A guard dog is a dog used to guard against unwanted threats like robbers, attackers etc. A watch dog is a dog which can alert the owners about any possible threat through barking while a guard dog has the ability and strength to scare off and tackle the intruders as well. A guard dog needs to be heavily built with powerful jaws and a killing bite. It should be fearless and tenacious with high alertness levels. A key characteristic of a good guard dog is the ability to differentiate between familiar people as compared to the suspicious strangers.
German Shepherds are probably the best family guard dog breed in the world. Their extremely powerful sense of smell, alert hearing levels, a ferocious bite and tough built can send shivers down the spine of even the most dreaded criminals. They can kill even a most powerful person if let loose on one. According to National Geographic Channel, a German Shepherd has a 238 pound-force bite as compared to a human bite of 86 pound-force. Only a Rottweiler has a higher bite force than a German Shepherd. They are the third most intelligent dog breed in the world and can be easily trained. Their inherent intelligent make them a good choice around kids as well.
Doberman is the ultimate guard dog with a fearsome reputation and a very powerful bite. Pinscher was originally bred as a guard dog in Germany and they are an excellent breed in that respect even today. Being the fifth smartest dog breed in the world, it can detect any suspicious activities and is quite perceptive even to very slight sounds. They are especially useful for guarding large homes due to their agility and quick reaction times. Doberman is fierce and unlike other domesticated dogs, is not afraid to attack a perceived threat. A Doberman should be brought to home as a puppy to ensure proper domestication and attachment with the family.
A bullmastiff is known for its physical strength, courage, family loyalty and protective instinct. It is a cross between a bulldog and a mastiff. A male bullmastiff can weigh upto 70 kgs and have powerful jaws and a muscular frame. While some guard dogs may bark at intruders, Bullmastiff is known to directly attack any intruder and knock them down using their heavy weight. They are famous for their tracking abilities in the dark like searching for escaped criminals and convicts. A property trained bullmastiff can be easily domesticated and can be quite gentle to the family. An improperly trained bullmastiff which does not consider itself as insubordinate to its owner can dominate the home and become difficult to control.
Rottweiler is a highly aggressive breed with a powerful built and a formidable guard dog reputation. Rottweiler was used by the Roman army in times of war for guarding purposes at night. They are used a lot in the police to attack fleeing criminals. They are quite suspicious of strangers unless properly introduced. If trained well, they can be a good general purpose dog but are more suitable as a guard dog. Rottweiler can be quite difficult to train and can be very aggressive. Special attention should be given to training Rottweiler in a family with children as aggression is a part of their nature.
Professional training is advised for Rottweiler in a way that it should consider its owner as its master and follow its commands. Otherwise they can assume leadership and become difficult to control.
Boxer has very powerful long jaws and can hang onto a large prey. It is a medium sized muscular dog developed in Germany. The name ‘Boxer’ is derived from its behaviour of standing on its hind legs and trying to box with its front paws. Boxers are intelligent and energetic dogs and are suitable for families with children. They are very active and strong dogs and are sometimes difficult to train. Boxers are very affectionate to the family and quite protective of their owners. They are a good guard dog due to their formidable strength, high awareness of their surroundings and suspicion of strangers. Boxer is however less aggressive than a Rottweiler or a Doberman. They have been used as war dogs as well as for policing needs.
As adorable they may appear, Bulldogs are extremely heavy and powerful dogs. Around 500 years back, Bulldogs were bred for the purpose of bull baiting. Hence the resultant extraordinary jaw strength of the bulldog. Bulldogs are an aggressive breed and need to be suitably bred and trained to contain the aggression. Though they do not bark a lot but they can be a formidable watchdog due to their tenacious nature. Once on to attacking someone, it is difficult to make them let go.
Great Dane is a German breed of dogs known for its massive size. World record for a tallest dog goes to a Great Dane named Zeus at 44 inches. Their powerful bark and intimidating size can deter even the most daredevil criminals. Great Dane is more of a watch dog rather than a guard dog. An aggressive Great Dane though can comfortably rip off any threat with the caveat being that they are not so aggressive by nature.
Factors to consider while deciding a Guard Dog
Type of guarding need
Guard dogs for families, especially with children, need to be different than those required for police or military work. Some dogs can be easily domesticated despite being naturally aggressive than others.
Female dogs are better at guarding a person while the male dogs are better at guarding a property like your home. Females have high maternal instincts and hence guard persons more sincerely. Males have higher territorial instinct useful for guarding your property.
Genetics of the Dog
The biggest factor in determining the temperament of a guard dog is the genetic line of the dog. Purebred dogs are carefully bred to impart certain desirable and well-chosen traits to the offspring. An ill chosen parent dog can transmit unwanted behaviour like snappy aggression to its child. Learn more about the differences between a purebred and mixed breed dog here. One should carefully research the genetic and behavioural traits of various breeds of guard dogs and then choose the one breed appropriate for your family. Once you decide to buy a particular breed, buy it from a reputed breeder only. Unscrupulous breeders do not practice good breeding techniques and the puppy that you buy may later start behaving in surprisingly shocking ways.
Environment and Training
You may purchase one of the best guard dog breed but the exact nature and temperament of the dog will be highly dependent upon the environment under which it has been trained. An improperly trained and socialized dog can behave in unexpected ways. Guard dogs are aggressive dogs and they need to be appropriately oriented towards the family members. Rewarding excessive aggression in dogs can make them dangerous even towards your family members. Or a German Shepherd which suffers from separation anxiety will not make a good guard dog.