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25 Best Guard Dogs With a Natural Instinct to Love and Protect Your Family


There is no love like the love of a dog, but there's also no other kind of protection like what a dog offers. Pups howl when someone even comes close to the front door, and if you're worried about deterring intruders, a "beware of dog" sign usually does the trick.

Just like how some dog breeds can be more affectionate than others, some other breeds are known, reliable guard dogs. If you're looking for a protective dog who's loving and kind, but who also has the natural instinct to watch your home and family, one of the dog breeds mentioned below might be good for you.

Here are 25 of the best guard dog breeds known for offering their protection, including small dog breeds and large dog breeds that make good guard dogs.

25 Best Guard Dogs

1. German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is perhaps the best guard dog there is. Standing as high as 26 inches tall and with a muscular build, German Shepherds have historically been used in police K-9 units, as military working dogs, and as search-and-rescue dogs. German Shepherds also tend to bond to one person, or one family, with fierce protectiveness and loyalty acting as their leading personality traits. Known for doing well in training and listening to commands, German Shepherds would do anything to protect the family they love. According to the American Kennel Club though, the German Shepherd's bond can make it difficult for those in the peripherals, adding that they have "a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships."

Related: 50 Small Dog Breeds

2. Anatolian Shepherd

Known for their bold, intelligent, and confident demeanors, Anatolian Shepherds make good herding dogs, and their large size, sharp eyesight, and good hearing allows them to effectively protect livestock. But these Shepherds will protect more than just the livestock; their territorial nature makes them loyal guard dogs to any owner who is a strong leader this breed can respect.

3. Beauceron

The Beauceron might not be a dog breed you've heard of before, but according to the AKC, they are big, strong dogs with smart and imposing personalities and a penchant for herding. All of these characteristics make the Beauceron an impeccable choice for a guard dog, most especially if well-trained and owned by a dominant leader this dog can respect and be dominated by.

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4. Estrela Mountain Dog

One look at the Estrela Mountain Dog and we guarantee any potential intruder will turn on their heel immediately. The Estrela Mountain Dog is humongous with intimidating, dark eyes, but beyond its penchant for guarding livestock, they're also very good with children and families. However, you'll want to train and socialize this dog well as a puppy. Estrela Mountain Dogs have a certain kind of dominance inherent in their nature, and you want to make sure it's evened out with training and socialization, or else an aggressiveness can take dominate the rest of their personality.

5. Akita

Akitas are ancient Japanese dogs that, in Japan, symbolize good health, happiness, a long life, and protectors of family. At first glance, they may look all-fluff, but Akitas are strong, muscular, and powerful dogs with an imposing nature. Their sheer bulk alone is enough to deter an intruder.

6. Hovawart

Bred as livestock guardians, the Hovawart has always been a working dog. With an even more excellent than normal nose, the Hovwart has been used as a watchdog, guard dog, tracking, and search-and-rescue dog. This dog has a protective instinct and is well-assured in his ability to take care of a family and home.

Related: Best Large Dog Breeds

7. Boxer

The Boxer has been a fan-favorite breed in the U.S. for quite some time, thanks to its silly, fun-loving nature and alertness. Boxers will cuddle you on the couch, but also let you know when something is awry.  They are athletic, powerful, and intimidating (especially to strangers) so you'll always feel safe (and loved) around this breed.

8. Appenzeller Sennenhund

Intelligence and obedience are the main personality traits that redeem an Appenzeller Sennenhund's size. Smaller than most other guard dogs—weighing in at anywhere from 48 to 70 pounds—the Appenzeller Sennenhund should not be underestimated, as they are agile, energetic herders that have been historically used as working farm dogs and search-and-rescue dogs.

Related: Affectionate Dog Breeds

9. Belgian Laekenois

Also part of the Herding Group, Belgian Laekenois dogs are similar in disposition to Shepherds. This breed tends to trust only the people it knows well and sees often, and can be rather suspicious of strangers, making the Belgian Laekenois a popular choice for a guard dog. The AKC calls the Belgian Laekenois "protective of his master and property," so if that sounds like what you're looking for in a dog, this breed might be for you.

10. Australian Shepherd

If you have an Australian Shepherd, you may have noticed her natural instinct to corral other animals or, at times, even humans. These dogs have strong, innate herding and guarding instincts, which always made them a great choice in the fields or on the farm. But it's also a useful personality trait for your home. No one—not even the delivery guy or the mailman—will be able to approach your front door without your Australian Shepherd alerting you first.

11. Briard

It might appear that a Briard dog can't see from underneath his long bangs and coat, but don't let their look fool you. A close relative to the Beauceron, which also makes a good guard dog, the Briard features standard traits common to other herding breeds. These include a protective nature, intelligence, and immense trainability. The Briard is protective around family, particularly children, and remains wary about outsiders.

