are not suitable for a home environment once they are out of the fun piglet stage and have some size behind them. You absolutely cannot be afraid of them, they're extortionists too. After seeing how some of the owners acted around their pig that I was considering adopting... I knew there was no way I could undo that behavior.