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What are Guard Dogs?: Best and Worst Breeds


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Monday, 09 de February 2009

What are Guard Dogs?: Best and Worst Breeds
Many people choose to have a guard dog because it makes them feel protected at home. Bred through centuries to guard the territory and protect their owners, guard dogs seem to be the ideal option to keep intruders away.

Guard Dog vs. Watchdog

There are some differences between guard dogs and watchdogs. Alert dogs are pets that bark when facing new people and situations. Most of these dogs aren’t capable of defend a person or territory, since they are usually small and easily dominated by people.

Guard dogs are capable of physically dominate an intruder, because they are wary of strangers and have the strength and resistance to neutralize a human.

There are, however, guard dogs that are also watchdogs, due to their size and also predisposition to bark.

In some cases, a watchdog is enough to protect the home, yard or even larger territories, as long as the intruder doesn’t see his size.

Guard Dog vs. Alarm system

A guard dog should only be acquired if you wish to ad a new member to your family. If you just need to protect the perimeter of a certain place, an alarm system is a better choice and also cheaper on the long run (no vet bills, training or food).

Guard dogs need to interact with their owner. Although their job makes them different from companion dogs, the truth is that any dog needs the company of the owner. Walks and playtime shouldn’t be neglected. Not even guard dogs decline time with the family.

Guarding Methods

There are several breeds of guard dogs, each one selected with a different goal and, depending on the breed, dogs act differently when confronted with intruders.

Physical Appearance – It may not be considered a key factor, but it’s the first step when it comes to intimidating intruders. Many guard dogs have, however, a friendly look, with lots of hair and tender expressions, and use other intimidating methods. With this comes also the social perception of the breed, meaning, if the dog is seen as an effective guard, it is more likely to scare intruders with its looks. Another curious factor is the hair color of the dog: on a study that was taken in the USA, burglars considered dogs with black or dark coat the most dangerous ones.

Bark – For some guard dogs, the first instinct is to bark. This is a warning sign to the rest of the pack, family, and it is also a message for the intruder to stay away.

Neutralize – for some breeds, this is an instinct, while others need to be trained in order to immobilize the intruder, before they proceed to the attack. Some breeds, like the Mastiff, jump on the burglar and remain on top of him until the owner says otherwise. If the intruder remains still, then he probably won’t be bitten.

Attack – Guard dogs are regarded as protectors because they take the defense of their territory and owner to the extreme and, when provoked, they will attack.

Top of the Best Guard Dogs

Stanley Coren, a psychologist and expert on dog behavior, has done three listings regarding the dog’s ability to guard, in his book “The intelligence of dogs”.

Top Guard Dogs

List of the most effective guard breeds, regarding their territorial instinct, aggressiveness, bulk, strength, courage and resistance in counter-attack.

1.    Bullmastiff
2.    Doberman Pinscher
3.    Rottweiler
4.    Komondor
5.    Puli
6.    Giant Schnauzer
7.    German Shepherd
8.    Rhodesian Ridgeback
9.    Kuvasz
10.    American Staffordshire Terrier
11.    Chow Chow
12.    Mastiff
13.    Belgian Sheepdog – Belgian Malinois; Belgian Tervuren

Top Watchdogs

Excitable breeds that bark vigorously in the presence of intruders or new situations.

1.    Rottweiler
2.    German Shepherd
3.    Scottish Terrier
4.    West Highland White Terrier
5.    Miniature Schnauzer
6.    Yorkshire Terrier
7.    Cairn Terrier
8.    Chihuahua
9.    Airedale Terrier
10.    Poodle (standard/miniature)
11.    Boston Terrier
12.    Shih Tzu
13.    Dachshund
14.    Silky Terrier
15.    Smooth Fox Terrier; Wire Fox Terrier

Breeds not suited to guard or watch over territory

These dogs usually remain calm and ignore intruders or new situations and have very little predisposition to bark.

1.    Bloodhound
2.    Newfoundland
3.    Saint Bernard
4.    Basset Hound
5.    Bulldog
6.    Old English Sheepdog
7.    Clumber Spaniel
8.    Irish Wolfhound
9.    Scottish Deerhound
10.    Pug
11.    Siberian Husky
12.    Alaskan Malamute

Special Care

Guard dogs are not good for inexperienced owners, due to their dominant nature and, ultimately, aggressiveness towards strangers, even when they’re harmless. In order to become balanced dogs, these guardians should be very well socialized and trained. If you don’t have experience with dogs, you should seek the help of professional trainers.


Guard dogs should be wary of strangers and shouldn’t welcome them into their territory. However, there are two types of strangers: the intruders and guests. Guests, friends, work mates, mailman, etc., should be tolerated by the dog, so that it doesn’t need to be locked up when you have a full house.

Therefore, the dog should be socialized with people and other dogs from an early age, so that when the owner authorizes the entrance of guests, the dog tolerates them.


Training is very important in guard dogs. They are very dominant dogs and need a steady owner in order to be able to establish its leadership. The dog should be trained to immobilize intruders first. This is a protection method for the dog as well.

To avoid poisoning, you can train your dog not to accept food from strangers, although this is difficult to pull off. You can also have an alarm system that will be set off if there are intruders. This way, you will know that strangers have been around and you can check up your dog, and with a little luck, if there has been poisoning, you may have the time to take it to the vet and save its life.
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Rosie said:
Actually when I was a kid I had 10 BloodHounds & 3 Saint Bernards all at once and each & every one of them were very Territorial.
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