Have you heard of Mini Hippo dogs? This new dog breed is quickly becoming one of the cutest and most adorable pets globally.
But as this is a rather new kind of dog, not many people are familiar with it. Aspiring dog owners might struggle to find the information they need.
This is why we’ve created this article containing everything you need to know about this designer dog breed. If this is something that might interest you, you’re in the right spot.
Photo from: @luatheminihippo
The Mini Hippo dog is a relatively new designer breed – also known as a hybrid breed – created by crossbreeding a purebred Shar Pei and Cocker Spaniel. They are a new breed intended to combine the good features of both parent breeds while eliminating their health issues.
This mixed dog was ‘designed’ no more than a few decades ago, so only a few generations of them exist.
Because of this, it’s very challenging to understand the breed without knowing key information about their parents’ breeds.
Chinese Shar Pei
The Shar Pei originated in China. While they became almost entirely extinct in the 20th century, a man named Matgo Law popularized them once again, bringing the breed back to life.
Despite their cute appearance, Shar Peis were bred to be fighting dogs and guard dogs. In fact, their wrinkly skin probably helped them since it kept their faces and organs from harm.
Over the years, Shar Peis became beloved family pets, and they are kept far away from the ring. Their wrinkles and loose skin became a part of their aesthetic, and breeders exaggerated them as time passed.
Have you watched Lady and the Tramp? If you have, then you’re already familiar with this elegant breed.
While there are a few varieties of this breed, we’ll focus on the American Cocker Spaniel, which is typically used for breeding Mini Hippo dogs.
The Cocker Spaniel was bred to be a bird hunting dog, but, just like the Shar Pei, it has been bred to be a family dog in the last few decades. It is well known for its wavy fur and long, floppy ears.
Mini Hippo Dog
Finally, we can talk about the Mini Hippo – officially called the ‘Cocker Pei,’ but almost no one uses this name nowadays.
While it is unknown who the first breeder to create this crossbreed was, it is known that it originated in the USA. It is a mixed breed of a Cocker Spaniel and a Shar Pei. As its name suggests, these dogs look like tiny, furry hippopotamuses, and that is adorable!
However, their exact origins remain unknown.
As their name suggests, Mini Hippos aren’t the biggest dogs out there. In fact, they rarely grow to be taller than 21-inches, and they usually weigh between 40 and 65 lbs.
Unlike their water-living counterparts that can be terrifying, there is nothing scary about Mini Hippos. They are adorable, cute, and friendly pups that most people would want to cuddle all day long.
Their big heads, while looking a bit bulky, give them a cute, toy-like appearance that makes this breed so loveable.
They have a soft, silky, and straight coat that can come in three different types, depending on the dog’s genetics.
A brush coat is of a velvety and silky texture, and it is usually less than an inch long. This is the most common type of fur a Mini Hippo can have.
The beat coat looks a lot more like the coat of the Mini Hippo’s Cocker Spaniel parent. It is wavy and smooth, and, while not long, it is the longest of all three types.
Finally, there is a horse coat, the shortest coat type this crossbreed can have. It has a rough texture and usually isn’t longer than a quarter of an inch.
They can come in several fur colors, such as tan, apricot, chocolate, parti, red, black, blue, silver, even tri-color!
Since the Shar Pei and Cocker Spaniel are two very different dog breeds, it can be challenging to predict the temperament of a Mini Hippo.
Fortunately, some of the traits these breeds share are friendliness and a desire for affection, so you will seldom get a dog that is challenging to live with.
This mixed breed is known for being very social. Mini Hippos are good for families with kids or even other pets.
They get their calmness and intelligence from their Shar Pei parent – but they’ve also got the Shar Pei’s stubbornness and overprotectiveness that may leave them looking rather jealous. This also means you shouldn’t leave Mini Hippos alone for longer than necessary, or they might develop behavioral issues or even become destructive.
Just like Cocker Spaniels, they are playful and caring, and while they love pleasing their owners, they can be a bit stubborn and independent. Unlike the Shar Pei, you don’t have to spend too much time controlling them, and you can train them with ease.
