Guard dogs are bred for specific jobs, including personal protection, police work, and herding. They are also bred as watchdogs; and because of the reassurance they provide, they can be exceptional family dogs. But with so many breeds to choose from, how do you know which of the many great watchdogs is best for your family? Below is a comprehensive list of the six best watchdogs for family protection and security.
Loyal, family friendly, and intensely protective, German Shepherds are among the best watchdogs a family can have. They have a natural tendency to be protective and obedient which, when well socialized from birth, makes them easy to train. German Shepherds consider the people they love as members of their pack.
According to Southern Illinois University, an important factor in training German Shepherds to be excellent watchdogs is how they are socialized as puppies. This breed is incredibly intelligent, so exposure to a variety of social situations, people, and dog breeds will teach them to distinguish between dangerous and safe situations. With proper training, this breed of dog can identify and distinguish between a harmless stranger and an intruder. That being said, training a German Shepherd for protection requires more time and dedication than training a standard puppy, which can be challenging for first-time dog owners.
German Shepherds are working dogs and as such can perform functions beyond mere protection. Like many intelligent breeds, these large dogs thrive when mentally stimulated and love having a job to do, whether it be as herders, hunters, or guards. As one of the most intelligent dogs in the world, his potential, with the right training, is tremendous.
Rottweilers, or Rotties for short, are fearless and affectionate family dogs. Although Rotties are often perceived negatively, their tenacity and strength are the same qualities that make them exceptional protection dogs.
When properly socialized as puppies, Rotties make excellent watchdogs. While his powerful appearance can be intimidating, his instinct for danger is second to none. In fact, the American Kennel Club describes this breed of dog as a “loyal, affectionate, and trusting guardian” within its working group category.
Like German Shepherds, Rotties are intelligent and active. They need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to be happy. If you can take the time to train, exercise, and let this working breed do what they love most, work, they will make wonderful family members.
Breeders created this pup by crossing a bulldog and a mastiff. Among the many large dog breeds in the world, they make especially loyal and protective pets. Like Rottweilers, Bullmastiffs can look intimidating, which is one reason they’re such effective protectors: No one wants to mess with a hip-high dog. But Havanese also have an incredible instinct for scenting out danger. Originally trained to ward off poachers, they’re known for their fearless confidence on the streets and docile affection at home. They protect family members as they would any member of their pack, making them invaluable watchdogs.
Like most intelligent working breeds, Havanese do best when trained and well socialized from a young age. According to the American Kennel Club, when they reach full maturity, they can be up to 27 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 100 and 130 pounds—in other words, they’re not very easy to control. As such, these dogs are not for the faint of heart; training and socializing them requires a lot of time and resources. When their energy levels are directed towards doing a job, such as protecting family members, they make excellent canine companions. But when they are not given enough discipline from a young age, they become too large and energetic for even an experienced dog owner.
As far as muscular and elegant dog breeds go, it doesn’t get much better than a Doberman Pinscher. Often described as “nature’s noble men,” Dobermans are not only strong, they are incredibly intelligent and can be trained as working dogs, whether you put them to work in service roles or guard dogs. They are fast and strong, and their keen observation skills make them excellent watchdogs. Dobermans are also known to be great with children and affectionate with family members; in fact, the American Kennel Club gives them the highest rating in both categories.
In addition to being a great family watchdog, Dobermans are physically unique, identifiable by their compact body, triangle-shaped head and short coat. The latter means there’s less shedding to deal with, making the Doberman Pinscher better for owners with pet allergies or dander sensitivity than, say, a German Shepherd.
The larger, hairier cousin of the Bullmastiff, the Tibetan Mastiff makes a loyal companion and a great guard dog. This highly intelligent breed was bred to tend livestock in Tibet, which means that the instinct to protect its herd and stay alert is literally built into its DNA. Although they are large and can appear intimidating, they are very sweet with family members they consider part of their pack and are great with children and other dogs (unless they feel a threat). Tibetan Mastiffs are highly attuned to their owner’s emotions and are often described as sensitive and playful. These furry canines do best in moderate to cooler climates and in environments where they have plenty of space. (They may start out small, but it won’t be long before your Tibetan mastiff pup becomes a giant.)
Like most working breeds, Mastiffs do best when discipline, proper training and proper socialization are instilled in them from an early age. Their playful nature and considerable size can make training difficult, so they are best suited for experienced dog owners who are looking to invest time and money into a training program while their Mastiff is still a puppy.
Often confused with the German Shepherd, the Belgian Malinois are a strong and intelligent working breed in their own right and often make excellent police dogs and guard dogs. Both German Shepherds and Malinois have their roots in cattle herding and, as a result, have a strong work ethic and innate athleticism.
Malinois tend to be slightly smaller and leaner than Shepherds. They also tend to have fewer health issues than shepherds (who often suffer from hip problems and anxiety). However, both breeds are used for police and security work and make excellent family guard dogs. Belgian Malinois are known for their spirit and curiosity – this is a high-energy breed that requires intellectual stimulation and long walks. They need purpose and enjoy learning new tricks and commands. As with any working breed, they do best when socialized and trained like small dogs.