Are Maltipoos Aggressive? What You Need to Know!
By Kit Copson
All prospective dog parents worry about aggression when considering welcoming a canine friend into their lives. If you’ve got your eye on a Maltipoo—a cross between a Maltese and a Poodle—you’ll be pleased to learn that these dogs are typically friendly, fun-loving, and affectionate. This makes them great family dogs and a good choice for first-time owners.
However, as with any dog breed, you’ll still have some work to do to make sure your Maltipoo doesn’t become aggressive later on and can confidently handle social situations with other people and dogs. Read on to find out more.
The Maltipoo Temperament
Breeding plays a big role in determining what a dog’s temperament will be like (though this is only one of the factors—socialization and how the dog has been raised are also big considerations). The two Maltipoo parent breeds, the Poodle and the Maltese, both have plenty of great personality traits to pass down to the Maltipoo, including high intelligence, sociability, and friendliness.
Both Poodles and Maltese dogs are also typically very affectionate dogs that offer a lot of love (and often cuddles) to their humans. This is something Maltipoos are known for in particular. They’re also known for being quite sensitive and are highly attuned to changes in their environment.
This can make them susceptible to issues like separation anxiety, so be sure to start creating positive associations around being alone once you’re able to leave your Maltipoo for certain periods.1 For example, you could try offering your Maltipoo a toy (like a Kong) stuffed with their favorite treats every time you leave the house.
What Causes Aggression in Dogs?
When a dog is aggressive, it usually stems from being fearful, anxious, or unwell. Past trauma can sometimes lead to aggressive behavior. For example, a dog that has been abused in the past may lash out as a defensive mechanism when a stranger tries to pet them without warning, fearing an attack.
Another example is a dog that has been attacked by another dog in the past and becomes aggressive around other dogs as a result. In other cases, a dog may have been poorly socialized and aggressive behavior was encouraged. Being unwell is also sometimes behind sudden aggression—especially if the dog is in pain and doesn’t want to play or be touched.
If you’re adopting a Maltipoo, find out as much information as you can about their personality and their past life to find out if certain situations trigger an aggressive response. If so, it’s best to work with a professional behaviorist to tackle these issues as early as possible. As soon as you get your adopted Maltipoo home, you can start socializing them gradually (more on this below).
If you’re buying a Maltipoo from a breeder, make sure you do your research on that breeder to make sure they’re reputable—a reputable breeder would certainly avoid breeding dogs with temperament issues. You’ll also need to start socializing your Maltipoo when you bring them home.
How Can I Socialize My Maltipoo?
Socialization is a broad term and involves many things, including getting a dog used to interacting with other people and dogs, getting them accustomed to common sounds that they’ll hear often (i.e. the vacuum cleaner, washing machine, other dogs barking, etc.) and objects, and, most importantly, giving a dog the confidence to handle a variety of social situations.
Here are some tips for socializing your Maltipoo with other people and dogs. If you’re having difficulties or would feel better with the guidance of more practiced hands, it’s perfectly okay to contact a professional trainer. In fact, if your dog has a history of poor socialization or trauma, working with a pro is one of the best decisions you could make!
Introducing Other People
Invite one or two friends, family members, or neighbors over to meet your Maltipoo. Ask your guests to be calm and quiet and let your Maltipoo approach them at their own pace.
Give your guests treats to offer to your Maltipoo when they feel brave enough to approach them to create a positive association. When your Maltipoo is more comfortable with people, they can start to be introduced to larger groups. Always praise and reward your Maltipoo (with a treat or a favorite toy—whatever motivates them) when they interact positively with people to encourage more of the same behavior.
Introducing Other Dogs
It’s also very important that your Maltipoo gets socialized with other dogs. A good idea is to start by introducing your puppy or adult Maltipoo to a dog belonging to someone you know and trust. It’s best to pick a calm dog for your Maltipoo to interact with at first so they don’t feel too overwhelmed.
If you fear an aggressive response, make sure both dogs are on a leash for initial introductions so you can take control of the situation if need be. Keep your dog at a distance at first to gauge their response to the other dog and better understand what you’re working with. Again, don’t hesitate to reach out to a pro if you think you could use some help.
Dog parks are another great way to introduce your Maltipoo to other dogs once they’ve been fully vaccinated. Again, if you’re worried, keep your Maltipoo on a leash until you’re confident that they’re ready to handle being off leash with other dogs.
If they show fear or anxiety around other dogs, you can try letting them watch other dogs from a distance at first and rewarding them with treats or praise when they see the dogs. Gradually move closer to the other dogs over a period of days and weeks until your Maltipoo is no longer afraid. Go slowly and at your Maltipoo’s pace and never force them into situations that make them afraid.
In short, Maltipoos are not typically aggressive and are often great family dogs, but every dog, regardless of breed, needs proper socialization to prevent aggression down the line.
If you’re concerned because your Maltipoo is showing aggression, whether that’s towards people or other dogs, please consult your vet to make sure they’re not unwell. If they’re healthy, a behaviorist can help you curb your Maltipoo’s aggression.
Featured Image Credit; Alessandra Sawick, Shutterstock