As the last 10,000 years illustrate, the relationship between humans and canines is truly special. Dogs are not just incredibly loyal and comforting—they also provide protection. In fact, in addition to hunting, dogs were domesticated for this very purpose.
However, this is not to say that every breed makes for a good guard dog. It is also important to note that some of the most aggressive dog breeds aren’t suitable guard dogs. For instance, while Chihuahuas are quick and yappy, their diminutive size makes them incapable of doing much more than biting the ankles of would-be intruders. If you’re looking to get a guard dog, it’s helpful to know the characteristics that make certain breeds exceptional protectors.
In this blog post, we’ll answer the question “what are good guard dogs?” by covering five types of good guard dogs, the traits that make a pup fit for the job, and the best way to care for your trusted companion.
Good Guard Dog Breeds
While any adult medium, large, or giant-breed canine can theoretically be a good guard dog, we’ll start by taking a look at the five most popular breeds to train for guard duty (in no particular order).
Breed #1: German Shepherd
Highly loyal and intelligent, German shepherds make excellent guard dogs.
- This breed has been historically favored by military and police units.
- At an average fully-grown weight of 60-100 pounds, German shepherds are the perfect size to guard homes and families.
However, German shepherds have been known to attack family members and polite strangers if not properly trained. Like all breeds, knowing how to train a German Shepard is needed to make sure they are properly socialized.
Breed #2: Akita
One of the most loyal breeds around, Akitas were originally bred to protect royal families in feudal Japan. Talk about a storied history!
- In addition to being loyal, Akitas are natural guard dogs.
- They’re alert and courageous, prideful in their roles as protectors.
- At 50-85 pounds when full-grown, they’re a smaller yet powerful guard dog.
However, keep in mind that it can be difficult for Akitas to “turn off” this protector instinct. Akitas are often wary of strangers.
Nevertheless, if you’re interested in working dog breeds or want a dog who’s a natural when it comes to guard duties, you could do far worse than an Akita.
Breed #3: Bullmastiff
Originally bred by gamekeepers to keep their lands free of poachers, bullmastiffs are natural guard dogs. They’re large and alert, highly intelligent, and fiercely loyal.
But they’re also extremely affectionate around family members, making them the perfect dog to have around young children.
And, at an average full-grown weight of 100-130 pounds, bullmastiffs are the ideal combination of brains and brawn.
Breed #4: Komondor
A komondor’s long, white hairs look like a mophead but don’t let their cute locks fool you.
Komondors are some of the bravest, most loyal dogs around.
First bred in Hungary to guard livestock, komondors are natural protectors who take their jobs very seriously. Clocking in at 90-130 pounds when full-grown, they’re powerful enough to intimidate would-be intruders (cute coats aside).
But as with all breeds, it’s important to expose komondors to different situations in order to properly socialize them.
Breed #5: Rottweiler
Rottweilers have a reputation for being overly aggressive. Sometimes weighing in at over 100 pounds, this could potentially be dangerous.
Yet when adequately trained, this breed makes exceptional guard dogs. The Rottweiler temperament and personality traits make them exceedingly loyal and known to be very affectionate with family members. Although they’re very wary of strangers, with the right training, they can be properly socialized.
Breeds to Avoid
It may be surprising to some, but overly friendly dogs aren’t the most desirable for guard duty.
The problem is that these dogs typically can’t discern friend from foe and will usually welcome anyone into their home. Also, lazy or lower-energy breeds do not make good guard dogs. If you want a dog for protection, it’s wise to stay away from the following breeds:
- Labrador retriever
- Golden retriever
- Basset hound
- Irish setter
The Traits of Good Guard Dogs
If you’re looking to adopt a guard dog, don’t confine your search to purebred pups.
The most important thing is finding a canine companion with the right personality to act as a loyal guard dog (although it may help if they weigh more than a cat).
So, what makes a good guard dog?
When thinking of what makes a good guard dog, some people may think of “aggressiveness.” However, aggressiveness is only one characteristic of good guard dogs, and it may not be the most important.
Read on to discover the characteristics of good guard dog breeds.
Trait #1: Intelligence
Perhaps the most important trait of good guard dogs, intelligence dictates how much a dog is aware of its surroundings. Not only are intelligent dogs capable of higher levels of training, but they’re also able to discern real threats from imagined ones. This is incredibly important when introducing your dog to strangers. The last thing you want is your rottweiler attacking your new neighbor simply because they brought over a “welcome to the neighborhood” bundt cake.
