15 Best Guard Dog Breeds to Protect Your Family

3 Guard Dogs

A guard dog makes us feel secure and doubles as a beloved pet. I had a 120-pound Great Pyrenees and always felt safe with my big, beautiful girl. Canines have super olfactory and auditory senses, so they know before we do when someone approaches our home and family or is coming toward us outdoors.

Your sweet companion is also a protector. Even little dogs are vigilant and tell us if someone’s arriving.

Most of the best dog breeds for protection are fearless, watchful, and strong. Guard dogs need proper training at a young age so you have control over their behavior and they don’t cause any unintended harm.

Also, consider exactly what you want from a guard dog to determine which dog breed is the perfect pup for you because some are more of a watchdog than a guard dog, and some are more aggressive than others.

As with any working dog, natural guard dogs know when and how to do their jobs, and when they aren’t on duty, they switch to their family pet personality. Many guard dogs are affectionate pets. As always, dog ownership means giving your canine love and affection.

Guard Dogs

Both watchdogs and guard dogs bark loudly, and some have a bad reputation for being aggressive, but they have a nice temperament with their families and just need training to learn manners like all dogs. If you’re outside, they will also warn you of the threat of wild animals that sneak up on prey (in this scenario, we are the potential prey).

Here are the 15 best guard dogs that are naturally wary and loyal pups and will keep you safe, amuse you, and generally make your life better because they are adorable and loving and make great pets.

1. German Shepherd Dog

German Shepherd Dog
Height22-26 inches tall
Weight50-90 pounds
Lifespan7-10 years

German Shepherds (GSD) are one of the best guard dog breeds as well as one of the most popular dog breeds in the US because they are excellent guard dogs and wonderful members of the family. Think Rin Tin Tin.

The GSD is affectionate, good with children, playful, brave, and highly intelligent, and they guard people. The American Kennel Club (AKC) calls them courageous, confident, and intelligent. They also have a calm demeanor.

The German shepherd breed was originally a herding dog. German Shepherds are police dogs and war dogs, so you know they are professionals. The GSD can be your BFF as well as your watchdog.

2. Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinscher
Height24 to 28 inches tall
Weight60 to 100 pounds
Lifespan10-12 years

The Doberman pinscher breed, although they look very serious, is affectionate, good with children, energetic, playful, intelligent, and fiercely protective. Doberman pinschers are fearless, devoted, loyal, calm, goofy, and fast and need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Long daily walks are ideal for them.

Dobermans are considered the fifth smartest dog breed and have a reputation for being aggressive, but they are very sweet unless they have to protect their family. Dobies like a big yard and families with active lifestyles.

3. Boxer

Boxer
Height21.5 to 25 inches tall
Weight50-80 pounds
Lifespan10-12 years

Boxers are affectionate, playful, good with kids, friendly, a guard dog, energetic, athletic, good with kids. They make a great addition to the family and are excellent guard dogs.

Boxer dogs are active, upbeat, fun-loving, vigilant, patient, and intelligent. The Boxer is a favorite breed in America because they love their human pack and are known for their loyalty.

Their medieval relatives, the Bullenbeisser, chased, caught, and held down wild boar, bison, and bears. A modern-day cat burglar is no match for Boxers with their impressive and brave DNA.

4. Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd
Height18-23 inches tall
Weight40-65 pounds
Lifespan12-15 years

The Australian shepherd breed is a compulsive herder and will herd anything — including other animals, small children, etc. They have a strong work ethic and lots of energy, so they need mental and physical exercise.

The Australian shepherd is protective and a pretty large dog, and they bark to alert their pack leader. They are very pretty with their soft and flowing long coat of fur but will not let anyone disturb their herd.

The Australian Shepherd is intelligent and needs training, so they don’t think they are in charge because they have a Type A personality from herding. The Australian shepherd is great with children and is playful, making them excellent family members.

5. Anatolian Shepherd Dog

 Australian Shepherd
Height 27 to 29 inches tall
Weight80 to 150 pounds
Lifespan 11 to 13 years

The Anatolian shepherd is calm, loving, intelligent, patient, and loyal dog breed. They will protect you, your property, your home, and your family like they are driving wolves away from cattle.

