There are many reasons people want to get a dog: as a play-friend for children, companionship, or perhaps protection.
For those hoping their dog will guard their family and property, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has rounded up breeds that are well-suited to the role.
Here are the best guard dogs, according to experts.
1. Australian Shepherd
The Australian Shepherd is not only an extremely beautiful breed, but also makes a great guard dog. The breed is described as a “lean, tough ranch dog” by the AKC and is medium-sized.
These canines have a need to herd everything, according to the AKC. They are intelligent, good with young children, and is pretty vigilant – making them a great breed for families wanting a watchful eye over their home.
The Beauceron has the appearance of a classic guard dog: dark coat, upright, sensitive ears, and a muscular body.
The dogs are large and, according to the AKC, are “especially beloved by women as a dashing but sensitive companion and protector.”
This dog’s dark coat with red, fox-colored marking on the feet and mouth, gave it the charming nickname of “Bas-Rouge,” meaning “red stockings” in French.
Boxers are affectionate, loyal and intelligent. They can reach up to 25-inches-tall and often have an extremely protective nature.
“Their patience and protective nature have earned them a reputation as a great dog with children,” the AKC says of the breed. “They take the jobs of watchdog and family guardian seriously and will meet threats fearlessly.”
A boxer is a perfect dog choice for a family wanting a protector and friend.
Rottweilers have an impressive lineage and are descended from the mastiffs of the legions in Rome.
These dogs often get a bad reputation, however the AKC says that “a well-bred and properly raised Rottweiler will be calm and confident, courageous but not unduly aggressive.”
The dogs can be extremely loving to their families, and can be extremely playful.
Much like Rottweilers and Boxers, Bullmastiffs have a fearsome reputation as guard dogs.
These dogs are extremely vigilant and adaptable, while their stature and appearance is a result of breeding Bulldogs and Mastiffs together.
The resulting breed is, according to the AKC, a dog whose physical appearance and personality “all combine to present the intelligence, alertness, and confidence that make the Bullmastiff a world-class protector and family companion.”
6. Central Asian Shepherd Dog
Central Asian Shepherd Dogs are a prestigious breed. They are thought to be the oldest known group of dogs still in existence today; artifacts documenting their presence have been found going back 5,000 years.
Now, nomadic people use these majestic creatures as guard dogs. According to the AKC, they are “territorial guardians bred to guard people and their possessions.”
“They seek out human attention, thus bonding with their humans first and the flock second, and they guard whatever is placed in their perceived territory.”
7. Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman Pinscher is a powerful, loyal and fearless breed of dog. They are also affectionate and good with young children, according to the AKC.
These dogs are fast, compact, and have a sleek and beautiful dark coat.
The AKC calls this breed “one of dogkind’s noblemen” and remarks that “this incomparably fearless and vigilant breed stands proudly among the world’s finest protection dogs.”
8. German Shepherd
German Shepherds are large, agile, and are bread to be herders. These dogs are great with children, affectionate and are extremely vigilant.
They are high-energy, so will need lots of walks and playtime. According to the AKC, they are highly intelligent and have a noble character.
The AKC says of this special breed: “Their defining attribute is character: loyalty, courage, confidence, the ability to learn commands for many tasks, and the willingness to put their life on the line in defence of loved ones. German Shepherds will be gentle family pets and steadfast guardians.”
9. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are short but are certainly no less imposing for it. They are compact, yet muscular and they are brave and tenacious, according to the AKC.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s face is drawn into a near-permanent smile, giving them a sweet appearance.
However, these dogs were bred for fighting in England’s dog-fighting pits. They make great guard dogs, but the AKC says: “These are true-blue loyal companions, but the old fighting instinct still lurks within, making it vital that Staffie pups be socialized with other dogs to learn good canine manners.”
10. Tibetan Mastiff
Another ancient breed, the Tibetan Mastiff is a working dog with a thick, fluffy coat, bred for the chilly Tibetan climate.
Tibetan Mastiffs are loyal and affectionate to their close circle, but are chilly and aloof with strangers, making them a great option as a guard dog.
Despite their size and stature, Tibetan Mastiffs are still quite agile. AKC says of the breed: “It’s impossible to discuss them without leaning on words like ‘powerful,’ ‘muscular,’ massive,’ and ‘substantial.’ And yet, Tibetan Mastiffs are quite light-footed and will meet a perceived threat with surprising agility.”
11. Estrela Mountain Dog
Estrela Mountain Dogs are huge and fluffy. They look almost bear-like, and are imposing in their size and stature.
They are affectionate and sociable, and are also good with children. This breed is named after the Estrela Mountain range in Portugal and are one of the oldest breeds in the region.
According to the AKC, the Estrela Mountain Dog is “an inseparable companion of the shepherd and a faithful flock guardian, bravely protecting it against predators and thieves. A wonderful farm and house guard, this dog is distrustful towards strangers but typically docile to its master.”
12. Caucasian Shepherd Dog
The Caucasian Shepherd dog is bred especially as a guard dog. They ooze confidence, are bold and fearless in the face of a threat – but are loving and devoted to their family members.
These dogs are traditionally used to protect properties from animals and trespassers. However the AKC warns: “The Caucasian Shepherd dog is a serious guardian breed and should never be taken lightly.”
They are a powerful dog with strong instinctsm but they are loving to those in their inner circle.
13. Cane Corso
The Cane Corso dog is a protector, through and through. Their lineage is traced back to the Roman times, and their name even means “bodyguard dog” in Latin.
They have an imposing appearance, with a strong muscular body, a large frame and a square head and jaw.
The AKC says that these dogs are “intelligent, loyal, eager to please, versatile, and intensely loyal to their humans, but are also assertive and willful, and can end up owning an unwitting owner.”
Boerboels are extremely affectionate to their owners, yet can also be fearless protectors.
These dogs are a type of mastiff, and are among the most agile in the mastiff family. These dogs are not recommended for novice owners, owing to their strength and playfulness.
The AKC says: “The imposing Boerboel is devoted to protecting the people and places they love.”
Akita’s have a thick coat and are an iconic Japanese breed. They are extremely vigilant, and are quite playful with a good amount of energy.
These dogs love human companionship, and while they are often wary of strangers, they can be hugely playful with people and dogs they know well.
AKC says of the dog: “in their native land, they’re venerated as family protectors and symbols of good health, happiness, and long life.”