Unlike watchdogs that are all talk (bark), Guard Dog Breeds take action. The American Kennel Club suggests that good guard dogs be, "loyal, brave and extremely protective of their territory." I might also add, trainable, confident and reserved around strangers.
Watchdogs are very good at letting you know there is a stranger about, by barking, but they may not necessarily take action. On the other hand, a guard dog breed will be prepared and equipped to defend it's owner's property and life, if needs be.
Guard dog characteristics relate to many different types of dog breeds. Many watchdog breeds are ALSO capable guard dogs.
So what exactly differentiates watchdogs from guard dogs?
It is almost entirely the size and strength of the dog.
Owners of four pound Chihuahuas might argue that they dogs are brave and loyal, act confidently, but not always outgoing around strangers. Why aren't they in the list of best guard dog breeds?
It's because, although they will alert their owner to unusual activity by barking, they simply don't have the size and weight to intimidate an intruder, nor attack if required.
Some of the dogs on the list have
been developed to be guardians and excel at the job because of their innate nature. On top of that, they can be trained to be even better guardians. Not only were they developed to protect people, but they were also needed for
Historically, people lived on isolated farms or ranches where their nearest neighbor could be miles away. Visitors were few and far between. Early settlers depended on dogs to alert and protect them if anyone came onto their property. A prime example of this is the Rhodesian Ridgeback.
In some areas of the world, people's lives and livelihoods depended on the dogs. These dogs needed to be able to take down the large cats such as snow leopards in Asia and the biggest and most dangerous predators on the African safari.
Beyond that, most of the dogs that make our list have the right "look" that tells would-be intruders, "Don't mess with me." It could be their size, the color, their body posture. Or, it could be that people learn over time which dogs to stay clear of especially if their owners are not at home.
We were in the process of house hunting in a new community and one house was on our list of "must see."
Unfortunately, the owners had two large Doberman Pinschers in the front yard. Even though we had been given permission to enter the home, the Dobermans would have none of it.
I think they might have killed my daughter who was three at the time.
Later in the week, we had another appointment to see the house and, this time, the owner was home. The dogs could not have been more friendly and gentle.
Unless I had known better, I would have believed they were different dogs.
It should not come as any surprise that some of these guard dogs could also be called the most dangerous dogs in the world.
Their fierce sense of loyalty, combined with their size and strength make them not only a brave guardian but a force to be reckoned with.
Guard Dogs can make good pets for the right kind of owners, but
these breeds should not even be considered for the first time or inexperienced
Guard dog breeds are almost always independent and dominant and unless the owners can fulfill the role of Alpha Male, the dog could become more dominant than you!
Dog owners who do not have the time, energy, stamina or desire to socialize and train should not own one of these breeds. These dogs need ongoing training and socialization throughout their lives and that requires a significant time commitment.
Listed in alphabetical order.
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