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Are Shih-Poos Aggressive? [Breed Temperament Guide]

If your family is looking to add a new canine family member, one dog you may have heard about is Shih-Poos, a careful mix of Poodle and Shih Tzus with small to medium frames and notably soft coats. You may also be wondering, ‘Are Shih-Poos naturally aggressive?’ and it’s a great question to explore before bringing home any new pet.

So, are Shih-Poos aggressive? Shih-Poo dogs are not generally aggressive towards people and typically socialize well with other animals that they live with. They are happy to be part of a home with multiple family members, and while they may be slow to warm up to unknown dogs, they tend to choose observation over aggression towards the unknown.

For the most part, this is not the breed of dog where aggression typically ever becomes an issue.

However, just like any dog or animal, it is important to recognize that there may be situations, contexts, or circumstances where it may be temporarily displayed.

We will get into that shortly, along with preventing the likelihood and chances of these kinds of displays.

But first, what is the typical Shih-Poo temperament? Let’s find out! 

What Is The Typical Shih-Poo Temperament?

The Shih-Poo is a social dog with a temperament to match, making them friendly, playful, and easy to please. They appreciate being in regular close contact with their owners and enjoy going for walks as much as they do a nap on a loved one’s lap. They were bred to be a human’s best companion and fill that role well!

As with any dog, a Shih-Poo’s individual temperament will be a unique blend of the personalities of his or her parents. 

Poodles are known for being loyal, intelligent, and athletic, while Shih Tzus tend to be friendly, energetic, and affectionate. 

This mix tends to create Shih-Poos with a love of their owner’s attention and a silly streak that adds joy to any room they are in.

Shih-Poos tend to have spurts of playful energy and become closely attached to their owners. 

They are not known for being territorial but can get lonely if left at home alone for long stretches of time. 

A bored and lonely Shih-Poo will not typically show increased aggression towards people but could be destructive to toys or furniture until a better outlet for its energy is provided.

Do Shih-Poos Bite?

While any dog is capable of biting when scared or in danger, Shih-Poos are not likely to bite without being provoked. Shih-Poo’s friendly, social nature makes biting a rare occurrence for the breed.

It is important to know that if you are looking into purchasing a Shih-Poo puppy, they will go through teething and other normal puppy development stages. 

Socialization as puppies with both humans and other dogs will help teach your puppy the difference between using their teeth on a chew toy in play and using them too harshly with others.

Shih-Poos are known for their adaptability to many lifestyles and family environments. 

While being playful and happy, they are a forgiving breed that will use almost any method besides biting to get a point across to an owner or stranger. 

Although Shih-Poos are not an aggressive breed, they may use their teeth in self-defense if they have no other way to stay safe. 

You may find yourself wondering what situations could lead to aggression in such a friendly dog. Let’s look at the main causes of rare aggression in Shih-Poos.

What Can Make Shih-Poos Aggressive?

It isn’t in most Shih-Poo’s nature to be aggressive without a direct reason. Things that may make a Shih-Poo aggressive include attacks or aggressive behavior from other dogs being hurt by the actions of people such as having their tails harshly pulled, feeling scared with no options for escape, and occasionally being possessive of food or toys.

Let us now explore each one in greater detail.

Aggression or Attacks From Other Dogs

Shih-Poo breeders want to breed dogs who make great whole-life companions. This means breeding dogs who get along easily with other people and animals in a wide variety of environments. 

Shih-Poos are typically happy to interact with other dogs, though very large dogs may be intimidating and make your Shih-Poo likely to observe before playing. 

A well-socialized Shih-Poo is not likely to be the start of an aggressive dog argument. 

However, if a dog initiates an attack, a Shih-Poo may fight back using its teeth and claws. 

Repeated poor experiences with other dogs can lead your Shih-Poo to feel scared and more aggressive with unknown dogs. 

Being aware of the dogs around you and protecting your Shih-Poo from more naturally aggressive dogs will help keep their happy personality intact.

Experiencing Sudden Pain

Just as a person can be grouchy and hard to get along with if they don’t feel well or if they injure themselves unexpectedly, so can a Shih-Poo. 

A Shih-Poo who has their tail, ears, or legs yanked by an unknowing child or adult may become aggressive.

Aggressiveness caused by pain is not the result of a Shih-Poo character flaw. 

Instead, aggressiveness is a Shih-Poo’s (and any dog’s) natural way of attempting to stop a painful experience. 

In the wild, dogs often experience pain as the result of a predator attack or human trap; being aggressive to things nearby leads to the dog being left alone. 

