12 Best Guard Dog Breeds For Protection

Let us start by saying this: if you plan on getting a dog, make sure first and foremost that you are willing and able to properly care for one. Respect, caring, and kindness are all necessary parts of that equation. The animal should be a pet first and a guard dog second, or else you’re putting yourself, everyone around you, and the animal at risk. With that being said, there’s nothing wrong with properly training a dog to protect you and your property. In fact, it can be a very strong deterrent altogether.

But you can’t just hope that a yippy little dachshund will scare away intruders, as it takes a bit more than that to scare off determined criminals. Thankfully, dogs have been bred for generations upon generations for very specific purposes – including protection. The following 12 breeds (and mixes therein) are excellent pets and, when properly trained, even better guard dogs.

Akita

Feudal Japan – aka the time of the Samurai – was a fairly mean place full of combat, swordplay, and war. So, when we tell you that this breed of dog was specifically bred to protect royalty and nobility in that time, we want you to understand the gravity of that statement. In fact, these dogs were also used to hunt wild boar, deer, and even bears. Needless to say, their modern-day counterparts make excellent guard dogs with the proper training and care. They are stubborn and tough, but they’re also known to be quite affectionate and respectful to their owners.

Breed Group: Working Dogs
Size: 70-130 LBS
Lifespan: 10-12 Years

Learn More: JACA

Boxer

Named for their unusual behavior of standing on their back legs and “punching” with their front legs, this large dog breed is typically full of energy, which requires quite a bit of exercise in order to keep them calm an obedient. That being said, a Boxer that receives enough attention and exerts a good deal of energy is an exceedingly loyal companion, indeed. They’re also legendarily patient with children and are excellent family dogs. They also, however, can be viciously protective of their homes and property – especially against unwanted invaders. These traits have led to frequent use in both the military and police force – which means they are also excellent candidates for guarding you and your home.

Breed Group: Working Dogs
Size: 60-70 LBS
Lifespan: 10-12 Years

Learn More: ABC

Bullmastiff

For anyone who has seen ’90s film, the Sandlot, you are already well acquainted with what makes the Bullmastiff such a good guard dog – as ‘the Beast’ was a member of this breed. Extremely large and intimidating in their appearance, Bullmastiff dogs are extremely strong and domineering – and any well-informed criminal could tell you that they’re not to be trifled with. And that’s very good news from the guard dog front. Even better, these pups are supremely friendly when it comes to family and friends, so you need not worry so much about aggression with those who are familiar to these dogs. While they don’t require as much exercise as, say, boxers, they will absolutely eat you out of house and home if you let them and can be very difficult to manage due to their massive size.

Breed Group: Working Dogs
Size: 100-130 LBS
Lifespan: 8-10 Years

Learn More: ABA

Chow Chow

Don’t let their often fluffy appearance and cute name give you the wrong impression; Chow Chows, though they can look like living stuffed animals, are quite formidable as guard dogs. In fact, this breed is actually said to be one of the world’s oldest, dating back as far as the Han Dynasty (around 206 BC) or farther and originating in northern China and Mongolia. It’s even said that one Chinese emperor kept as many as 5,000 as hunting dogs, which is a pretty big endorsement of their talents and toughness. This breed is known to be fairly low-maintenance, independent, and fiercely loyal – all excellent traits when it comes to guard dogs.

Breed Group: Working Dogs
Size: 40-70 LBS
Lifespan: 12-15 Years

Learn More: CCCI

Doberman Pinscher

There are a few breeds that come to the front of our minds when we think of guard dogs and the Doberman Pinscher is almost always at the front of the pack. And for obvious reasons – one of which being that they were specifically bred to be guard dogs in Germany during the early 19th century. Truly, that is reason enough to put them at the top of anyone’s list of the best guard animals. They are also extremely smart, meaning they can tell the difference between an intruder and a family member or visitor, and have a streak of loyalty that is nearly unrivaled.

Breed Group: Working Dogs
Size: 60-80 LBS
Lifespan: 10-13 Years

Learn More: DPCA

German Shepherd

Perhaps most well known as a hunting and/or service dog, German Shepherds have clearly proven themselves as excellent, talented, and loyal companions regardless with what they are tasked. And the fact that they are used everywhere from the military to the police force should instill plenty of confidence in anyone looking for a good guard dog. These dogs are exceedingly smart, easy to train in a variety of skills, and will be loving companions so long as you take care of them. They can even act as seeing-eye dogs or helpers for the physically disabled. It might actually be easier and shorter to write a list of things they can’t do.

