Many people assume that guard dogs are simply used by those that are extremely paranoid, live in rough areas, or work for the local Police department.
However, guard dogs are one of the most effective security measures for any type of property, because they act as an amazing deterrent for anyone looking to incite violence, or theft on you or your family.
Not only are dogs tremendously loyal, but they are also very aware of their environments, and protective of those they are loyal too.
Quite simply, dogs have been used as a means of protection for thousands of years, and have even been consequently bred for this exact purpose.
With that being said, we are going to dive into why it’s so important to have a guard dog, and what sort of guard dogs are best depending on your personal situation.
Why Get a Guard Dog?
Guard dogs are tremendous to have around the house for anyone with families, as well as anyone simply looking to add an extra level of safety to their day-to-day life. Guard dogs are trained specifically to watch for, and guard against people (or animals), with their primary role being to keep their human (or their human’s property) safe.
With that being said, a guard dog is not the same as a watchdog, and understanding the difference is the first step when looking into getting a guard dog.
For example, a Chihuahua makes for an amazing watchdog due to it’s loud bark and keen senses, but I would not feel safe relying on a Chihuahua to save my life if I was in serious danger. Therefore, a watchdog will let their owner know if a stranger is coming, but guard dogs are typically trained to attack in these situations, instead of simply giving a warning.
However, there are levels to this as well, as there are a variety of different types of guard dogs, with the main four being; Property Guard Dogs, Personal Protection Dogs, Livestock Guard Dogs, and Military Guard Dogs.
4 TYPES OF GUARD DOGS
Property Guard Dogs (Watch Dogs) – Trained to alert their owners anytime an unfamiliar figure is spotted on the premises. They are typically trained to watch over property when the owner is not there. These breeds do not physically attack intruders, but will give verbal warnings such as intimidating snarls. Since they do not inflict harm, property dogs (or watch dogs) make excellent additions to families with young children.
Personal Protection Dogs – These dogs are trained to exhibit a combination of characteristics found in both watch, and guard dogs. If properly taught, these breeds can attack intruders, but this behavior does not come naturally to them. Personal protection dogs are trained to go anywhere with their owners, and in many different situations.
They typically have better hearing than humans and are usually more aware of their environment. Protection dogs are often territorial and independent, which gives them a formidable presence. Larger dogs make for better personal protection dogs, some classic breeds include; German Shepherds, Boxers, and Akitas because they are very trainable, and look intimidating to potential intruders.
Livestock Guard Dogs – Trained to perform all of the above roles mentioned of a typical guard dog, but these breeds are highly alert, attentive, and intelligent. Although, they also require more space to roam free, and so it’s for this reason that livestock guard dogs thrive in rural environments, but might not adapt well to an urban lifestyle.
Livestock guardian dogs are often big enough to attack, and are bred to protect livestock from predators. Generally the dog’s ability to guard their herd is instinctive, as the dog bonds with the herd early on. Most of the time they are only asked to guard the herd (not lead or move it), and so many shepherds try to match the colour of the dog with that of the herd.
This way it makes them less threatening to the herd, and harder to identify for the predators. This is likely why most Livestock Guard Dogs are white (same colour as sheep).
Military Guard Dogs – Trained to charge and pin down any perceived threat upon command. These breeds are favored by the Police or MIlitary as they can apply 750 pounds of pressure into a single bite, tearing through both muscles and tendons.
Often nicknamed “War Dogs”, they are required to be 20 inches tall at the shoulders, and cannot be more than 5 years old. They are trained to not be afraid of loud noises and gunfire, and are used for a wide variety of military purposes.
They may be used to detect harmful gasses and ammunition, as well as bombs, mines, and are trained to attack any oncoming enemies. Despite behaving viciously whenever necessary, military guard dogs are gentle towards their own families and people they trust.
BEST GUARD DOG BREEDS
Now that we’ve covered the multiple different types of guard dogs, it’s time to break down some of the most popular breeds used for security.
Personal Protection/Property Dogs
Doberman Pinscher – Dobermans are highly regarded as one of the more clever, alert, and stubbornly steadfast allies, and guard dogs in the world. They are very mindful, and committed to their family. They also have a methodical approach to the way they learn, and so training them shouldn’t be too difficult. Many assume that these intimidating pooches are savage or forceful animals, but in reality they are extremely loyal, and can be used for anything from a working canine, to a guard dog.
German Shepherd – German Shepherds remain as one of the most loyal, brave, and obedient breeds in the world. However, they are also extremely loving, and if trained properly, can even make for great guard dogs for families. Many people think they are overly-territorial, or too aggressive to have around children, but they can actually be very gentle, and loyal towards family members if cared for properly.
Rottweiler – Believe it or not, Rottweilers are one of the oldest dogs used for security purposes. In fact they can be traced all the way back to the Roman Empire, illustrating a naturally skilled protector with tremendous intelligence. Most people see Rottweilers and think they must be mean, or viscous. Which is not entirely true. They have just been used as a primary source of protection for so long that they’ve earned such a tough, fearsome reputation.
