Protection Dogs: What to Look For In a Good Guard Dog

(Last Updated On: 19th November 2021)

There are certain qualities of protection dogs, and these qualities will be important to know if you are looking for a good guard dog.  It is also important to make the distinction between a guard dog and a watchdog. Getting the right dog for the wrong reasons will present its own set of difficulties.

Using dogs as guardians dates back to ancient times. Archaeologists have uncovered Roman mosaics showing dogs on chains at the front of homes to warn intruders that a menacing animal was on guard. 

Published in 29 BC, ‘Georgics’ was written by one of Rome’s great poets, Virgil. In that work, Virgil referred to the guard dogs that watched over houses and livestock when he wrote “Never, with them on guard, need you fear for your stalls a midnight thief, or onslaught of wolves, or Iberian brigands at your back.”

But what about today?  What should you look for in a good guard dog in this day and age? Know what purpose you want the dog to serve.  There can be confusion between a watchdog and a guard dog. 

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What Should You Look For In Protection Dogs today?

A watchdog is one that is alert and will raise the alarm, barking loudly whenever someone enters your property. The job of a guard dog is to protect you and stop intruders entering your property in the first place. 

 Airedales, Bostons, Cairns, and other breeds of terriers make good watchdogs, as do poodles and spaniels.  These breeds are known for their watchfulness and will alert their owners upon seeing any unusual activity.   

Protection Dogs

Other breeds of dogs, besides being watchful,  have a natural instinct to protect their home and family.  These types of breeds tend to be loyal, fearless, strong, and make the best guard dogs. 

Protection dogs are typically larger in size and protect property by being intimidating or even engaging (biting) anyone they perceive as a threat. 

These breeds can include the German Shepherd, Rottweilers, the Bullmastiff, and Doberman Pinschers. 

History has seen watchdogs being used in tandem with guard dogs, to great success. The Lhasa Apso helped in guarding Buddhist temples and monasteries in Tibet about 800 years ago. It was such a renowned watchdog that it was known as the “Bark Lion Sentinel Dog” 

The Lhasa Apso was paired with the Tibetan Mastiff guard dog whose large size and aggressive temperament made them a perfect team. 

In looking for a good protection dog, there are certain attributes that are a must.  We have listed those traits below.

1. Courage

  A dog needs to be brave enough to face danger. The majority of the time, the danger will be larger than the dog and so the dog must be willing to stand up against a larger opponent. 

2. Loyal

The dog’s allegiance must be clear to them, otherwise they will allow anything and anyone through the front door.

3. Intelligent

 Not only must the dog be smart enough to follow commands, they also must be smart enough to distinguish between something that is a real threat and something that is just out of the ordinary. 

4. Intelligent

The protection dogs need to identify with their home and want to protect it. 

5. Affectionate

This one seems off the mark, but a good guard dog will love the people and place that it is protecting. 

The Breeds Below Make Some Of The Best Protection Dogs:


Protection Dogs

This dog has all of the attributes listed above.  They are very loyal, calm, and courageous. A Rottie is known as an instinctive guard dog, being powerful and strong. Very territorial and protective, he can be aggressive with other dogs.  They usually are fond of, and protective over children. The Rottweiler is very intelligent and learns quickly. While he makes an excellent guard dog, they might not make the best watchdog, as they do not bark much. 

Doberman Pinscher

These dogs can make a protective family pet but need a very loving and stable environment.  A Doberman is a people dog and will show devotion to those that care for them. They are very intelligent, perceptive, and sensitive. They are highly trainable but need you to be a firm leader, or they will assume the role.

This is a breed that will require obedience training.  They must also be kept active and exercised on a daily basis. They can be prone to behavioral issues because they are so intelligent and have lots of energy. If you choose this breed of dog, make sure you have the time commitment that they will need and deserve. 

German Shepherd

Protection Dogs

Here is another loyal and brave breed of dog.  A German Shepard rarely backs down if confronted.  He is very intelligent and learns quickly. He is strong and athletic. The courage and trainability of a German Shepherd makes them the world’s number one police and military dog.   He will be very protective of your home and family.

This is also a breed that needs to know who is boss. If you don’t make that clear, he will take on the role himself and become overly territorial and protective.  Establish the rules from the beginning and stick with them. This breed needs exercise and mental stimulation every day. If he does not get this every day, he will become bored and that might lead to destructive behavior. 

A German Shepherd is also known as a “one-man” dog, as he will bond with one family member that he respects and trusts. He is an excellent guard dog. 


Protection Dogs

These are a large and powerful dog, both loyal and protective.  They want to be with you at all times and don’t do all that well without the attention that they crave. Quiet dogs will bark loudly if they sense a threat. If you are going to have other dogs, you need to socialize them early, as Bullmastiffs are not always good with other dogs. 

While being good guard dogs, they can be territorial to a fault. These dogs are faithful, intelligent, fearless, and famous for the unconditional love that they show their owners. That being said, another thing that a Bullmastiff is famous for is their slobber. Be prepared to wipe it off of every known surface, and person, that they encounter. 

They do not require a lot of exercise and can live pretty much anywhere as long as they have the company and attention they desire. 

Dogue de Bordeaux

Protection Dogs

Here is another proficient drooler. The DDB makes an excellent guard dog, but they do not attack without reason. Socialize them when they are young, as it is their tendency to be wary of others. Owning a DDB is a commitment that will be significant emotionally.  They are a dog that will be very affectionate to you and wants to be with you all the time, both day and night.

They can also be stubborn and will think for themselves. Couple that with intelligence and you get a dog that needs to start obedience training early.  That being said, the DDB can compete in carting, conformation, weight pulling, tracking, water rescue and search and rescue. They possess a dominant nature that can be aggressive with other pets.

This breed also needs exercise on a daily basis or they will get bored.  The DDB will need your love and attention, otherwise it will not be a happy pooch. 

Giant Schnauzer

Protection Dogs

A giant schnauzer is naturally territorial and can be intimidating to look at. He is also a barker and can be loud and demanding.  This breed is good at telling friend from foe almost instinctively. They are energetic and good-natured, needing to be stimulated both physically and mentally.  They are high energy and will require hours of exercise a day. A giant schnauzer loves to learn and will want to please you, although they can be stubborn.

This breed has a high prey drive, and will go after any fast-moving critter, and not easily give up the game.  A caution with this particular dog breed is that they require constant care, attention, and love. If the dog does not get enough of this, he can become a real problem. 


We have listed a few of the breeds of protection dogs that make for a good guard dog.  It is also our belief that a dog is only as good as its master. Any pet requires time and energy, and a dog that is trained to defend their property can require even more training and handling.  

Be careful when buying or training a guard dog, as with anything, there are consequences if not done properly.  Do your research before choosing a dog, and look to accredited sources for assistance with training. Throughout history, these dogs have proven to be loyal trusted companions.  We need to make sure that we show that same respect to them.

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