The Hogling goes by an assortment of names: Tug, Hobbit Pig, Draft-Swine, Shire Shoat, Hobquon, Riding Pig, Lín'rhaem'quón (Styrásh "Hobbit Pig" or "Little-Folk Pig") and of course Hogling. It is every bit like its namesake, the halfling; short, hairy and rather round. In the world of pigs, it would most probably pass as the cutest of them all, mainly due to its miniature size. But for this hog, size definitely doesn’t matter, as it is quite strong and is used frequently by hobbits to pull heavy weights. Another surprise this pig holds is its speed. For such hefty animals, the Hoglings’ speed is quite remarkable, allowing them to become popular racing animals. They are found almost entirely around the halfling shires, for they too are ‘halflings’. Standing at a much shorter height than other domestic pigs, they are much more manageable for the shorter folk, and their cute looks and curly tails delight many of the younger hobbitlings.
Image description. Three hoglings in different hues coming down the lane. Picture drawn by Bard Judith.
Appearance. From a distance, it would be hard to tell the Hogling from any other domestic pig, however, up close the differences are numerous, most notably the size. Standing at a bit over one fore and one palmspan if on a boar's legs, while the sows are generally slightly shorter at a little bit below one fore and one palmspan, the Hogling is much shorter than most other domestic pigs, and indeed most domestic animals. This size is the main reason that the pig is farmed, among other things, by the hobbits, as some other breeds of pigs can grow taller than some of the smaller hobbits. They much prefer the Hogling being only half their size, making it perfect petting height. Were a Hogling to stand upright on its hindlegs, however, it would likely tower over any halfling, with a body length of approximately a ped.
Another aspect of the Hogling that it shares with its counterpart the halflings is its rounded body. While many farm animals become bloated from the sheer amount of grass they eat, especially when the pasture is green, the Hogling is something else. Its barrel-chested body extends not only outwards, like in many farm animals, but also downwards, very much downwards, often leaving the pig weighing around fifteen heb. Some rather spoilt Hoglings have been known to have their belly dragging along the ground. It is this belly that is the pig’s most defining feature, apart of course from its size. It is also thought among some, usually not hobbitish themselves, to be the reason hobbits adore them so.
The Hogling's foot, or trotter, as with all pigs, is an unusual body part, compared to many animals, but is also similar to some of the more common farm animals. It has two main toes, situated in the middle, and two much smaller ones on the outside of the foot, much further back. These feet are attached to the pig's body with four short, often knobbly-kneed, legs. The back two of these legs extend backwards from the body, and then bend at the knee to point forwards, while the front two are more or less straight, and often slightly longer. All four of these legs, though, are very meaty, following suit with the rest of the pig’s body.
A pig’s snout is probably one of its most defining features, it being such a unique appendage. Extending from the end of the Hogling’s face is this leathery pad. Being one of the very few places on the pig’s body without hair is only the beginnings of its remarkableness. To the Hogling, its snout is incredibly important, especially when it comes to food. Not only does its amazing sense of smell help it find food, but the Hogling also uses its snout dig around in the foliage and dirt to get the food. To aid in this foraging, the pig is able to move its snout rather a lot.
At the end of the Hogling's back protrudes a little tail. It is rather common for this tail to have a single twist, creating a loop, though some Hoglings may have straight tails, while others may have two twists in their tail. The tails with a double twist are deemed the most adorable by the hobbitlings, followed by the single twist. When bearing the rare double twist, the tail always hangs without touching the body, but a tail with a single twist or none at all would likely rest against the body, the curled ones usually falling to one side. Less commonly, a tail without a twist may remain raised, curving to touch the pig’s back. These tails are usually quite thin, around a nailsbreadth in thickness, and most commonly reach a length of two palmspans, though twists can often make this deceiving. Most hobbits believe that a Hogling with a double-twisted tail is superiorly bred, and so often fetch the most money as a stud boar.
A rather peculiar feature of the Hogling is that the signs of its aging are similar to a hobbit’s. The earliest of these is the size of the pig's stomach, as the pig, like a hobbit, grows into this fuller belly. This increase in the pig’s midriff is more a sign of maturity, rather than a sign of the pig’s aging. As the pig grows more elderly, however, more signs appear. The pig’s skin starts to loosen and wrinkle, especially around the legs and face. The latter of these often manages to coax a giggle out of the little hobbitlings as they compare the elderly Hogling's face to a neighbour or family member. Towards the end of the pig’s life, the skin above the eyes can sag so much that it covers the Hogling's eyes, making navigation a bit difficult. The final sign of age in a Hogling is the loss of colour in its hair, only aiding the hobbitlings in the comparison with a greying hobbit.