Akita – Akitas are one of the most loyal dogs you will ever find, and past that, they are also extremely courageous, and alert making them naturally suspicious of strangers. They are perfect for families as they take their guardian duties very seriously, and require little to no training as they are genuinely driven to protect their own. Obviously some fine-tuning might be required to avoid any unnecessary aggression, or standoffishness.
Giant Schnauzer – Specifically bred to defend livestock, and property, this breed was developed in the 17th century and remains to this day one of the best guard dogs. It’s a very loyal, intelligent, energetic, and trustworthy breed, and it is also amazing with children, making it one of the top choices amongst guard dogs for families.
Bullmastiff – These are one of the more territorial and possessive dogs you’re going to find, making them perhaps the most effective guard dogs on this list. The Bullmastif’s temperament is typically thought of as fearless, and confident, and above all else, they are extremely protective of those they love. It is for these reasons that many consider them to be the top choice amongst guard dogs. As they won’t hesitate to inflict harm on a potential threat if they believe their family is in danger.
Livestock Guard Dogs
Kangal Dog – Kangals are typically regarded as extremely big, and powerful breeds, as well as being very calm, controlled, and protecting towards their humans, and their property. A well-socialized Kangal can be friendly towards guests, and children as well, however they are also very sensitive to potential threats, and warning signals. They create tremendous guardians, and due to their surprising speed (50 km/h max speed), and territorial tendencies. They are perfect for guarding livestock as well.
Tibetan Mastiff – Tibetan Mastiffs were developed centuries ago to be exactly that, a guard dog. They thrive in large open spaces, and will not hesitate to let it be known that intruders are approaching, making them ideal guard dogs, especially for livestock. They are even prized for being a nocturnal security guard, as they are known to bark at sounds throughout the night.
Komondor – This unique breed was specifically bred to guard both livestock, and personal properties. Renowned for their stylish yet signature dreadlocks. Komondors are big, strong, and amazingly courageous, yet affectionate towards their loved ones at the same time. It carries a very calm and steady temperament, but will not hesitate to take action if necessary. They are tremendously fast, powerful, and athletic, making them ideal guard dogs, and a perfect addition for any family.
Australian Shepherd – Australian Shepherds are not typically thought of to be overly aggressive in nature, but they are natural herders, and carry a somewhat large/intimidating stature. They are amazing watch dogs, as they are tremendously alert and perceptive, and will bark nonstop if any intruders are present. They are genuinely protective of their owners, and have nearly boundless energy. Making them perfect herd dogs, but also perfect guard dogs as well.
Prevent Break-Ins – Dogs are one of the more effective forms of home security, with their advanced training and ability to sense intruders immediately being second to none. Having an observant guard is essential for preventing intruders, in fact 65% of convicted crooks say that a large/intimidating dog would have scared them away.
Livestock guard dogs are incredibly important to many farmers and people that live on land. Livestock guard dogs are highly intelligent canines that are primarily used to guard livestock. They provide for perimeter security, help in herding animals, prevent predators from coming close to livestock, scare off snakes, and once in a blue moon can warn or protect their owners about dangers.
The Bulgarian Karakachan is one of the best livestock guarding dog breeds. They have a delicate and gentle personality for their family- but will ferociously protect you and your flock.
German Shepherds are the OG watch dogs – When you think of guard dogs (most notably K9-Units), the one breed that comes to mind is the German Shepherd.
- Well, there’s a good reason for that, it’s because in 1899 they were the first watch dogs widely used for security purposes. From this point on they have become the most mainstream breed of dog for security work, whether it be private property purposes, or even police or military forces as well.
Dogs have 10,000x better smell than humans (according to NYPD) – In 1907, the nation’s first K9 unit was launched in New York City. They typically worked 6-8 years on the force, and specialized in narcotics, explosives, or cadaver detection.
- Each canine is assigned as a human handler, which the dog will communicate via pawing (drugs), or sitting (explosives) depending on the command. Dogs have been used for their senses for generations, but with their tremendous sense of smell in particular, they have historically made for spectacular Police/Military dogs.
Guard Dog FAQs
Why do dogs make such great guardians?
The use of dogs as guardians has been well known since the ancient Roman times, as they used to put mosaics at the entrance of the houses to warn intruders of dangerous dogs on the property.
Dogs have been labelled as “man’s best friend” for good reason, as they remain the most loyal, affectionate, loving, and protective animals one could ever bring into their life. They are genuinely territorial, and will not hesitate to protect those they love. It is for these reasons that dogs remain the go-to option for protection.
Are there any negatives to having a guard dog?
Yes – the training that goes into teaching that dog to be aggressive can also backfire and turn the dog into an overly protective, or overly aggressive threat.
Dog bites can cause serious damage to humans, and so it’s important to be cautious of training the dog too hard, or with too much intensity. Also, be aware of the local provincial/state laws of wherever you are located.
In most cases if a dog bites an innocent victim, there are likely to be some serious legal repercussions.