Some dogs were bred to guard their home and family, while others have the potential to be excellent guard dogs because they’re vigilant, intelligent and highly trainable. If you’re looking for a family guard dog, there’s certainly not a lack of options.
All of these breeds are considered to be great protectors – although some require more strict training than others. Just because a dog has a protective nature, that doesn’t mean they instinctively know how to work as a guard dog. When you’re choosing a guard dog, take into account personality, size and training requirements to help you figure out what breed is best for you.
The Akita was originally bred in Japan as a hunting dog but is exceptionally loyal and fearless, which makes it a great guard dog. The American Kennel Club says this muscular, spitz-type dog is “hard-wired for protecting those they love.” To keep any bad habits in check, positive dog training and socialization from puppyhood is recommended.
The Appenzeller Sennenhund originated in Switzerland as an all-round farm dog, but this is a breed that will get on with any job it’s given — including guarding. As well as needing a clear purpose in life, the Appenzeller demands lots of exercise and consistent training. This makes it best suited to an experienced dog owner.
Bullmastiff owners will tell you this breed makes an excellent family guard dog. Affectionate and loyal, it has an easygoing nature but can also be trained to be a formidable protector. It helps that it’s one of the biggest dog breeds, weighing up to 130 pounds.
Courageous and strong, the Caucasian shepherd was bred to care for flocks and protect the home from predators in the Caucasus Mountain region on the boundary of Europe and Asia. This highly territorial breed – described by the American Kennel Club as “a serious guardian breed” – is naturally wary of strangers, so early training is required to control aggressive tendencies. There’s no threat it will shy away from.
The Doberman pinscher is a people-oriented breed, affectionate and warm with most and extremely loyal to its owners. However, it’s also a natural guard dog, ready to warn of any incoming threats. The American Kennel Club says the Doberman “stands proudly among the world’s finest protection dogs.”
The German shepherd more than deserves its reputation as the dog world’s finest all-around worker. This breed is agile and highly intelligent, and has a natural instinct to protect. It will always put its own life on the line in order to protect its loved ones.
The puli – easily recognized by its long, thick, corded coat – was traditionally used as a herding dog in its native Hungary. But it was also bred to guard livestock and is equally protective of the humans in its life. This high-drive shaggy dog learns and reacts fast.
Descended from the mastiffs of the Roman legions, Rottweilers are often used as home guard dogs as they’re naturally protective of their families. This sturdy working breed is confident, strong and self-assured. If socialized early and properly trained, the Rottie can learn to react appropriately to anyone who poses a threat.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The Staffordshire bull terrier was bred in 19th century Britain to be a fighting dog, but those days are long gone. Today, this breed is typically very loving, particularly towards children. It also has a strong instinct to protect, which makes it a good choice for a family guard dog.
Bernese Mountain Dog
If you want a dog whose mere presence will deter an intruder, the Bernese mountain dog is a good choice. One of the biggest dog breeds in the world, it can weigh up to 160 pounds. Plus, it’s naturally wary of strangers – its bark alone is often enough to warn off intruders.
An enthusiastic working dog, the boxer was one of the first breeds to be employed as a police dog. It also makes an effective guard dog, partly because it looks more intimidating than it actually is. This loyal family pet, known for being great with children, will make you feel protected without having to worry about aggression or violence.
The incredibly powerful, strong Great Dane should definitely be considered if you’re looking for a personal protection dog. Elegant and strong, this breed is highly trainable. In the home, its mere presence will provide a sense of security. At the same time, it will be an affectionate and loving friend to everyone in the family.
Also known as the Hungarian Sheepdog, the komondor was bred in its native land to guard livestock and property, so it has all the qualities of a family guard dog. Wary of strangers and very protective, it rewards its owner with complete devotion. Its size alone is enough to keep intruders at bay – this breed can weigh up to 100 pounds.
The Belgian Malinois is a popular choice for a security dog due to its confidence, intelligence and loyalty. These qualities make it a good home guard dog, although it will be happiest if it has a number of roles to fulfill. Due to its high prey drive and seemingly boundless energy, this breed deserves an experienced, committed owner who will give it the physical and mental stimulation it needs to thrive.
If you’re wondering if the cane corso makes a good guard dog, you only have to look at its name – it roughly translates to “guard dog.” Often used for tracking and law enforcement, the cane corso sees guarding as a natural activity. Its devotion to its family knows no bounds.
