I’ve heard this said. Are they indeed? What do we mean when we use that word, and is it really appropriate for the pig? Are we being honest with ourselves I wonder? The word is defined as ‘attractive in a pretty or endearing way’, and the dictionary cites the kitten as the example to guide our understanding.
So are pigs ‘pretty’? – the answer lies in the eye of the beholder surely, and one man’s ‘pretty’ is not that of the next I’d wager! Pretty means ‘ attractive in a delicate way without being truly beautiful or handsome’: piglets can be ‘delicate’, a grown (or ‘teenage’) pig really isn’t. But then the pig’s nose is soft, smooth – a finely tuned, delicate olfactory instrument; when they are clean their skin can feel smooth and not unpleasant; there’s something amusing (and admittedly a little ‘cute’) in the way they look at you through their dim (scarily human) eyes, from underneath those spectacular, varied ears.
So beware potential pet pig owner, whilst not necessarily pretty, pigs are definitely endearing (defined as ‘inspiring love or affection’), whatever the size, shape or weight of the individual. Even in a commercial herd, individuals stand out. The Princess, with her green ear tag showing a grubby number four, has a really endearing manner – always in the vanguard of the group seeking attention, she’ll rub and nuzzle in a particular way, regarding you with her quirky inquisitive face from under floppy ears reminiscent of horses’ blinkers. One of her really endearing qualities is eating her daily ration and then falling asleep in the peace and quiet of the feeding cubicle thus excluding all others from the opportunity. Pigs have been shown to work things out / learn, as they are quite intelligent – in this case the old girl had worked out a good way of an undisturbed kip after supper, and so now does it regularly. Pigs have been taught to use ‘joy-stick’ controls, buttons and levers in specific sequences, and can open doors, gate s and cupboards, as well as finding the weak link in a barrier with very little trouble.
So, not cute like a kitten, not really very pretty really either, but definitely endearing: the pig will get attached to you and need cuddles just like a puppy and the ensuing dog. The pig will amuse, distract and entertain, but he will also destroy (just for fun you understand – this is nature’s very own cross between a plough and a bulldozer after all), eat you out of house and home and make a nasty mess if you don’t get his quarters just right (no draughts, not too hot, not too cold, dry and comfortable). You have been warned: only partially cute after all!