This breed won’t bark a lot, so it is a great choice if your neighbors tend to complain about pet noises. In fact, many dog lovers end up surprised or worried once they realize their new Mini Hippo puppy doesn’t bark.
Even those dogs who do bark a bit more are easy to train and manage, so you won’t have an issue in your apartment complex.
Just remember, these dogs don’t deal well with loneliness. If you want to ensure they remain calm and quiet, come back home as quickly as you can.
How Do They Behave?
These dogs are an excellent choice for families with children and other pets, as they get along with everybody! They are very social, and you can be sure they’ll provide you with endless fun and happiness.
At the same time, they are very independent but hate being left alone, so it might seem like they don’t know what they want. These confusing personality traits are the result of the confronting nature of their parent breeds that are combined in the offspring.
Their stubbornness can sometimes test the patience of their owners, especially when combined with intelligence. They will understand exactly what you want from them – the question is will they want to do that?
If anything else, Miniature Hippos will let you know when they are not happy, either by a change in their behavior or by beginning to bark – something that we’ve already mentioned they seldom do.
These dogs can become quite possessive towards their owners, and they can end up being quite jealous. However, this makes them excellent watchdogs and loyal companions. Although small, they will do a great job ensuring your house is safe.
Also, thanks to their relatively small stature, they adapt well to apartment living. They don’t require too much space, and as long as you take them out for a few daily walks, they’ll be just fine living in a flat.
Are They Easy To Train?
Mini Hippo dogs are very straightforward to train, and this normally isn’t a difficult task with them.
This is because both of their parents have several advantages when it comes to training.
The Cocker Spaniel is a dog who loves pleasing its owners. It will do whatever it can, as long as this means spending more time with its family.
On the other hand, a Shar Pei is very calm and intelligent. This is one of few dog breeds that can learn how to potty train on its own, without too many instructions from its owner.
As their offspring, the Mini Hippo has many good traits. This is a highly intelligent dog that will do whatever it can to make its owner happy. With a bit of positive reinforcement, your pooch will learn to do anything and everything!
Give him enough exercise and mental stimulation. Regular walks and a few games are all your Mini Hippo needs to stay happy.
When it comes to socialization, this too is very easy, as Cocker Peis are extremely friendly dogs that love company. Of course, it’s always a good idea to introduce them to as many animals and situations as possible from an early age, just to prevent any nasty surprises.
While rarely aggressive, these pups can try to be dominant and protective. This is why you should always teach them how to behave, assuming you don’t want to get into a nasty situation when they are older, stronger, and misbehaving.
Health Issues And Lifespan
Designer breeds are usually very healthy, but with Mini Hippos, there are some health issues you need to consider before searching for Mini Hippo puppies for sale.
These dogs are prone to seasonal allergies. They can also experience issues with some dog foods, especially those containing corn and wheat. Food allergies are quite common, so avoid these two ingredients as much as you can.
Also, Mini Hippo dogs get ear infections relatively easily. You should clean their ears as often as possible to keep them as healthy as possible. If you notice any weird smell coming from their ears or you see your Hippo scratching more often than usual, contact your local vet, as these are bad signs.
This dog breed also has very sensitive eyes, and they can develop a condition called cherry eye. A cherry eye is when their third eyelid bulges from the eye socket, giving the eye a red, inflamed look.
This condition won’t go away on its own, and the only way to make your dog feel better is surgery.
Because of this, you should dedicate a lot of time cleaning your pooch’s eyes and ears. Eye drops and cotton swabs will become your new everyday life!
Also, brush your Mini Hippo’s teeth often to avoid any tooth infections, food buildup, or worse, decay.
Other than that, these are fairly healthy dogs that have a lifespan of between 10 and 15 years. Just make sure to keep their diet balanced and their eyes and ears clean, and they will live a long and healthy life.
Avoiding Health Issues
Despite what we’ve just said about Mini Hippos being a healthy breed, both the Cocker Spaniel and Shar Pei are dog breeds prone to plenty of health problems. Some pups might get the wrong end of the stick and inherit many conditions their parents suffer from.
