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Large Black Pig Breeders United
Breed Standard and Standards of Excellence

  1. To be eligible for Registry entry a pig must be:
    a. Bred in the United States or Canada. (Exceptions may be made)
    b. Ear notched according to Universal Ear Notch System.
    c. Offspring of animals already in the Registry.
    d. Free from defects
    – Umbilical and scrotal hernias, Atresia Ani (blind anus), cryptorchid boars (only one testicle outside – one remaining in body cavity), extra cleys (claw), twisted- overshot – undershot jaw and rose on the back.
  2. These are recommendations – Breeders should try to achieve these standards in their breeding programs. Pigs will be judged against these Standards of Excellence at shows or fairs. When assessing the relevant merits of Large Black Pigs, this should be done against a background of the slaughter value of the pig at the correct weight and age.

    General Quality and Conformation: Good carriage on sound feet with length and well developed loin and hams.
    Head: Well-proportioned medium length, broad and clean between the ears.
    Jowl and Cheek: Freedom from jowl. Strong under-jaw.
    Ears: Long, thin, and well-inclined forward.
    Neck: Long and clean.
    Chest: Wide and deep.
    Shoulders: Fine and in line with the ribs.
    Back: Very long and strong.
    Ribs: Well sprung.
    Loin: Broad and strong.
    Sides: Long and moderately deep.
    Quarters: Long, wide, and not drooping.
    Hams: Very broad and full.
    Legs: Well set, straight and fat. Fine bone
    Tail: Set moderately high and thick-set.
    Skin: Blue-black. Fine and soft
    Coat: Fine and soft, with moderate quantity of black silky hair.
    Underline: Full, straight-underline, with at least 12 sound, evenly spaced, well-placed teats and starting well forward of the navel.
  3. Objections
    Ears: Thick, coarse, or cabbaged leafed.
    Coat: Coarse, curly, or bristly mane.
    Skin: Thick, wrinkled, or any color other than black.
    Legs and Feet: Crooked. Low pasterns and excessively bent hocks.
    Neck: Coarse collar.
    Head: Excessive jowl, narrow forehead.
    Shoulder: Heavy and coarse shield.
    Condition: Excessive fat to be discouraged at show.
  4. Definitions or Examples
    Freedom of Jowl – this means that the cheek and jowl should not be excessively flabby.

    Cabbage-leaf Ear – Thick and coarse like a cabbage leaf and not under control. (from The Individuality of the Pig by Robert Morrison dated 1926) I had researched this for many years. I contacted the BPA to get a definition or example. They could not give me one. It has been my experience that this may be an outdated term. I would urge each breeder to examine the ears and cull those that are coarse and misshapen.

    Sprung – Think of a barrel.

    Silky hair – Soft hair, not bristly and coarse or kinky. You will find that boars, as they age, will have hair that is much coarser than when the animal was younger. It is not typical for an older boar to be taken to fairs or shows, therefore, this would not be an effect.

    Shield – The plate of the shoulder. Again, this is more of an asset of the older boar. A subcutaneous, thick plate of tissue above the Boston Butt. It is thick and impenetrable.

    Skin – Blue-Black, please remember these standards are set forth for shows and fairs. The animals are younger and more supple than a breeder. You will find that when you judge the animal yourself at about a year or year and a half of age, this will be true. Also, if your animal’s skin is not soft, apply oils to feed and to their skin. Sun and weather do dry them out. Pay attention to your mineral program as well.

Breed Standard First Adopted with the Breed Society of 1899

  1. 10 points
    Head: Well proportioned, medium length, wide and clean between the ears.
    Ears: Long, thin, and well inclined over the face.
    Jowl/Neck: Medium size and strong under jaw.
  2. 10 points
    Neck: Medium length and smooth.
    Chest: Wide and deep.
    Shoulders: Fine and in line with the ribs.
    2. 40 points
    Back: Long and level.
    Ribs: Well sprung.
    Loin: Broad.
    Sides: Deep
    Belly/Flank: Medium and well developed with an adequate supply of efficient teats.
  3. 20 points
    Hams: Large and well filled to hocks.
    Quarters: Long, wide, and not drooping.
    Tail: Set high, of large size.
  4. 10 points
    Legs: Well set, straight and flat.
    Pasterns: Strong.
    Movements: Active.
  5. 10 points
    Skin: Blue black, fine and soft.
    Coat: Fine and soft, with moderate quantity of fine straight silky hair.


