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.
The American Akita is a loyal, alert dog with a strong, muscular body build. The breed is well known for its intelligence, with many being seen performing in obedience trials.
While these dogs have plenty of energy to spare, they’re not known for being particularly outward-going with it.
The Beauceron dog breed comes from the short-haired variety of the French flatland sheepdogs that used to found throughout France. This is a well-built, muscular and solid dog, looking a bit like a cross between a Rottweiler and a German Shepherd. This makes it sound ferocious and maybe aggressive, but in fact the Beauceron has an endearing and gentle personality.
As breeds go, the Belgian Malinois Dog could very well be the best guard and worker in the canine kingdom. Bred to be a herder, these dogs can take on a multitude of jobs, and they are the favorites among military and law enforcement personnel.
Although the Belgian Malinois (pronounced MAL in wah) may look like a German Shepherd, they are nevertheless a separate breed. In fact, the Belgian Malinois is one of four Belgian Sheepdogs or Shepherds.
The Boerboel, or the South African mastiff as it is also known, is a
confident dog descended from the mastiffs that first came to Africa in
Despite their large size, they are playful and affectionate with their family. Powerful, muscular and highly intelligent, they are also considered the most agile of the large mastiff breeds.
Origins: Belgium and France
Size: Large to Giant
Recognition: ANKC: Working, CKC: Herding, AKC (Herding), FCI (Group 1), KC (Working), NZKC (Working), UKC (Herding)
Also called Belgian Cattle Dog, Flanders Cattle Dog, Vlaamse Koehond
The Bullmastiff is also called the "Gamekeepers Night Dog'. The breed is gentle, quiet and devoted to those he loves, but if threatened, he turns fearless. At upwards of 130 pounds or more, this powerful dog is confident, stubborn yet calm and gentle.
Recognition: CKC (Working), ANKC (Utility), AKC (Working), UKC (Guardian), FCI (Group 2)
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a strong willed, loyal, fearless dog. He is a formidable guard dog who is only suitable really to protect property such as large commercial estates, in prisons and by the Military.
Despite looking like an adorable cuddle monster - this breed is not a family pet!
The Chow Chow is a medium sized breed of independent Chinese dogs.
This breed is well known for its dignified behavior and appreciates when
it is treated with respect.
This breed is known to be independent as well, living alongside its owners like another member of the house. It particularly does not like being pampered, and will dislike the idea of assuming the role of a lap dog.
These dogs are well known for their intelligence, as well as their
physical power. Despite having the old stereotype of being a curt and
even aggressive breed, these dogs are quite capable of being
affectionate especially among family.
Dobermans are full of energy, so they prefer to be up and moving. They would not appreciate the role of a lap dog, even if their size would allow it.
Unfortunately, because of the Dogo's athleticism and hunting abilities, he has become the breed of choice for some dog fighters and has been given an aggressive reputation.
He is still banned in some countries, including the UK, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Singapore, Ukraine and Israel.
The Dogue de Bordeaux is a big dog breed from France, used for
centuries as a hunting dog and a guard dog. If properly trained they are
calm, confident and good with older children, although dog-on-dog
aggression can be a problem. They make excellent guard dogs.
They are big droolers, and need frequent mopping up. They don't need a great deal of exercise, but are not really suited to apartment life as they are so big. This breed was the star of the 1989 comedy film with Tom Hanks, 'Turner and Hooch', which accurately depicted the breed.
Training: Time Consuming
Recognition: FCI Group 2 , CKC Miscellaneous , NZKC Utility
It's no wonder that German Shepherds are consistently one of the most popular dogs. With their even-temperament, unwavering loyalty and extreme intelligence, they do make fantastic dogs to own.
Size: Large to Giant
Recognition: FCI: Group 2, AKC: Working, ANKC: Utility, CKC: Working, KC: Working, NZKC: Utility, UKC: Guardian
Kangal dogs are originally from the Anatolia region of Turkey. They were
bred to be livestock guardian dogs, protecting flocks of sheep and
goats at night from wolves, jackals and bears.
There is an important distinction between dogs that help a shepherd to herd animals, ie. move a flock from place to place, and dogs that protect the animals. These are livestock guardians, and they have to be big, strong, and ready to take on an attacker - but at the same time they must be non-aggressive towards their flock.
The Komondor is a rare dog breed originating from Germany. Known for their protective, watchful personality, this Hungarian herd dog is massive, weighing over 100 lbs, and has a thick, almost dreadlock style coat that sets it apart from many other dogs. This coat was especially advantageous for guarding sheep, as it blended in with them.
The Kuvasz is well known as a Hungarian guard dog throughout Europe. Owners value the breed for its intelligence and ability to act independently while still remaining loyal and protective of family.
Alongside their working aptitudes, they make for playful and affectionate companions. These dogs are a great addition to most families.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a very impressive dog! Massive, heavy set and a little bizarre looking, these huge protective dogs are not to be messed with! They need a huge amount of space indoors due to their sizable bodies and, puppies particularly, are very clumsy.
The Rottweiler, (or Rotties, as they are often called), are actually intelligent, compassionate animals, despite their generalization in pop culture suggesting that they are mean attack dogs,
Known especially for their loyalty, Rotties are devout to their owners and will defend them with their lives.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a large, powerful and athletic hound, originally from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in Africa. These dogs were originally bred to protect the early white settlers in Africa, and to act as hunting dogs, particularly for hunting lions. They are also known as The African Lion Hound, for this reason.
Training: Time Consuming
Recognition: FCI: Group 3, AKC: Terrier, ANKC: Terrier, CKC: Terrier, KC: Terrier, NZKC: Terrier, UKC: Terrier
Grooming: Time Consuming
Training: Time Consuming
Recognition: FCI: Group 2, AKC: Working, ANKC: Utility, CKC: Working, NZKC: Utility, UKC: Guardian
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