Do Pigs Sweat?

A reader named Jess wrote to ask, “Mr. Answers, do pigs sweat?”

Good question, Jess! I’m preferring not to wonder why you’ve asked it—but good question!

Since time immemorial the worlds’ greatest philosophers, scientists, and artists have pondered the eternal question of porcine perspiration. As the inimitable William Shakespeare put it in his famous Love Sonnet 99:

The forward violet thus did I chide:

Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,

If not from my love’s breath? The purple pride

Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells

I wonder if pigs sweat?

The question persists to this day—and reaches into all areas of culture. In a recently aired PBS documentary entitled, “Perspiration and Sus Scrofa Domesticus: Now Give Us Money,” Bob Clampett, the originator of the cartoon character Porky Pig, said, “The public was so keen on this whole question of whether pigs sweat that finally Friz Freleng asked me to come up with a cartoon pig. ‘Put him in a blue coat and little red shorts!’ he told me. ‘Put a bow-tie on him! See if you can make him sweat!’ Freleng was an idiot. But dang if that little pig didn’t become pop-pop-pop-pop a hit.”

A lack of conclusive evidence on the matter has left modern researchers divided into two camps: SAIPP (Scientists Against the Idea that Pigs Perspire) and BSLP (Babe Sweat Like a Pig). Scientists outside that particular realm of inquiry are unanimous in their conviction that those within it should consider getting real jobs and stop embarrassing themselves.

So you see, Jess, that there really is no clear answer to your question. Why not try doing your own research? Have you considered asking a pig questions to which you know he’s likely to lie? Pigs are terrible liars; even fudging the truth a bit makes them very uneasy. I once asked a pig, “You wouldn’t ever eat your own dung, would you?” and you should have seen Porky the Evader pretending to not even hear me. If that pig’s owner wouldn’t have returned that very moment and begun trying to hit me with a shovel, who knows what I might have discovered?

Try asking a pig such questions as, “Have you ever tried to escape?” or, “Do you have self-esteem issues?”—and then watch that pigs brow and upper snout for signs you’ve made him sweat! Best of luck to you!

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