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12. Black Russian Terrier

The Black Russian may in fact be a terrier, but this breed is no Toto from The Wizard of Oz. Weighing in at a maximum of 130 pounds, the Black Russian Terrier is powerful and strong and was specifically bred as a guard dog. It's in their blood to protect, and their brawn is one of the most intimidating features about them.

13. Giant Schnauzer

Like most of the other dogs on this list, the Giant Schnauzer is a type of working dog known for its loyalty and commitment. They are a smart breed that enjoys working, which is why the AKC categorizes the breed as a "bold and valiant figure of a dog."

14. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

This pup is one of few breeds on this list that also made our "most affectionate dog breeds" list. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are big softies with their immediate family circle and owners, but they can turn on the protectiveness if they need to. Muscular, courageous, and agile, this dog breed will play when it wants and growl when it needs.

15. Bull Mastiff

The Bull Mastiff makes for a loyal companion, but they tend to get into tiffs—pun intended—with others. Animals, peoples, squirrels... you name it. Their temperament is described by the AKC as loyal, brave, and affectionate, but in general, the Bull Mastiff isn't a dog to take to the park. They do best at home, imprinting on and protecting their own territory.

16. Rottweiler

Rotties love hard, but they might just protect even harder. The AKC describes Rottweilers as "loyal, loving, confident guardians" that, though sweet and playful with their immediate family, can intimidate outsiders. Training and socialization while your Rottweiler is still a pup are crucial to learning how to handle this breed's territorial demeanor.

17. Thai Ridgeback

You'll want to be on the good side of a Thai Ridgeback. As in, its owner and not the person he's chasing. The Thai Ridgeback is incredibly sleek and agile and is even known for his ability to jump high. The Thai Ridgeback is fast and tough with a survival instinct stronger than most of his other instincts. Even still, the Thai Ridgeback makes for a great family dog but will probably remain reticent around strangers outside of the inner family circle.

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18. Catahoula Leopard Dog

The State Dog of Louisiana—yes, there is such a thing, at least for some U.S. states—is the Catahoula Leopard Dog, a short-coated dog as well-known for its coat's unique patterns as well as its watchful personality. This dog is muscular, powerful, and big but is often good at turning off their working nature while at home, where they can be more playful. But be wary; the Catahoula Leopard Dog has a serious, take-no-crap nature and will defend itself if the need arises.

19. Boerboels

According to AKC, Boerboels are "intimidating but discerning guardians of home and family who learned their trade while protecting remote South African homesteads from ferocious predators." Also a part of the Working Group of dogs, Boerboels feel very similar in temperment and nature to Mastiffs; they're very trainable but also imposing and do best at home.

20. Doberman Pinscher

Dobermans may appear slim in nature but they are an incredibly agile, strong, and fast breed. They tend to be on high alert and patrol often. Dobermans also need a lot of exercise to keep up their muscular build and agile nature, so only take on this breed if you're willing to cater to that high-energy need.

21. Tornjak

The Tornjak makes an effective guard dog due to the way she sees the world, or rather, her world. Property and a family feels like something sacred entrusted to the Tornjak, who then becomes territorial and protective of these gifts. Known to be devoted to their master, Tornjaks are a loving and obedient breed, but usually only exclusively to those they share the home with. The AKC also adds that Tornjaks "cannot be bribed," so, no, not even food will deter a Tornjak's protective nature.

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22. Spanish Water Dog

The Spanish Water Dog is very work-oriented, vigilant, and observant. You might do best to bond with this dog over activity; whether it's water-retrieving toys or running together outdoors, Spanish Water Dogs might be more likely to form bonds with you over shared exercise than a spot on the couch.

23. Romanian Mioritic Shepherd Dog

If there's a "Shepherd" in the title, then you pretty much know the dog breed is good for protecting your home. The Romanian Mioritic Shepherd Dog is no exception to the rule, as the breed standard tends to be pack-oriented as puppies, as well as independent and protective.

24. Puli

If you want a dog who can pick things up quickly, the Puli is a smart choice. Intelligent and agile, the Puli may be on the smaller side but was bred as a herder to protect flocks of sheep on the Hungarian plains. The Puli's herding instinct still rings true today, and in the presence of other animals (or even young kids), you may notice your dog rounding them up.

25. Tibetan Mastiff

Similar in stature, look, and personality to the Estrela Mountain Dog, the AKC calls the Tibetan Mastiff "the guardian dog supreme." And rightfully so. The Tibetan Mastiff's personality can be described as devoted and territorial. Hardly docile, the Tibetan Mastiff is protective of his family and doesn't hold much trust in strangers. Apart from their larger-than-life personality, their size helps deter intruders, too, as the Tibetan Mastiff can weigh as much as 120 pounds.

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