15 BEST Guard Dogs for Families (with Photos)

Dogs have been the best friends of humans since time immemorial.

They have been companions and protectors, guarding properties, lives, and even livestock. And although all breeds are loving and loyal, making them excellent guardians, some perform the role more professionally.

best guard dogs for families
15 Best Guard Dogs for Families

They are highly alert and bark at the slightest movement, scaring away any threats and notifying their owner. Dogs often put their lives on the line to protect their owners.

If you want to adopt a guardian, here are the 15 best guard dogs for families.

1. German Shepherd 

There is a reason why German Shepherds are the most common police dogs.

German Shepherd sits on a rug
A German Shepherd sits on a rug on the front porch.

They are loyal and courageous and respond to commands at a moment’s notice. They have the natural instinct to listen, learn, and obey, making them the perfect family guard dog.

German Shepherds have an imposing height and a loud bark. Moreover, they make protecting their owners their life mission. They do this to the point that they put their own lives on the line.

However, you’ll need to train the German Shepherd thoroughly. Train it not to jump on anyone who approaches its home. An untrained German Shepherd can be overprotective of its family and attack anyone who comes its way.

However, the ferocious animal transforms into a softie for its family. It is exceptionally lovely and friendly, especially with children. 

2. Rottweiler

Rottweilers have a reputation for being aggressive

Rottweiler stands on the rock
Rottweiler stands on the rock by the river.

They are an amazing breed, loyal, lovely, and protective of their family. They have a calm temperament and are gentle and playful. However, they are wary and suspicious of strangers.

Their intimidating stare and standoffishness can prevent anyone from trying anything funny.

If not trained properly, their aggressive behavior can get out of hand. If not appropriately socialized, Rottweilers will bark at and attack any individual that comes their way. 

Rottweilers are eager to please and intelligent, making them very easy to train. You can train them to be excellent guard dogs. They will undoubtedly be vigilant and on the lookout for strangers, as well as devoted and loving to their families.

3. Doberman Pinscher

The Doberman Pinscher was bred to be a guard dog and retain its guarding instincts. They were bred from Terriers and Greyhounds, so they have agile, athletic bodies. They protected taxmen while the latter collected money.

Black Doberman Pinscher
Black Doberman Pinscher on leash.

They have typical guard dog characteristics of being alert and cautious. While this is the main reason they make excellent guard dogs, the same qualities can also be a matter of concern if you don’t train the Doberman and socialize it properly. 

Their bark, growl, and intimidating look will stop anyone from entering a property or harming anything. When trained, these dogs become very well-tuned to their owner’s commands. They are excellent with children, loving and protecting them.

However, the Doberman is very energetic and needs regular exercise. Long walks, obedience training, and tracking must be a part of their routine. 

4. Bullmastiff

The Bullmastiff is a cross between Bulldogs and Mastiffs and is one of the best guard dogs for families. The breed is tall, muscular, and strong, making it very intimidating

large Bullmastiff
A large Bullmastiff sits on the grass.

These dogs are very intuitive and great at sensing danger. They are fearless and ferocious and will directly attack a potential threat instead of scaring them off with their bark.

Their intimidating looks hide their loving and caring nature. They quickly make their family their pack, care for them, and love and protect them at all costs. They love children and make the best companions.

Considering their size, many may think that the breed needs lots of exercise; however, it is not so. Bullmastiffs require moderate exercise, but like any other large breed dog, they must be trained and socialized from a young age. 

Proper training will help them adapt to new situations and accept new people without getting defensive. 

5. Boxer

One of the most beloved breeds in the USA, Boxers make amazing family guard dogs. Although small, they have a menacing look and are alert and protective of their family. 

Boxer on his soft dog bed
A Boxer on his soft dog bed looks hungry!

They are naturally protective and take their role as watchdogs very seriously. However, behind that intimidating persona is a very loyal, loving, and playful pet that makes a wonderful companion. They are great with children and crave a lot of time and attention.

Also, Boxers are very energetic; they can be your companion on walks and other physical activities. However, you need to train them not to chase anything and stay down.

They are open to strangers and get along with guests easily. Still, Boxers will quickly notify their owner of a new visitor or any unusual happening in the surroundings. 

However, the breed is very susceptible to certain health conditions like heart disease and tumors, so you must take care when adopting them.

6. Appenzeller Sennenhund

Appenzeller Sennenhund is quite small compared to the other dogs on the list. The medium-sized dog is noted for its fearlessness, making it a great watchdog and guard dog.

Appenzeller Sennenhund and dried leaves
Appenzeller Sennenhund guards the property while sitting on dried leaves.

Originally bred to work on farms, the breed is highly intelligent, which makes training them a breeze. Also, they are versatile and capable of performing many tasks, including herding and rescue.

Appenzeller Sennenhunds are friendly, cheerful, and energetic; however, they are wary of strangers. They are very protective of their family; nothing can deter them from their job, not even a juicy steak. 

However, they need a lot of space and do well in homes with big yards, where they have plenty of space to play and run. Also, they are better suited to colder climates and may not fare well in hotter climates.

7. Great Dane

Unlike Scooby-Doo, real-life Great Danes are graceful. Their imposing height is enough to intimidate people unfamiliar with the breed.

brown Great Dane
Close-up photo of a brown Great Dane.

Great Danes are more of a watchdog than a guard dog, with a bark that can scare away even strong-hearted individuals . But like Scooby Doo, they are “scaredy-cats” and cannot be trusted for protection. However, their height and bark are enough to keep intruders away.

