Best Guard Dogs for Protection + What to Look For

 Best Guard Dogs for Protection + What to Look For

Dogs are an incredibly intelligent species and perform a wide variety of tasks. Some guide the blind or help with anxiety and depression, some perform amazing feats of agility, and some use their incredible sense of smell to find hidden items.

Although all those traits are brilliant in a dog, today we are specifically looking at those breeds that make the best guard dogs. These will do anything to keep their owners and their home safe.

Now, almost all dogs will offer at least “some” form of protection. Even a Chihuahua will bark when somebody knocks on the door but that Chihuahua can’t do anything against somebody with a more malicious intent.

Watch Dog Vs Guard Dog

When it comes to the differences between a guard dog and a watch dog, it is NOT the breed that distinguishes the label, it is the training regime that the dog has been provided with.

A watch dog will do just that. It will watch for anybody approaching or any unusual activity, and alert the owner. This fits the bill of most dogs and no advanced training is usually needed.

A guard dog on the other hand will do the job of a watch dog, but are also willing to get physical if needed. Dogs need to receive specific training to excel in these roles. Guard dogs are typically expected to guard a confined area, such as your home.

Are Guard Dogs Safe for Families

It is a common myth that guard dogs are no good, and quite unsafe, for families that have children. This just isn’t the case. However, careful thought and consideration must be taken for families like these, especially if wanting a larger breed of dog.

Any time a large dog is introduced into the family, even playful breeds, can easily injure small children when goofing around. Dogs that are deliberately bred for guarding, can be even more capable of inadvertently hurting your children.

However, while it is important that you ensure any dog you introduce to your family is provided with plenty of love, affection, proper training and socialization, most guard dog breeds are naturally loyal and loving with their families.

In most cases, a good guard dog will not just protect your home, but given the right training, are likely to become beloved family members, who treat your children with care.

Children can be rough around dogs when playing so it is important that you also teach your children the proper ways of interacting with the dog, and make sure that you supervise all interactions until you are convinced that both the children and the dogs know the rules for playing nicely.

Qualities of a Good Guard Dog

Before choosing a specific breed for use as a guard dog for your home, it is important to first understand what qualities need to be present.

Some of the most important qualities a good guard dog can possess include:

  • Intelligence – they must be obedient and respond to at least basic commands. such as sit, lay down, stay and heel. Intelligence will also help your dog distinguish between threatening and merely unusual stimuli.
  • Loyalty – it will need to be incredibly loyal. His allegiance to your family must be clear.
  • Courage – your dog must be brave enough to face any danger that presents itself.
  • Territorial Instincts – dogs that strongly identify with their home and are willing to guard it from intruders are obviously better suited for guard work than those who do not mind trespassers.
  • Affectionate Nature – they should be fearless in the face of danger, but can also be affectionate with their humans or trusted friends. You want a dog that loves when it is time to love, and protects when it’s time to protect.

Best Guard Dogs for Protection

The breeds that we are going to look at below have proven over time that they’re willing and able to guard that which you hold dear.

There is no guarantee that any dog will act in a protective manner unless he or she has been explicitly and professionally trained to do so. Wise owners will not just choose a protective breed but also obtain professional training.


Rottweilers check off every box on the guard dog checklist. They are intelligent, they love their families, and they are ready to face down any threat without hesitation.

Rotties are not ideal for inexperienced dog owners, as they require a calm, confident “alpha.” While intellectually independent, they’re emotionally dependent and quite sensitive to their owner’s emotions. They require very high levels of both attention and exercise, so they are not well suited for spending lots of time alone.

German Shepherd

German shepherds have been used by military and police organizations for decades. They’re intelligent, loving and brave. They are also physically imposing, despite their modest body weight.

German shepherds, like most other affectionate, sensitive breeds, require plenty of time with and attention from their people, otherwise they can develop behavioral problems. You’ll also have to spend a lot of time grooming your shepherd and cleaning up the ridiculous amounts of hair they shed.

Doberman Pinscher

Dobermans excel in most protection-oriented applications. They are very loving, sensitive dogs, who also possess the bravery, size and imposing appearance to make them one of the very best guard dogs available.

Dobermans are a bit lighter on their feet than Dobermans and Shepherds, and they probably require a little more space and exercise too. But like those breeds, they’re sensitive, loving, loyal, intelligent and brave dogs who are instinctively compelled to protect their homes and families.

Bull Mastiffs

Bull mastiffs exhibit most of the same traits that the “big 3” above do: They’re loving, affectionate and unquestionably protective. However, they aren’t as clingy as these other breeds often are, and they require less exercise too.

They are very large, powerful dogs and are not an ideal choice for first-time owners. Additionally, while these are perfectly lovable, handsome dogs, they tend to drool a lot and produce copious quantities of gas, which slightly offsets their otherwise-significant appeal.

Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois is likely the favorite breed of professional protection dog trainers, and they’re likely the most common breed working for police and military units in the US.

They superficially resemble small German shepherds, but these dogs have even more intensity and energy than their more common counterparts do which can make them a bit of a handful for typical families.

These are not great dogs for couch potatoes, nor are they suitable for families who spend lots of time away from the home.

But when matched with a good owner or family, Belgian Malinois make loving, loyal and capable companions.


With roots as guard dogs for Japanese royalty, the Akita breed has a strong and powerful stance with a large head and alert eyes, making it appear ready for anything. Affectionate with family members but aloof with newcomers, the Akita makes for a dependable companion and effective family guard dog.

Do you rely on a dog to help protect your family? If so, I’d love to hear how your Dobbie, shepherd or magnificent mutt helps keep you safe. Share your stories with us in the comments below.

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