Pigs, scientifically known as Sus, are well-known animals existing all over the globe. There are at least eight different species of pigs that make up the genus.
- Pygmy hogs
- Wild boars
- Domestic pigs
Domestic pigs originally come from the Sus scrofa or wild boar species, and today there are over one hundred recorded breeds of pigs.
Pigs are omnivores, meaning they’ll eat just about anything. In the wild, pigs live in forests where they can forage for plants, bugs, acorns, beechnuts, and chestnuts.
Domesticated pigs are fed “pig slop” made of soybeans and corn. Pigs could easily earn the nickname “garbage disposal” for they thoroughly appreciate leftover Fruits, peels, veggies, and other table scraps.
Today, we’re talking about giant pigs across the globe. Some may be surprised to know that the largest pigs in the world are domesticated. So let’s get down to business!
#10 Tamworth Pig
The smallest on our list originates in Tamworth Staffordshire of the U.K. The Tamworth pig is a lean, athletic, ginger red pig among the genus’ oldest breeds.
The Tamworth pig was recognized as a breed in 1885 and began to increase in popularity throughout the U.K., Australia, Canada, U.S., and New Zealand. They are known as a “Bacon” breed due to their ability to thrive on low-energy food and slow growth.
Tamworth pigs are well suited for the outdoors, for their red coats help protect them from sunburn. Like most pigs, the Tamworth is intelligent and highly social, with an agreeable disposition.
These ginger pigs are currently listed as threatened in the U.S., with less than 300 females registered to breed
These little piggies can reach up to 600 pounds and take tenth place on the list of the largest pigs in the world.
#9 Hampshire Pig
This medium-sized pig was derived from an English breed found in Northern England and Scotland. The breed originated in Hampshire, England, hence their name.
The importation of the Hampshire pigs to America continued from 1827 to 1839, making it one of the oldest breeds in American history.
Pigs that remained in that area of England eventually became the “Wessex Saddleback,” a similarly colored pig with floppy ears instead of erect ones like the Hampshire pig. Hampshire pigs are well-muscled and rapid growers whose sows are praised for being good mothers.
Hampshire pigs have black bodies with a white band around the middle, covering the long front legs. They can live for 20 years, and mature adults can weigh up to 650 pounds.
#8 Landrace Pig
Landrace pigs are a somewhat vague group of standardized domestic pigs that originated from the Danish Landrace—other Landrace pigs derived from crossbreeding and continued development.
Landrace pigs are named after their region and exist all over the world. Some of the most common Landrace pigs are:
- American Landrace
- Dutch Landrace
- Estonian Landrace
- Bulgarian Landrace
- Canadian Landrace
- Belgian Landrace
- British Landrace
- Danish Landrace
From the original Danish Landrace, other Landrace pigs were derived by crossbreeding and continued improvement.
Fun fact: Technically, modern breeds aren’t Landraces.
Since the original Danish Landrace came from the free breeding of local, non-pedigree stock, modern landraces are purposefully bred instead of allowing for natural selection.
Landrace pigs live for six to ten years and can be found in most countries in central and eastern Europe with local varieties from:
These white, lop-eared pigs can grow to be 700 pounds at full maturity and take the number eight spot on the list.
#7 British Saddleback
The origin of Saddleback pigs is not completely clear. However, it is believed that the Saddleback probably evolved from the British Forest Pig.
The British Saddleback is a hybrid of two saddleback pigs, the Essex and the Wessex. Both pigs are named for their English homelands.
The British Saddleback is black with a band or “saddle” at the shoulders and front legs. The Saddleback’s black hair and skin make it an ideal candidate for farming in warmer climates as it aids in protection from the sun’s rays.
There is no active breed association for the British Saddleback to advise on population and information, but the number in the United States is small.
As mature adults, these lop-eared pigs can weigh up to 700 pounds.
#6 Yorkshire (“Large White Pig”)
Yorkshire pigs, also known as “Large White pigs,” a hybrid of north England’s large indigenous white pig and the smaller, fatter white Chinese pig, first emerged in 1791 in Yorkshire, England.
Around 1830, the first Yorkshires were imported into Ohio, where their popularity really took off in the 40s. Many Yorkshires were imported from Canada and England to the U.S. and improved rapidly due to selective breeding.
These days, Yorkshires can be found in nearly every state, most in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Iowa. Large white pigs are the primary source of the pork industry, whose practices are sometimes considered questionable or even neglectful to basic animal welfare.
