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Are Poodles Aggressive? [Typical Temperament Of This Breed]

Poodles are one of the most recognizable dogs in the world, especially with their unique haircuts. Another well-known fact about Poodles is that they are highly intelligent dogs. But looks can be deceiving; they are also known to be quite mischievous. So what about aggression? Does this trait come natural to the breed or are there any triggers that can set them off? With these questions in mind, I spent some time researching the temperament of the poodle breed.

So, are Poodles aggressive? Poodles are not generally aggressive, although they can display acts of aggression in response to certain events and actions. In particular, out of boredom or fear. Signs of aggression include barking, gnarling, lunging and as a last resort and in worst cases, biting. Thankfully, the poodle is a highly trainable breed and aggression can typically be trained out of them through appropriate techniques.

Nobody likes to find out that their dog is aggressive, but the sooner you can catch the issue and start to do something about it, the much better chance you have of seeing a positive outlook.

Bad and unwanted behavior can always be corrected, stopped, and prevented from happening again. This is true of any breed of dog, but for a Poodle you do have a higher chance of success due to their nature.

Let us now take a closer look at the average Poodle temperament. We will then look at some of the potential triggers that can cause aggression in this breed. Lastly, we will be covering the best proactive approach to preventing this behavior. So be sure to keep on reading!

Poodle Temperament

Poodles are known to be playful, active, alert and high strung. They were initially bred for hunting according to the American Kernel Club (AKC), so it comes as no surprise to learn of these characteristics and their instinctual desire to retrieve.

Thankfully, while Poodles like to present themselves as proud and dignified dogs, but they love to please their owners. They are known to be quite affectionate with their family members and can also get along well with other pets in the household if properly socialized with them.

This said, Poodles are also very intelligent and can be stubborn, with a mind of their own. This mind sometimes gets them into trouble, thinking they’re in charge or becoming destructive when bored or full of energy.

Of course, this needs to be managed with sufficient exercise and mental stimulation. This is not the breed to leave lying around the house for hours on end.

Poodles do have a tendency to become aggressive, especially if not properly trained and allowed to continue with the unwanted behaviour.

How a Poodle lives, their environment and how they are raised, can strongly determine how their temperament will be. Poodles in a loving home, with a strong and loving owner, will less likely become aggressive.

Do Poodles Tend To Bite?

Poodles do tend to bite, more so than other breeds. For the most part, when they bite it’s for a reason, however it is in their instincts as well. The toy version of the Poodle tends to bite more than the Miniature and the Standard Poodles.

Poodles who are not trained properly will have more of a propensity to bite. This is one of the reasons that it is vital to get your puppy into training and socialization as soon as possible.

As previously mentioned, Poodles are easy to train due to their intelligence, though you may get a nip or two as they try to assert their dominance.

What Can Make Poodles Aggressive?

There are several factors that can make a poodle aggressive and the aggression can show up in different ways. Poodles can show one, or multiple behaviours that are considered aggressive.

Reasons for Aggression

The top ten reasons, in no particular order, are:

  • Exhaustion – Just like people, Poodles can get nippy when they are exhausted.
  • High Energy – This seems counterintuitive to the point above, but if they have too much energy, and no healthy way to release it, Poodles can get cranky.
  • Genetics – Poodles, like some other breeds, just happen to be a breed that is more susceptible to being aggressive.
  • Anxiety – Genetics ties into this factor, as well. As a breed, Poodles are more anxious than other dogs and anxious dogs will react before they think.
  • Breeding – A Poodle’s environment, especially when young, can play a huge factor in their aggression. If they are weaned from Mom too soon, or are born to aggressive parents, than their propensity for being aggressive will be higher.
  • Fear – Strong emotions can cause dogs, as well as humans, can react first and ask questions later. Much like anxiety, fear can make Poodles snap out.
  • Behavior – Without training or socialization, especially from a young age, a Poodle can be aggressive as they don’t know any better and will continue with the bad behaviour as long as their getting away with it.
  • Territorial – Poodles are used as guard dogs as they can be territorial and will often act out against strangers.
  • Health Problems – If a Poodle isn’t feeling good, they can be aggressive, and it can also be tied with fear.
  • Stimulation – If a Poodle isn’t stimulated, both physically and mentally, they can act out. They are highly intelligent, and they need something to do or else they will take out their frustration in a destructive way.

Aggression in Poodles can come out in several different ways.

Below are some of the warning signs you should look for. Don’t just put them off as “dogs being dogs”, if your dog is showing aggressive behavior, you should try to put a stop to it as soon as you can.

