Cocker-Pei (Cocker Spaniel & Shar-Pei Mix)

Height: 13-16 inches
Weight: 40-65 pounds
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Colors: Black, white, red, fawn, cream, brown
Suitable for: Families looking for a low-maintenance companion, experienced dog owners
Temperament: Loving, Protective, Somewhat stubborn, gets along with people and animals alike

The Cocker-Pei is a hybrid dog breed that combines the Cocker Spaniel with the Chinese Shar-Pei. As a hybrid, we don’t have an extensive history of the breed, but we do know a lot about both parent breeds. We can look at these breeds to help determine how your Cocker-Pei will look, behave, and live.

The Cocker Spaniel is an English dog that has been bred for more than 700 years. He is a working dog and is named after the woodcock bird, which the Spaniel was famed for flushing out for his hunter masters. He is typically just as happy in water as he is on land.

The Shar-Pei dates back even further, to at least 200 BC. There are statues of the breed dating back to this time, when they would have been used as guarding and fighting dogs. Although they fell out of favor in the mid-20th century, with the formation of the People’s Republic of China, the breed has since been saved.

The Cocker-Pei, then, has a rich heritage. He may retain the prey drive of his ancestors and will need firm training, but he is low maintenance when it comes to grooming and other requirements.

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Cocker-Pei Puppies – Before You Buy…

Energy
Trainability
Health
Lifespan
Sociability

What’s the Price of Cocker-Pei Puppies?

Although you can expect to pay around $800 for a Cocker-Pei, this is still cheaper than the $1,200 price tag attached to both parent breeds. As such, it is considered a reasonable price for a medium-sized dog.

Always ensure that you use a reputable breeder. They breed humanely, which means that the breeding parents are not overbred and are kept in good conditions. Not only is this better for the adult breeding dogs, but it is also better for their puppies and will typically lead to healthier dogs in general.

To find a good breeder, ask any friends or family for recommendations. Cocker-Peis are quite an unusual breed, but both parent breeds have a reasonable number of breeders, and some of these may also breed the hybrid Cocker-Pei. As well as asking people you know, join breed groups on social media and in your local area. Ask your local veterinarian practices for their advice. They will usually have a good idea of which breeders should be avoided, at the very least.

Always remember that, if a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If the price of a puppy seems a lot lower than our guide, ask yourself how the breeder, who has to pay overheads as well as for things like veterinary scans and food, can sell the dogs at such a low price.

Although this breed is relatively uncommon, you may find some in local rescues and shelters. In a lot of cases, dogs are abandoned by their owners because they were unable to look after them or potentially because the dog did not turn out to be the thoroughbred that they were expecting. Rescue dogs can make excellent companion pets.

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3 Little-Known Facts About Cocker-Pei

1. The Shar-Pei nearly went extinct.

Although extinction is something we normally associate with wild animals, the Chinese Shar-Pei very nearly became extinct during the 20th Century.

When the People’s Republic of China became the ruling party in China, the communist group initiated a hefty dog tax. All dog owners were forced to pay the tax. Most potential owners opted against owning a dog, rather than pay the hefty levy. As a result of this tax, dogs became uncommon pets in China, and because the Shar-Pei had yet to really travel outside the country, it was the worst hit of all traditional breeds.

The Guinness Book of World Records named this breed the rarest dog breed in the world during the 1960s and 1970s. Fortunately, there were eight Shar-Peis living in the USA in the late 1970s, and an enthusiast used these dogs to repopulate Shar-Pei numbers. Although they do not have the same kind of popularity as breeds like the Labrador, or even the Cocker Spaniel for that matter, they now thrive compared to 50 years ago.

2. The Shar-Pei’s wrinkly skin was bred as a defense mechanism.

Shar-Peis were originally used to guard the Chinese royal family and their palaces. As such, they were trained to fight, and this often meant fighting against other war dogs. The loose skin was bred into the breed, and encouraged because when another dog attempted to bite them, the Shar-Pei was still capable of wriggling free and getting away.

This prevented serious injury and fatalities because it meant that their vital organs remained free from injury.

