When we picture pigs, we undoubtedly all think of the iconic image of their cute curly tails.
The coiled-up, corkscrew tails have become an integral part of pigs, but why are they curly?
The answer is debated among pig owners and enthusiasts.
While some believe the curly tail is intentionally bred in domesticated breeds, others feel it is a coincidence and an unintended consequence of breeding.
The origin of pig’s curly tails is widely debated. Some believe the trait was intentionally bred to protect the pigs from fights and bites. Others believe it’s solely a result of the breeding and domestication of wild pig breeds and was unintentional. The curly tail is mostly used to swat away bugs.
There aren’t many animals besides the pig with curly tails.
While its true origin remains unknown, there are many theories and beliefs.
Let’s dive into possible reasons as to why pigs have curly tails and what their purpose serves.
Why Are Pigs’ Tails Curly?
When we picture a pig, we are sure to think of their cute pink curled tails.
Maybe you’ve thought to yourself, why exactly are their tails curly?
There is not a very clear reason why pigs have curly tails.
The curly pig tail is likely the result of breeding.
Certain pig breeds have naturally curly tails, while others have straight tails.
The main question is whether or not pigs were intentionally bred for curly tails.
Many of the pig breeds we commonly see on farms are descended from China, and many of the Chinese pig breeds have naturally curly tails.
There are a few reasons why curly tails were intentionally bred among pigs.
One of them has to do with pig fights and the injuries sustained during them.
Pig fighting was very common in China.
Some people think curly tails are less susceptible to injury than straight tails.
When pigs fight, they often resort to tail biting.
This leads to pigs with tail wounds.
If you’ve ever seen pigs fight, you’ve undoubtedly noticed how ruthless they tend to be.
While there is a good chance the curly tail was an accidental trait, many believe Chinese farmers intentionally bred pigs with curly tails to give them an upper hand in fights.
While curly tails may be the evolutionary answer to preventing tail injuries, other potential explanations exist.
Another possible reason for curly tails is the overall contentment and happiness of the pig.
Many domesticated pigs have curly tails, while wild breeds tend to have straight tails.
Domestic pig breeds are more likely to have less stress in their lives than feral pigs in the wild.
This is another theory and may not be the actual reason.
Check out why pigs don’t look up and other odd facts about their bodies.
What Is The Purpose Of A Pig’s Curly Tail?
The purpose of a pig’s curly tail is widely debated.
The general anatomical purpose of the tail is believed to be to swat away bugs and other pests.
We also see this function of tails in cows and horses.
After all, flies tend to be attracted to the distinctive odor of farm animals.
It’s only right for the animals to have a way to shoo them off.
While other farm animals have tails, the curled tail is unique to the pig.
Many pig farmers also report the function of curled tail posture shows general happiness and joy.
The act of tail wagging is believed to show the pig’s overall happiness and excitement.
In many ways, pigs act a lot like dogs.
It is also possible for pig tails to be part of their social hierarchy.
Many types of animals fight to establish dominance and a social hierarchy.
Perhaps the pig tail is part of this, as it is usually the first thing pigs go for during a scuffle.
Pig fighting is part of their social behavior. It is carried out predominantly by biting each other’s tails.
Broken skin and fresh blood are obvious signs of tail damage after a fight.
In cramped conditions, this becomes a common occurrence.
This is especially common on factory farms where conditions are cramped and dismal.
Pigs are intelligent creatures, and being forced into such conditions makes them irritable and more prone to fighting.
Space is an important part of how much pigs cost, so don’t go in unprepared by reading more in our article.
Do All Pigs Have Curly Tails?
Not all pigs have curly tails.
Many feral pigs breeds have straight tails, and even some tame ones do as well.
Some people find there is an association between tail position and overall health.
A curly tail is often associated with a healthy and happy pig, while a straight tail hanging straight down is often seen on a pig feeling unwell or sick.
The curl or lack thereof tends to be breed-specific.
There are also some breeds born with either straight or curly tails.
The breed carries both traits.
The kunekune pig breed is one of the most popular types of pig with both curly and straight tails.
This breed of pig is most commonly seen in miniature breeds alongside the potbelly pig.
This is why you will see miniature pigs with both straight and curly tails.
There is also a breed of feral pig called the Brush Ear pig.
This breed has a straight tail with a tuft of hair on end.
Here is a chart of pig breeds with curly and straight tails:
|Curled Tail||Straight Tail|
|Large White Pig||Pot Bellied Pig|
|Guinea Hog||Mulefoot Pig|
|Hampshire Pig||Vietnamese Pig|
|Berkshire Pig||Brush Ear Pig|
The Meaning Behind A Straight Pig’s Tail
There are a few reasons why a pig’s tail may be straight.
Many pig farmers find if a pig with a normally curled tail has suddenly gone straight, they are sick or in pain.
The tail tends to hang straight down when the pig is suffering in some way.
