Hog vs Pig: 6 Main Differences

Written by Krishna Maxwell
Updated: September 14, 2022
© A-Z-Animals.com
Share this post on:

Key Points

  • The terms pig and hog generally refer to different stages of a pig’s life similar to adolescents vs adult.
  • Younger animals are called pigs while they are often called hogs after they reach a certain size.
  • The word boar refers to both an uncastrated adult male pig and to the Wild Boar which is an undomesticated breed of pig.

People call pigs and hogs by many names (and nicknames), and they even use the terms interchangeably, but how correct are they? After all, with different names, there have to be a few distinct differences. While they can describe the same animal, there are some real differences in the correct meaning of swine related terminology. The differences may only be important to farmers who raise pigs and the buyers and sellers of swine.

Just like dogs, there are multiple different breeds of pigs. The different breeds are mostly named for the geographical areas where they originated such as the Yorkshire pig or the Hereford pig. The terms hog and pig apply to all of the different breeds of pigs. In addition to these domesticated breeds, there are several types of wild pigs. The European Wild Boar and the Warthog are examples of wild pig species. These wild species are not native to the US. However, there is a growing population of feral pigs in several US states which are the offspring of escaped farm animals. Feral pigs can be extremely dangerous and destructive and are considered a hazardous nuisance in all states.

The daily life of either of these animals consists of mostly the same activities – eating, rolling around in the mud, and rooting. But how well do you know your swine? Could you tell the difference between a hog and a pig?

Comparing Hog vs Pig

The phrases “hog” and “pig” both equally refer to swine. In fact, some areas of the world call any domesticate swine a pig. They are all part of the sus scrofa breed, and their biological differences are minimal. Take a look at the chart below to get a sense of what makes a hog and a pig different.

HogPig
Size120 lbs+Under 120 lbs.
BodyStocky bodies, flat snout, large earsShort legs, cartilaginous snout, bristly hair
Age3 years and olderUnder 3 years old
HabitatOnly on a farm before being sold.On a farm
Preferred TemperatureAny temperature, apart from AntarcticaCold areas, as they cannot sweat

The 6 Key Differences Between Hogs vs Pigs

Despite being different life stages of the swine, these changes can distinguish the pig and hog from one another. The greatest difference is in the size and maturity of the animal. Using the correct terminology becomes important when someone buys a pig or hog. Depending on the size, weight, and age of the animal, it will have a different use. If you go to a barbeque, you may be offered suckling pig, which is a young pig butchered before it is weaned from its mother. A pig roast is generally a mid-size animal between 4-6 months old. A hog roast would be an animal that weighs more than 250 pounds.

1. Hogs vs Pigs: Domestication

Perhaps the biggest difference between the hog and the pig is their level of domestication. Pigs have been domesticated for about 9,000 years, and they were originally brought to Europe by Asian farmers. Hogs, on the other hand, often refers to wild hogs, which are not domesticated.

2.Hogs vs Pigs: Age

The life-stage of the pig is the easiest way to tell if the animal is a hog or a pig. Pig generally refers to younger swine that haven’t reached full maturity, which occurs around 3 years of age. However, the word is often used by consumers to describe any swine, regardless of their age or size. Hog also seems to be used for all swine, but pigs must be about over 250 pounds to actually be considered a hog.

3.Hogs vs Pigs: Physical Changes

Since the classification of “pig” or “hog” is entirely based on the age of each animal, their physical attributes are going to be different. Pigs generally weigh less than 250 lbs., and they are often small with shorter legs. They have rather bristly hair, complementing their cloven hooves and cartilaginous snout.

The snout of a hog is longer and flatter, which is a sign of developing maturity. The build of a pig is stocky with a long back. As they age, these traits become more and more distinct. This build is the result of selective breeding by farmers to optimize growth rate and the most desirable cuts of meat.

4.Hogs vs Pigs: Farming

The way that hogs and pigs are raised is distinctly different. Pig and hog farmers differentiate pigs from hogs with their weight. High weight is commonly associated with the hog, while a lower weight is associated with the pig (since it is younger). Farmers typically only take care of pigs until they are old enough and large enough to become the meat for which they are raised. This occurs when the animal weighs approximately 250 pounds, which generally takes about six months

This terminology difference is seemingly used primarily in the United States. In Great Britain, any domesticated swine is just referred to as a pig.

5.Hogs vs Pigs: Commercial Sales

The age and weight difference between the pig and the hog also impact the way that they are commercially distributed. Pigs, because of their young age and lower weight, are not typically ready to be marketed and sold for meat. They are typically found on farms because they still have to be raised into the hogs that they will become.

Hogs, however, are ready to be sold and slaughtered. If they are currently on a farm, it won’t last much longer since they will be brought to a market for purchase.

6.Hogs vs Pigs: Behavior

The maturity of the pig and the hog greatly impacts the way that they handle others in their surroundings. The pig has greater intelligence than a 3-year-old child, and they are quite sociable with humans and even other pigs. They like to bond with the animals around them though they are known to prey on other species, such as chickens. Swine are omnivorous and highly opportunistic feeders.

Male pigs that are going to be raised for meat are castrated at a very young age. Those that are allowed to grow into breeding stock are usually referred to as hogs. These boars (the correct term for an uncastrated male pig) can become incredibly aggressive and dangerous. All pigs are fast and agile. If they are let loose in the wild, they become feral very quickly. Swine are incredibly smart, tough, strong, and determined. While they can be very friendly and affectionate, you always want to be wary around hogs and pigs.

Summary

The only real differences between domesticated hogs and pigs are size and age. The domesticated breeds have been selectively bred so extensively for meat production that they bear little resemblance to their Wild hog cousins.

PigHog
1.Domesticated PigsWild Hogs
2.Less than 6 monthsMore than 6 months
3.Less maturePhysically mature
4.Raised for meatMay be breeding stock
5.Sold for meatWild hogs are hunted
6.Easier to handle due to age and sizeCan be very aggressive

Up Next…


The Featured Image

Hog vs Pig
Hog vs Pig
© A-Z-Animals.com

Share this post on:
About the Author

Krishna is a lifelong animal owner and advocate. She owns and operates a small farm in upstate New York which she shares with three dogs, four donkeys, one mule, and a cat. She holds a Bachelors in Agricultural Technology and has extensive experience in animal health and welfare. When not working with her own animals and tending her farm, Krishna is helping other animal owners with behavior or management issues and teaching neighboring farmers about Regenerative Agriculture practices.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Do pigs turn into hogs?

Technically, yes. Pigs are the younger version of the same animal, and they are used to refer to the swine before they are 120 lbs.

Is hog another word for pig?

Most people use these words interchangeably. While a pig is not yet mature, a hog is. However, they are both swine.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.