Throughout the history of mankind, dogs have been used to guard their owners, families, and homes against external threats. This has proved to be a tremendously successful relationship, but which breeds are most effective for home protection today?
As with other elements of home protection, deterrence is the best form of defense, and guard dogs certainly provide a strong deterrent. But whilst many types of dog can make great guardians, the bigger breeds provide a more overt and easily understood message to potential intruders. Here are five of the best communicators.
Originating from Italy, and with a lineage dating back to Roman times, the Neapolitan Mastiff is an ancient working breed often described as a lumbering “gentle giant.” However, as this dog was specifically bred to guard, the “gentle” part does not apply to intruders. What they lose in speed and agility they more than make up for in raw power.
Regularly tipping the scales at over 150 pounds, and some reaching close to 200 pounds, the “Neo” will make full use of its physical size and stopping power when presented with a threat, and this makes them ideal for home defense. However, although these dogs are very loyal and affectionate toward their family, their sheer physical size means that they’re generally not best suited to homes with very small children.
With its origins in the plains of Africa, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is an independent, strong-minded breed of hunting dog well suited to the protection of family and home. Also known as the “African Lion Hound,” Ridgebacks are very tough, athletic dogs with a strong prey drive—a combination well suited to the guarding of larger properties in particular. As a breed, they are innately loyal and protective of family members and will accept endless amounts of torment by children, but they are normally aloof with strangers and won’t grant their approval easily.
Due to being independently minded in this way, Ridgebacks are not naturally inclined to follow commands and so despite making good guard dogs within a family environment, the breed is best suited to more experienced dog owners. Additionally, whilst the Ridgeback is very compatible with humans and domesticated animals, due to their lineage, extra training will be required if you own livestock.
Strong, fast, and intelligent, Doberman Pinschers, or simply “Dobermans,” are truly excellent guard dogs. Hailing from the German countryside, they are especially suited to the protection of large tracks of land or open spaces and are capable of covering large distances at breath taking speed.
Dobermans were specifically bred for the guard role and have a fearsome reputation which often precedes them. In fact, the mere presence of Dobermans is often enough to make potential intruders think twice; in addition to being tough and aggressive in defense, there is also zero chance of an intruder getting away if caught trespassing. Although the breed is a fearless and formidable guardian, the Doberman is also a great family dog and very affectionate towards both family members and trusted guests.
Another extremely powerful dog of German descent, the Rottweiler is one the classic breeds used in movies when a script calls for a “guard dog.” This is because they look the part: large, muscular, and possessed of a stare which is all business.
Throughout their history, Rottweilers have been predominantly used as military and police dogs, but they were originally bred for cattle herding, and were even used by butchers to pull meat carts. They have a well-deserved reputation for strength and toughness, but, amongst owners and those familiar with the breed, they are also known to be very docile in a family environment, and even goofy. Rottweilers also have a stable and reliable temperament but will act decisively and instinctively to defend their family from threats.
German Shepherd Dogs, or GSDs, are the go-to breed for most of the world’s police and military K9 units, including special operations forces. In fact, they have been in constant military service across the globe since inception, perhaps most notably during the First World War when nearly 50,000 GSDs served with the Imperial German Army. Agile, powerful and sublimely intelligent, GSDs have also been employed in numerous other service roles; from seeing eye dogs to search and rescue to general purpose police dogs, and even in cadaver recovery roles.
Despite all of these tasks, the GSD is perhaps best known as a guard dog, and their suitability for this role is without question. When in an alert state, a GSD will address a threat directly and not give an inch of ground; this is often referred to as the “gladiator mindset,” and for a potential intruder irretrievably tips the risk / reward balance toward risk. GSDs are also exceptionally good problems solvers and very receptive to complex training; in addition to protecting property they can be even trained for personal protection. This awesome skill is most obvious if you ever see a police K9 in a public space—the GSD will issue a warning to anybody getting too close to its handler before returning to a passive, monitoring state.
GSDs are also extremely protective of their owners and family and will routinely patrol a home through the day and night, even without training. Collectively, this set of abilities and attributes makes the German Shepherd the best all-around dog breed for home protection.
When it comes to home security a dog is the best form of deterrent and defense. More than sheer stopping power, a dog is mobile, constantly alert, and always willing to act, but they also bond closely with their families and offer loyalty and companionship for life. If you do decide to get dog to protect your home, always consider the possibility of adopting a rescue dog. It is sad fact that although dogs will give their life to protect their owners, many people are willing to abandon their dogs for even the most minor of reasons.