Complete Guide to a Shihpoo’s Temperament


Surfing through social media, the most common descriptions you will find of Shihpoo puppies, after “adorable” and “cute,” will be “cuddly,” “adventurous,” “playful,” and “happy.” As the owner of two Shihpoo boys, we can attest to all of these traits.

What are Shihpoos like in temperament and personality?

Shihpoo puppies are loving, patient and playful dogs who love to cuddle for hours at a time, fill their indoor homes with affection, and explore their curiosity in backyard spaces and neighborhood parks. Shihpoos can enjoy playing in snow in winter, jogging to the park in the spring, playing in shallow water in the summer, and digging through leaf piles in the fall.

What Are Shihpoos’ Personalities like?

Although each dog breed has standards for both physical traits and behaviors, it is assumed not all dogs within the breed meet such expectations. Shihpoos are no different.

Shihpoos, as a designer puppy, ideally possess the passivity and sweetness of their Shih Tzu parent while simultaneously displaying the intelligence, loyalty and playfulness of their Toy Poodle parent. In reality, inherited qualities are not always split 50/50 in the offspring.

Are Shihpoos aggressive or relaxed by nature?

As a breed. Shihpoos are easy going, not having an aggressive bone in their body. They tend to inherit a very relaxed personality from their Shih Tzu parent while remaining playful and loyal thanks to their athletic Poodle parent.

Does that mean your Shihpoo will contentedly lay around your feet all day wanting to hear you sing Kumbaya hour after hour? Of course not. Shihpoos can be more than happy to act like lap dogs most of the day, but they also look forward very much to fetch, play time and walks.

Sound of a 5-month of Shihpoo playing tug of war

Our two Shihpoos are as sweet as they are fluffly. Yet, if you listen to this audio recording of our 5-month old Shihpoo playing tug of war with me, you might assume Shihpoos are an aggressive breed. That or they are real life Ewoks from Star Wars. “Yub yub!”

Many dog lovers know Shihpoos as the teddy bear designer puppy. But its moniker does not just derive from their furry and fluffy looks. They can also be as lovable, cuddly and patient as a teddy bear.

While our puppies love to play tug of war with whatever toy is nearby, I have found that even when I let my fingers get too close to their teeth, they are very good at not biting too hard. That is not to say they have never bitten me, but it has only been during my attempts to remove a toy from my puppy’s mouth.

Even as young puppies, they did not nip or nibble on fingers unless we stuck said fingers directly in the puppies’ mouths.

So, are Shihpoos Aggressive?

Personalities can vary between Shihpoos just as between other dog breed. Yet Shihpoos often inherit much of the laid back nature of their Shih Tzu parent, particularly if that parent is the mother. Biting in adult Shihpoos is highly uncommon.

This does not mean the Shihpoo lays around all day eating doggy donuts and dreaming of world peace between dog breeds. Any dog can get feisty when they are tired, hungry, or feel threatened. For Shihpoos, these scenarios are few and far between. In three years of Shihpoo-dom in our home, we have to witness of testy or angry Shihpoo.

Do Shihpoos like to Cuddle?

Morning, noon or night, Shihpoos love to cuddle. So long as your Shihpoo gets regular daily exercise, he or she can spend hours on your lap or on your bed. One of our Shihpoos loves to relax with his head resting on a leg or tummy while the other cannot be any cuter than when he crashes for an hour or two on his back in our laps.

Shihpoos are not 24-hour cuddlers, though. Besides the daily exercise, they are often driven by curiosity. They want to know what you are doing and where you are going. Not surprisingly, when we are in the kitchen working on a meal, they are often very nearby wanting to know what we are preparing (of course in hopes of getting some).

When we head to the bedroom, they follow us in, likely wondering if we are going to sit in the recliner (one of their favorite places to cuddle). When we are getting dressed and doing hair in the bathroom, especially in winter, they love curling up at our feet (there is a heating vent under the sink cabinet that is a favorite spot in the house).

Speaking of heating vents and cold weather, our Shihpoos will seek out sunny locations in the living room for their naps. Their smaller bodies seek out warmth where they can find it.

