Pigs are people, too


Our little piggy boy, Oswald.

We like to call our dog Oswald our little “piggy boy.” It is a term of endearment, but it looks like it is also scientifically accurate according to a recent article in the International Journal of Comparative Pyschology.

Emory University Professors determined that pigs are “gregarious” by nature, “highly social,” have a “robust memory,” can retrieve a frisbee, play with a ball, sit, fetch, and jump when asked, and are highly motivated by food. In other words, they are just like dogs.

The authors also noted that pigs can play video games. Not really. But they do like to play and can move a modified joystick (no easy undertaking given the lack of opposable thumbs) and are aware that it impacts what is happening on a screen. And that makes them smarter than dogs.

In “Dogs Are People, Too,” a recent article in the New York Times, Dr. Gregory Berns indicated that “dogs have a level of sentience comparable to that of a human child.” And this, he writes, “suggests a rethinking of how we treat dogs.” Accordingly, Dr. Berns posits that the law should not regard dogs as property, but as legal persons, and that puppy mills, vivisection and dog racing should be banned. His research also demands that it should be illegal for “shelters” to kill them.


The latest review of the literature suggests that similar treatment for pigs is warranted. If dogs are people and pigs are dogs, then pigs are people, too. Some other findings:

  • Pigs are optimistic and agreeable;
  • They prefer familiar individuals of both the pig and human variety to strangers;
  • They can read human facial cues;
  • They are empathetic (they are sensitive to the experience of others);
  • They are altruistic (can make decisions based on empathy);
  • They have unique personality traits that overlap that of humans; and, not surprisingly,
  • They think more popcorn is better than less popcorn!

The article, “Thinking Pigs: A Comparative Review of Cognition, Emotion, and Personality in Sus domesticus,” can be found by clicking here.


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