Mini Hippo: Everything You Need to Know

Mira Gibson

If the first thing that pops in your mind when you hear the word “Mini Hippo” is a slick, baby-sized river monster from sub-Saharan Africa that eats mud grass and has a terrible rage problem, you aren’t alone. Most people think that a “mini hippo” is a small hippopotamus! 

But this blog isn’t about African wildlife. It’s about puppies! 

The “Mini Hippo” is a relatively new designer doggy hybrid! Can you guess which purebred dog breeds created this snuggly-looking puppy? 

If you guessed the Chinese Shar-Pei and the Cocker Spaniel, you’re correct! 

In this article, we’ll take a close look at this adorable designer dog breed. And we’ll help you discover whether or not a Mini Hippo might be right for you and your family. 


The temperament of the Mini Hippo hybrid breed captures the personalities of both the purebred dogs it hails from. These are the Chinese Shar-Pei and the Cocker Spaniel, as we mentioned. 

Cocker Spaniels are patient, laid-back, family-friendly dogs. Interestingly, Shar-Pei’s are loyal family dogs but they can be territorial or even aggressive with strangers and unknown visitors. 

What this means for the Mini Hippo is that this unique breed is calm and intelligent, and also protective of its family. Mini Hippos are gentle, patient, and affectionate around the home. But watch out if there’s an intruder!

These cute-looking dogs can become fierce guard dogs in the blink of an eye. To be as accurate as possible, many Mini Hippo breeders will state that it is difficult to predict the specific temperament of this new hybrid. Each Mini Hippo in this sense is unique. 

First-and-foremost, however, the Mini Hippo is a social breed and will err on the side of being friendly. This is one of the main reasons that this new hybrid breed is quickly becoming popular as a reliable choice for a family dog.   


The Mini Hippo is considered a medium-sized dog. This breed more closely resembles the Shar-Pei than its Cocker Spaniel characteristics. Shar-Peis have a short snout and square face. When these genetics appear in the Mini Hippo, the facial “look” resembles a hippopotamus. This is why this breed was soon named the “MIni Hippo.” 

Shar-Peis have “folding” skin which gives them a “wrinkled” appearance that’s so adorable. The Mini Hippo may have some skin folds and wrinkles, but this trait is not as pronounced as it is with the Shar-Pei. That being said, the Mini Hippo much more closely resembles its Shar-Pei parent than its Cocker Spaniel one. The Cocker Spaniel traits inherited by the Mini Hippo relate more so to its personality, soft fur, and size.  

This cute, fun breed will live between 10 – 15 years. 


Though this breed might look stalky and small, it can really move! Mini Hippos have a decent amount of energy and though they don’t necessarily require a ton of daily exercise, if you were to go out for a lot of exercise with your hippo, the chances of you tiring him out would be very slim. 

These dogs receive their endurance gene from their Cocker Spaniel parents, which are sporting dogs that are known to chase, fetch, and retrieve game for their owners. They are also quite smart, so if you take home this lovable breed, you should plan to set aside at least 2 hours of daily outdoor exercise when your hippo is an adult. 


Not all Mini Hippos have the exact same grooming requirements. This is due to the fact that each hippo will inherit a unique mix of genes from its parents. And since Shar-Peis and Cocker Spaniels are very different dog breeds, the appearance of a Mini Hippo can vary greatly.

Shar-Peis have a short, smooth coat that is a “single layer.” However, Cocker Spaniels have a long, silky, “double layer” coat that demands regular brushing and trimming to keep it clean and neat.

Because of this contrast between Shar-Peis and Cocker Spaniels, a Mini Hippo’s coat can fall anywhere in between. And the corresponding amount of grooming maintenance can vary greatly. Some hippos need only seasonal trips to the groomers, weekly brushings and monthly baths, while other hippos need monthly trips to the grooms, daily brushings and weekly baths. 

The good news is that by the time a hippo puppy is 8 weeks old, there should be enough “clues” in its physical appearance to be able to predict the grooming needs. Does the puppy have longer, silky hair? This is a sign that the puppy will require more time-consuming, frequent grooming.


Both the Shar-Pei and the Cocker Spaniel are highly intelligent breeds. When these genes are filtered down into the Mini Hippo, it becomes a double-edged sword. The Mini Hippo is intelligent enough to learn quickly, but this means you must provide your hippo with mental stimulation throughout the day so that he doesn’t get into mischief. 

High intelligence can also correlate to “willfulness,” which could be a problem if you don’t have the time and energy to closely train your hippo. Mini Hippos can be stubborn and think their way is “best.” During training, you’ll have to remain firm and consistent, and make sure that the specific positive reinforcements you’re using during training are very interesting and rewarding to your hippo. 


The Mini Hippo hybrid dog breed is prone to inherit certain diseases from both their Shar-Pei and Cocker Spaniel parents, and are therefore predisposed to hereditary issues. Shar-Pei dogs and Cocker Spaniels are both more than averagely prone to:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Eye disease
  • Problems with their knees
  • And thyroid disease

This doesn’t automatically mean that every hippo will experience genetic conditions or diseases, however. If you work with an ethical, reputable dog breeder of Mini Hippos, they will have carefully selected healthy breeding dogs and will have tested their puppies for issues. Ask to review the pedigree information of the Mini Hippo puppy you’re considering buying. Pet retailers like PuppyBuddy will provide pedigree information for both the paternal and maternal sides, all the way to the third generation, meaning the puppy’s great grandmother and great grandfather!  

Are you falling in love with the Mini Hippo breed? We invite you to stop in PuppyBuddy to meet our adorable Mini Hippos for sale!