  1. Head: Narrow forehead, dished or moley nose.
  2. Ears: Thick, coarse, pricked, cabbage leafed, or flopping.
  3. Coat: Coarse or bristly mane.
  4. Skin: Wrinkled or sooty black.
  5. Neck: With collar.
  6. Shoulders: Coarse shield.


  1. Any color other than black.
  2. Curly coat.
  3. Rose on back.

Taken from the Individuality of the Pig by Robert Morrison (1926) where the above Standard of Excellence was found:

The Large Black pig’s introduction into Britain is buried in oblivion. Though one of the oldest breeds no history of its evolution exists.

It has recently emerged from comparative obscurity, as prior to 1900 its show yard appearance was practically confined to classes at the Royal Cornwall Agricultural Society, the Devon County Agricultural Association, and the Suffolk Agricultural Association Shows. It has been bred in Cornwall with care since the middle of last century, while a breeder in Sussex is credited with having bred it pure for over a hundred years. The breed was decidedly local and found chiefly in Devon, Cornwall, Suffolk, and Essex. The West Country pig was the larger and finer breed, while the East Country type was generally hardier and more prolific, qualities which have been blended with advantage in recent years. I venture to suggest that these breeds were introduced through sailor brothers of the farmers in these localities bringing black pigs from warmer climates abroad, mayhap near the line of the Equator, for the black skin with the ruddy undertint still appears from time to time in the descendants, though no looked on as a blemish or disadvantage.

In this connection a reference to a publication, Breeding and Curing of Bacon, by Robert Henderson, Farmer, Broomhill, near Annan – 2nd edition, 1814 – gives valuable information. He writes: The China or Black breed are now common in Britain. They have short legs, are smaller, and their flesh whiter than the common kind. It is said this species is found in Guinea and it is very numerous in the Friendly Society, and many of the other newly discovered islands in the South Seas.” Inter-breeding with the large native pig, the quicker maturing type predominated and fixed its characteristics on the progeny, and as the farmer quickly found the benefit of the black skin in resisting the heat of the sun in that comparatively mild climate, it may naturally be assumed that, by selection and breeding, he would fix the color that be desired, for his purpose of grazing in the open. At first the pigs were very large, coarse, and long in body with plenty of bone, and often weighed over 40 score pounds (800). They were rather prone to be gutty and coarse in the flank, with a rounded uneven back, long faces and long full ears extending over the nose.

The shoulders thick and bony but rather deficient in depth behind the shoulders. The low-set tail was thick, long, and furnished with plenty of coarse hair, which served to switch away flies when grazing. It was usual to run the barrows (castrated males) at grass till twelve months old before bringing them in to fatten in stys into bacon for curing or pork for consuming on the farm, at that time the chief meat supply of the farmer and his workers.
With the formation of a breed Society in 1899, and a standard of points set up, remarkable progress has taken place, even in the best herds, while the poorer types have been graded up with an eye to satisfy all the demands of the butcher and bacon curers of the period, i.e., a lean fleshy carcass free from coarseness with a length of side suitable for prime bacon. The standard of excellence set up demanded that the head should be broad with the face of medium length – much shorter than in the old type, with a straight snout, long thin ears nicely carried, well under command, inclined well over the face, in rather than out, and set on wide apart; the jowl medium in size; back long and level (a slight rise in the center is not objected to); tail set high, the larger the better if not coarse; legs short, straight, set wide; skin fine, soft, of a whole black color of a mealy hue, easily cleaned and not liable like white to sun scald, with a moderate quantity of straight silky hair.

The chief objections are any unshapeliness or deformity, especially about the limbs; a narrow forehead or dished nose, prick ears, or thick and coarse like a cabbage leaf, and not under control; a bristly mane or a curly or coarse coat resulting in black hair roots being seen in the belly flesh; a tendency to redness in the thinner skin also above the roots of the ears and any other color than black.

They are docile, very active and well adapted to field razing. The large ears encourage them to settle, as they somewhat obscure their vision. The sows are prolific and make good mothers.
The progress and sudden widespread development of the breed has been remarkable. Its spread to the more northern parts of England has taken place since 1900, through its attracting the attention of some of the fancy and those advocating the open air system, while the extension to Scotland took place during the later years of the war. The Society is very active in promoting cups and prizes at all the shows where its members will provide entries.

As more research is conducted the information provided here will be updated. A concerted effort to purchase books and pamphlets regarding Heritage Breed Pigs from their origins has begun. We have an extensive library with references of the Large Black Pig going back to Old English. Through the years, we will provide articles for you to peruse and glean information.