Today, the wrinkled skin is one of their most popular features, but it is purely for aesthetic purposes.

3. The Cocker Spaniel is the smallest sporting dog breed.

When breeders and the American Kennel Club first introduced Spaniels to the sporting dog classification, they determined that different breeds of Spaniels would be classified according to their weight.

The Cocker Spaniel was deemed to be any Spaniel that weighed under 28 pounds. If it weighed more than this, it was classified as a Field Spaniel. Today, the Cocker Spaniel is still recognized as a sporting breed, and it is still the smallest breed, according to the AKC. Sporting breeds were traditionally used by hunters to flush out prey, to retrieve dead birds, and to find animals on land and in water. The group consists of Spaniels, Pointers, Retrievers, and a few other groups, all of which have relatively high energy requirements.

However, the introduction of the Shar-Pei parent to the Spaniel parent means that the resulting Cocker-Pei has lower energy requirements than their purebred counterparts.

Parents of Cocker Pei
The parents of Cocker Pei | Left: Cocker Spaniel, Right: Shar Pei

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Cocker-Pei

The Cocker-Pei is a hybrid. Its parent, the Cocker Spaniel, is considered sweet and gentle. He is usually very good with other dogs, and good with children, although early socialization is always a good idea. Its other parent, the Shar-Pei, on the other hand, is independent and has lower energy requirements. He can also be aggressive towards other dogs if he has not been socialized early.

As a combination of these two breeds, the Cocker-Pei should be socialized from a young age and, assuming this is the case, your dog should be good with children and other dogs. He will make a good guard dog; he will look out for potential threats and alert you to them with his deep and booming bark.

However, he will also make a good companion dog for all members of the family, including children.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Early socialization is very important with this breed. It will help prevent your dog from taking on the overly protective qualities of the Shar-Pei. Socialization not only introduces your puppy to new dogs and people, but it also shows that new situations do not need to be feared and that you are capable of looking after their needs, so they don’t have to be aggressive or worried.

Assuming early socialization, your Cocker-Pei should get along with all family members. He will be equally at home playing in the yard with older children as he is sat in the lounge with you in the evening. Depending on whether he takes after the Spaniel or the Shar-Pei, he might be quite affectionate and cuddly, or he might prefer his own company.

Dogs should never be left alone with very small children, and this is especially true of breeds like the Shar-Pei that were bred for their fighting instincts. Young children do not know how to behave around dogs, and they may scare or frighten the dog with loud noises, or grab at ears and tails, which can cause a reaction from your dog.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Again, early socialization is key to determining whether your Cocker-Pei will interact and mix with other pets in your household. Ensure a patient introduction, and you should find it easy to introduce this breed to a new dog in the household. However, remember that both parent breeds have been used for attacking or retrieving smaller animals.

If your dog shows signs of a strong prey instinct, it may not be possible to introduce them to cats, and you should never leave a dog unattended with smaller animals. The Shar-Pei’s instincts mean that you should never walk your Cocker-Pei off the leash, either.

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Things to Know When Owning a Cocker-Pei:

In some respects, the Cocker Spaniel and the Shar-Pei are similar. They have both been used for hunting and catching and are a roughly similar size. However, they are very different in other respects. The Spaniel is considered an affectionate and friendly dog, while the Shar-Pei can be distant and stubborn. The Spaniel requires quite a lot of exercise, while the Shar-Pei requires a surprisingly minimal amount of exercise. Below are some more of the most important factors when considering buying and raising a Cocker-Pei puppy.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

The Cocker-Pei will eat between two and a half and three cups of good quality dog food every day. This should be fed in two meals, and you should avoid leaving leftovers down between meals. If you intend to use treats for training, which can be a highly effective method of training this breed, then you should bear this in mind when calculating your daily feeding amounts.

Puppies should be fed a special diet that is higher in protein. Protein is used to build muscle and aids in muscle recovery. As your dog ages, and becomes more sedentary, you should reduce the amount of protein and calories that they receive, otherwise, there is the very real possibility that your dog will put on weight.