Special Abilities. For such a small animal, it is rather surprising that the Hogling possesses considerable strength. Coupled with the large weight it is able to throw against something, the Hogling makes a respectable draught beast. Though the hobbithorse is a superior draft animal, due to its larger size, the Hogling is still a sturdy animal, able to pull heavy weights. For the hobbit pig farmers, it is far easier to use their Hogling as a draught beast rather than borrow a hobbithorse from a neighbour. Hoglings are able to pull ploughs and other heavy farm objects, with the right harnessing equipment, though carts filled with, say, barrels upon barrels of ale best be left to the hobbithorse. Apart from aiding it in being a draught animal, the Hogling's strength can help in many other ways, giving it many other uses. The most notable of these was the Hogling belonging to the rather quirky Tatterbrill Spurdowns, or Tat to his sparse friends, a reputable breeder of these pigs in his earlier years. Later in life the hobbit grew somewhat odd, some claiming him crazy, and he kept his Hogling, named Rufus, as a bodyguard. He claimed the pig was a better guardian than any dog, though this was never tested, as his paranoia seemed quite unfounded.
Aside from their adorable looks, the Hogling's speed is the reason the pig is so well loved among the hobbits. The pigs provide great entertainment for hobbits young and old, and for some good income as well. The annual 'Hog-Jockey Cup', held in the Dogodan shire, remains one of the most popular and biggest events in a hobbit's year. The piglets are usually faster than the older pigs, due mainly to their lack of both roundness and jockeys. The older pigs, however, are the main attraction of the races, with the piglets being seen more as entertainment for the hobbitlings. An adult racing Hogling usually runs half a stral in around two minutes, though in 1349 a.S. Elsie Swirlytail, a Hogling racing legend ran the same distance in one and a quarter minutes, by a wheely-watch's time, at the Hog-Jockey Cup, and this still remains the record today.
Like any pig, the Hogling has a remarkable sense of smell, especially useful for truphull snuffling. They depend on their snout, rather than their eyes, to find their food, and use it especially to hunt out the best food, as the strongest smelling is the best tasting, at least in their eyes. They look much like a dog when searching, snout to the ground, constantly sniffing, which results in an odd snorting noise that entertains all the little hobbitlings. While this sense of smell is amazing, compared to other domestic and wild breeds of pigs it is inferior.
As any hobbit could tell you, the Hogling is rather intelligent, said to rival a Hob-hound, or in fact any dog. Hoglings are quite trainable, being used as truphull snufflers, steeds, pets and, on the odd occasion, bodyguards. All one needs to train one of these pigs is some patience and a great deal of treats. This intelligence also aids the pig in finding food and avoiding predators, not that either of these are much of a problem if the pig is in the shire. The Hogling is also rather sensitive to the weather, somehow being able to sense climate changes. Farmers rely on their Hoglings to predict the weather for the day, allowing them to alter their schedule. Every morning, the hobbit will go out and check on the pigs, looking for signs of weather change, and after a quick message to any neighbours without a Hogling, decide on what to do for the day. Farmers have noticed that when bad weather, such as a storm, is coming, the Hogling will act agitated, dig holes, seek shelter and some farmers insist their pigs stockpile food before a storm.
Territory. As a hobbit pig it is only right that the Hogling lives in the same areas as the halflings. As a highly domesticated animal, bred almost exclusively by hobbits, the Hogling dwells in and around the three hobbit shires of Southern Sarvonia. Hoglings are most numerous in the Dogodan shire, due to the extensive hills they are able to graze in. With an ample layer of fat, the Hogling is able to survive quite comfortably from the most southern shire, Elenveran, to the most northern, Silvershire, though the Hoglings of that shire generally have more hair than others. There are also a few Hoglings owned by people of other races, though their numbers are small.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Hogling is a domestic pig, kept by hobbits, and as such usually lives a life in relative comfort. Those kept for farming are likely to have free access to pastures to reduce the amount of supplementary feeding. The pigs would be enclosed in a yard, to prevent mishaps, and in or connecting to the yard there would likely be a barn for the pigs to sleep in and shelter from the weather. A sow, when close to birth and after, would be moved to a separate stall to protect the piglets, and in the cases of overly-protective mothers, protect the other pigs. This is usually much the same for racing pigs and sometimes truphull snufflers, as they sometimes double up as farmyard animals. Hobbits owning pet pigs, however, usually only have one, or two at the most, and so their habitat is somewhat different. Firstly the confines would likely be smaller and close to the house, to comfort the pig. This is the major problem with singular pigs, as they are a herd animal and get lonely when by themselves. Because of this, a pet Hogling needs attention and over time will often grow to act much like a dog, forming a bond with its owner.
