Pig breeds, large and small

October is National Pork Month, or as it is affectionately known as, “Porktober.” Last year, we talked about why October is the month we celebrate pigs and pig meat and shared some basic pork facts. This year, we’d like to clear up an important pig-related manner: What’s the difference between pigs you see on the farm and tiny pigs you see in adorable viral Internet videos?

There are about 70 breeds of commercial pigs around the world. Some include:

American Yorkshire: The most common breed in North America, Yorkshires are light in color, with ears that stand up straight. They’re durable, muscular and produce lean meat.

Duroc: Durocs are a reddish color with droopy ears. They grow fast, live long and are valued for their meat quality and carcass yield.

Berkshire: Thought to be one of the oldest breeds originating from England, Berkshires are black-colored and known for producing flavorful meat. Darker pigs declined in popularity after World War II, but this breed has seen renewed interest as of late.

American Landrace: Long-bodied and droopy-eared, American Landrace pigs derive from a Danish breed. They have light skin and coats.

Other popular breeds include Poland China, Spotted, Hampshire and Chester White.

Mini, or “teacup,” pigs aren’t quite breeds. They tend to be bred from a mixture of breeds, like Juliana, Ossabaw and Kunekune pigs, blended together over generations for optimal tiny-ness and cuteness. There’s also no such thing as a true “teacup” pig, as most adult mini pig breeds will weigh at least 40 to 50 pounds, and often much more. In comparison, commercial pigs can easily reach 600 to 1,200 pounds.

Mini pigs have been trendy pets in recent years. In some cases, unscrupulous breeders have tried to pass off piglets of larger breeds as mini pigs or lying about how big a baby animal is expected to grow. This has led to an abundance of pigs left at shelters, having grown too large for homeowners to care for.

Whether kept as livestock or as pets, pigs are one of the animals most connected to humans, having been domesticated for nearly 15,000 years. And as long as they continue to thrive alongside us, we will continue to celebrate Porktober each year.

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