When it comes to finding the best guard dog for your home, it's important to consider a breed's level of alertness, sense of loyalty, territorial instincts, level of intelligence, and overall physical strength. While several dogs can be trained to be good guard dogs, with proper training and socialization, these five breeds possess many of the natural qualities that make them perfectly suited for this important job. Whether you're looking for a family guardian or a formidable protector, one of these breeds is sure to fit the bill.
1. German Shepherd Dogs Make Great Guards
Let’s kick off this list with a breed everyone knows and loves: the German Shepherd Dog. This is one of the most popular breeds for guard duty, and for good reason. Known for their intelligence, loyalty, and protective instincts, German Shepherd Dogs are highly trainable and responsive to commands. They stand between 24 and 26 inches tall and tip the scales at 65 to 90 pounds, so they are physically strong and can be quite intimidating to look at, too.
They’re naturally wary of strangers and will defend their family and territory with their lives. Are German Shepherd Dogs dangerous? They can be. But with proper training and socialization, German Shepherd Dogs make excellent guard dogs, and their loyal nature means people and property are safe when the German Shepherd Dog is around. They score a 5 out of 5 on the trainability scale.
German Shepherd Dogs score a 3 out of 5 on the barking scale. They have a powerfully loud bark. Sealing the deal on this ideal guard dog is the fact that German Shepherd Dogs are the third most intelligent dog breed of all.
2. Akitas Are Known for Guarding Japanese Royalty
Next up is a dog that is as brave as it is beautiful: the Akita. Once bred in the mountains of north Japan to hunt bears, keep samurai company, and protect Japanese royalty and nobility, this large dog is powerful, dominant, and burly – weighing in at 100 to 130 pounds and measuring 26 to 28 inches tall.
Away from the physical side of things, Akitas are profoundly loyal, very alert, and extremely territorial. Training can sometimes be challenging, with their overall trainability score being 3 out of 5.
Akitas score a 2 out of 5 on the barking scale, and they’re generally grouped in with the quieter dog breeds. The breed is considered to be of average intelligence, but if not properly trained they will struggle with new commands.
3. Bullmastiffs Are Big, Brave, and Bullish
Now let’s take a look at a dog that will stop you in your tracks with just one booming bark. The Bullmastiff is a large and powerful breed that is often sought after as an obvious choice for guard duty. With their intimidating size and muscular build, Bullmastiffs are a formidable sight to potential intruders. They stand at 25 to 27 inches tall and weigh a whopping 110 to 130 pounds.
Developed to protect gamekeepers against poachers, it's mainly their physical strength that makes Bullmastiffs a good guard dog. These big dogs are described in their official breed standard as: “A symmetrical animal, showing great strength, endurance, and alertness; powerfully built but active,” which describes them well.
In a bit of a “brawn over brain” scenario, Bullmastiffs aren’t known to be very intelligent, and they are the least intelligent dog on this list and the 8th least intelligent dog breed of all. Physical traits aside, Bullmastiffs are loyal and brave. They are relatively easy to train, scoring a 4 out of 5 in trainability, and exclusively bark to alert – and their 1 out of 5 barking level backs this fact up.
4. Doberman Pinschers Don’t Mess Around
The Doberman Pinscher is a powerful and intimidating breed that is often used for guard duty. With their incredibly muscular build and sleek coat, Doberman Pinschers are an imposing sight to potential intruders. These dogs stand 26 to 28 inches tall and weigh in at 75 to 100 pounds, so the look of them alone is enough to deter would-be intruders.
But it’s not just their physical characteristics that make them a good guard dog; they are fiercely protective of their family and territory. In addition, they have a very high level of adaptive intelligence (they’re the fifth most intelligent dog breed of all), which means they respond to potential threats in good time. They’re also highly trainable, scoring a 5 out of 5 in this area.
Doberman Pinschers score a 3 out of 5 on the barking level scale. Though not quite as ear-splitting as that of the German Shepherd Dog, Doberman Pinschers have loud barks. While they literally will not hesitate to defend their territory, when necessary, they can also be loving and gentle companions and are particularly great dog breeds for children.
5. Rottweilers Are Really Good at Their Jobs
And last, but certainly not least, is the Rottweiler. This breed is often stereotyped as aggressive and intimidating, but the truth is that Rottweilers can either be ferocious guard dogs or loving family dogs – sometimes even both! Weighing in at 95 to 135 pounds and measuring 24 to 27 inches, they’re powerfully built and have an imposing presence.
The Rottweiler is the 9th most intelligent dog breed, and they are highly trainable and respond very well to new commands. They score a 5 out of 5 on the trainability scale. They’re also very courageous, unwaveringly loyal, and naturally protective.
Rottweilers only bark to alert, scoring just 1 out of 5 on the barking scale. When a Rottweiler barks, it’s for a reason. And considering how loud and sharp their bark is, it wouldn’t be a surprise if an intruder hopped right back over the wall after hearing it.