Pigs vs. Hogs: What’s the Difference?

There is a clear difference separating pigs and hogs, but you would never need to know it unless you work on a farm. To learn about the differences between the labels, and where boars and swine fit in, read on.
Which is which?
Which is which? / Left image: Digitaler Lumpensammler/Getty Images; Right image: Gary Chalker/Getty Images

The words pig and hog are often used interchangeably. There’s a good reason for that: both terms describe the same domesticated species of the Suidae family known for snorting, wallowing in mud, and trotting around farms. But while pigs and hogs are technically the same animal, there are some key differences between the two labels you should know.


Scientific Name




Sus scrofa domesticus


40–120 pounds


Sus scrofa domesticus


120+ pounds


Sus scrofa


150–220 pounds

The Similarities Between Pigs and Hogs

The scientific name for pigs and hogs is Sus scrofa domesticus. The animals were bred to be livestock, but they can be kept as pets as well. They’re known for their stocky bodies, pointed ears, flat-nosed snouts, and short legs with hooved feet. When they show up in media, they’re often depicted as being pale pink, but pigs and hogs come in a variety of shades, including red, brown, black, white, or some combination of the above.

Pigs and hogs also have the distinction of being some of the most intelligent creatures on four legs. They’re social animals capable of learning some impressive skills, such as puzzles, video games, and surfing. Even their less distinguished behaviors are surprisingly clever. Pigs and hogs have very few sweat glands, so they wallow in mud as a way to cool off on hot days. When they’re kept in cool shelters, they avoid filth and are actually pretty clean.

The Differences Between Pigs and Hogs

Unless you’ve worked on a farm, you’ve likely never had to learn the difference between pigs and hogs. The two labels are used by farmers to differentiate between smaller animals and the larger, more mature livestock that are ready for slaughter. Technically speaking, pigs become hogs when they exceed 120 pounds. They’re typically around 3 years old at this stage, though the growth process may be sped up in a factory farm setting with hormones.

Pigs are mature animals that haven’t reached the hog threshold yet; they weigh between 40 and 120 pounds. Smaller juveniles that have just been weaned are called shoats, and the tiniest and least mature members of the species are called piglets.

Where Do Boars Fit In?

Boars, or Sus scrofa, are the wild members of the Suidae family. They can be found in the forests of North America, Europe, Asia, North Africa, and New Zealand. Unlike their domesticated relatives, wild boars aren’t friendly and docile. While they don’t prey on humans, they have been known to attack, and they kill more people annually than sharks. 

In addition to their more aggressive temperament, boars can be distinguished from pigs by their appearance. Their muscular bodies are covered in bristly, brown fur, and their snouts are equipped with tusks for scrounging up food [PDF]. While they’re not as rotund as hogs, they weigh between 150 and 220 pounds.

What About Swine?

Swine is a general term that covers all of the labels above. Pigs, hogs, shoats, and piglets all qualify as swine. In addition to applying to Sus scrofa domesticus, swine can be used to describe wild boar species as well. While any member of the Suidae family could technically be swine, the word is most often used in reference to the pigs and hogs found on farms.

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