Are Shihpoo puppies biters?

Puppies of any breed tend to explore their world with their mouths. Shihpoos are no exception. Until they lose their baby teeth around five or six months, they like to chew, though not likely as aggressively as a retriever or lab puppy. That said, a Shihpoo puppy family should always try to have a durable chew toy (like these) within reach of their tiny four-legged furiend’s mouth.

Even as puppies, our Shihpoos never bit in earnest and only nipped a couple of times when we got too close to their faces during an exciting game of ball, fetch or tug-of-war. You might assume that if you try to interrupt a tough-sounding tug-of-war between to two Shihpoos (a regular occurance in our home) that they might draw blood. After all, they do exhibit at least a low level of intensity and even staged ferocity during playtime. However, we have never been bitten when we jump into the fray. It is all play, all show.

What about Shihpoos and little children?

Shihpoos are very patient and sturdy dogs for their size. Our two Shihpoos boys match up very well with our two human boys (a young teen and a tween). We rough house regularly, and the puppies can hold their own. No one, of course, is suggesting MMA or professional wrestling with a Shihpoo, but you should not think of these dogs as brittle and fragile.

Other than our older boys, our Shihpoos do not see many young children. We have neighbors across the street with young grade school-aged girls who adore our puppies and volunteer to watch them more often than we are even away.

Shihpoos will generally get along great with most children, the exception being probably toddlers who have not been trained on how to handle small dogs. My older siblings loved teasing me about a dog (probably 10-15 lbs) I picked up by the neck between my hands and carried into the house from the front yard. I have no recollection of the event, being just 2 years old at the time. Unfortunately, it exists on an old family super 8 movie reel. I’m sure the dog lived.

Such rough treatment, though, would be the type to prevent and avoid with younger children. Larger dogs like a Labrador or even a Standard Poodle (especially if low shedding and hypoallergenic qualities are important) are more likely to avoid injury from such treatment.

How do Shihpoos get along with other dogs?

Besides the fun and games our two Shihpoos have daily with each other, they also get to interact every week or two with dogs outside the home. Our sweet neighbor next door has a beautiful white Maltipoo who has a personality many times larger than his 4-lb frame would suggest.

When our dogs are held in human arms, they bark and attempt to wiggle free to be let down. Once on the ground, the barking ceases and the puppies just want to say “hi” in the normal fashion puppies do… noses where we which they would not go.

The same routine happens on our walks around the neighborhood. Our Shihpoos could car less about passing cars, neighbors in their yards, and bicyclists riding by. However, they can spot another dog 200 meters away and, it seems, around three corners. As we approach, our puppies “ask” to meet the other puppies, which inevitably ends with some friendly sniffing and a sorrowful parting.

If you are thinking of adding a Shihpoo to a home where there is already another canine, do so slowing and patiently. From introductions in neutral territory to walks together on leashes to in-home introductions. Check out the Animal Humane Society’s recommendations for introducing dogs to each other.

Shihpoos and Cats

Like many dog breeds, Shihpoos will get along fine with cats they have been raised with. Introducing a cat to a Shihpoo home, or a Shihpoo to a cat home, needs to be done methodically and with patience.

Our daughter is a cat lover. She has brought one of her cats over to visit a few times, and we have taken one of our Shihpoos over to her apartment to visit once. On each occasion, our Shihpoos were curious and caution with a new creature around, as were the cats. Our Shihpoos were the first to act on their curiosity, slowly approaching the cats. The cats are actually bigger than our Shihpoos.

When it comes to claws, cat claws trump Shihpoo claws. Our Shihpoos were much more interested in the cats and upset or anxious. The cats, on the other hand, did not like their personal space being invaded by another species of animal. With one swipe of their claws, the cats cleared the area of all nearby Shihpoos, though barking filled the air for a few seconds.

