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22 Best Guard Dog Breeds

The best guarding dogs are the ones that make you feel safer, prevent unwanted visitors, and are also suited to family life. Read on to learn our best guard dog picks.

Emma Braby Picture

Last Updated: November 9, 2022 | 11 min read

GSD sitting by door

Are you searching for the best guard dogs for your home? Or maybe you are seeking a pooch that can protect your homestead and herds. You also need to consider which ones are suited to family life. Whatever the reason and considerations, here we have some of the best guard dog breeds around.

All dog breeds have an original purpose, and the dogs below are to guard. Guardian dog breeds have a natural instinct to protect their loved ones and territory. These breeds are strong, loyal, obedient, fearless, and watchful. They alert you when visitors arrive at your home, and they know when to protect you from danger.

Many of these dog breeds enjoy life in the family home. Others are less well-known, and you’ve probably never met one. But all of them are medium to giant dog breeds that are powerful and strong-willed. They all need strict training and proper socialization to bring out their best side and obedience. Otherwise, you risk an unruly and problematic pooch. Let’s take a look.

Akita

Fluffy Dog Standing in Snow
Akita Inus are alert dogs that are excellent at making you aware when things have gone awry.

The Akita is a heavy-set and powerful dog with unwavering loyalty to their master. They typically weigh between 70 and 130 pounds. This breed was developed in the 17th century in Japan by a nobleman looking to create a powerful and protective hunter. Originally they hunted big game such as deer, wild boar, and the feared Yezo bear.

Almost everyone knows the story of Hachiko, a famous Akita who waited nine years for his master (who died unexpectedly) to come home from work. This profound loyalty, combined with a natural instinct to guard their family, makes the Akita one of the best guard dogs around. Akitas are usually intolerant of other animals, so bear this in mind.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Anatolians are less well-known than the Akita.

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is another huge dog that weighs between 80 and 150 pounds. They patrol ranches protecting herds from predators, including the wolf. Anatolian Shepherds are intelligent and independent. And they can spend months at a time watching their pack on their own without human direction.

Anatolians take their job as protectors seriously, and they extend their defensive nature to their families in the home. They are protective of their masters, but even more so with the children of the family and other animals. Nothing screams protective big brother or sister more than the Anatolian Shepherd. Anatolians are also calm and loving, making them less intense than other guard dogs.  

Appenzeller Sennenhund

The Appenzeller Sennenhund is another lesser-known dog breed, and they are one of four Swiss national dogs. Appenzellers are lively, self-assured, and courageous. Although Appenzellers are traditional herding dogs, their alertness and suspicion of strangers make them reliable watchdogs. They cannot be bribed, and nothing gets past them.

Swiss farmers originally bred them to guard cattle and property and keep them company. These pups are also really intelligent, meaning you can train them to do almost anything, including tricks for entertainment. Appenzellers are general all-rounders eager to please, making them great family companions. They weigh between 50 and 70 pounds, making them one of the less imposing guard dogs on this list.

Beauceron

Beauceron Dog Outdoors
The Beauceron is not completely black but looks that way with its minimal tan markings.

The Beauceron is nearly always mistaken for a Doberman Pinscher. But there are subtle differences, including a longer coat and a softer look. Beaucerons are French herding dogs who weigh between 70 and 110 pounds. Their size alone makes them imposing, but they also have a natural ability to detect when their family needs protection.

Beaucerons are remarkably smart and herd flocks of animals on their own. They are also extremely sensitive and loving around their family, making them ideal family guard dogs. Plus, when Beaucerons are not in guard mode, they are docile and happy to relax without constant entertainment. Making them much less intense than other high-wired guard breeds.

Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois Dog in Snow Outdoors
The Belgian Malinois is a confident, smart, and hardworking dog who works for the police and military.

This reputation means that no one would dare challenge a Mal protecting their family. So you know you can count on them being one of the best guard dogs to choose from. They weigh between 40 and 80 pounds and are muscular, streamlined, and athletic.

Malinois were first bred in Malines, northwestern Belgium, as meticulous herding dogs who could work alone. Their determination, loyalty, and work ethic make them reliable guard dogs who never let anything, or anyone, slip through the gate without warning to their master.

Black Russian Terrier

Black Russian Terrier Outdoors
The Black Russian Terrier was created by Russian scientists at a secret breeding kennel in Moscow.

They were tasked to develop a super dog for the Russian army. Using 17 breeds, this creation sometimes exceeds 140 pounds. This is a powerhouse pooch who is naturally suspicious of strangers and protective of their loved ones.

The Black Russian Terrier patrolled the border of Russia, taking down prisoners and holding them until the army took over. Their thick coat full of curls might trick you into thinking they are a fluffy Poodle, but they’re far from it. If you’re looking for a guard dog who doesn’t look like one, this could be a top choice.

Boerboel

Boerboel in Backyard Playing
When it comes to being a guard dog, the Boerboel looks the part and plays it too.

All the way from South Africa, this is the chosen breed of farmers who needed their farms protected from vicious predators such as baboons and lions. Boerboels are strong-willed and independent and need an experienced dog handler.

