What are the most popular dog breeds for guard dogs? What are the traits of a good guard dog? What are the different types of guard dog? What dog breed is best to guard sheep? What dog breed makes a good watch dog? What dog should I use to guard property? What type of dogs are used as personal protection dogs?
There are many different types of guard dog; some for guarding livestock, some for guarding property, as well as dogs for guarding the owner, these usually being referred to as personal protection dogs.
Additionally it should be noted that some dogs will bark to alert their owner of an intruder, but will not usually attack, and should be considered as “watchdogs” but not “guard dogs”. This type of dog would include the Keeshond, West Highland terrier, (Westie) and Scottish Terriers (Scottie).
Dogs Used for Guarding Livestock
Dogs that are used to guard livestock are often raised with the livestock species they will be guarding later. As such a dog that is to be guarding sheep, will be raised with sheep. These breeds have no desire to herd (unlike the border collie), and are reliable in that they do not roam or wander off, but rather they stay with the flock or herd.
Generally very little guarding training goes into these dogs, the protective instinct coming naturally after bonding with the type of animal they are to be kept with. They are, however, also socialized to humans, and should be responsive to basic commands. These dogs would not be used to control the flock in any way. If introduced correctly, the livestock will show no fear of the particular dog guarding them, and the dog will not chase them.
Many dogs used for guarding livestock are white, often looking a little bit like sheep themselves. Some of the most common breeds used for guarding livestock in North America are:
- Great Pyrenees
- Maremma Sheepdog
- Newfoundland Dog
Dogs Used for Guarding Property or for Personal Protection
The breeds of dog that are useful for guarding property are generally also useful as personal protection dogs, only their training is different. Dogs that are used for personal protection must have a strong bond with their owner, while those that will be guarding property need to be able to be left alone, without becoming destructive.
Traits of a good guard dog include that these dogs must be bold, not afraid of strange situations, and be intelligent enough to endure the training process. Training, particularly for person protection dogs, is tough, the dogs must be 100% reliable and responsive. A good guard dog is not mean.
Many dogs that are now used for guarding property and/or people are simply dogs that are large, having been bred originally for other things, such as herding or hunting. In fact the Doberman Pinscher was one of the few dogs used for guarding that actually was bred to be a guard dog. Others, such as the German Shepherd were originally bred to be herding dogs, but their intelligence and size has led them to be useful as guard dogs.
Some of the most common breeds of dog used for guarding property or people are:
- American Bulldog
- Bull Mastiff
- Cane Corso
- Chow Chow
- Doberman Pinscher
- English Mastiff
- German Shepherd
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Shar Pei
Important Information About Owning a Guard Dog
Note that when a dog is used as a guard dog, not a pet, it may be tax deductible.
If the dog bites somebody you may be liable for injury especially if you do not have signage in your area to indicate that you have a dog. Be sure to check the laws in your area.
It is important that the dog be vaccinated for rabies.