Mini Hippo Dog – the Fascinating Hybrid Taking Over the Internet

The mini hippo dog is one of the latest and cutest hybrid dog breeds capturing hearts all over the world. A cross between a Chinese Shar-Pei and a Chow Chow, these little dogs have the …

Mini Hippo Dog

The mini hippo dog is one of the latest and cutest hybrid dog breeds capturing hearts all over the world. A cross between a Chinese Shar-Pei and a Chow Chow, these little dogs have the trademark wrinkled skin and adorably grumpy faces of their Shar-Pei parent and the fluffy coat and stout body of the Chow.

Their unique appearance has earned them the nickname “mini hippos” and they are quickly gaining popularity thanks to their viral videos and photos online.

In this guide, we will take a closer look at the origins, temperament, care requirements, and more of this lovable hybrid breed. Read on to learn more!

Origins of the Mini Hippo Dog

The mini hippo dog is believed to have originated within the past decade in the United States or Canada as part of the growing demand for new hybrid dog breeds often called “designer dogs.” While the exact origins are unclear, breeders began crossing Shar-Peis and Chow Chows to create a small-sized dog with the distinctive wrinkled skin and purple tongue of the Chinese Shar-Pei and the teddy bear-like fluffy coat of the Chow Chow.

The result is a one-of-a-kind companion dog with a cute hippo-esque appearance that continues to charm people and has gained the nickname “mini hippo.” They embody the best traits from both parental breeds into a petite package.

Appearance and Characteristics

The mini hippo dog has a very unique look. Weighing 20 to 35 pounds and standing about 13 to 18 inches tall, they are considered a small to medium-sized breed. They have a sturdy, square body shape reminiscent of a baby hippopotamus.

Their head is large and broad with a wide, flat muzzle leading to a black nose. Their striking wrinkled skin on the face and neck is a distinct trademark passed down from the Shar-Pei. Small, triangular ears stand erect.

Mini hippos have small, almond-shaped dark brown eyes and a fleshy mouth with a purplish-blue tongue – also from their Shar-Pei parent. One of their most endearing facial expressions is their grumpy, wrinkly visage that owners find adorable.

These hybrids sport a dense, thick double coat like the Chow Chow which can be reddish, black, blue, fawn, or cream. Their fur is longer around the neck which gives them a cuddly, fluffy lion-like ruff. The coat is smooth and straight with soft, downy underfur.


Despite their less-than-impressed scowling faces, mini hippos have happy and affectionate personalities. They are very social dogs who love spending time with their human families. Gentle and tolerant, they get along well with children and thrive when kept indoors as part of the family.

Alert and curious, these little hippos like investigating everything going on in the household. They can be protective and make good watchdogs, quickly informing owners of any strangers approaching with their loud bark.

Mini hippo dogs are intelligent and pick up on training fairly easily when it is positive reinforcement-based. However, their Chow Chow lineage means they can be independent-thinkers who get bored easily with repetitive training. Owners need to keep sessions short, fun, and engaging to prevent stubbornness.

With early exposure, these crossbreeds generally coexist amicably with other household pets. Some males display dominance around other male dogs.

Exercise & Activity Levels

The activity needs of the mini hippo fall in the moderate range. While they enjoy short play sessions and romps outdoors, this is not an extremely active hybrid. About 30-45 minutes of daily exercise suits most mini hippos.

This can be met with a couple of brisk 20-minute walks or jogs plus some active indoor playtime. These are indoor-oriented dogs who prefer lounging on the sofa or dog bed over being outside for long periods – especially in very hot or cold weather. Access to a securely fenced yard for potty breaks and play is ideal.

Mental stimulation in the form of chew toys and food puzzle toys can also help meet their needs when the weather prohibits outdoor time. Owners will need to watch their caloric intake as mini hippos can become overweight easily.

Grooming & Shedding

The miniature hippo dog has a thick double coat that does require a moderate amount of grooming to keep neat. They are moderate shedders rather than excessive year-round. Daily brushing helps remove dead hairs and distribute skin oils, plus keeps their coat matt-free.

The face, neck, and wrinkled areas should be gently wiped down a couple times a week as well to prevent yeast or bacterial infections in the folds. Over-bathing washes away essential oils so stick to once a month or only when dirty.

Trim nails as needed and brush teeth 2-3 times weekly for good dental health and fresh breath. Check and clean floppy ears regularly. Most grooming can be handled at home with the proper dog grooming tools. Mini hippos may require professional grooming a few times a year for deshedding baths during heavy molting seasons.


The mini hippo dog is eager to please and intelligent like the Shar-Pei so generally responds well to positive reinforcement training that uses praise, treats, and play as rewards. Housebreaking may take persistence but becomes reliable around 4 to 6 months old.

Early socialization and obedience classes are highly recommended for these hybrids. Getting them exposed to all types of people, animals, places, sights, and sounds makes for a confident and friendly adult pooch.

Come up with short 5 to 10-minute training sessions that are energetic and fun to make the most of their more limited attention spans. Be patient with potty training and use crate training to teach good household manners faster. Consistency is key to success with this mixed breed.

Health & Lifespan

Responsibly bred mini hippo dogs are pre-screened for inherited disorders common in the parental lines and enjoy good health with average lifespans of 10 to 14 years. There are a few conditions owners should be aware of:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia – malformed joints
  • Eye issues – glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy
  • Patellar luxation – dislocated kneecaps
  • Hypothyroidism – underactive thyroid gland

They may also be prone to allergies (food or environmental), ear and skin infections if facial wrinkles not cleaned properly, gastric issues, and heatstroke in very hot, humid temperatures due to compromised airways.

Overall, the mini hippo hybrid demonstrates hybrid vigor but high-quality nutrition and vet care are still vital for longevity. Pet insurance can offset costs for health issues that arise later in life as well.

Finding a Mini Hippo Puppy

As a relatively new designer breed, mini hippos are not recognized by major kennel clubs like the AKC. They are also not common in rescues or shelters yet. Those set on acquiring one will need to work with specialized breeders of the Shar-Pei and Chow Chow.

Prospective owners will likely need to sign on to a breeder waiting list which can take 6 months to a year. Reputable breeders invest considerable time and resources into producing healthy mini hippo litters so prices average $2000 to $3500 USD per pup.

Be extremely cautious of puppy mills churning out mini hippo mixes without doing necessary health testing just to meet demand. These poorly bred dogs frequently develop behavioral and health issues that lead to surrender.

Signs of a quality breeder include:

  • Health testing of parent breeds
  • Shots, deworming, microchipping of puppies
  • Safe whelping facilities
  • Extensive socialization and puppy enrichment
  • Proof of purebred status
  • Offering lifetime breeder support

Homes providing lots of companionship, affection, and activities are best suited to welcome a mini hippo dog into the family!

Is the Mini Hippo Dog Right for Me?

Before jumping in to get one of these cute hippos, make sure you can provide for their needs with:

✔️ A home able to have a 20 to 35 pound dog

✔️ Time for 30-45 minutes of daily activity and playtime

✔️ Grooming equipment for their thick coat

✔️ Positive reinforcement training methods

✔️ Lots of love, attention, and mental stimulation!

The mini hippo dog thrives when kept as an indoor companion and important member of the family. Their moderate activity needs and size make them adaptable to apartment or condo life as well. These hybrids just want to be by their owner’s side!

While their grumpy expression can deter some prospective pet parents, those who find their wrinkled faces irresistible are sure to absolutely love this fairly low maintenance canine. Affectionate, curious, and comical mini hippo dogs pack tons of personality into their small bodies.

Still undecided if this is the right pet for your home? Consider fostering or “test driving” one of these hybrids first to get a better sense of their temperament. Reputable breeders and rescues often welcome meet-and-greets with potential adopters prior to finalizing an adoption as well. This allows the best matches to be made between household and pooch.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I mind a “velcro dog” always following me around?
  • Am I able to keep up with grooming demands?
  • Is my home environment predictable and stable?

If you answered “yes” and adore the mini hippo look, then get ready for a loyal little pal eager to share life’s adventures with you!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about this cute designer dog.

Are mini hippos good family pets?

Yes! When bred well and properly socialized, mini hippos make fabulous family companions. Gentle, affectionate, and tolerant of children, they thrive when kept as indoor pets able to be close to their people. These hybrids are devoted to “their” humans.

What health issues do mini hippo dogs have?

Some potential health concerns include hip/elbow dysplasia, eye issues, kneecap dislocation, thyroid disorder, allergies, and heat sensitivity. Choosing a responsible breeder who health screens parent dogs helps minimize risk as much as possible. Overall though, this designer breed demonstrates good health.

How big does a mini hippo dog get?

The mini hippo dog typically stands 13-18 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 20 to 35 pounds at maturity around 12 months old. Some may be slightly smaller or larger depending on whether the Shar Pei or Chow Chow genes are more influential. Their compact size makes them an adaptable pet able to live comfortably in apartments or large homes alike.

Do mini hippos bark a lot?

Mini hippo dogs are moderately vocal and bark when strangers approach or when left alone for long periods. They are watchful and protective of their families. However, these dogs are usually not nuisance barkers as long as exercised sufficiently and kept close to loved ones rather than isolated in the backyard.

What is a mini hippo dog mixed with?

The mini hippo dog (also called Shar Pei-Chow mix) is a 50/50 cross between a purebred Chinese Shar-Pei and purebred Chow Chow. Breeders deliberately bred these two established breeds together to create a new hybrid combining desired traits like the signature wrinkles, stocky build, furry mane and loyal personality into one adorable package reminiscent of a baby hippo!

The Endearing Mini Hippo Dog

For those seeking a devoted petite pooch brimming with personality, the mini hippo dog beautifully combines the Chinese Shar-Pei and Chow Chow into a captivating new canine gaining fame online and off. Their standout features like the plush coat, proud stance, and grumpily cute face never fail to make people smile.

Despite initial impressions, the loving temperament of this Shar Pei/Chow designer breed shines through for a rewarding companion animal well-suited to either single owners or families. Their moderate activity needs, trainability, affectionate nature and overall good health make mini hippos shine.

We hope this complete guide gave you a helpful introduction to this popular hybrid dog. Share more about your own mini hippo or feel free to ask any other questions in the comments!

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