If there’s one thing any new visitor learns when arriving at the house of a dog owner, it’s that these animals make the best guard dog breeds. Obviously, some are better at the job than others, unless you count a Labrador Retriever bombarding you with demands for strokes and attention as a method of guarding their home! On the whole, working dog breeds like Terriers and Shepherds make the best guard dogs, as they are naturally energetic, strong, obedient, and suspicious of anyone entering their territory, while lap dogs are more interested in whether or not the visitor has food. Here are 13 of the best guard dogs for protecting your home and family...
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1. German Shepherds
One of the first breeds many people think about when they imagine a guard dog is the German Shepherd. A favorite of the police, these dogs are easy to train, fiercely loyal, have great stamina, and are great under pressure. Their size, strength, and biting power also come in handy for warding off any potential home invaders. Not only that; they make wonderful pets who love to play with toys. Just make sure they’re robust enough to cope with rough treatment (try the Nuts for Knots 2 rope tugger). So as well as a great guard dog, a German Shepherd is also a brilliant friend.
2. Cane Corso
Let’s be honest: it only takes one look at a Cane Corso to understand why they make such good guard dogs. At around 65cm tall, they may not be the biggest vertically, but they are incredibly muscular and powerful animals. The Cane Corso is Italian in origin, was bred as a fighting dog to protect Roman soldiers, and its name comes from the Latin for ‘Bodyguard dog’, so there is a lot of guarding heritage in this breed. It’s also a docile pet until called into action.
The Akita may not be the most intimidating guard dog breed in this list, but sometimes a bit of brain is needed alongside all the brawn. Akitas were bred centuries ago to stand by the side of Japanese royalty and keep them safe from enemies. They are incredibly inquisitive and suspicious animals, so are ideal for alerting you to any danger posed by a stranger they don’t like the look or smell of. If you aren’t keen on a big, powerful guard dog then the Akita may be the one for you.
You have probably heard of the phrase, “Oh don’t worry about him, his bark is worse than his bite.” This may be true for many dog breeds, but the same can’t be said for the Bullmastiff. This breed has the highest amount of bite force of any dog at 552 pounds per square inch – that’s around three times higher than the average dog. The Bullmastiff is a natural guard dog, as it was bred to guard large estates, but if properly trained and socialized, it is gentle and laidback with its owners.
5. Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman Pinscher was a breed created in the 1800s by German tax collector Louis Dobermann, who needed a pooch to protect him. While its size, obvious power, speed, and alertness may look like its strongest attributes, it’s actually the Doberman’s intelligence that makes it a great guard dog, as it can protect effectively with little training. The Doberman’s naturally aggressive trait was bred out of it, making them affectionate pets for the family, while also retaining the ability to protect.
Nuts for Knots Extreme 2 rope tugger toy
As most of the dogs in this list are strong, powerfully-jawed pooches, they’ll need a good workout. This rope toy is incredibly strong, so will withstand the roughest of treatment, and provide some fun, interactive training for your guard dog.
OK, stick with us here, because although it may not look like a great guard dog, the Komondor is an unexpected ally against intruders. This Hungarian-bred dog is much more than just a sheep herder; it is innately protective, and determined to keep an eye out for the family, so if you have children that you want to keep an eye on, the Komondor will happily do that for you. They have also developed a loud bark to alert shepherds, which although not ideal if living in an apartment, is perfect for warning you of any impending danger.
7. Giant Schnauzer
You may be more familiar with the Miniature Schnauzer, so say hello to its bigger cousin, the Giant Schnauzer. These dogs were bred to herd cattle, so they are naturally brave animals, capable of standing their ground against larger creatures. They’re strong and resistant to pain, but also intelligent, meaning that it won’t take much training for them to learn which visitors are friends and which are foes not to be trusted. They’re one of the most dedicatedly loyal pets you can own, and are sure to grab attention with that iconic beard.
8. American Staffordshire Terrier
There are few more misunderstood dogs than the Staffy. Lovable, caring, devoted, and adorable, these dogs make for wonderful pets. However, they do have a reputation for aggression due to bad owners forcing them to be fighting dogs due to their muscular bodies and strong jaws. They are incredibly protective of their owners, which does make them excellent guard dogs, but good training and a firm hand is essential in keeping them under control when they feel the need to keep you safe from harm.
Similarly to the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Rottweiler has a reputation for being an aggressive dog, but they are loyal and affectionate when raised with a family. They are naturally wary of strangers but take time when introducing them to friends and they will quickly learn who is to be trusted and who isn’t. This intelligence, when matched with obedience, makes them ideal guard dogs as they can be taught to bite and hold onto an aggressor, although this can only be done by a trained dog handler.
10. Rhodesian Ridgeback
In terms of pure size and stature, you can’t go far wrong with the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Its original purpose was to hunt lions, so your average burglar isn’t going to pose much of a problem to this breed. They are fearless and natural protectors, and can switch from loving pet to furious guard dog in seconds, so they must be well trained to heed commands. They rarely bark, which is good as an owner, but doubly useful as when you hear your pet make a noise, you’ll know it’s for a very good reason.
11. Dogo Argentino
Originally bred to hunt big game, these will need some serious training early on in their lives, not to mention lots of exercise, but they're one of the best guard dog breeds around for a reason. Weighing between 70 and 100 pounds, they're capable of taking down wild hogs up to six times their size, so protecting your family will be a picnic for them. You will need to show them early on who's the alpha, otherwise they won't respect you, but as you can see from this video, the results are something to behold when training is done right.
12. Great Dane
An obvious choice due to their size, perhaps, but there is more to the Great Dane than a seriously impressive stature. The German nobility used to use them as bodyguard dogs, and their origins stretch back to ancient times when they were used for hunting. Beyond these origins, however, Great Danes are loyal, noble, and caring. They are also patient, but protective when they need to be, making them ideal for keeping around young families. Like many other dogs, they can become defensive when threatened, and while displays of this are rare if trained well, they represent an obstacle for any would-be threat.
13. Great Pyrenees
Having been originally bred in the Pyrenees mountains, the shepherds dwelling there needed a tough and loyal breed that could survive a tough environment – and they certainly got that with this dog. Having been bred to look after flocks of sheep, they may well wake up during the night. Barking during the night isn’t generally welcomed by dog owners (or their neighbors), but it will have the effect of deterring potential burglars. Brave and patient, they are another breed that is ideal to keep round young families, making them a good choice should you be in need of protection.
Guard of honor
Guard dogs can be a range of sizes, strengths, and skills, from big powerful brutes with a heart of gold, to watchful, suspicious guardians that have an eye for danger. The kind of guard dog you get depends on the space you have, the time you have for training, and the kind of protection you need, so be careful when making your decision.
Former editor of World of Animals magazine, Zara is a freelance writer with a passion for wildlife. Born in South Africa, she developed a love of animals from an early age. She is currently looking for a bigger house just so she can get a cat and a dog.
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