For example, Cocker Spaniels are prone to:
• Eye disorders, such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cherry eye, and ectropion
• Heart issues
• Canine hip dysplasia
• Ear inflammations
• Urinary stones
• Liver problems
On the other hand, Shar Peis often develop:
• Shar Pei fever
• Elbow and hip dysplasia
• Demodectic mange and other skin problems caused by wrinkles
• Ear infections
• Breathing problems
• Blood clotting
• Bone inflammation
The best way to ensure you’ll get a healthy puppy is to work only with reputable breeders that conduct several health and DNA tests on their Mini Hippo dog puppies.
These professionals won’t sell a puppy with genetic defects without informing you, and you’ll always know what you’re getting into.
Another thing you can do for your pooch is to give him the best care you possibly can.
Give him healthy food and regular exercise to stay at an acceptable weight, but don’t go overboard with activities while he is just a puppy, or you’ll risk bone problems.
When it comes to grooming and shedding amounts, this is where it becomes a little bit tricky, as is the case with most mixed breeds, such as Labradoodles, Bernedoodles, or even Pomskys.
The American Cocker Spaniel will shed moderately, but the loose hairs will stay stuck in its wavy fur. This will make it appear as if they don’t shed at all. This also makes them excellent for allergy sufferers, as their hair won’t fly everywhere.
On the other hand, Shar Peis shed seasonally. They have periods of excessive shedding, and on such occasions cleaning up after them can become a problem.
As Mini Hippos can inherit the coat type of any of their parents (or they can even be something in between!), this means that it’s not easy to determine the exact shedding amount and the level of grooming the breed requires.
While some Mini Hippos might need just a little brushing every few days, you might even have to take others to a professional groomer!
Are Mini Hippo Dogs Hypoallergenic?
Another thing that worries many aspiring dog owners struggling with allergies is whether or not a dog breed is hypoallergenic. So what about Mini Hippo dogs?
First and foremost, while many people believe that it’s enough for a dog to experience low amounts of shedding to be hypoallergenic, this is a myth. It isn’t dog hair that’s causing your allergies, but protein found on your pup’s dander, hair roots, urine, and saliva.
This means that some dogs that experience very little shedding might also give you breathing issues.
Also, there isn’t a dog that can be considered entirely hypoallergenic.
Luckily for allergy sufferers, Mini Hippos are overall hypoallergenic dogs. They don’t shed too much, and they don’t produce too much dander.
However, keep in mind that they do tend to drool a bit. If it’s the dog’s saliva that’s causing you issues, this might not be the best dog breed for you.
If you’re on the lookout for some other hypoallergenic crossbreeds, you might want to check some Poodle mixes, such as:
Should You Adopt A Mini Hippo Puppy?
If you want a dog as rare as a Mini Hippo dog, you might wonder, “is it even possible to adopt one instead of spending thousands supporting the breeding industry?”
While rare, it is possible to find a Mini Hippo in mill rescues or shelters. However, you have to be very careful when considering a purebred or a mixed breed dog that you know nothing about.
While most rescue dogs are very easy to take care of and don’t have any destructive habits, there are chances they won’t behave in the exact way you expect them to. This can fool many good-hearted people who believe their adopted dog will act according to the breed’s standard.
Also, most dogs at shelters are somewhat older, so adopting a Mini Hippo puppy might not be possible.
However, there is no reason why you shouldn’t take in an older dog. Such canines have already developed personalities, and there won’t be any unpleasant surprises. At the same time, despite the old saying, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.
And if you still decide to buy your new pet – don’t feel bad. Hybrid breeds are generally much healthier than their parents, and they are usually bred in a much better environment than many other purebred dogs.
Just remember to always look for reputable breeders when getting your new pet. This way, you can know your dog’s genetic history, and you’ll be aware of what to expect.
Mini Hippo dogs make amazing family pets, and they will certainly make their owners’ lives much more joyful and fun.