Although there are a few methods to tell if your dog’s intelligent enough to be a good guard dog, one of the most straightforward ways is to see how long you can hold your puppy’s attention. Highly intelligent dogs will engage you when you’re speaking to them, often staring at you to “read” you. Less intelligent dogs will quickly lose interest.
Trait #2: Aggressiveness
It’s difficult to know how much aggression is needed to turn your pup into a good guard dog. On the one hand, aggressive dogs will be the most threatening to would-be intruders. Yet, on the other hand, overly aggressive dogs may turn on their family members.
The best guard dogs occupy a middle ground: they are neither timid nor overly aggressive.
Healthy levels of aggression manifest in the following ways:
- Alertness upon human approach
- Ability to play with other neighborhood dogs
- Calm yet obedient stature when approached
Trait #3: Loyalty
Loyalty is an essential trait of good guard dogs. Loyal dogs understand the reason they are protecting your home. They know their roles and take pride in their abilities to protect. However, unlike intelligence and aggression, loyalty must be instilled.
To build a mutual bond, it’s important to reward your pup for his willingness to defend. Treat your dog like a family member and they will return the favor.
When selecting a puppy to train for guard duties, it’s important to look at the following determiners of loyalty:
- Does your dog stay by your side when you’re interacting with others?
- Does your dog attempt to play with you and show other signs of affection?
- Does your dog enjoy the attention you give them?
Keeping Your Guard Dog Healthy
Once you’ve found the perfect guard dog, training for duty will only get him so far. You must also keep your guard dog both mentally and physically healthy so that he can protect you at all times. If you find yourself with a rather large pup, visit our article answering the question, “at what age are dogs fully grown,” so that you can better understand the exact needs your quickly growing puppy may need at full size.
Read on for ways to keep your guard dog healthy during the first year of training and beyond.
It’s no coincidence that the breeds that make the best guard dogs also require the most exercise. You should strive to give your guard dog moderate physical exercise each day so that they continue to be alert, agile defenders. Additionally, monitor your pup’s diet. Diets high in protein will allow your dog to operate at tip-top shape for the rest of his life.
If you find your dog’s physical performance isn’t reaching the heights it used to, consider supplementing your dog’s diet. More and more people are supplementing their dogs’ diets with CBD oil to help them relax their muscles after a long day. CBD may also help with appetite loss. Made with 100% organic, whole plant hemp extract, Canna-Pet’s Advanced MaxCBD Liquid is perfect for dogs on guard duty.
Mental conditioning is just as important as physical training for guard dogs. To keep your guard dog mentally sharp, it’s crucial that you play with him. Playtime is also an opportunity to help your pup learn to listen to his environment.
Ways to keep your dog’s mental faculties at a high level include:1
- Silent listening: To keep your dog attuned to his environment, reduce distractions as much as possible so that he’s attentive to the outside world.
- Distracted listening: The best guard dogs are gifted at filtering out the world around them to focus on what truly matters. To train your dog to listen even when distracted, make a noise in another room and let him find you.
- Focus Training: Position your dog’s favorite toy just above him and keep his attention by swaying the object. Let your dog eventually retrieve the object.
To help with mental training, you may also want to supplement your dog’s diet with CBD oil. Hemp-based CBD can also act as a calming aid for aggressive dogs. Adding an appropriate amount to the food bowl may be especially wise if you’re inviting new guests to the home your dog so loyally guards.
Keeping Your Guard Up With Canna-Pet
Which of the five most popular guard-dog types is right for you? If you fall in love with another breed at a shelter, not to worry! Many dogs can be trained and nurtured to act as trustworthy guards.
Hopefully, you’re never in a situation where you need the protection of your dogs. However, if you are, you’ll be glad you took the steps to train and properly care for your furry friend.
But initial training is only the first step. To ensure your dog is the best possible guard dog, it’s essential that you keep your pup both mentally and physically fit. With Canna-Pet’s CBD oil for dogs, you can rest easy knowing your dog is experiencing relaxation and comfort after a long day defending your home.
- India Kennels. Desirable Traits in a Good Guard Dog. https://www.indiakennels.com/security-training/traits.php
- The Spruce Pets. Ten Best Dog Breeds for Protection. https://www.thesprucepets.com/best-dogs-for-protection-4140197