Best Guard Dogs for First-Time Owners (+ Photos)

New to the joys of dog ownership? Maybe you’re looking for a pooch that can watch over your property for you and sound the alarm if something is amiss. 

Well, guard dogs can be tricky. They tend to be protective, and they may also have a rebellious or dominant streak, which makes them unsuitable for first-time or inexperienced owners. 

best guard dogs for first time owners
Best Guard Dogs for First Time Owners

A guard dog is also known as an alert dog. Their primary function is to bark and sound the alarm if anything is amiss and sometimes their mere physical presence alone is enough to deter unwanted visitors from making your property a pit stop.

This is distinctly different from a personal protection dog. Requiring many hours of training, personal protection dogs will follow their owners around and keep them safe, potentially defending against attacks and preventing their owners from being inflicted bodily harm. 

It isn’t easy to find a dog with a strong protective instinct that is also suitable for inexperienced owners! Legendary guarding breeds like the German Shepherd, Rottweiler, and Doberman Pinscher are excellent watchdogs but they are also unsuitable for new owners as they have a strong, independent streak and can be nightmare dogs in the wrong hands. 

However, fret not! If you are looking for a dog to keep your property safe, here are a few ideas that might work for you. Some of them can be pretty surprising! 

1. Chihuahua

Yes, the smallest breed of dog known to man is also one of the most protective. These diminutive yappers might be small, but they are MIGHTY! Their yap is shrill and loud, and they are typically nervous dogs that will sound the alarm at well…practically everything. 

Chihuahua runs with blur background
Chihuahua runs fast with blur brick wall background.

The epitome of a “big dog in a little dog’s body,” the Chihuahua will not deter any unwanted visitors, but it is likely to wake you (and probably your whole neighborhood!) up if there is someone at the door. In addition, did you know that Chihuahuas ranked 3rd in the list of breeds most likely to bite

Yes! These little dynamos are just under Pitbulls and Rottweilers. Although of course, a bite from a Chihuahua is likely to do way less damage than these imposing dogs. 

In addition, Chihuahuas are known for being loyal, smart, eager to please, and filled with character and personality. Not only that, but Chihuahuas can actually be quite active! At first glance, they appear content just to curl up in your lap, but they’ll also enjoy playing a round of fetch or a few laps around the backyard now and then. 

Chihuahuas can suit first-time dog owners, but you’ll need to provide the pooch with proper training, socialization, and exercise. Don’t forget, these dogs are one of the most aggressive, so their small size doesn’t mean that bad behavior can go unchecked.

2. Great Dane 

Great Danes are majestic and grandiose animals, renowned for their large-scale size and stature. Standing at an average of 28 to 32 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing close to 200 lbs, these beautiful dogs look formidable enough to discourage potential intruders. 

Great Dane walks towards the owner
The Great Dane walks towards the owner.

Since they’re so big and imposing, they don’t even need to bark or make any noise – their presence is often enough to deter anything, whether human or animal, from entering the property. 

In addition, their keen senses allow them to pick up low-level noises that other dogs may not be able to hear, so you can know for sure when someone is coming near your house. Their booming bark will definitely alert you to the presence of something that isn’t supposed to be there! 

However, anyone that has owned a Great Dane knows that they truly deserve the term “gentle giants.” They may look incredibly intimidating, but Great Danes are excellent dogs for first-time owners. They are gentle, loyal, and loving, and make great family dogs, even if you have seniors or young children.

Also, despite their size, they are not particularly hyperactive dogs and have low to moderate energy levels. They will need some living space but they can even do well in apartments if you take the time to ensure that they are getting enough exercise. 

3. Boxer 

These medium-sized goofballs are playful balls of energy, but their athletic, muscular build and exuberant nature can deter unwanted visitors, whether human or otherwise.

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

Boxers are loving, affectionate creatures but they need constant attention and loads of exercise. A bored Boxer, like many other breeds, is never a good thing! If they have no outlet for their energy, they can exhibit all the annoying behaviors that owners hate like digging, chewing, and excessively barking.

Boxers have a deep, booming bark that can sound quite the alarm, especially if you are not familiar with the breed. However, most Boxers are big sooks and would love to cuddle up on the couch with you after a big walk. 

