The kunekune is a much-loved and ever popular breed amongst lifestyles and pig lovers in New Zealand. But here’s a little somethin’-somethin’ you may not know about the Kune.
The Kune breed was adopted by the Maori when it was introduced to New Zealand in the early 19th century but the population had dropped to less than 50 by 1980! Efforts were made to re-build the breed and, with its kind and gentle nature, the Kunekune (“fat and round” in Maori) made a comeback as a loved pet breed.
Kunekunes are friendly, fond of human company, and are the smallest domestic pig breed in the world, ticking all the boxes for a fun family pet. However, as with all breeds, something is bound to rear its nasty head. Due, presumably, to making a comeback from a tiny genetic pool, as well as breeding for the stubby snout, the breed now bears an unfortunate curse – deformities of the jaw.
As a vet working with plenty of pigs in the south Auckland region, I encounter this from time to time. What I will be called out to is a lump on the face of the pig, often just below the eye or on the cheek, but it can occur on the forehead too. Basically, what happens is the deformed lower jaw creates a cavity into the bone behind the teeth where food material packs in. When enough pressure builds up, it bursts out the side of the face, creating an abscess full of food material. Pretty crazy huh?
The good news is, once the food has burst through, the pig is often perfectly comfortable and can tick along in life quite happily. However, it does depend on the severity of the lesion; erosive bone infection may be smouldering underneath. Treatment differs depending on where the hole is located so make sure you call a vet to check it out. And, don’t let this put you off this beautiful breed – their good fortunes are many; on the other hand, don’t hesitate to get the vet out should you notice a wee lump popping up on Kune’s face.
Dr Sarah Clews BVSc BSc