Pigs are smarter than dogs, what else don’t you know about pigs?

By Pawel Kuczynski

Many of us have companion animals, usually dogs, cats, or other small animals. We love and care for them. Even people who do not have companion animals may feel a connection to them, they’ll tell you they love dogs, or cats. I admit, I too love dogs. But, I ask myself, thinking about the big picture, what is the difference between companion animals, the ones we care for, love and even consider family members, and the other animals whom we exploit?

Let’s take dogs, for example, as they seem to be the most popular companion animal in the U.S. (where the number of households that have a dog was 56.7 million in 2014[1]), and compare them to pigs.

Pigs, like dogs, are loveable and cute, they are friendly, affectionate, loyal, and they are very smart.[2] I know it’s going to shock some of you but pigs are smarter than dogs! More importantly, just like dogs they can feel pain, and they can suffer.

Those of us who know about the dog meat industry are horrified by it; indeed it’s atrocious. We say, how could they be so cruel to dogs??? But, I bet if you would have a pig as a companion animal (pigs are one of the only animals Americans keep as companion animals, but also eat) you probably would be horrified by the thought of eating those wonderful creatures, and appalled by the way we abuse pigs from birth to death.

While dogs in the U.S. and many other countries are being treated with respect, care, and like family members, pigs, who are very similar to dogs, are suffering tremendously in factory farms, just to put bacon and ham on the dinner plate.

I know most of you really do not want to read about it, but especially if you do eat meat, please, please educate yourself on what WE do to those sentient creatures, and know what those smart and loving animals go through before they reach our plates.

The majority of breeding female pigs spend nearly the entirety of each pregnancy confined to a “gestation crate”, a cage which is only slightly larger than their body, too small for them even to turn around or lie down comfortably.[3] As the sows get larger over the years, some cannot fit in the cages and are either slaughtered or forced to live in conditions where they can sleep only on their chests, rather than their sides as they do normally.[4] They are first impregnated at 7 months of age and live out their lives in a cycle of pregnancy, birth, and nursing until they are sent to slaughter. Shortly before piglets are born, the pregnant pigs are moved forcefully to “farrowing crates” similar to gestation crates, with only a small additional area on which their babies can nurse. The crates separate the mother from their baby piglets, are restrictive to the point that the mother pig can only stand or lie down, she cannot even turn around to see her piglets.[3] Can you imagine preventing a mother from seeing her own babies???

At only 17-20 days old, the baby piglets are taken away from their mothers. The male piglets undergo castration, both males and females have their tails cut off, many of their teeth clipped in half, and their ears mutilated, all without any pain relief!

The piglets spend the next 6 months of their lives confined to pens until they reach “market weight”, they are then trucked to slaughter.[3] 

You can click here to see the life of pigs before they arrive to our plates. If you could not watch the entire video, or chose not to, then perhaps you think it is too disturbing and painful to view. And perhaps the avoidance of seeing the cruelty to the pigs enables and accommodates our state of denial. I’m sure most of us think that “if it was up to me, I would not allow it to happen”. But it is up to you, it is up to all of us.

So why do we share strong emotional connections with some animals, like dogs, but find it acceptable to abuse and eat others, like pigs? I do not have an answer. Do you?

I’d love to read your thoughts and comments.

Please note: text in blue is hyperlinked.

[1] “Industry Statistics & Trends”. American Pet Product Association. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
[2] Natalie, Angier. “Pigs Prove to Be Smart, if Not Vain”, The New York Times, November 9, 2009.
[3] http://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/factory-farming/pigs-used-for-pork/.
[4] Kaufmann, Mark. “Largest Pork Processor to Phase Out Crates”, The Washington Post, January 26, 2007.

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10 Responses

  1. Deb says:

    Even the storybooks get it right: Pigs are friendly, valuable, smart, sensitive . . .

    • Thanks Deb, such an interesting observation! Unfortunately I did not grow up with pig stories, for obvious reasons (but thankfully there were other animals in my childhood books…). Just recently I noticed that pigs (and various other animals) feature in children’s toys and books. How ironic.

  2. Bev Pines says:

    Zahava, I so admire your conviction to keep this information in the public eye. It reminds me of – and strengthens my conviction to keep meat off my plate. It’s a subject that few have the character or emotional strength to think about, to learn about, to watch a video about. It would mean they may have to make a tough decision; to change a long time habit that “custom” has sanctioned (sanctioned barbarism). Though not nearly as tough as a day in the life of just one animal that has been commercially raised to end up as someone’s dinner. Bless all those souls.

    • Thank you Bev for your kind words. It’s gratifying to know that my words have helped in some way to keep meat off your plate. I love your description and view of the issue, and hope more people will think the way you do.

  3. Vered says:

    I like the addition of the picture of your eyes next to Layla’s.

  4. janet says:

    You have a beautiful site here – with great information. I am a 5 year vegan. I (think I) drive people crazy talking
    about the cruelty to animals and – they are all (at least now) aware that they have other choices – there is immense
    cruelty and they are still choosing to abuse animals with their food choices. I try not to rub it in, but – s o m e have
    made some changes. The rest – apologize for their ‘continuing on’ but find it impossible (the usual) to give up cheese.
    I can’t and never will watch another animal abuse video, but it is VERY Important that they are out there and that
    the continue to be put out there. I always put the challenge out there on my FB page with ‘I don’t have to watch this
    because I’m vegan’ b u t – you guys who aren’t vegan have to watch so that you will know.

    Keep up the great work. You have a beautiful site and it is so necessary. Thank You!!

    • Thank you Janet for your kind words, and for sharing your thoughts. I know, I’ve driven people crazy as well, for sure. So glad you do the hard work of opening the eyes of others to the atrocities done to animals, and their suffering. I do believe that step by step people will eventually recognize that our collective cruelty to those sentient creatures is morally unacceptable. Thank you for what you do for the animals!

  5. Rita Anderson says:

    This is an excellent post, Zahava. I simply can’t imagine someone reading this, and clicking on your links, and then going to eat their ham, bacon, or “pork” chops. What you are doing with this blog is absolutely invaluable and is insightful and convincing without being accusatory or in someone’s face. THANK YOU from a fellow vegan and true animal lover of all beings!

    • I greatly appreciate it Rita. Like you, I want people to know the facts and reality of the terrible actions committed by us, humans, against animals in the name of “food”. I’m very grateful for your help and continued support.

  6. robin says:

    Years ago a friend told me a story about how during a fire, a firefighter heard the screams of a pig, which pierced his heart, and he knew he had to save him. He told my friend that after that experience, he never looked at pigs the same way. Before the fire, he never thought about if pigs had any sort of emotional life or feelings or a purpose aside from being consumed. He never considered that pigs have a powerful interest in staying alive, feeling pleasure and enjoyment. I think if everyone had the opportunity to spend time with a pig (or cow, chicken, goat, etc.), I doubt very seriously that they would remain on the menu. Very moving and beautifully expressed post.