Exercise 🐕

Exercise is one area where the two parent breeds differ. The Spaniel is a working dog, and he requires regular exercise. Without this exercise, he can become unruly and difficult. At the very least, exercise will ensure he stays fit and healthy. The Shar-Pei, on the other hand, does not require a lot of exercise. He will usually be just as happy with a chew toy, and often in a separate room.

The Cocker-Pei combines these two very different exercise requirements, and you could end up with a highly active or a quite lazy dog. Most likely is that you will get a dog that requires around one hour of walking a day and will enjoy playing with his toys in the garden when given the opportunity.

The Spaniel has traditionally excelled in agility and other physical classes, and there is no reason that your Cocker-Pei cousin will not enjoy similar success. Such classes can also help with socialization and keeping your dog mentally active. It also gives you a great opportunity for the two of you to bond.

Training 🎾

The Cocker-Pei tends to get some of the stubborn streak of the Shar-Pei parent breed. For this reason, the breed is not usually recommended for first-time owners. To get the most from your puppy, you will need to establish yourself as the pack leader and be dominant in your training sessions. Dominance does not mean physical force, and you should never hit or smack your dog. The Cocker-Pei will respond well to positive reinforcement, and the Spaniel in him will truly enjoy the praise and rewards for good behavior.

This hybrid breed is considered intelligent, and the Spaniel in him will want to please his master.

Because early socialization is considered so important for this breed, we do recommend attending puppy classes with your new dog. This will introduce him to strange dogs and strange people in a safe environment. It will teach him that unknown situations are not necessarily bad, and it should encourage him to trust strangers.

Grooming ✂️

Grooming is one area where the Shar-Pei excels over the Spaniel, in some respects at least. The Cocker Spaniel has long and luscious hair that requires regular grooming to ensure that it does not get matted or knotted. The Shar-Pei does require grooming but sheds minimally.

You should brush your dog two or three times a week to remove loose hair and use this opportunity to check the wrinkles of your Pei. Damp and wet wrinkles can become infected, leading to major problems, so give your puppy a dry if he does get wet. Also, check his ears and clean out any buildup using a damp cloth, if necessary.

Dental hygiene is as important to dogs as it is to humans, arguably more so because they use their teeth and mouths for so much more than we do. They are also unable to clean their own teeth, so you will have to take on the mantle. Start brushing your puppy’s teeth when he is young, use a finger brush, and perform the task two or three times a week. By starting young, your dog will get used to it and should not suffer anxiety when having his teeth brushed later.

Because the Cocker-Pei does not require excessive walks, he will be prone to suffering long nails. When you hear them clicking on hard floors, it is time to get the clippers out. This may be necessary every couple of months, although it could be longer if you regularly walk your dog on abrasive surfaces like concrete, rather than soft surfaces like grass and earth.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Whether you believe hybrid vigor is real, or not, you need to consider the health complaints of both parent breeds to determine what conditions and illnesses your Cocker-Pei is most likely to suffer. This enables you to get him checked frequently, and it also enables you to check for relevant scans with your breeder when buying your new dog. Your Cocker-Pei could suffer from any of the following conditions:

Minor Conditions
  • Skin problems
  • Eye issues
  • Allergies
  • Ear infections
Serious Conditions
  • Patellar luxation
  • Bloat
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Swollen hock syndrome
  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia
  • Joint dysplasia

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Male vs Female

Both the male and female Cocker-Pei will grow to roughly the same size. Although they tend to have similar attributes, the female is known to be more docile and they may be more affectionate and loving, too. However, the differences are minimal so you can choose according to personal preference.

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Final Thoughts

The Cocker-Pei is a hybrid dog that will have only moderate exercise and grooming requirements, but he is not considered suitable for first-time owners because of the potential aggressive qualities of the Shar-Pei parent, and because this breed can be stubborn when it comes time to train. Early socialization and puppy classes should be considered a vital part of rearing a well-adjusted Cocker-Pei puppy.

This breed is suitable for experienced dog owners and for a home that is free from very young children. The breed can be mixed with other dogs and cats, and their playful Cocker Spaniel parent habits can make them an excellent family pet for those with older children.