Signs Of Aggressive Behavior

The following are ways in which you may find your Poodle being aggressive:

  • Barking – Dogs bark, but it’s how a dog barks that makes it aggressive. You’ll be able to tell the difference in your Poodle’s barks and what they mean.
  • Growling – In almost all cases, growling is a form of aggression, it is your Poodle’s way of giving a warning.
  • Snarling – Similar to growling, snarling is a progression and is when your Poodle shows their teeth while growling.
  • Lunging – This is another behaviour that your dog will do in which you need to differentiate from playful, excited, or aggressive lunging.
  • Marking Territory – If you notice your dog marking their territory more often in one area, or more than normal overall, then this can be a sign of aggression. Your Poodle can be trying to assert their dominance.
  • Yelping – If your Poodle is yelping and you know they are not in pain, it could be that they are frustrated or mad, and are about to snap. It could be for reasons such as a lot of arguing going on in the household, or other loud commotion.
  • Biting – This should be no surprise that this behaviour is considered aggressive. There’s a difference between puppy nipping and biting. This is one behaviour that you really want to nip in the butt before it gets worse.

How To Prevent Aggression In Poodles

The number one way to prevent aggression in Poodles is also one of the easiest. Training and socialization for your Poodle puppy is imperative. If possible, having a trainer who is familiar with Poodles will help tremendously.

Dogs learn from other dogs, including their mothers, about certain ways to act. If they do not receive these teachings, it could become a problem.

Ensuring that they stay with their mothers until they are old enough to be weaned and having interaction with other dogs can help with aggression.

Ensure that you don’t take Poodle puppies away from their Mom too soon. Ensure that you get your Poodle from a reputable breeder, check out their kennels as well as their other dogs so that you can see the environment that your puppy will be born into.

Stopping a behaviour right away can help Poodles to learn what is expected of them. Since they are highly intelligent, they learn quickly, and the unwanted actions can be stopped and prevented.

Providing your Poodle with a loving home, one where they are mentally and physically stimulated, can prevent them from being aggressive.

They are an affectionate breed and want to please their owners, so if you show them love then they will want to do whatever makes you happy.

Boredom and pent up energy can be prevented by taking your Poodle for a walk, playing with them, and giving them mental activities to occupy their time.

This will help keep them from being destructive as well, saving your furniture and belongings in the process.

Behavioral, Obedience and Distraction training are also recommended for this breed. Each serves a purpose; all will enable you to prevent, correct or reduce bad behaviors and any aggressive tendencies.

A lot of these techniques can be taught from home, but you can also get in contact with a animal behavioral specialist or dog trainer.

Poodles are very people-oriented, so if your training routines are enjoyable and positive, they will be quick to please you. Just ensure that you are consistent with your approach.

One other thing to consider is that dogs may act out aggressively when sick or injured. They may be trying to protect the wound, injury or not show any signs of weakness and vulnerability.

This usually comes about all of a sudden, or what appears to be randomly or when they are touched.

So, if you notice or suspect they are suffering, you should contact and consult a vet. With some medication or other modifications you may find that any acts of aggression naturally subside.

In Summary

Poodles are mostly known for their intelligence and the haircuts that are unique to their breed. They are often portrayed as smart, proud dogs who can do no wrong. The reality is a little different.

While the intelligence and pride are both true characteristics of Poodles, they also can be temperamental and rather aggressive. Their aggression comes through in a variety of ways, which include biting, sniping, and snarling.

There are several factors that can lead a Poodle to become aggressive, but the good news is that with the proper training and attention, especially when caught early, the behaviour can be reversed and you can prevent your Poodle from becoming worse.

Poodles can show more than one form of aggression and the more they are able to get away with the behaviour, the worse it can get. Poodles are a smart breed and are easy to teach, this will help in stopping the unwanted behviours from occurring.

Providing your Poodle with exercise and mental activities are essential for keeping them in check and behaving properly.

Your Poodle should receive at least two exercise periods each day. Walking and playing are both acceptable forms of physical activity, and play can also be mentally stimulating as well.

Luckily if your Poodle is showing aggressive behaviour it doesn’t mean that they will always be aggressive. There are things that can be done to stop your dog’s actions before they become worse, and you can work towards preventing them from occurring in the future.

Even though Poodles can have a tendency to be aggressive that doesn’t take away from their intelligence, great showing skills, and ability to make excellent family companions that get along with everyone in the household.

Related Questions

Is a poodle a good family dog? Poodles are a good family dog, if trained and socialized from a young age. They are generally great with children; being affectionate, loving and gentle. They have a keen desire to please their owners. They are also hypoallergenic and do not usually cause issues with allergy sufferers. They do require a lot of attention, as without it they will become lonely and may begin to act out.

Why is my poodle so mean? Poodles are likely to be mean as a learned behavior. They may have recognized that displays of aggression get them what they want. They may also have inherited this trait from their parents. This is why choosing a reputable breeder and training/socializing them around many people is so important.