While this is a potential reason in domesticated breeds with curly tails, it doesn’t necessarily mean all pigs with straight tails have something wrong with them.
It is important to consider other factors to determine if your pig is sick or unwell.
A straight tail is one potential sign but may be accompanied by lethargy, irritability, and lack of appetite.
Once you spend some time with your pigs, you’ll become accustomed to their happy and content demeanor.
This way, you’ll more readily notice any changes in their behavior.
Often, these are the most obvious indicators of poor health, pain, or illness.
Many wild breeds of pigs tend to have straight tails.
There are even some recorded instances of domesticated pigs losing the curl to their tail after they have gone feral.
There isn’t a clear meaning behind why this happens but some associate it with the general happiness and stress level.
Being fed and housed on a farm is considerably less stressful than in the wild, where feral pigs are prey and have to find their food and shelter.
The Purpose Of Tail Docking
Tail docking is the practice of cutting off a pig’s tail to prevent the occurrence of tail biting and inflamed tail wounds.
The practice is primarily carried out on factory farm pigs, where conditions are cramped, leading to frequent fights.
Tail docking is a controversial topic among animal welfare advocates.
The procedure is often carried out without analgesic treatment or anesthetic.
Considering pigs are intelligent creatures, the practice is considered barbaric and inhumane by many.
The main purpose of tail docking is to prevent serious injuries during fights.
If there seems to be a daily occurrence of tail biting, it is understandable why some farmers will remove the tail.
The act of tail docking occurs more commonly on factory farms and commercial farms.
Most family farms have enough space and resources to separate pigs if they are not getting along and don’t have to deal with swollen tails or inflamed tail wounds very often.
Another solution to prevent tail injuries is teeth clipping.
This is done to pigs to remove the front two teeth, which tend to be very sharp.
Most of the time, this is done on piglets when they are young.
The needle-like front teeth on piglets often cause injuries to the mother during nursing.
Sometimes it is so painful for the mother she refuses to nurse the piglets.
Both teeth clipping and tail docking are more common on factory farms and commercial farms.
The purpose is to make the work easier for the farmers.
The fewer fights and injuries on the farm help the farmers to keep veterinary costs down.
While we may see this as inhumane, it is part of the factory farming and keeping of pigs for meat purposes.
Do Happy Pigs Wag Their Tail?
Happy pigs do wag their tails.
When they are excited about food or friends, their tails will start spinning around, much like dogs.
It is adorable to see a smiling pig with a wagging tail.
Often, pigs will wag their tails when they are searching around.
They are curious by nature and love to explore.
If they are deep in their explorations, you’ll likely notice a bit of tail wagging going on.
There are other reasons as to why a pig may wag their tail.
Sometimes this happens to ward off flies and other insects bothering them.
Some farmers also report seeing their pigs wag their tails when upset or stressed.
There are usually other indicators of their overall mood outside of tail wagging.
These should be observed before jumping to conclusions about how your pig is feeling.
Since pigs tend to wag their tails for various reasons, it’s best to consider other indicators of their mood.
Pigs are vocal creatures.
Once you spend a lot of time with your pigs, you’ll be able to pick up on which noises mean they are happy, stressed, upset, curious, or irritated.
Part of the fun of having pigs on a family farm is learning their unique personalities and bonding with them.
Are Pigs Dangerous?
With all the talk of tail biting and sharp teeth, you may wonder if pigs are dangerous.
Most domesticated pigs are not dangerous.
However, seeing as they are large creatures, respecting their space and bodily queues are very important.
Pigs can inflict injury and harm but will only do so in certain circumstances.
- If a pig is mistreated, it will not trust humans and may bite to protect itself.
- Unsocialized pigs tend to be distrusting of humans and other pigs. They will likely bite out of fear.
- Sick or injured pigs tend to be more defensive, and it’s important to respect their space, especially if you are just meeting the pig for the first time.
- Older pigs will often be a bit more aggressive. This is often attributed to the alpha male status. They will bite to keep the social hierarchy intact.
Well, socialized pigs who have their needs met are very happy and usually love the company of humans and other pigs.
In many ways, they are like dogs when it comes to aggression.
If dogs are not socialized or are otherwise mistreated, they are significantly more likely to be aggressive and dangerous to humans.
Do Miniature Breeds Have Curly Tails?
Miniature breeds are not an actual breed of pig.
They have mostly been bred from pot-bellied pigs or the kunekune breed.
Pot-bellied pigs usually have straight tails, while kunekune pigs are born with straight or curly tails.
For this reason, there are some miniature pigs with curly tails, but it is more common to see a straight tail for mini pigs.
It’s important to note how large miniature breeds get.
People often see the adorable tiny piglets online in photographs but don’t research how big they get when they reach maturity.
While most mini pigs range from 60-150 lbs, some reach 300 lbs.
They are capable of getting quite large.
While they are still significantly smaller than standard breeds, which weigh between 300 and 700 lbs, they are anything but teacup-sized.