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Best (and Worst) Guard Dog Breeds for Families, Singles, Apartments and More

guard dog vs watchdog

It’s true: Not all dogs make the best guard dogs. There are the naturally protective breeds that would lay down their lives for their humans; then there are breeds that would just lay down, roll over and welcome strangers with delight. What are the top guard dog breeds? Does the size of the dog matter? Here we look at which breeds excel at protecting and those that don’t.

Some dog breeds might not make for good guard dogs, but they’re still excellent watchdogs — there is a difference. A guard dog protects. A watchdog alerts. 

Every dog is unique, and there are no guarantees your pet will perform in the same manner as a fellow canine. 

Top 15 Best Guard Dogs For Protection

akita dog breed info
Akitas tend to make very good guard dogs. They can be highly protective of their family and territories.

Large-sized guard dogs

If you’re looking for a guard dog that will defend his humans and property, there are several breeds to consider. The following breeds have the physical strength, intelligence, loyalty, and temperament necessary for a guard dog. However, it is because of these traits some of these breeds may not be best suited for apartment dwellers or families with small children. Some like the cane corso, giant schnauzer, and Kerry blue terrier are low shedders, so it’s a win-win. You get a great guard dog that doesn’t leave a sweater behind every time he leaps off the couch.

boxer breed information
Boxers are medium-sized dogs that tend to make very good guard dogs.

Medium-sized guard dogs

Breed alone doesn’t determine a dog’s ability to guard and protect. It’s also about the dog’s training. With that said, any of the above breeds can make the best guard dogs for families only if the dog is socialized from a young age (7-8 weeks) and children in the home know how to interact and treat a dog (that means no rough-housing or teasing the dog). Because any dog can injure a child, you must supervise all interactions between your pet and children until your children are old enough to be responsible around a dog.

Wondering why we didn’t include small guard dogs? There’s a reason. Although many small dogs can be somewhat intimidating, a guard dog should be large enough to overpower a person if necessary. However, don’t be fooled by size; many protective small breeds can make excellent watchdogs.

Breeds That Make Best Watch Dogs

While these breeds may not be ready to protect you like trained guard dogs, they can alert you to strangers at the door or intruders in your home. Some watchdog breeds make enough fuss when something is out of the ordinary that you’d think they were crazy ferocious. 

stop dog barking with barxbuddy
Beagles are better watchdogs than they are guard dogs. Known barkers, they also love people and are easily won over.

The downside to many watchdog breeds is that they are quick to bark at pretty much anything. This behavior can make it difficult for you to know if and when you should be alert. 

There are a few things you can do to resolve your dog’s constant barking. If you have the opportunity to train your dog from a young age, you can teach him when to speak (bark on command). On the other hand, if your watchdog is older when you bring him into your home, you may have to address this barking issue. In this case, we recommend using a combination of an ultrasonic handheld training device, the “quiet” command, and high-quality dog treats to stop incessant or inappropriate barking. 

Worst Guard Dog Breeds

Even the toughest of guard dogs have a soft side, but some dog breeds are so friendly or indifferent to new people, setting them up for guard or watchdog duty would prove an epic fail. Here are the top 10 worst guard dog breeds:

bassett hound
A lover, not a fighter — the basset hound isn’t know for its vigilance.

The loyalty of these breeds should not be underestimated, as they make fantastic life-long companions. There’s little question, dogs are simply the best. They can give you licks and cuddles one minute and face down (or making friends with) an intruder or the mailman the next.