Diet. Like their halfling counterparts, Hoglings have a hearty appetite, necessary to maintain their rounded bodies. Pigs in general are known to be undemanding eaters, and the Hogling is no different. Their diet predominantly consists of vegetation, from grass, bushes, trees, if they can reach the foliage, fruit, grains, berries and vegetables. Hobbit farmers must be careful to fence their garden well, for these pigs are unrelenting eaters and are prone to targeting the prized flowers. Grains are particularly useful for fattening a pig quickly, and so are ideal for young pigs. Grain-fed Hoglings are also said to have richer flavoured meat. While grains are the most common feed to enhance the Hogling’s taste, there are many other foods that are claimed to aid the meat’s flavour. Berries, for example, are said to lend their zest to the pig, and some farmers also claim that pigs that eat a lot of herbs can gain their flavour too. Many Hoglings also have a liking for the distinctive taste of hobbitweed, so cultivators of the plant must be wary. As well as plants, the Hogling also has a taste for fish, though other meats can be eaten in moderation, sometimes insects and occasionally even bark. Because of its wide palate, the Hogling is the perfect way to dispose of any household scraps. No Hogling, however, can survive on grass alone, and so it must be fed with other foods, even if it is only additional grain. Nor can they live only on meat, as a few farmers have tried.
Mating. The mating of the Hogling is an unusual and noisy experience. At the age of ten months a boar is sexually mature and able to mate, whereas a female need only be eight months old. A sow will come on heat every month, give or take a week, though the temperature can often affect this and rather brutal summers and winters can result in poor breeding. While it is possible for a sow to be mated at eight months of age, the piglets are likely to be smaller and even deformed, especially if the sow is bred with a young boar, and so they are often kept until they reach the age of a year.
There are several signs both a sow and boar will give suggesting that the sow is on heat, known also as hogging. The sow's genitalia will swell up and possibly discharge, however a much more easily seen sign is the sow standing still and grunting and squealing, especially when near a boar. A boar will also nudge a sow that is on heat and sometimes will also froth at the mouth. While on heat, the sow will often become much lazier, preferring to lie down. Taking advantage of this, the boar often collects small amounts of food and places it in front of the sow to win her affection.
The actual mating of the pigs varies a lot for each pig and their environment. Some matings take mere minutes while others may last up to half an hour. When a sow is on heat the boar will mount the pig and lock onto her. The mating is aggressive, though in the longer cases the boar often lacks the energy to maintain this. It is almost impossible to separate the pigs during mating, though a splash of water over the head usually distracts them enough to pull them apart if that were desired. Throughout this whole mating process the boar will grunt and squeal, as too will the sow on odd occasions though she is much more likely to seem disinterested, sniffing the ground and even eating.
Roughly four months after the mating the sow will give birth to six to eight piglets, though litters of ten have been heard of. Sows are known to be extremely protective of their litters, whereas the boars resume their lazy lives. Any wise farmer would do well to keep their distance from the sow during the first few days after birthing, making prevention of tail irritation rather difficult. The sow will spend much of its time lying on its side so that her piglets may feed, though this shouldn't fool you into thinking it isn't wary. While the Hogling is a protective mother, compared to its cousin the domestic pig it is rather placid. The piglets are bigger than those of a regular domestic sow, relative to their mother's size, though the Hogling piglets grow slightly slower than their cousins and so their superior size doesn't last long. Once the piglets are one month old they are able to be separated from their mother and her milk to instead feed on solids and hence cease to be piglets, but rather weaners. If not separated from their mothers, the piglet will be weaned by their mothers themselves, though this will take longer. The mother sow will then be able to mate again when she is next on heat, though some farmers prefer to give the sow a break.
Usages. The Hogling is known to have a few main usages, however the hobbits, being a thrifty folk, are constantly finding new uses for the pig. Obviously, the main use of this pig is for the food it provides. A party would not be complete without a finely roasted Hogling. It is a true compliment to all guests if such a pig were served whole after hours over a spit, due to the sheer amount of effort and time in preparing and cooking the succulent pig. Nearly every part of the pig can be eaten, by hobbits at least. Sausages, bacon, pork and ham are taken from the pig meat, and the skin can also be eaten after being fried. The feet of the pig, known as trotters, when cook slowly for a long time, are also said to be a delectable treat, and the pig's ears are often given to dogs as a treat. When cooked correctly, the pig's head can be used to create a preserve known as pig cheese, and this is rather popular served with pork. And finally the offal is also often eaten, or fed to dogs. After the hobbits are done, there is usually barely anything left of the pig.