It’s a pretty safe bet that a dog that was originally bred to track – but never kill – lions will make a natural guard dog. Unsurprisingly, the Rhodesian Ridgeback has a strong prey drive. Independent and loyal, this breed doesn’t bark for no reason – so when it does, there’s usually something worth investigating.
The sturdy, short-bodied Norwegian elkhound may not be the largest dog breed, but size doesn’t always matter when it comes to a family guard dog. This breed is alert, confident and intelligent. When trained to protect, it will make all members of its human family feel safe.
Bred as a working dog in the Bavarian Alps in the mid-1800s, the giant schnauzer served as a guard dog for farmers, merchants and innkeepers. This breed needs plenty of daily exercise and stimulation. Powerful, energetic and dominant, it also needs strict training from puppyhood.
The Great Pyrenees has a calm, patient nature, but it’s also extremely powerful. It was bred to protect sheep from wolves and other predators in its native mountain land, and it’s never lost its courage or vigilance. This makes it an attentive home guard dog.
The family-friendly Boerboel is a good choice for a guard dog because it’s naturally wary of strangers. Described by the American Kennel Club as “intimidating but discerning,” this breed is considered to be protective without being aggressive. Bright and keen to learn, it’s also known to be great with kids.
The kuvasz is famously loyal, patient and sweet-natured, but it’s also a large, strong, smart working dog. And despite its size, it’s quick on its feet when faced with a threat. Legend has it that Hungary’s King Matthias I trusted his kuvs more than his palace guards.
Muscular and stocky, the chow or chow chow‘s history goes all the way back to ancient China. Although this breed was originally a companion dog for Chinese nobles, it’s also known for its guarding and hunting skills, making it an excellent guard dog. Although it’s not a naturally sociable dog and will be aloof with strangers, it’s affectionate and loving with its family.
The Chinese Shar-Pei is another breed that can’t be described as a crowd-pleaser — it reserves its affection for those it’s closest to. Loyal, calm and quiet, it tends to be a peaceful presence in the home. But at the slightest suggestion of a threat, the Shar-Pei will assume the role of investigator.
For a bull terrier to have a happy life, it needs to be well-trained, socialized with people and other dogs early, get plenty of exercise and lots of quality time with its human family, according to the American Kennel Club. Many bull terrier owners swear by the breed as a family guard dog because it has a protective instinct – particularly when it comes to children – and is extremely loyal. Its appearance can also create a fearsome impression (although it’s a lot softer than it looks).
American Staffordshire Terrier
Known to those who love them as AmStaffs, the American Staffordshire Terrier is smart, confident and courageous. Provided its responsibly bred, socialized and trained in puppyhood, an AmStaff can be an efficient guard dog. It’s important to teach it the difference between “good” and “bad” strangers to ensure its fierce protective instinct is used in the right way.
A breed of steady disposition, the Tornjak (also known as the Croatian shepherd) can always be trusted to protect both people and property. It’s thought to be a descendant of the Tibetan Mastiff – another great guard dog breed. The Tornjak is suspicious of strangers, immune to bribery and completely devoted to its human family.
Used by sheep farmers for centuries as a herder, the border collie is an excellent all-round protector. Because it’s one of the most intelligent dog breeds, it can be trained to do almost anything. However, it needs an owner who has ample time and energy to meet its needs.
The huge Tibetan mastiff has all the qualities of a superb guard dog – it’s independent, reserved, intelligent and extremely protective. In fact, the American Kennel Club calls it “the guardian dog supreme.” But it’s not the right breed for you unless you have the time and patience required to train it well, as it’s also known for wanting to do its own thing.
The Beauceron is gentle and faithful, but that’s only one side to its character. This breed, which originated in France in the 1500s for herding, is often used as guard dogs and police dogs. The American Kennel Club notes that the Beauceron has “a Border Collie’s brain in a 100-pound body” – a formidable opponent, then.
A steady, loyal companion, the Neapolitan mastiff is an excellent guard dog who will take its job of defending its family and home seriously. Its somewhat alarming appearance alone may be enough to ward off an intruder or attacker – but beneath the hanging wrinkles and folds and enormous lips is a docile, dignified dog. It’s important to socialize the Neapolitan mastiff from a young age to ensure they know the difference between a safe situation and a dangerous one.