Note that Boxers are brachycephalic dogs, which means dogs that have flat faces and short noses like Pugs and Bulldogs. Brachycephalic dogs tend to have respiratory problems which sometimes can result in wheezing or difficulty breathing. 

In addition, you’ll have to watch out for BAS (Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome), a debilitating condition caused when the upper airways do not fit properly within the animal’s face-shaped skull. Common symptoms include snoring, labored breathing, and brachycephalic cough, as well as a host of other secondary conditions ranging from eye bulging to heart problems. 

4. Airedale Terrier

Airedale Terriers are one of the most intelligent and loyal breeds of dogs, making them ideal for guarding your home. Like many Terriers, they are naturally alert and bark when necessary, so you will have peace of mind of knowing that any suspicious activity is quickly addressed. Commonly called the “King of Terriers,” these strong and brave pooches also make wonderful family pets.

An Airedale Terrier
An Airedale Terrier with a top grade two color coat.

Airedale Terriers possess impressive size and strength, with their max weight reaching up to 70 pounds. With their friendly demeanors and yet wary natures, they will not hesitate to sound the alarm if a stranger approaches.

They are also an ideal choice for those who are owning a dog for the first time. Not only are they intelligent, but they also have an even-keeled and easygoing demeanor. They require moderate exercise, making them well-suited for urban living. 

They don’t require a large yard to be content with their environment. Their cheerful disposition makes them pleasant for adults, children, and people of all ages, as long as regular socialization is maintained. 

Despite their quickness to learn new commands and tricks, proper training is essential to ensure they stay obedient and become good canine citizens in the community.

5. Schnauzers 

There are three different sizes of Schnauzers: the Standard, Miniature, and Giant. Although they are vastly different in size, all Schnauzers tend to have a pretty impressive protective instinct

three Schnauzers stand together
The three Schnauzers stand together.

Even the littlest Schnauzers will sound the alarm if they find something amiss, or if an intruder is lurking about the property. And they may be small, but Mini Schnauzers sure can bark! 

In addition, the Giant Schnauzer also stands at 26 to 28 inches in height and boasts an average weight of 55 to 80 pounds. These substantial dogs demand respect and yet their gentle nature makes them highly adaptable when it comes to finding a place in their human family’s heart. 

When well cared for, a Schnauzer will undoubtedly offer decades of loyalty, love, and protection to its humans. The best thing? All Schnauzers, regardless of size, are hypoallergenic dogs which means they shed little to no fur and dander, making them perfect for households that have members with pet allergies. 

Just be sure to provide each one with enough exercise depending on their size, lifestyle, and energy levels. Schnauzers are moderately active dogs that will also exhibit destructive behaviors when left under-stimulated. 

6. Bullmastiff

Bullmastiffs are renowned for their courage, loyalty, and excellent guarding abilities, making them ideal guard dogs. These loyal companions have a courageous streak that gives them the confidence to protect their families and act as a deterrent to intruders. 

large Bullmastiff
A large Bullmastiff sits on the grass.

Furthermore, they are incredibly perceptive and have a strong awareness of any disturbances within their environment – combined with their enormous size, this makes them an intimidating sight for anyone looking to make mischief. 

Despite their intimidating size, Bullmastiffs are the perfect choice for first-time owners. Not only are they intelligent and devoted companions, but their dignified demeanor and mellow attitudes make them easy to train and live with. 

As loving family pets, Bullmastiffs view strangers cautiously — meaning less attention seeking from those outside the household — which is often appealing to potential owners who want to keep a low profile in the neighborhood. 

Bullmastiffs adapt well to any size living situation and need only a little exercise each day. 

Final Thoughts 

Not all dogs that are suited to guard your property will suit new, inexperienced owners. Before getting a dog to take care of your property, do your research into the breed and make sure that they will make a good fit for your lifestyle.

If you get a pushy dog with dominant tendencies, this could be a recipe for disaster. Not only can some behaviors rage out of control, but they can also result in aggression. And if you mix a powerful physique with aggressive tendencies, you’re in for a tough time!