Mini Hippo Dog – Designer Breed Profile

| Updated: January 27, 2024
Small Mini Hippo Dog wearing a sweater in the backyard

Mini hippo dogs are one of the most popular up-and-coming designer breeds on the market. The breed comes from mixes between Shar Peis and cocker spaniels. They are truly a unique breed, with the considerably unique feature of having the typical overlapping Shar Pei-like skin with some mixed spaniel traits. 

Mini hippo dogs are also a relatively new breed, which prompts many people to ask questions about them. Today, we will take a peek at the mini hippo dog and explore some basics about their origin, appearance, and health concerns, among other things. 

Origin of the Mini Hippo Dog


Like many designer breeds, the origin of the mini hippo dog is somewhat confused and disputed due to different accounts of its breeding origins. Although there isn’t a clear story on how or when the dog originated, it is thought to have started in America, where the dog now has a lot of newfound popularity. 

Mini hippo dogs (sometimes called Cocker-Peis) originate from deliberate crosses between cocker spaniels and Shar Peis. As you may have assumed, these two parent breeds breeds are truly opposites. Shar Peis were originally bred as fighting and guard dogs in China. In contrast, cocker spaniels were originally bred in England as bird-hunting dogs. They have lovable traits such as soft, plush hair and elongated ears. 

Mini Hippo Dog Appearance

Mini-Hippo dog laying on the edge of a couch
Photo Credit: Reddit

One of the most beautiful parts about mixed breeds, such as the mini hippo dog, is that each puppy can be different from the others. Since there is no technical standard for the breed, each breeder may set up different crosses that can result in distinctly new puppies. Additionally, genetics can also play its part in making some puppies gain more Shar Pei-like traits and others more spaniel-like traits.

Generally speaking, most mini hippo dogs will receive a healthy mix of traits from both parents. Most mixes result in the puppies inheriting the loose skin and wide head of the Shar Pei parent. Likewise, they also frequently result in having slightly longer hair and ears from the cocker spaniel parent. 

Mini hippo dogs are also variable in fur color. Puppies can come out in a variety of solid colors, such as browns and tans, but can also come in merle (marbled) fur patterns. Fur texture can also vary, with some puppies getting a soft and wavy coat, a sleek and short coat, and even a rougher coat type.


I miss when Kai was so cute and little! Last video of him then back to more car content! #minihippo #minihippopuppy #minihippodog #puppy #puppylove #babydog #thatsjustmybabydog

♬ That’s Just My Baby Doge – Chicky Milky

As full-grown adults, mini hippo dogs stand anywhere between 13-20 inches tall. They have a lot of range in weight, with some smaller dogs being as low as 20 pounds and larger dogs weighing up to 60 pounds. 

Diet and Nutrition

For the most part, mini hippo dogs are not too picky about what type of food you give them. The major health concern that aligns with their diet is overeating or giving them highly processed foods. It is recommended to feed your mini hippo dog only twice a day maximum. Additionally, most people agree that buying high-quality dog kibble with low processed components and a high meat protein content is best for the breed. 

Since it is a relatively new breed, there is still contention regarding the best food to feed them. It is always best to ask your veterinarian if they have a good recommendation related to your individual puppy! 

Common Health Issues Affecting Mini Hippo Dogs

Just like any other mixed breed, mini hippo dogs are unfortunately prone to most conditions that affect either of their parent breeds. From the Shar Pei side, mini hippo dogs can face a slew of issues, such as bloat, obesity, and hip dysplasia. Additionally, they may also be prone to a few eye diseases. One of the most common is cherry-eye, in which a gland swells up and turns red in the corner of the eye. Additionally, if your mini hippo dog inherited looser skin from its Shar Pei parent, it may also be prone to issues such as skin infections. 

From the spaniel side, mini hippo dogs inherit more issues regarding the eyes. In addition to cherry eye, they can also be susceptible to glaucoma and retinal atrophy, which is a condition that can lead to full blindness, especially in old age. If your mini-hippo inherits the ears of its spaniel parent, it may be more prone to ear infections and other ear-related issues. 

Interesting Facts About Mini Hippo Dogs

White Mini Hippo dog on a walk in the park wearing a harness
Photo Credit: u/cheesebroly
  1. Mini hippo dogs are variable in temperament. As discussed earlier, this mix is truly one made from opposites. Generally, spaniels tend to be energetic and loving, whereas Shar-Peis can be more aggressive and protective. With that said, it seems that many hippo dogs inherit these traits at differing levels, which makes each one unique! 
  1. Their personality can be quite stubborn. According to many owners out there, mini-hippo dogs can be headstrong and love to try and be the leader of the pack. While training is 100% possible with this breed, most mini-hippo dogs require attentive and repetitive training for anything to stick. 

Where Can You Adopt or Buy a Mini Hippo Dog?

As with any designer breed, it is incredibly important for you to do your research if you are looking to buy directly from a breeder. Checking the health history and the breeding history of the parents can help you make sure that you will receive a healthy puppy who has come from a good home. 

You may have some luck finding a mini hippo dog in local shelters, but that’s usually a game of chance when it comes to niche breeds such as this. With that said, finding and adopting a dog from a local shelter can be such a rewarding experience that does good for you and your community! 


How much do mini hippo dogs cost?

Most mini hippo dogs cost at least $1000, depending on your breeder. Specific regions may have differing rates, and some breeders may charge more for certain traits, such as unique color patterns or unique hair types. 

Are mini hippo dogs aggressive? 

No breed on Earth can be deemed 100% aggressive. The same goes for mini hippo dogs. It is common for these dogs to share the protective streak that their shar-pei parents have, but that can often be trained out. Additionally, many people agree that lots of socialization in their early years can also help reduce their level of aggression towards other dogs and humans. 

Ryan Fisher Author Image
Ryan Fisher

Ryan Fisher studies biology at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. His scientific interests are diverse, revolving around plants, animals, and fungi alike. In the future, he is planning on studying more botanical sciences such as plant pathology and plant physiology, however, he is extremely well-versed in select fields of zoology, such as entomology (the study of insects) and ornithology (the study of birds).

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