Courtesy of Dunfermline Press

If you want to have a home with both cats and Shihpoos, it will likely take a couple of weeks. Although this seems like a long time, it will be worth it in the end. If at all possible, introduce the two pets by sound and smell only. Keep them separate for a few days while they get used to each other being in the same home. Gradually move their feeding bowls closer to the door that separates them, helping them associate the joy of eating with being near the other pet. See the recommended steps offered by the Animal Humane Society here.

Are Shihpoos Yappy Dogs?

You know that type of dog, right? About the only time yappy dogs stop yapping is when they are asleep. Even then, they wake up yappity. Shihpoos are not yappy dogs. Our two Shihpoos rarely bark inside, and only then when the doorbell rings or when someone knocks at the door.

We have back yard neighbors with a couple of sweet boxers, and one of our Shihpoos loves to head to the corner of the yard where the vinyl fences meet to say “hello” to his unseen friend. If the other dogs are not outside in their yard, our Shihpoo will not bark. If they do start barking at each other, our puppy usually prefers to come back inside when called. Oddly enough, our younger Shihpoo shows interest in the dogs on the other side of the fence but he does not bark at them at all.

Training a Shihpoo to “speak” and then to “be quiet” should be a top priority in your puppy training. Your cute fur ball may still bark from time to time, but it will be rare that he or she barks for no good reason.

Do Shihpoos like to Swim?

Shihpoos can inherit a love for playing in the water from their Poodle parent. Poodles, surprisingly to many Americans who associate them with luxury and fancy dog shows, have been bread for centuries as water retriever dogs in Europe. Shihpoos can inherit this athleticism, if not the large physique of the Standard Poodle.

That said, Shihpoos might also inherit their Shih Tzu parent’s lack of swimming abilities. Since Shih Tzus were not bred as hunters but as palace lap dogs, they may enjoy the water but cannot endure long swimming distances. Their legs are just too short.

Courtesy of Atlanta Humane Society

With Shihpoo puppies, there is no telling which traits they will inherit from which parents. Even for Shihpoos who love to play in the water, they will have inherited the short legs that will make it difficult for them to dog paddle for long in the water.

In short (literally), do not get a Shihpoo if water games and swimming pools are the primary places you expect to play with puppy. They will likely love splash pads and puddles, though.

Is a Shihpoo a Good Pet?

As a so-called designer breed, Shihpoos can inherit a mix of their parents’ traits. Due to fifty to a hundred years or more of trait selection, pure breeds have very specific character traits families can count on. Shihpoos, on the other hand, can display a wide range of personalities.

Generally, families looking for any of the following characteristics in their pet will not regret welcoming a Shihpoo into their home:

  • None-shedding hair
  • Hypoallergenic coat
  • A couch cuddler
  • A playful companion
  • A patient puppy with kiddos
  • Low-maintenance grooming needs
  • A quiet companion
  • A friend ready to join you on neighborhood outings
  • A bedtime buddy on your blanket
  • The cutest bundle of fur ever

Shihpoos meet each of these pet points with perfection… and more.

If you want a hunting dog, the next Frisbee chasing champ, a high jumper, a howler, or a birder, Shihpoos are not the puppies for you.

Related Questions

Are Shihpoos good family dogs? The three most common reasons a family will choose a Shihpoo include its ultra low shedding hair, its hypoallergenic coat, and the Shihpoo’s contentment to cuddle much of the day and require minimal exercise and grooming.

Are Shihpoos hypoallergenic? Whether a Shihpoo inherits more of his or her Shih Tzu parent’s wavy and flowing hair or his or her Poodle parent’s tightly curled hair, the Shihpoo will be about as hypoallergenic as a dog can be. “Hypo” never means “no allergens” but “very low.” Highly sensitive children and adults may still have reactions to hypoallergenic dog hair or fur.

Todd Christensen

Founder and lead blogger at ShihpooCentral.com, Todd loves his family's two Shih-poo puppies, Titus Rex and Stark Antonio (aka Sir Titus Whitus and Baron von Wigglebutt). He and his wife have four wonderful human children as well, and he doubles by day as a financial educator facilitating budgeting, credit building and debt elimination workshops.

Recent Posts