If a dog, regardless of breed, has its tail painfully pulled, aggression is the quickest way to get someone to let go.

This type of aggression can be avoided by talking with young people or newcomers to your home about the proper ways to touch and handle a dog that shows both respects and prevents pain for your Shih-Poo. 


A Shih-Poo is the type of dog to seek a calm end to scary situations. 

Typically this means that they may run to their owner for comfort or hide if a place becomes overwhelming or scary.

They love their human companions and grow to trust their caretakers.

Fear may cause aggression in a Shih-Poo if they feel trapped or cornered with no option for escape. 

This is especially true if the thing causing them fear is larger and louder than them. 

While this type of aggression is rare, it is worth considering as a cause if a Shih-Poo is unexpectedly aggressive.

Possessiveness Over Toys Or Food

Many dog breeds are favored as guard dogs for their possessive and protective qualities. 

Shih-Poos do not fall into that category. 

Shih-Poos are bred for family life and playfulness. 

Still, just like some people are more possessive of their belongings, so are some dogs.

A Shih-Poo who is teased with food – having it presented to them and then taken away suddenly without reason – on a regular basis may become possessive and aggressive when eating.

This is also true if another dog in the home is regularly attempting to steal your normally sweet Shih-Poos’ dinner.

The same can be said for toys.

Some games of fetch and tug-of-war are great, but all dogs enjoy uninterrupted time with a favorite toy now and then.

A Shih-Poo who is possessive of a toy may nip or growl when someone attempts to touch or take it.

Early and regular socialization, training, and positive reinforcement is the number one way to present possession-based aggression in any dog.

We have briefly mentioned some ways to prevent aggression in Shih-Poos earlier in this article, but let’s take some time to look more closely at ways to keep Shih-Poos happy and well-rounded family members.

How To Prevent Aggression In Shih-Poos

There are several easy ways to help prevent aggression in Shih-Poos, such as proper socialization as a puppy, teaching family members how to respectfully interact with your Shih-Poo, monitoring young children as they learn about the family’s Shih-Poo, and being aware of your Shih-Poo’s environment and safety.

Let us now explore each one in greater detail.

Early Training and Socialization

It is easy to look at an adorable and tiny Shih-Poo puppy and think it does not need the same training that a larger breed of dog needs.

However, a puppy is just like a toddler human, and it needs to learn basic manners both with people and other dogs.

Even if you never plan to show or train your Shih-Poo for a special task, puppy classes are a great idea to prevent aggression in your Shih-Poo.

By taking your Shih-Poo out to experience other people and dogs while it is young, you are helping your puppy to have a well-developed view of the world and know exactly when and how to use its teeth for play instead of harm.

Along those same lines, a puppy that feels abandoned or lonely may act more aggressively when it does get the opportunity to interact with people.

Along those same lines, make feeding time a pleasant experience for your puppy. Pet and praise your puppy while they eat.

Never act angry or aggressive around food and toys, and always associate food and toys with positive experiences.

Teaching Family Members How To Interact With Your Shih-Poo

Teaching every member of the family and guests in your home how to respect your Shih-Poos body and space is very important.

Nobody likes to be yanked on, stepped on, or startled awake from a deep sleep. Make sure every member of your family knows not to pull on any part of the Shih-Poo’s body – even in play.

Help them to realize when your Shih-Poo is sleeping so that if they want to play, they know to wait until the dog has had time to rest and wake up properly.

Showing respect to your Shih-Poo makes them feel secure and lowers the chance that they experience sudden pain that leads to aggression.

When you first bring your Shih-Poo home, be sure to monitor all children until they have shown they know not to pull on the puppy in a moment of excitement.

Be Aware Of Your Environment

The last thing you can do to help prevent aggression in your Shih-Poo is to be fully aware of your environment.

If a dog or person is acting in a way that may be unsafe or harmful to your dog, pick up your dog and leave.

If you notice that someone has made your dog feel trapped – even if they are playing and accidentally back into a corner – remind them to give the dog space and options for running and playing.

Give your dog a safe and quiet place to eat, drink, and rest on a regular basis. These things will make both you and your Shih-Poo happy and friendly.


All in all, Shih-Poos are fun and friendly dogs that are not known for aggressive behavior.  

A Shih-Poo who is aggressive likely has an authentic reason for their actions. 

Shih-Poos love being part of a family and do not generally take themselves too seriously, being sweet, affectionate, and loving all at the same time.

Researching the Shih Poo breed? My other guides may be of help: