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Most people use boar, hog, and pig interchangeably; however, they are different. A pig is the barnyard variety while the boar/ hog lives in the wild. Although they have a common ancestry and have a lot in common, some distinctions set them apart. Now that a lot of confusion exists in the terminology, the term wild is added to boar/hog to differentiate them from domestic pigs. But what exactly makes them different?
Before embarking on the differences, it is crucial to set the record straight when it comes to terminology. When talking to a farmer who keeps pigs, you will come across the following terms concerning pigs:
- Boar- a male that has not been castrated
- Hog- older and bigger swine, usually above 120lbs
- Swine- a general term for all types of pigs
- Sow- an adult female pig
- Gilt- virgin female pig
- Shoat- juvenile male pig
- Piglet- juvenile swine
- Barrow- a male pig that was castrated at an early age
- Stag- male pig castrated at a later age
As you can see, it may sound confusing, especially the use of boar and hog to refer to the domestic pigs. That’s precisely why ‘wild’ is added to the words to ensure everyone is on the same page. Among hunters, you will come across terms like a sounder which is a herd of wild hogs.
The most apparent difference between wild hogs and pigs is their appearance. These differences in appearance include:
Wild hogs have coats that are thicker and bristlier coats than their domestic counterparts. True wild hogs have longer, straighter hair. It has a uniform color, which is a mostly dark brown that is trending towards black. The domestic pigs have sparse coats.
You will notice a conspicuous ridge of hair that runs along the backs of boars. This ridge is absent in the pigs.
Wild hogs have longer tails that are straighter than those you will find on the domestic swine.
Length of Head and Legs
The head and legs are also longer in hogs than in pigs. It is an evolutionary advantage to survive in the wild where there is always a predator lurking in the shadows, and food is harder to find.
Another distinctive feature of wild hogs is their protruding tusks that are razor-sharp and can grow as long as 7 inches. These tusks are a set of lower teeth, which are often cut in domestic pigs at birth.
Beyond outward looks, there is some distinction when it comes to their anatomy. Wild hogs have a thick cartilaginous shield just under their hide, a feature absent in pigs. It covers the front third of their body approximately.
The shield is an evolutionary defense that protects their vital organs during fights for mates among the hogs. With the razor-sharp tusks and their ferocious nature, the absence of such a hide might mean death in a fight. It grows harder and thicker with age in the males and can be as dense as 2 inches. That’s why a bullet or arrow may fail to reach the vital organs if it doesn’t have enough penetrating power left at the time of impact.
How does wild boar meat taste? Is the taste the same as pork? These are but a few of the common questions from regular people, novice hunters and farmers alike. It tastes different. The wild hog meat tastes like a cross between beef and pork. It has a unique juicy succulence but a bit darker courtesy of healthy iron content. The rich flavor in this meat is unforgettable.
For this reason, it has now become a popular delicacy in many states. With countless ways to make a meal out of it, the hog meat is perhaps one of the best things that have come out of the hog problem.
In case you are wondering how they have so many differences, the answer lies in their classification. Although they share the same ancestry, which is the Eurasian wild boar or scientifically called Susscrofa, they have adapted differently, resulting in significant distinctions.
In 800BC, the pig was domesticated from the Eurasian pig, which is popularly called the Russian boar. Now that the domestic environment was not as harsh as the wild, the survival features were lost over generations. It became a subspecies on its own; Susscrofadomesticus was distinct from the Susscrofa line.
On the other hand, the wild hogs are mainly the original Eurasian boars (Susscrofa) introduced in America in the late 19th century. Besides this group, some hogs are generations of pigs that were reverted to the wild and are termed feral hogs. The other group consists of a hybrid between these feral hogs and the Eurasian boars.
Although all these animals wallow in the mud, do root around, and are very destructive to the vegetation, they are adapted differently. As earlier noted hogs are adapted to the harsh wild environment while pigs enjoy the safety of farms and thus have unique features, what about the feral hogs?
Domestic pigs develop the physical characteristics of wild hogs after only one or two generations in the wild. At this point, it becomes hard to distinguish them from pure wild hogs. Furthermore, once they breed with wild hogs, which happen readily, they produce offspring that are indistinguishable from wild hogs/boars. That’s why it’s almost impossible to distinguish feral hogs from wild boars/ hogs.
Size and Weight
The final difference is in the average size of these swine varieties. Wild hogs averagely weigh 150-200lbs but may reach 400lbs at times and peak at 710lbs for the largest boars, which are very rare. Domestic pigs grow way beyond this weight because of the conducive environment, feeding, and breeding. They will readily weigh over 1000lbs.
You now understand why you cannot use the words hog, boar, and pig interchangeably. There are differences at a subspecies level, which outwardly show differences in anatomy, taste, appearance, weight, and adaptation.
Wild hog vs pig taste
Wild hog meat tastes like a combination of beef and pork.
Wild boar vs pig nutrition
Wild hog meat is lean and has low cholesterol, unlike the pork, which makes it a healthier alternative.
Wild boar vs pig size
Now that pigs are bred, they grow larger than an average wild boar at maturity.
Do pigs turn into hogs?
Yes, a pig can escape to the wild and turn into a hog and is termed a feral hog.
Is it safe to eat wild hogs?
Wild hog meat is safe to eat as long as its properly cooked.
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36 years old, been hunting and fishing my entire life – love the outdoors, family, and all kinds of hunting and fishing! I have spent thousands of hours hunting hogs and training hunting dogs, but I’m always learning new stuff and really happy to be sharing them with you! hit me up with an email in the contact form if you have any questions.