Anyone who knows a Dane knows what gentle giants they truly are. They are great with children and affectionate, playful, and loving. However, they may behave aggressively towards other dogs if not trained and socialized properly.

8. Cane Corso

In Latin, Cane Corso means “bodyguard dog,” and the dog is a true bodyguard, loyal and devoted to its family. 

Cane Corso autumn leaves
Cane Corso with autumn leaves background!

Its height and muscular body give the dog an imposing stature. Also, the dog can be aggressive toward strangers. Deterring an attacking Cane Corso can be very difficult, as it becomes impervious to pain. 

They are loving and caring towards their family, especially with children. However, they need proper training and socialization and are unsuitable for first-time owners.

They have high exercise needs and are good at many sports, like tracking and dock diving. Also, like most big dogs, the Cane Corso is susceptible to many genetic diseases and has a shorter lifespan.

9. Akita 

Akitas were bred in Japan and are a symbol of good health and long life. They are powerful animals with large builds. They were bred as guard dogs and helped guard the Japanese emperor and his family. 

Akita siting
You might want to put a couch cover during Akita’s shedding season.

Akitas are loyal and courageous, and they will protect their owners from any potential threat. They are alert and will only bark when the need arises.

Although Akitas are playful and affectionate towards their owner, they are quite aloof with strangers. Also, the breed is independent and dominant and can become aggressive toward other dogs and animals. 

Akitas need adequate training and socialization; otherwise, they develop dominant behaviors and other negative characteristics.

 They are a brilliant and independent breed that is not for first-time owners. 

10. Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Rhodesian Ridgeback gets its name from the distinctive ridge of fur that runs along the spine in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat. 

a Rhodesian Ridgeback standing
A Rhodesian Ridgeback standing on the grass.

The breed was originally bred to hunt and corner lions. This indicates their fearlessness and readiness to take on challenges bigger than themselves. They were also used as guard dogs to protect property and livestock.

Ridgebacks are intelligent and confident, but they can be stubborn as well. They are aloof with strangers, and their dead stares and growls are enough to scare away any mischief. 

While they make amazing pets, Ridgebacks can become quite domineering if you do not establish the house hierarchy early. You’ll need to train and socialize them early on so that they do not become aggressive.

Also, Ridgebacks can be very sensitive, so avoid rough treatment and use positive reinforcement while training. 

11. Giant Schnauzer

Giant Schnauzers are from the Bavarian Alps, where they were bred as watchdogs and guard dogs. The bearded breed continues to take its job as a guardian seriously to this day. 

Giant Schnauzer standing
A Giant Schnauzer standing in a city park.

They are naturally suspicious of strangers and can scare them away with an intimidating look. Their strong will and intelligence make them amazing guard dogs. They have immense strength and tolerance for pain, which allows them to take on adversaries even larger than them.

They value their family the most and are very loyal. They do best in homes with older children and need to be trained and socialized early.

Schnauzers need constant attention as well as physical and mental stimulation. Also, the breed needs regular grooming to maintain a beautiful coat. 

12. Puli

Pulis are very distinct, thanks to their gorgeous dreadlocks. The small size and beautiful coat can make anyone assume it is a very obedient and shy dog. However, it is far from that.

Hungarian Puli
Hungarian Puli is a breed known to be used as herding dogs.

Behind that furry coat lies an intelligent, ferocious, and loyal friend ready to protect its family. The energetic breed is great with kids, as they make excellent playmates.

They are undercover mops that will take any intruder by surprise. Originally meant for herding, Pulis are fast learners that can outsmart predators. 

However, owning the breed can be very time-consuming, especially as their dreadlocks need a lot of grooming.

13. Caucasian Shepherd Dog

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is the most famous Russian dog breed today. Originally bred to protect livestock from wolves and bears, the animal retains its protective instincts. 

two Caucasian Shepherd dogs
The two Caucasian Shepherd dogs spend time outdoors.

Their guarding characteristics were long recognized, so they were employed to patrol the borders at the Berlin Wall and guard prisoners in the Soviet Gulag camps.

While the dog is sweet and calm with its family, it will spring into action if it senses any threat. It is not very accepting of strangers and can become fierce and powerful in front of intruders.

14. Beauceron

The largest French sheepdog, the Beauceron, strongly resembles a Doberman Pinscher. They are herding dogs that make great companions. 

Beauceron sitting pretty outdoors
Beauceron sits on the ground one afternoon.

Their large size and loyalty make them amazing guards. They are exceptionally fond of small and young children and will protect them at all costs. They are fearless and confident against threats and will stand their ground. 

However, like other large breeds, Beauceron dogs need proper training and are best for experienced owners. If not trained properly, they may exhibit dominance over their family. 

15. American Staffordshire Terrier

A type of Pitbull dog, the AmStaff is powerful and muscular and is known for its pain tolerance. Coming from a line of fighting dogs, AmStaffs are always game for any opponent. They are ferocious while fighting and show no mercy. 

American Staffordshire Terrier
Two American Staffordshire Terrier sit together.

Even though they are on the smaller side, AmStaffs can take on threats much larger than themselves. 

They are lovely, calm, and caring towards their family; however, they need to be trained to drive away their hunting instincts. Also, the breed needs a lot of physical and mental stimulation and a great deal of exercise to stay occupied. 


Adopting a pet is no easy decision. While some like small, fluffy companions, others prefer dogs with big personalities that are loving and can double as guardians.

If you, too, prefer guard dogs, be sure to pick one of these best guard dogs for families.