The Difference Between Pigs, Hogs, And Wild Boars

“Never try to teach a pig to sing. You waste your time and you annoy the pig.” —Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

In A Nutshell

Pigs, hogs, boars—they all wallow in mud, root around, and can destroy nearly any vegetation in their path. But what makes a pig a pig and not a boar or hog? Ultimately, there’s no cut-and-dried difference, because farmers, hunters, and regular folk all use these terms a little differently and interchangeably. However, “pig” usually refers to the barnyard variety, a wild boar is the kind that lives out in nature and is the ancestor of domestic pigs, and “hog” is used to describe larger pigs and boars. Technically speaking, they’re all of the species Sus scrofa and are biologically very similar.

The Whole Bushel

Ironing out the differences between the varieties of swine may seem complicated, because many pig-related terms are used interchangeably. We could walk a pig-like animal into a room of people, ask them what the animal is, and get a wide range of responses, including pig, hog, boar, or swine. Colloquially speaking, they could all be correct; however, farmers and hunters tend to use specific terms for swine depending on whether it’s domesticated and the animal’s stage in life.

For instance, to farmers, “swine” is a generic term for all types of pigs, a “boar” is a non-castrated male, a “hog” is an older and bigger swine, a “sow” is an adult female, and a “piglet” is a juvenile swine. Then there are words that further clarify the animal’s size or maturity, such as gilt, shoat, weaner, feeder, barrow—the list seems to go on and on.

However, these terms are used a bit differently when discussing swine in the wild. All wild pigs are known as “boars” or “wild boars,” regardless of their gender. Still, some folks might call them wild hogs, and nobody’s going to argue with them about terminology.

But what about domestic pigs that escape and breed in the wild? Well, these are known as feral pigs/hogs and not boars, since, even though they live in the wild (and may have for several generations), they are not true wild boars.

So, how do domestic pigs and wild boars differ genetically and physically? Well, all swine share a common ancestor — the Eurasian wild boar or Sus scrofa. Wild boars are of the species Sus scrofa, whereas domestic pigs are of the subspecies Sus scrofa domesticus. (A few taxonomists put the domestic pig in a separate species from its wild counterparts, which is known as Sus domesticus.) Humans began domesticating pigs as early as 8000 B.C., and now there are many subspecies of Sus scrofa throughout the world. In regards to appearance, wild boars generally have thicker, bristlier coats than domestics and have a noticeable ridge of hair running along their backs. They also have longer, straighter tails, and longer legs and heads.

That being said, feral domestic pigs start to take on the physical characteristics of wild boars after just one or two generations of being in the wild. Once they take on this wild appearance, it is hard to distinguish them from a pure Sus scrofa. Also, wild boars and feral pigs breed readily and create offspring that are nearly identical to wild boars, making them even more difficult to tell apart. In truth, considering their high level of hybridization and similar appearance, there’s not much difference between feral pigs and wild boars. Even scientists have a hard time identifying these animals without analyzing them at the molecular level.

All of this may sound confusing, but it’s really quite simple. Though there are some minor differences, no matter what people decide to call them, the bottom line is that every one of these animals (hogs, swine, boar, etc.) is just a pig. Those on the farm are domestic pigs and those in the wild are wild pigs. They’re all in the species Sus scrofa, and they all make delicious pork chops.

Show Me The Proof

Outfitters Rating: Hunting Wild Boars & Feral Pigs
Texas Natural Wildlife: Distinguishing Feral Hogs from Introduced Wild Boar
Untamed Science: Domestic Pig

  • Lisa 39

    I’ve always classified them as pork, chops, loins and bacon of course. This was very interesting and informative. Awesome job S Grant!

    • Hillyard

      I’m with you on that. Ditto for those cute, cuddly lambs. Grill them up and serve with a mint jelly.

      • Lisa 39

        Absolutely, I’ve only had lamb a few times but it was yummy! You and I need to take a food vacation and go to Australia to try the kangaroo, tell your wife no worries, its a feeding frenzy trip, then I’ll come visit you in Germany for a beer fest! Yay!

        • Big Ben

          Fat trash

          • Lisa 39

            That’s pretty rude for someone who claims to be all about gay and human rights. I read your profile.

    • Clyde Barrow

      BLT’s were a Bonnie & Clyde favorite. Bonnie was still holding a BLT in her hand after the ambush that was our demise. 🙁

      • Lisa 39

        I don’t blame her for not letting go of it, that’s my favorite also 🙂

  • oouchan

    Having grown up on a farm and near pig farms especially, I used terms like swine, hog, sow, etc. to identify the pigs. Our friends down the way had a huge pig farm and we would play with the piglets. They are cute when they are itty, bitty bacons. 🙂

    Cool.

  • Nomsheep

    I think breakfast is the correct term.

  • Hillyard

    I don’t know what domestic bacon acts like when you annoy it, but as some not too bright GIs I used to know found out in Grafenwoehr the wild bacon will run you up a tree with a quickness.