Anatolian Shepherds are also reserved, independent, and domineering. Their humans have to train them so they don’t think they are the alpha. They are very big and certainly a deterrent to any mischief.

This mountain dog is a professional guard dog, protecting endangered species in the US and cheetahs in Namibia. Anatolians are happy to be with their family when not on duty.

6. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Height14-16 inches tall
Weight4-38 pounds
Lifespan12-14 years

The AKC describes Staffordshire bull terriers as muscular, sweet, brave, clever, and tenacious. In addition, they are affectionate, great with children, a guard dog, energetic, playful, and need to be stimulated mentally.

Staffordshire bull terriers were originally bred to fight, so they make good guard dogs. The bull terrier breed is very loyal, and they are people pleasers who watch over their humans, making them great family pets.

Staffordshire bull terriers have a reputation for being aggressive because people force them to fight, but they are usually very sweet unless they are taught to fight (which involves a great deal of animal cruelty). Staffies in families usually only show aggression when they have to.

7. Rottweiler

Height22-27 inches tall
Weight80-135 pounds
Lifespan9-10 years

The Rottweiler is an affectionate, playful, protective, intelligent dog and needs to be stimulated mentally. They are also confident, calm, and loyal.

Rottweilers must be trained so they don’t become aggressive. The Rottweiler looks intimidating but also has a sweet face. The Rottweiler is gentle and can be silly with their family, but when provoked, they will swing into action.

Originally bred from Mastiffs to guard livestock from predators, the Rottweiler breed still has the natural instinct to protect their flock/family. The Rottweiler breed has a bad reputation for being aggressive, but well-bred and well-trained Rotties are well-behaved unless there’s a threat to their property, home, or family. These protective dogs only show aggression when necessary.

8. Bullmastiff 

Bullmastiff 
Height24-27 inches high
Weight100-130 pounds
Lifespan7-9 years

The cartoonishly handsome Bullmastiff breed is a high-energy watchdog that is loyal, affectionate, and brave.

The Bullmastiff is alert, intelligent, intimidating, and muscular. Bullmastiffs protected English aristocrats’ game preserves from poachers, so they are hardwired to be one of the best guard dogs. They are also a loving member of their family.

Large dogs are good for people with active lifestyles, especially those who enjoy hiking and even just walking. Long legs are better for those activities than little, stubby legs.

Bullmastiffs should be kept in your home or in a fenced-in area to avoid confrontations with other animals. They don’t bark unless they have something important to say. They are very big and bred to pin down poachers.

9. Akita

Akita
Height24-28 inches tall
Weight70-130 pounds
Lifespan10-14 years

Akitas are an affectionate, loyal, quiet, muscular, and energetic guard dog. They can be silly with their family but are aloof, dignified, and courageous with an intruder or when a visitor arrives. They enjoy human companionship and must be trained as puppies.

This mountain dog was originally bred to hunt bears and has been partnering with humans for hundreds of years. They only bark when necessary.

The Akita breed looks like a giant plush toy with a curled tail. They represent happiness and a long life in Japan.

They are stubborn and might not be a good choice for first-time dog owners. They guarded the emperor in the Middle Ages, and Helen Keller brought the first Akita to the US in 1937. The Akita doesn’t always like other dogs.

10. Puli

Puli
Height16-17 inches tall
Weight25-35 pounds
Lifespan10-15 years

The Puli breed is a small dog breed compared to the others on this list. Pulis are very smart, loyal, agile, and homebodies. They are affectionate, energetic, independent, and need to be stimulated mentally.

Pulis have a waterproof and shaggy coat of mop-like cords instead of fur. The AKC says that the Puli’s coat is made up of dreadlocks. The Puli is a herding dog that forms tight bonds with people, which makes them a great pet and guard dog.

11. Thai Ridgeback 

Thai Ridgeback 
Height20-24 inches tall
Weight35-75 pounds
Lifespan14-15 years

The Thai Ridgeback breed is affectionate and needs to stimulate their mind. They have blue/black tongues and were originally bred for herding and guarding, so they are naturally protective of your home and family. The Thai Ridgeback has a high prey drive and is intelligent, loyal, loving, alert, active, and a talented jumper.