Pig farmers must take care to keep these pale pigs out of the sun due to their sensitive, light skin.
Yorkshire pigs can weigh up to 750 pounds, and we’re only at number six!
#5 Red Wattle Hog
The large Red Wattle hog originated in the United States. However, the exact origin is unknown.
Today’s modern Red Wattle hog was derived from the large red wattle hogs found in a woodland area of east Texas back in the 1970s by HC Wengler.
Wengler bred two sows (females) with a duroc boar (male) and then bred the offspring back to the original sow. Over time the Red Wattle hog became what it is today.
These pigs vary in shades of red but can sometimes be almost black. Wattle pigs get their name from the fleshy flaps attached to the sides of their necks called wattles.
What purpose do these wattles serve, you ask?
No one knows.
Red Wattles are more of a “lard” pig, with more fat than their long, lean “bacon” pig counterparts. They make great pasture-based pigs with natural protection from the sun with their red coats.
Red Wattles have slim noses and jowls with upright ears that droop at the tips. Mature adults can weigh up to 800 pounds, bringing the Red Wattle in at number five on our list!
#4 Large Black Pig
Popular in the early 1900s and exported to many parts of the world but turned to other pigs better for intensive farming after WWII.
The Large Black pig is a docile and hearty breed native to England. Two boatloads of black pigs from China were docked in Cornwall and East Anglia and then used to breed with local pigs.
The Large Black is the only British pig whose skin is all black, protecting them from the weather in warmer climates.
These hearty foragers have droopy ears that often impede their sight. However, their floppy ears also serve as facial and eye protection while digging and foraging.
In 1960, the Large Black breed was almost extinct. Although the numbers have risen, they are still considered vulnerable.
Another world record was set by a Large Black pig belonging to A.M.Harris of Lapworth. This Large black sow had 26 litters in 12 years between 1940 and 1952 and held the world record for the most litters of piglets produced in a lifetime.
Large Black pigs can live for 12-20 years and weigh up to 800 pounds.
#3 The Poland China
The Poland China pig breed was developed between 1835 and 1870 in Ohio. They are an amalgamation of Polish pigs and Big Chinas, hence where they get their name.
These pigs rose to popularity due to their ability to gain weight quickly and for their ruggedness.
Poland China pigs are black with a white face, feet, and white on the tail’s tip. These handsome pigs are large-framed, muscular, long-bodied, and lean, with ears that droop.
Poland China pigs are popular in South America and the United States, especially in the midwest Corn Belt.
Did you know the biggest pig ever recorded was a Poland China pig?
It’s true! “Big Bill ” was a Poland China Hog from Tennessee that grew to be 2500 pounds! Bill still holds the world record for the largest pig in the world.
Typically, these adaptable pigs weigh up to 800 pounds at full maturity.
#2 The Duroc (Duroc Jersey)
The Duroc pig is a lean, muscular breed that originated around 1850. The Duroc is a hybrid of the “Jersey Red” and the “New York Duroc” that became popular in the country in the 1930s but fell out of favor to white pigs.
Duroc Jersey pigs can live in both cold and warm climates. TheseThese long-bodied pigs have a slight dish to their face and a droop to their ears. The Duroc’s color ranges from light golden to deep red, but their coat is often an orangish-red.
These hogs grow relatively quickly, and an adult boar can weigh up to 880 pounds!
#1 The Hungarian Mangalitsa (Mangalica)
The Mangalitsa or Mangalica of Hungary is the only pig breed left with a thick woolly sheep-like coat. These beauties were almost lost in the 90s when less than 200 pigs were left in existence.
The Mangalitsa meaning “hog with a lot of lard,” lost its popularity during the 20th century when fat was declared “bad.” However, they are gaining a niche market at a premium price as of late.
Mangalitsa pigs are typically blonde in color though that can sometimes be black or even red. Their unique, thick coat and high-fat content make them an ideal homestead animal for colder climates, although they do require a lot of space due to their large size.
The Mangalitsa grows slower than leaner breeds, and they produce fewer piglets. They are one of the fattiest pigs in the world, and a mature boar can weigh anywhere from 800 to 1000 pounds!
More Than Pork
Pigs are well-tempered animals and even good pets in some cases. However, breed populations change throughout time due to the popularity and demand for the meat they produce.
Whether we like it or not, the food industry determines what pig breeds remain and which ones fade away. Luckily there are often a few faithful pig farmers that conserve vulnerable breeds through low demand times.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Budimir Jevtic/Shutterstock.com
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.