    • Bruce Rowley

      Or on the hood of a five ton truck or to rhe top of a M113 APC or 155MM
      track howitzer. Been there, seen and done that more than once in my career.

      • Hillyard

        HEMTTs were good places for a quick get away too.

  • Jordan

    i love bacon and pork chops baked in the oven yummmm

    • virginiasushisigh

      you too will come back as a pig in your next life and have to endure the indecent suffering that these factory farms induce due to your selfish superfluous want for bacon.

  • Laurie Conrad

    I enjoyed the article until the last sentence. Dogs make good chops too. But we know it’s wrong. Pigs are just as intelligent and wonderful.

    • GonzoI

      Always funny to see this sort of “ethical” condescension. You claim it’s wrong, yet you claim knowledge of what dog chops taste like. The fact is, we don’t “know it’s wrong”. We don’t eat dogs because our culture thinks of them as pets, making it taboo. There is nothing inherently wrong with eating meat. You can argue over the ethics of how the animals are treated leading up to butchering, but we are omnivores, not herbivores. The rest of humanity is not going to ignore biology just because you’ve come up with an excuse to make yourself feel bad about it.

      • Laurie Conrad

        Where do I say that I know what a dog tastes like? I only implied that dogs can also be turned into the same euphemisms as pigs. Are you a dietitian? What university courses have you taken with respect to nutrition?

        • GonzoI

          So, I have to be a trained dietitian to read a basic book of biology, or any of the several hundred studies of the dietary effects of removing meat-based protein? We’re not discussing something complex or even a debated subject. The human animal is an omnivore. Period. You can trick it with supplements and creative balancing of plant-based nutrients, but that isn’t a herbivorous diet, it’s just an artificial simulation of an omnivorous one.

      • Laurie Conrad

        **

  • virginiasushisigh

    eating meat is murder. you are giving yourself cancer because you are participating in what is a vile, violent, and inhumane act which happens everyday to thousands of animals. animals that feel pain like you, dream in their sleep like you, and need food shelter, water, and most of all LOVE-
    just like YOU. if we really think we are the most intelligent creatures on this planet and we still practice the barbaric act of eating FLESH we are probably not the smartest but the most deluded creatures on this planet.

    • Joseph

      But bacon

      • virginiasushisigh

        you will return as a pig in your next life.

    • Jojo Jefferson

      Hippies…

      • virginiasushisigh

        and……

    • tomjones

      And what do you think will happen if we free all the chickens and cows? Feral pigs are huge rodents to many farmers. Harvesting a wild animal is no different than harvesting corn. Everything eats something else in the wild.

      • virginiasushisigh

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dig0-ItBssU does a corn have a brain, neural synapses, a nervous system, emotions? does a mama corn love the baby corn the way a cow loves her calf? it is not the same. the meat industry today is unethical. it is the cause of pollution in our environment. they literally torture animals. when you don’t have to. you don’t have to eat meat. you don’t have to torture animals. why do you think it’s your right to torture animals? it is so funny your argument is being afraid of cows taking over the world. KILL AND EAT THE COWS, there gonna TAKE OVER THE WORLD. hahaha. what a joke! that is how you support your mindless flesh consumption? how disgusting is that to not only eat the flesh of an animal which once was living, breathing, thinking, feeling, you participate in this terrible inhuman action which happens to hundreds of thousands of animals everyday. stop eating meat. then there wouldn’t be such a high demand for them. so people would stop torturing so many crowded sad cows. why would you want to eat the flesh of a cow that was sad and tortured all it’s life. you think thats going to have no effect on you? and we are not wild. they are not wild animals. they are farm animals. domestic animals. they are to be loved, respected, cherished. cows need us. and look at the way we treat them today. life is full of symbiotic relationships. like the story of the the wolf becoming the domestic dog. we don’t have long winters where no food is unavailable and we need this animal life to survive. we can’t have fruit, and vegetables all year round today. it is blindly irresponsible to think that we need to kill all these animals. wild pigs messing with a farmers fruit is not what we’re talking about here. we’re talking about the reality of the meat industry/dairy and what they do to animals every single day. lots of people also have pigs for pets. why don’t you go eat your dog then if there is no difference between an ear of corn and a pig. do some research, you sound sound asleep. research the intelligence of a pig. watch a video how cows respond to music. why choose the cycle and system of torture and death just because it is available? one day, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but in one life or another you will realize that you have been tricked into believing the survival of the fittest law. just because one system has been doesn’t mean it always should be. we don’t need the flesh of living animals to live in optimal health. Lastly, to consume animals that were treated with no dignity is going to have an effect and your energy. you are what you eat. I hope you see that it is simply not the same to keep a living cow in a confined space and to move it about everyday with no respect, to take away it’s milking babies so they can be slaughtered, and an ear of corn blowing in the wind under the sunshine. we don’t need their meat. you are what you eat. bon appetite.

  • Don C.

    A pig in disguise is still a pig.

  • christinanolanXD

    what about those african pigs in congo that are giant monstrosities, are they still part of sus scrofa?
    they’d probably make nice giant bacon too.