Pigs have a reputation as loving mud, muck, and mire, and seem to enjoy nothing more than getting positively filthy.
Though this reputation is only partially true, there is no denying that pigs seem entirely happy to wallow when it suits them. The deeper the puddle the better, it seems!
This brings up an obvious question. If pigs love getting in the mud, would they love swimming too? Can pigs raised on a farm really swim?
Yes, pigs can swim. In fact, they are quite good swimmers over short distances, thanks to their muscular build. Even pigs that have been raised on a farm their whole life can swim instinctively and, given the chance, most will take to the water quite happily.
Pretty impressive for the plump porkers, but not entirely surprising. Most mammals know how to instinctively swim and get pretty good with just a little practice.
While all pigs can swim, there are some breeds that are better swimmers than others and there is a lot more that you should know on the topic. We will tell you all about it below.
Can Pigs Actually Swim?
Yes, pigs can swim, believe it or not. In fact, they are surprisingly capable swimmers and can cover a good distance with ease.
Are Pigs Good Swimmers?
Pretty good. Pigs might best be described as ‘solid’ swimmers. They are reasonably quick and pretty capable in the water but they lack endurance and are not particularly buoyant.
If a pig gets exhausted in water or stuck in a strong current, it’ll be in trouble.
Do Pigs Have to Be Taught to Swim?
No. Like most mammals, pigs are born knowing how to swim. It’s an instinctive behavior for them and most will orient themselves in the water quickly enough.
That being said, pigs will grow more capable and confident in the water with experience.
A pig that has never swum before that finds itself suddenly in the water might panic. A seasoned swimmer, on the other hand, will have less trouble and use less energy.
Why Would a Pig Take to the Water?
Pigs could take to the water for any number of reasons. In the wild, pigs will swim to cross rivers or lakes, to escape predators or to simply cool off.
On a farm, pigs might get in the water to escape the heat, to rinse off after a wallow, or just because they are curious and like swimming!
Pigs are also known to immerse themselves in water or mud in an effort to combat parasites and pests that could be biting or infesting their skin.
I can tell you this for certain: there are some pigs that show a decided preference for the water, and will happily jump in a body of water they have access to when they feel the urge.
This could be an issue for your herd or it might not depending on the circumstances!
How Far Can Pigs Swim?
This is a tough question to answer definitively since it differs from pig to pig and also depends on the conditions.
In general, though, pigs are dependably good swimmers for short to moderate distances and in calm conditions.
However, some pigs have been known to swim for many kilometers and survive, even crossing from shore to distant islands!
How Do Pigs Swim?
Pigs swim using a doggy paddle style, moving their legs independently while kicking.
This might not look very elegant or efficient but it works just fine for pigs and allows them to move through the water at a fairly good pace.
As they swim, they keep their head a little lower in the water than you’d think, keeping only their snout above water almost like a snorkel.
Do Pigs Like Water?
It seems that most pigs do, yes, though occasionally you’ll find a pig that is water averse.
This is usually because the pig has had a bad experience with water at some point or is just generally not fond of getting wet.
If you do have a pig that doesn’t like water, there’s no need to force them in – they will probably never enjoy it.
What Breeds are Good at Swimming?
Pigs are perhaps not the first animal that comes to mind when one thinks of adept swimmers.
Despite this, there are actually several breeds of pigs that are quite adept at paddling around in the water. The Vietnamese Pot-Bellied Pig is one such breed.
These pigs originate from Vietnam, where they were often kept as domestic pets. They are good swimmers thanks to their increased buoyancy and natural “ballast”.
Another breed of pig that is good at swimming is the Berkshire. Compact, with lean legs and rounded bodies, their stocky build doesn’t prevent them from being excellent swimmers.
Whether you’re looking for a pet pig or farm stock that is reasonably aquatic, these two breeds are sure to make a splash.
Are There Any Pigs That Can’t Swim?
Yes, there are some pigs that can’t swim. Breeds like the Gloucestershire Old Spot have been known to avoid water altogether.
This is likely because these pigs are quite heavy, and their relatively short legs make swimming more difficult for them.
Another is the Kune Kune. The Kune Kune is quite popular, particularly in New Zealand.
These pigs are friendly and make good pets, but they notably don’t swim well compared to other breeds.
If you have a Gloucestershire Old Spot or Kune Kunes, or another similarly poor-swimming breed, you’ll need to take extra care to make sure they don’t end up in any water where they could potentially drown.
What are the Dangers Associated with Swimming for Pigs?
The most obvious and serious danger is, as always, drowning. This is a particular danger for piglets, which are not as strong swimmers as adults and can easily tire and drown if they are not careful.
Make sure any pigs you allow near water are supervised at all times, and that young piglets only have access to shallow water where they can touch the bottom.
Another potential danger is hypothermia. Pigs are susceptible to this, particularly if they are swimming in cold water or if they are wet and exposed to cold air for too long. In extreme cases, this can lead to death.
If you live in an area with very cold winters, it’s best to avoid letting your pigs swim altogether during these months.
Finally, there is always the danger of pigs getting swept away by currents, particularly if they are swimming in rivers or the ocean.
If you live near a river or other body of water with strong currents, it’s best to keep your pigs well away from it.
In short, while most pigs enjoy swimming and are good at it, there are some unavoidable dangers associated with letting them paddle around.
Can Pigs Swim in Cold Weather or Cold Water?
They can, but they should not. The risk of hypothermia is too high, particularly for piglets and young pigs.
In general, it’s best to avoid letting your pigs swim during the winter months or in cold water.
Most pigs will instinctively avoid the water when it is cold, but they often behave in unexpected ways.
A pig that enters cold water will rapidly begin to lose body heat. Even if they don’t seem to be affected at first, they can rapidly become hypothermic and may even drown.
This will be exacerbated when they leave cold water and are exposed to cold air, which will further chill them.
If your pig has taken a dip in cold water or gotten wet in cold temperatures, dry them off as soon as possible and move them to a warm place until they are fully dry. Consider giving them a blanket to help them warm up.
Watch out for hypothermia (symptoms include shivering, lethargy, weakness, and seeming confusion), and if your pig isn’t acting right call your vet as soon as possible.
Can You Put Your Pig in a Swimming Pool?
You can, though you will want to use caution. Make sure the pool is shallow enough that your pig can easily touch the bottom, or always have an easily accessible ramp that can help them get out.
In any case, never leave them unsupervised even for a moment.
Another potential hazard is chlorine. Most pools contain chlorine or other “shock” chemicals that keep the water clean and clear. Any such chemicals can irritate a pig’s skin.
You’ll want to make sure the pool you’re using is properly maintained and doesn’t have high levels of chlorine or other chemicals.
Consider limiting how long your pig spends in the pool to minimize their exposure, and don’t allow them into the pool too often.
Lastly, be ready to help your pig in and out of the pool if necessary.
Have a plan for safely lifting it out of the pool and onto the dry ground in the case of an above-ground pool, and make sure to keep all in-ground pools gated or covered to prevent your porky pal from taking an unauthorized swim.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.