The Thai Ridgeback makes a great guard dog. Like the more common Rhodesian ridgeback, they have a line of fur that goes in the opposite direction of the rest, creating a ridge on their back.

They are as tough-looking as they are cute, so they definitely are a deterrent to any intruder.

12. Bouvier des Flandres

Bouvier des Flandres
Height23.5-27.5 inches tall
Weight70-110 pounds
Lifespan10-12 years

The Bouvier des Flandres breed was originally bred as a herding dog. Bouvier des Flandres is courageous, affectionate, and strong-willed. These fluffy beasts began as cart pullers, herders, watchdogs, and guardians.

They are muscular and have a strong work ethic. Bouviers are police dogs, military, and guide dogs — so they are very responsible and protect their home and family.

Like many guard dogs, they are very sweet when not protecting their loved ones (keeping business separate from pleasure).

13. Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Height21-26 inches tall
Weight55-80 pounds
Lifespan10-13 years

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever fetches dead ducks during hunting trips. They are energetic, athletic, tireless, and agile. They will protect you, and they also need to be stimulated mentally.

They are water resistant, bond with their humans, are good with kids, and early socialization is good for them. If an intruder ran into a lake, a Chessie would be happy to pursue them in the water. They are known for their courage, so it’s best not to tangle with them.

14. Catahoula Leopard Dog

Catahoula Leopard Dog
Height22-24 inches tall
Weight50-95 pounds
Lifespan10-14 pounds

The Catahoula leopard dog breed is affectionate, smart, watchful, will protect you, and needs to be stimulated mentally. They need to be socialized as puppies because they can be territorial and independent, and their instinct is to protect you. The AKC says Catahoulas will wind up owning their guardian if not taught who’s the alpha.

They have been used to chase prey and bray (the noise canines make when tracking an animal), bark at trees that small mammals ran up to hide from hunters, and are famous for herding — so they are versatile and always helping their people.

Catahoulas are loyal companions, nice family pets, and worker dogs. They are the only breed that was originated bred in Louisiana.

15. Perro de Presa Canario

Perro de Presa Canario
Height22-26 inches tall
Weight84-110 pounds
Lifespan9-11 years

Perro de Presa Canario breed are cattle herders and guarders with a balanced temperament. They are very self-confident, obedient, and docile with family members. The Perro de Prensa Canariod is devoted to their master but may be suspicious of strangers. Perros are definitely concerned when they see an intruder, and they need to be trained because they are stubborn.

Like the others on this list, they are one of the best dog breeds for protection and also a nice pet.

Their muscular build makes them look like bodybuilders. No one’s going to mess with a Perro de Presa Canario!

FAQs

Which Dog Is Best for a Security Guard?

Many sources agree that the German Shepherd dog is the best security guard.

Can Guard Dogs Be Pets?

Yes! The dog breeds featured in this article are all perfect pets because they are family dogs as well as guard dogs. The guardian breeds tend to be alert, loyal, and strong dogs.

Which Dog Is Most Alert?

The AKC calls the German Shepherd the most alert.

Final Thoughts  

The dogs in this article are all great guard dogs and come with many other benefits like being affectionate, playful, a-friggin-dorable, great company, someone to exercise/walk with, lower your blood pressure, and make you laugh. Can an alarm system do that?!

Guard dogs show aggression only when they need to protect their people. These 15 are the best dog breeds to have watching over you and your family and will protect you from threats and danger — yet another benefit of dog ownership/guardianship.

Whether they’re on duty or snuggling beside you, every bodyguard dog wears its heart on its furry sleeve, proving that the cutest protectors have the most loyal paws!

Elise Margulis
Elise Margulis is a talented animal writer and a devoted pet parent residing near Manhattan in a cozy suburb. With a Chow mix and a rescued Siamese as her loyal companions, she's been animal-obsessed since childhood. Penning informative articles on pet nutrition, health, and animal welfare, she's also an avid advocate for adoption and animal rights. When she's not writing, she serves as the editor of two local online news sites. Working from home with her fur babies, she advocates adoption and animal welfare through volunteering and social media. A true animal lover and vegetarian for over 31 years, she's on a mission to raise awareness and make the world a better place for all creatures.

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