Breed Group: Herding Dogs
Size: 75-95 LBS
Lifespan: 10-14 Years

Learn More: GSDCA

Giant Schnauzer

Though they are not as well-known or as popular as some of the other dog breeds on this list, Giant Schnauzers are undeniably incredibly capable mutts, boasting a far-above-average intelligence and the ability to learn literally dozens of skills. These dogs, however, do require quite a bit of mental stimulation to keep them healthy and happy and will be quite a handful if they don’t receive it. That being said, these playful pups are still definite contenders for both great guard and family dogs – though they do far better with older kids than small children and toddlers, which is worth keeping in mind if you’re looking to start a family during the lifespan of your adopted Schnauzer.

Breed Group: Working Dogs
Size: 55-80 LBS
Lifespan: 10-12 Years

Learn More: GSCA

Great Dane

Despite the fact that mystery-solving cartoon dog, Scooby Doo, has given this breed a reputation as scaredy cats, real-life Great Danes are far from being easily intimidated when trained as guard dogs. And it helps that they tower over just about every other breed of dog around. They’re practically closer in size to horses than to your average pup. The good news is, however, that these dogs are also known as ‘gentle giants,’ thanks largely to their extremely kind and family-friendly nature. Still, they will protect you and your home from any unwanted invaders should they receive the proper training. Just keep in mind that these mutts are more of an intimidating deterrent than an actual attack dog.

Breed Group: Working Dogs
Size: 100-200 LBS
Lifespan: 7-10 Years

Learn More: GDCA

Pit Bull

Pits have a very unfortunate reputation due to their use as fighting and guard dogs, but there’s no denying their abilities in those venues. To clarify (or perhaps confuse), the term ‘pit bull’ actually refers to a group of breeds that share many of the same characteristics. These include the American Pitt Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier, and Staffordshire Terrier. There is some argument as to whether these are all different or the same breeds, but the fact remains that their strength, tenacity, and loyalty all make them great guard dogs. Just remember, these are not the monsters they’ve been made out to be and were actually long-time nanny dogs thanks to their mild-mannered and loving attitudes toward children.

Breed Group: Terrier Dogs
Size: 30-85 LBS
Lifespan: 12-16 Years

Learn More: ADBA

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Originally bred to hunt Lions (yes, you read that right), it should come as no surprise that the Rhodesian Ridgeback makes it onto our list of excellent guard dogs. These massive mutts are supremely strong, athletic, easy to care for, and very smart. They are not, however, the easiest to train, as their intelligence and natural wanderlust can make for a frustrating time for inexperienced dog owners. In any case, if you can win them over and get them properly trained, you’ll find that you’ve got yourself a loyal pet that will defend you until its dying breath – and that’s worth all the potential trouble you might find yourself in.

Breed Group: Hound Dogs
Size: 70-85 LBS
Lifespan: 10-12 Years

Learn More: RRCUS

Rottweiler

Right up there with the Doberman Pinscher, the Rottweiler is one of the most classic guard dog breeds. This is in part due to their intimidating appearance, bellowing growl, and easy trainability. In fact, they were one of the earliest police dogs and have served a number of different and difficult functions over the course of their history – including working as cattle dogs, butcher’s assistants, and even family guardians. These mellow dogs are natural guard animals, as they have a natural tendency to stand their ground without overstepping their boundaries. And they’re incredibly lovable, too.

Breed Group: Working Dogs
Size: 85-130 LBS
Lifespan: 8-11 Years

Learn More: ARC

Shar-Pei

Like Chow Chows, the Chinese Shar-Pei might look a bit goofy at first glance, but they’re definitely a breed you don’t want to mess with. You see, they’ve been around for literally hundreds of years and have served as hunting, herding, guard, and even fighting dogs. They do, however, require a strong hand when it comes to training as they have been known to be aloof and have a tendency to overreact to intruders and welcome visitors alike. Still, they’re quite calm otherwise, well-suited for apartment living, and are easy to care for in regards to grooming.

Breed Group: Working Dogs
Size: 40-55 LBS
Lifespan: 8-12 Years

Learn More: CSPCA

10 Best Hiking Dog Breeds

For those of you who want more of an adventure companion than a gear guardian, you’ll want to have a look at our list of theĀ best hiking dog breeds.

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