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Top 10 Best Guard Dogs
It’s a dog’s nature to be affectionate and loyal, but some breeds are wired to put more effort into protecting you and your property.
They know it’s their duty to “protect and serve,” whether they’re at home or on the job. The following breeds are our picks for the ten best guard dogs—the real-life Paw Patrol.
10. Cane Corso
Cane Corsos are large, muscular dogs that are easy to train, very affectionate, and are extremely protective of their families and children.
The Corso is a Mastiff breed descended from Italian “catch dogs,” which were used to track and catch large animals, such as boars and bears. Their name means, “courtyard dog” in Latin, which is a nod to another one of their historical duties—patrolling courtyards and keeping watch over their humans, livestock and property. Other than being used as police dogs, their duties have virtually remained the same through the centuries.
Although Cane Corsos are docile and loving with their families, they can be highly aggressive towards strangers and more than a handful at the vet.
You’d think that a dog with corded hair that looks like dreadlocks would lead a calm, peaceful, laid-back existence, but the playful, intelligent, energetic and high-strung Puli was bred to protect and herd.
The Puli is a medium-sized sheepdog whose origins have been traced to ancient Iraq. It is thought that they were brought to Hungary by the Magyars, who migrated from Central Asia more than 1,000 years ago.
Pulik were originally used to herd livestock and guard it from wolves, bears and other intruders—including people. Over time, as shepherding became less popular, the Puli’s herding skills became virtually obsolete, but to this day, it is still prized as a guard dog. They are very strong-willed, courageous, protective and devoted to their humans, but are wary of strangers, suffer fools lightly—and when annoyed, will attack without warning. So, we advise you to stay cool…don’t be a fool!
8. Giant Schnauzer
The Giant Schnauzer has the face of a pipe-smoking Victorian gentleman and a quiet, yet confident demeanor, but its commanding presence, agility and territorial instinct makes it one of the world’s most popular guard dog breeds.
Schnauzers were originally developed in 17th century Germany to guard farms, herd and drive livestock to market. As urban areas grew, they were eventually brought to cities, where they stood watch over breweries, factories and other commercial properties. During World Wars I and II, the Schnauzer was also in high demand as a military dog. Today, many Schnauzers work as police dogs and participate in canine sporting events.
They are fiercely loyal to their families, and amicable when relaxed, but are intrinsically suspicious of strangers and can be aggressive if not properly introduced to unfamiliar people. Early socialization is the key to bringing up a well-adjusted Schnauzer. If they are socialized at a young age, they will get the conditioning they need to trust people and pets other than those in their family.
Originally bred to track wild animals and guard Japanese royalty, the Akita has a solid reputation as a fearless guardian that won’t back down.
The Akita is a large, sturdily built breed with an intimidating, yet dignified presence. With family, they are loving and playful, but they are also stubborn, wary of strangers and can be particularly aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex. When it comes to canine siblings, the Akita is content being the only canine in the family.
Akitas are very nosy, but are as quiet as ninjas. If something sparks piques their interest, they will thoroughly investigate the situation, only barking to alert their humans when there is a serious threat or situation.
Which would you prefer as a guard dog? An investigator? Or a barker?
6. Rhodesian Ridgeback
You should never bring a dog to a lion fight…unless that dog is a Rhodesian Ridgeback.
Originally bred to fight lions, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is the gladiator of guard dogs.
It is a combination of several breeds including Mastiffs, Bloodhounds, Great Danes, Greyhounds and African wild dogs made possible through the collaborative efforts of Native South Africans and European Settlers. The end result is a dog whose speed, strength, endurance, and courage are unparalleled.
Once they trust you, a Ridgeback will offer their loyalty and protection. Intruders on the run don’t stand a chance when the Ridgeback is in hot pursuit, and when they get caught, letting go will not be an option for this strong-willed canine. What can one expect from a dog with a Mohawk on its back?
If you’re looking for a guard dog that can also double as a nanny, the Rottweiler could be the answer to your prayers.
