While some families want lovable, friendly dogs, others want dog breeds for protection. The good news is that many dogs can be both affectionate and brave. The best guard dogs don’t have to be scary or intimidating like many people think. Instead, they just need to be loyal enough to want to protect their loved ones when danger arises. Protective dogs can often be some of the sweetest too, so don’t overlook them for your family.
What Makes a Dog Good for Protection?
Some dogs might seem strong and loyal, but you might not want to rely on them for protection. A Lab or a Golden Retriever could be too friendly toward strangers while a Shih Tzu or Poodle will often be all bark, but no bite. So, what makes a good dog for protection?
Nearly every dog is loyal to their family once they get to know them. Loyalty is the key personality trait for a good guard dog. Dogs need a reason to guard and protect, so if they love you deeply, then they’ll want to keep you safe at all costs.
Just because a dog is devoted to you doesn’t mean they can automatically protect you. Dogs need to be intelligent enough to know when to protect and when to relax. For example, you won’t want your dog lunging at your house guests, but you’ll want them to cause a scene if a burglar breaks in. Intelligent dogs can usually understand these distinctions, and they’ll know exactly how to handle the situation.
Some dogs are just good watchdogs and nothing more. They might love barking at “bad guys,” but when faced with real danger, they’ll cower or accept treats. A good guard dog will be brave, strong, and able to stand their ground. They should have the perfect balance between physical strength, courage, and loyalty.
Best Dog Breeds for Protection
Any dog can be great at protection if they set their mind to it. After all, no two dogs are exactly alike. Yet, a dog’s breed often says a lot about their temperament and history. So, dogs that were bred to guard, protect, and work hard are often the best for this role. Here are nine dog breeds that are great for protection and safety.
#1 – Akita
Not only are Akitas large, strong dogs, but they were also initially bred for guarding royalty. They can often reach up to 100 pounds, and their dense coats are sure to shed often.
Akitas are incredibly loyal and courageous. They watch over their loved ones at all times to ensure that nothing bad happens. They take their role as a protector very seriously and will guard by instinct, not by training. While these dogs are generally quiet, they won’t hesitate to act out if they sense danger.
While these large fluff balls can be gentle and affectionate, they’re often wary of other dogs and humans. They need to be socialized often to prevent any aggressive behaviors from forming. They also need lots of exercise to prevent destructive behaviors too. Since they have thick coats, they love outdoor adventures, like walking, hiking, and camping.
#2 – Belgian Malinois
Belgian Malinoises are commonly known as police dogs, so their jobs are to work hard and protect others. They are great at search-and-rescue missions and agility courses.
These dogs are intelligent, active, and hardworking. They’re easy to train and they have bursts of energy, which is why they make such great police dogs. They’re loyal to their loved ones, but without proper socialization, they can become overly jealous and territorial. So, they won’t hesitate to chase after an intruder.
While their grooming needs are very low, their exercise requirements are higher than almost all other dog breeds. They need intense exercise daily, which means more than just a walk or two. If they have a job to do, such as agility courses, herding, or hunting, they will be much more content. They need a family who can live up to their energetic personalities and dedicate a lot of time to fun training sessions.
#3 – Bullmastiff
Many people are intimidated enough by the appearance of a Bullmastiff, but that’s not the only reason they’re one of the best dog breeds for protection. They have unimaginable strength, but they only use it when it’s necessary.
Despite their tough appearance, these dogs are actually gentle giants. They spend a lot of time lounging around and cuddling with their loved ones. They are patient and docile, even around children. However, they know what to do in an emergency. If they know someone is trying to hurt their loved ones, that’s when they’ll stop being lazy and become protective instead.
Not all Bullmastiffs have the same temperament. Some prefer a more relaxed exercise routine with casual walks while others love to jog, hike, and play. They only shed moderately, so grooming is not a huge concern for them. However, they do have a shorter snout than most dogs, which makes them prone to breathing problems. So, it’s best to limit their time in the sun to avoid heat stroke.
#4 – Doberman Pinscher
Dobermans are often feared for looking tough. But oftentimes, that’s because people choose to crop their ears and dock their tails for appearance. Yet, as it turns out, these dogs can still be loyal guard dogs without needing to change who they are.
Despite popular belief, Dobermans are actually sweet, sensitive dogs. Those might not sound like the best qualities for a guard dog, but it only makes them more loyal. Most Dobermans are playful, friendly, and lively. They’re great at learning new commands, but they’re willing to protect their family members with no extra training.
Doberman Pinschers are one of the most athletic dogs you’ll ever meet. They love to run and explore, so they need a family who is willing to hike or jog with them daily. They would also adore a fenced-in yard where they can play until their heart’s content. Needless to say, they’re not an ideal breed for apartment living.
#5 – German Shepherd
Like the Belgian Malinois, the German Shepherd is also known for being a courageous police dog. They are active, intelligent, and hard-working, just like the best dog breeds for protection should be.
