Mini Pig Hoof Deformities
Mini Pig Cloven Hoof Structure
A cloven hoof structure is ideal.
Sheep, goats, deer, cattle, and pigs have cloven hoof structures. It is a split hoof structure made up of two digits equivalent to our third and fourth fingers. The inner toe closer to the center of the pig is called the medial claw. The outer toe toward the outside of the pig is called the lateral claw. Pigs should have a straight hoof structure with even weight bearing on both toes. The toes should be even in shape and length, with no hooking or crossing of the toe toward the other.
Where pigs differ from these other critters is their dew claws, also called accessory claws. In other animals, they serve no purpose. In pigs, they are used for stability while moving. If cut too short, pigs lose their stability. If left too long, pigs can risk injuries. This includes pain while walking from dewclaws curling under the main weight bearing toes, breaking off the dewclaw and bleeding, to breaking the bone within the dewclaw if it gets snagged on something hard enough.
Mini Pig Syndactyly Hoof Structure
Most often said to be a mulefoot hoof–even by other trimmers. Syndactyly was introduced by The Mini Pig Farrier into the pig community in 2018 after working with a rescue case in Indiana. Since then, we’ve trimmed many more cases of these types of hooves, as well as educate pig parents posting online asking why their pigs’ hooves look different than others.
Syndactyly looks close to a cloven hoof, except the two weight-bearing digits are often fused together. It can be a partial fusion with some independent flexion of the toes, or run down the length of the hoof with what looks like a fold. The heels of syndactyly hooves may look like a modified rounded “M” shape, or they may have one big heel on the underside.
Pigs can have one leg that is syndactyl, or all legs presenting syndactyly.
This deformity has a higher risk of thrush, rot and infection if partially fused and hoof care is not priority.
The Veterinary industry to our knowledge has not performed surgeries to surgically separate toes. If you know of (or have performed on) a case with a positive outcome and images, please contact us so this section can be updated.
Mini Pig Mulefoot Hoof Structure
Mulefoot is a subset of syndactyly. Mulefoot is named after mules, having an uncloven hoof structure. True mulefoot is rarely seen in miniature pigs, although this characteristic may have originated from Mulefoot hogs in the 1900’s. In mulefoot toes, there is no crease on the top part of the weight-bearing hoof as seen in syndactyly hooves. The heel on the underside of the leg is all one solid cushion. In most mulefoot cases we’ve seen, these pigs often walk mostly on the heel rather than a heel-toe pattern gait. Mulefoot pigs typically have two dew claws per leg.
Mini Pig Polydactyly Hoof Structure
Polydactyly is more well known, especially with cats. Polydactyly mini pigs have more than two cloven hoof structures and/or more than two dewclaws on one leg.
Sometimes these additional toes/accessory claws may be weight bearing depending on the angle and location they are at. What may look like a dewclaw may instead be another toe and the pig only has one dewclaw. The variances can be endless with polydactyly pigs!
Mini Pig Hoof Care
Pig hoof anatomy is more than just hooves and dewclaws. There are variances to the equation above that can get thrown into the mix. When deciding to bring in a pig to your household, look for these hoof variances. Ideally, a cloven hoof structure with straight toes will be a healthier conformation. When it comes to trimming mini pig hoof deformities, one needs to know what they’re looking at and how/what to trim.
As a specialized mini pig hoof trimming service and educational platform, it is up to us to properly educate our clients and community. Learn these terms and use them the next time you post in a mini pig group or forum. Share with your Veterinarian and ask if they have seen or have worked with similar cases. It takes a village to help each other continue to improve our knowledge of these beloved pets.