Rottweilers are thought to be descended from Roman drover dogs who herded cattle to follow legions of soldiers across Europe, giving them a readily available food supply. After the decline of the Roman Empire, Rottweilers were still used to herd and guard cattle for trade, and during the Middle Ages, butchers took them to market to guard coin purses which were tied around their necks. The Industrial Age saw a decline in the breed, as railroads became the most efficient means of getting stock to market.
The demand for police dogs during World War I spurred a resurgence of the Rottweiler. They served in various capacities including as messengers, ambulance and guard dogs.
Rottweilers exhibit a reserved confidence and aloofness when dealing with strangers, and won’t let their guard down until they’ve completed reconnaissance.
Got kids? Forget Nanny McPhee…get yourself a “Nanny McFlea.” Around family, Rotts tend to be calm, relaxed, and even bit clownish. The gentle giants of our list, they are extremely affectionate towards, and protective of children and other animals—even cats.
Nobody likes the tax man. So, in the 1880s when German tax collector Karl Friedrich Louis Doberman engineered a dog type by crossing breeds such as the Rottweiler, Manchester Terrier, Weimeraner and Black English Greyhound he did it with one goal in mind—to create a guard dog unmatched in fearlessness, intelligence, toughness, vigilance and athleticism. His efforts resulted in a breed that bears his name to this day, the Doberman Pinscher.
Dobermans could be called “Renaissance” dogs. Not only are they used for protection, they serve as police dogs, take part in search and rescue operations, and make excellent service and emotional support animals.
Dobies are perhaps the most trainable dog breed. They maintain and level of alertness not seen in other breeds, and are devoted to their humans, implicitly following their commands to the letter. This, combined with their intimidating looks—a sleek, muscular physique, cropped ears and tail—make them the quintessential guard dog.
The Bullmastiff was originally created in the 19th century by English groundskeepers to accompany gamekeepers and protect sprawling country estates and hunting reserves, a la Downton Abbey.
They crossbred the large, powerful, non-aggressive English Mastiff with the muscular, tough, and aggressive Old English Bulldog. It was a combination that resulted in a dog that was large, fast, and fearless enough to apprehend and pin down intruders until the cops arrived, without mauling them.
The Bullmastiff is the perfect example of a big dog with nothing to prove. Instead of barking as a warning or alarm, they quietly track trespassers and detain them—and they won’t bite unless absolutely necessary.
Bullmastiffs make affectionate and loyal pets, but due to their massive size they are best suited to families with older children.
2. Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois is a working dog that was originally a member of group called the Continental Shepherd Dogs. This group, which included the French, German, Dutch and Belgian herding breeds were coveted for their loyalty and work ethic, but their most valued trait was their versatility.
Malinois are slender, yet strong, athletic dogs. They serve in a variety of capacities including (but not limited to) police and military duty, as wildlife protection officers, therapy dogs, on search and rescue teams, as service dogs, and even as secret service dogs. Yep, they even work at the White House.
Malinois’ adaptability and aptitude for work is a product of their boundless energy level. They are extremely playful, and can have puppy-like energy up to age five, and are as protective as they are playful, which makes them a fantastic guard dog for families.
Topping our list is the “King of the K9 Unit”—the German Shepherd.
Like the Belgian Malinois, the German Shepherd was part of the Continental Shepherd Dog group. The dogs in this group looked similar and had the desired traits for herding sheep including strength, intelligence, and a keen sense of smell.
Shepherds are born guard dogs because they are confident, brave, and have a natural inclination to listen, learn, and obey. Those traits combined with a muscular body, strong jaws and a menacing black mask, make them formidable opponents to intruders. They have a sweet, tender side that they share with their humans, but also tend to be territorial and overprotective of them, and take their time getting to know strangers.
German Shepherds are hailed for their police work and military service, as well as search and rescue work, and drug, accelerant, and explosives detection work. They also have the distinction of being the original breed selected for use as guide dogs to the blind.
What do you think is the most important trait to look for in a guard dog?