Being particularly hairy pigs, the Hogling’s hair has a variety of uses. They can be used in brushes of all kinds, especially paintbrushes, as their hair is slightly softer than most other domestic pigs'. Paintbrushes made of Hogling hair, especially from around the ears, are said to give a smooth brushstroke because of their softness and so are quite popular among the Bardavos artisans. However, for other brushes, such as hairbrushes, coarser hair is preferred, which can be found on the Hogling’s back, running along its spine. This line of hair is easily noticeable as it is more plentiful there than on the rest of the body and rises when the pig is happy or scared.
The hobbits are famous for their parties and feasts, and while the Hogling could add magnificently to the feast aspect, they can also benefit to parties. Hoglings, being rather fast for such a rotund animal, have become part of a quite large tradition known as pig racing. Pig racing makes a great party game, but this tradition has grown in the hobbit shires, and now pig racing is also a separate activity from parties. The pigs, when young, are raced by themselves, but when the pigs are bigger they are raced along a track, with a jockey on their back. Pig racing has become a rather large event, and there are now pig breeders, trainers, jockeys and pigs themselves who work as racing pigs. There is often prize money involved with the racing and betting is also popular at the races. The largest, and most prized event of all the races is the annual 'Hog-Jockey Cup' of the Dogodan shire, where the best pigs from all shires are raced against each other and the winner takes home the golden trophy, as well as a sizeable amount of prize money.
The Hogling is again useful as a draught animal, owing to its considerable strength and its large weight to throw around. While the hobbithorse is more adept in this area, due to its larger size, the Hogling is still able to hold its own as a draught animal. Its major flaw in this area is its laziness. Farmers often find that their Hogling won't pull what they ask simply because it doesn't want to. The Hogling would usually much rather sleep or eat, and so farmers often have to tempt the Hogling along with some edible treats.
Truphulls are extremely coveted among the hobbit cooks, and due to their usual exorbitant price, these hobbits prefer not to buy truphulls. As such, they must instead find the truphulls for themselves. Hobbit Truphull Snufflers, as they are known, generally use the Hogling to aid in their hunting for truphulls, for the pigs are attracted to the pungent smell of the fungus. The Hogling is easier to manage for halflings than larger pigs and they need not worry as much about taking the truphull from the pig, however, due to increased domestication, the Hogling has a inferior sense of smell compared to most other domestic and wild pig breeds. This lessened smell makes hunting for truphulls harder for the Hogling, and so recently the Milo Pott terrier has been used instead of the pigs, at the penalty of the dogs’ behaviour.
Some Hoglings are kept by hobbits solely as pets. Their adorable looks and intelligence make them ideal pets, though their size can get a bit out of hand. Their intelligence is rather remarkable, and as such they can actually be trained as a dog would. The Hogling is definitely an outside pet, as their size, in comparison to hobbits and their homes, and their somewhat destructive nature makes keeping a pig indoor a regrettable action. As piglets they are able to be kept indoors and in some cases house trained, but when they grow their owners usually transfer them into a pen outside. As a piglet, the Hogling is especially cute, and hobbits are often prone to picking the piglets up for cuddles. However, most Hoglings are fearful of being picked up, and will be distressed until they feel the ground under their feet again.
Myth/Lore. The hobbits definitely have more than their fair share of sayings and idioms, a few of which refer to the Hogling. The first of these, ‘a Hogling’s gift’, is an expression meaning a present given by a hobbit with the intention to charm a sweetheart. This relates to the tendency of male Hoglings to shower their chosen partner with gifts of food.
Similar to this saying, there is a second often used among the shires. When a young hobbit goes to an elder seeking advice on how to go about approaching the lass or lad of his or her choice, the hobbit may be met with the reply, 'think like a Hogling', implying that the hobbit should do something to please his or her darling, whether it be to give a material gift or a compliment.
A third saying one might hear from a hobbit’s mouth again refers to the Hogling’s gift giving. A hobbit who overdoes the 'Hogling-thinking' is one who persists with his advances while it's obvious to everyone but himself that the subject of his affection is not interested. This hobbit may then be given the advice ‘stop shoving Hogling hoards into her face’.