German Shepherds are incredibly loyal toward their family members. They are one of the bravest dogs, willing to risk anything to ensure that those they care about stay safe. They have a loud, intimidating bark, which is often enough to scare bad guys away. While they’ll always be on the lookout for danger, they also adore playing and cuddling with their loved ones.
Just because a dog is tough doesn’t mean they’re low maintenance. German Shepherds shed like crazy, so they need to be brushed more than once a week to keep their loose fur under control. They also don’t like to sit still for long. Thus, they need a family who’s willing to keep them busy as much as possible. Outdoor adventures, training sessions, and puzzle toys are great ways to help your German Shepherd feel content.
#6 – American Staffordshire Terrier
American Staffordshire Terriers often get a bad reputation because they’re a “Pit Bull breed” but they can still be incredibly loyal and loving. Burglars might be intimidated by their muscular appearance, but they’re often big sweethearts.
These dogs are affectionate, playful, and energetic. If you live with one of these cuddly pups, they might not seem like great guard dogs, but they can be if they have to. These dogs aren’t aggressive if unprovoked, but if they know something is wrong, they won’t hesitate to stand up for their loved ones. They’re strong, brave, and protective, but otherwise friendly when around kind humans.
Since Pit Bull breeds are often judged, training and socialization are crucial for American Staffordshire Terriers. The more you train them, the better behaved they’ll be, which can help put an end to the unfair stereotypes. These dogs can be very playful and attention-seeking, so they prefer a family who can spend lots of time with them. Luckily, they have basic, easy-to-manage grooming requirements though.
#7 – Cane Corso
While the Cane Corso is technically a part of the Mastiff family, they can also be classified as a Pit Bull breed. That’s simply because the term “Pit Bull” is used to describe any stocky dog. These dogs are much larger and stronger than most similar breeds though, making them perfect for protecting your home.
These dogs were historically used a guard dogs, and their tall, muscular structure is enough to send any intruders running in fear. However, looks aren’t everything. These giant canines are still very affectionate and loyal. They love exercising, but also lounging around in their free time. By instinct, they’ll always keep an eye out for danger to ensure that their humans stay safe.
Cane Corsos love having a job to do. If they don’t have anything specific to guard or protect, then you should at least give them extra training sessions, along with puzzle toys to keep them entertained. These dogs prefer having a fenced-in yard so they can run around and play outside for as long as they’re allowed. If you enjoy hiking, Cane Corsos are also the perfect companions because they’ll have no problem keeping up.
#8 – Puli
The Puli certainly doesn’t look like one of the best dog breeds for protection, but looks can be deceiving. Their long dreadlocks don’t stop them from keeping their home safe.
These dogs were bred for herding, so they’re hard-working and have no problem staying focused. On top of everything, they’re brave, loyal, and smart, which are all perfect qualities for a guard dog to have. They don’t like to nap, so they prefer to have constant attention and work. They’re not suitable for families who are gone most of the day.
Believe it or not, a Puli’s coat doesn’t require too much maintenance. Instead of traditional brushing, you can keep them clean and free of tangles by pulling the cords of their fur apart. Some dog parents prefer to turn to a professional groomer though. Also, these dogs have high exercise needs. If they don’t have livestock to herd, you’ll need to make sure they get plenty of walks, training sessions, and other outdoor adventures.
#9 – Rottweiler
Like Dobermans, Rottweilers are also commonly mistaken for tough, scary dogs. But while these canines can be one of the best dog breeds for protection, they can also be loving companions too.
Rottweilers are sensitive sweethearts who love to cuddle with their humans. This bond makes them incredibly loyal, which is why they’re often trusted to protect people. They can be hesitant around strangers, and they’re usually good at sensing when someone isn’t trustworthy. However, they need lots of training and socialization to ensure that they don’t develop any aggressive tendencies.
While Rottweilers love to cuddle, they also love to run. They can be used for herding, tracking, and agility, but they’ll be content as long as they get intense exercise daily. They don’t like being left alone for too long and they don’t take harsh punishment well, so they need a patient family who is home often.
Do You Need a Guard Dog?
Everyone wants to feel safe, but unless you’re ready to spend a lot of time training your new dog, a guard dog might not be for you. Dog breeds for protection are loyal and brave, but it also means they’re warier of strangers. Because of this, they could act out or show aggression when out in public, which is something no one wants to deal with. Proper socialization can help your dog better understand that not everyone is bad while still allowing them to protect you in scary situations.
If training a guard dog sounds like too much work, then that’s okay! After all, guard dogs can be strong and difficult to control when in the wrong environment. Besides, even friendly breeds can be protective when needed. There have been countless stories of faithful Labrador Retrievers alerting their humans of a fire or break-in. So, choose the dog whose personality fits best with your family above all else.