The origins of this pig are not known for sure, yet there are a few tales floating around the shires on this subject. Some hobbits say that the pig is simply bred from the normal domestic pig, many of these claiming this done by their great great great uncle's fourth cousin thrice removed, or some other similar relation. Another common theory is that the Hogling is related to the striped kara, a southerner pig of an even smaller stature than the Hogling. It is thought that a rather adventurous hobbit brought one of these striped pigs back to his shire, and after breeding it with domestic pigs, the Hogling eventually emerged. This is certainly supported by the occasional multicoloured pig, with this mixture of colours usual showing itself as a coloured band, or stripe, around the torso.
As any hobbit could tell you, the fables of Ortledink “Dinkie” Posywell nearly always had characters who were animals, often able to speak. The Hogling was an animal often used by Ortledink in his fables. The most notable of these is 'The Three Troublesome Pigs', a tale known by heart since an early age by every hobbitling, teaching them the moral that cheeky hobbitlings always end up getting their comeuppance.
Care. Hoglings are known to be rather docile animals, making caring for them much easier than for most pigs, and indeed most farm animals. While very little care is needed for these pigs, there is quite a lot of optional care that can make them a lot happier and healthier. The following is an excerpt from ‘Farmer Benny’s Guide To Farming’ on the care of Hoglings.
Hogling Care (from “Farmer Benny’s Guide To Farming”). To care for a Hogling all you need do is provide it water for both drinking and bathing, food and a grassy area, that will sooner or later be mud. However, for the avid farmer, breeder, racer or pet owner, there is much more you can do. The Hogling’s skin is rather tough, and naturally dry. It is not necessary to bathe your pig regularly, but rather provide an area for them to bathe if they wish. In summer, some pigs enjoy the occasional dousing of water, and this should also be used to treat Hot Hog, but except for these cases, you should refrain from bathing your pig. Mud is a much better solution, and should be used instead of water if viable. I know a few Hobbits who give their pigs a ‘mud-massage’, which they claim stops the skin getting oily.
Ailments. The Hogling is prone to a few ailments, much to the dismay of farmers. However, most ailments are easily curable with a little bit of knowledge. Again, Farmer Benny explains the treatment of these diseases in his book.
Hogling Ailments (from “Farmer Benny’s Guide To Farming”). The curly tails of some Hoglings often delight many hobbitlings, but this is also sometimes the case for piglets. The piglets often chew each other’s tails, which can then lead to the tail becoming irritated. This ailment is rather negligible, but it can be very annoying for the piglet. If the irritation is especially bad, the piglet may lose interest in food, though this is rare. To stop this, rub a paste on all of the piglets' tails to stop the chewing. The paste must contain mintnue, as the piglets dislike its strong taste. It is best if this paste is applied liberally two or three days after birth. If the tail is already irritated, still apply the ointment to prevent further chewing, but aside from that there is nothing you can do except keep an eye on the piglet.
Researchers. Ebeneber 'Benny' Tricklebrook, born 1583 a.S., being a farmer and author of a guide to farming, knows quite a lot about Hoglings, and indeed any other animal farmed by hobbits. Since he was a young hobbitling, Benny always knew he would be a farmer, just like his many fore fathers stretching back to his great great great great grandfather, Longborst 'Logie' Tricklebrook. He had always loved animals, especially fond of petting the two little Hobytla Coneys they kept in a hutch. And so when he aged, and inherited the farm from his father he continued the farming, steadily growing as they always had. He married a nice hobbit lass, Camellia Hayward, who was the daughter of a Racing-Hogling breeder of good reputation. When her father grew too old to manage his stud, he passed it on to Benny.
With now over double the lands he had once owned, Benny expanded his livestock, bringing in new animals. He was known through much of the shire as an excellent farmer, and, after some encouragement from his friends and wife, he agreed to share his knowledge with his fellow hobbits. So he started writing his book, starting by compiling a list of every fact and tip he could think of about any animal he owned, which happened to be almost any type of animal found in the shire. It took him two years to finish, as it grew from a simply helping his friends to a guide for any farmer, and so he went to others for help. Once finished the book spread around the shire like wildfire, and after word spread, to the other shires as well.
Benny became famous among all hobbit farmers as possibly the best farmer alive, some often claiming him being blessed by Odelve himself. His research of the Hogling was rather easy, due to his acquired Hogling stud. His wife also put him in contact with some other breeders, who gave him additional information on the pig. Now, at the ripe old age of 86, Benny lives on his farm with his wife and children. His children now tend the farms, with his daughter head of the Hogling stud and his son in charge of the original farm. And they too promise to be a talented farmers, having learnt from the master.