Boerboels typically top the scales at 200 pounds but don’t be fooled by their stocky mass. These guys can run surprisingly quickly. They are the most agile of mastiffs, making them ideal for guard dogs who need to chase people or things away. Boerboels are calm watchdogs with a soft spot for children, making them ideal companions for families seeking a gentle giant.

Bouvier des Flandres

Bouviers des Flandres on Leash
The Bouvier des Flandres is a relatively intelligent dog who is eager to please.

Here we have another deceptively soft-looking pooch, but under all that fluff is a hardworking, burly canine. Bouviers are excellent guardians and watchdogs commonly found in France and Belgium. The Belgian army kept the breed alive because they bred them in big numbers to work for the army. They still work for the police, thanks to their tough nature.

Sometimes known as Vuilbaard, which translates to dirty beard, this pooch looks like a Giant Schnauzer. This dog is a tireless hard worker, which means they need to be constantly worked and entertained. Meaning this dog can be an intense pet to care for. But if you have the time for them, they reward their family with neverending love and protection.

Bullmastiff

Bullmastiff Looking at Camera
The Bullmastiff comes from the same origins as the English Mastiff.

The Bullmastiff usually weighs between 100 and 130 pounds, making them a unit to reckon with through size alone. The original Bullmastiffs were 60% Mastiff and 40% Bulldog, which was described as the ultimate mix. Their sweet nature earns them a place in the gentle giant pack, and they have a soft spot for children and smaller members of the pack.

Their nickname is the ‘Gamekeeper’s Nighttime Dog,’ and their original purpose was to deter poachers and protect their master’s estate. Bullmastiffs are quick enough to catch a poacher, strong enough to hold them down, but obedient and graceful enough to keep them alive. Great if you’re seeking similar protection.

Cane Corso

Italian Mastiff Looking at Camera
Not only are Cane Corsi highly intimidating, but they are also very intelligent.

The Cane Corso dates back to Roman times, and its name roughly translates from Latin as the ‘bodyguard-dog.’ Cane Corsi has an innate ability to sense danger and protect their master from it, and they pick up on emotions and stress easily. However, they don’t go looking for trouble. Instead, they’re cool, calm, and collected. That is, until someone threatens their master.

The Cane Corso usually exceeds 100 pounds, and their sensitive nature means their protective nature can go from 0 to 100 in seconds. They have a dominant character that needs a strong master to lead them. Otherwise, they play the pack leader role themselves. But with the proper training, you’ll have an adoring best friend for life.

Catahoula Leopard Dog

Catahoula Leopard dog standing in field with red collar
The Catahoula Leopard Dog might not look like a guard dog, but they’re better than most.

The Catahoula is a versatile breed that helps with most ranch tasks, such as herding and protecting their territory. They weigh between 50 and 95 pounds and are very confident. Their conviction in their ability means they must be kept in line with obedience training. Otherwise, they disregard their owners and take charge.

Once they understand their place in the pack, they settle into caring and playful pups in the home. Their coat colors and patterns vary and attract many dog lovers. But do not be fooled by their prettiness. Catahoulas are hardworking dogs who need constant work and attention to thrive. This is a top choice if it’s a watchdog you’re after.

Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Caucasian Shepherd
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a giant breed with lots of hair.

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog looks bold and mighty, and that’s because they are. However, despite their authoritarian nature, they are sweet and kind dogs that make great family companions. Like many other large, protective breeds, this dog looks out for the pack’s smaller members, making them ideal canine siblings for children.

They hail from the Caucasus mountain range in central Europe, patrolling their master’s land for vicious predators threatening their herds. They weigh between 100 and 170 pounds and look intimidating. This, combined with their fearlessness, makes them an excellent choice for those seeking an independent protector capable of protecting a ranch with little direction.

Chow Chow

Chow Chow dog
The Chow Chow looks giant because of its enormous amount of fur.

The Chow Chow is a compact canine that weighs between 45 and 70 pounds. They might look like a fluffy bundle of cuteness, but Chow Chows are fearless and bold. They are very wary of strangers and bark at everything that comes their way. This, combined with their complete loyalty to their loved ones, makes them an ideal choice as a guard dog.

The Chow Chow is a unique and fashionable dog, but not an easy-to-care-for pooch as most people think. They are demanding, challenging, and stubborn dogs who need a strong-willed master to take charge. Their original purpose was to hunt, haul, and guard, but the latter of their purposes is still what they do best. When they’re not in protection mode, Chow Chows are happy to chill.

Doberman Pinscher

Black and Tan Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman is both highly intelligent and independent.

The Doberman Pinscher is one of the first breeds that spring to mind regarding the best guard dogs. They are athletic, powerful, and quick. Plus, Dobermans are fearless, incomparably alert, and unwaveringly loyal. A dog-loving taxman needed protection in his tax-collecting duties, so he created this dog. Their original purpose is still strong to this day.

Dobermans weigh between 60 and 100 pounds, and their reputation for being one of the finest guard dogs means that only foolish people and creatures would dare take them on. Despite this, they are also one of the sweetest, loving, and silliest dogs you could ever wish to meet. But only with their closest loved ones.

German Shepherd

German Shepherd Dog Wearing Tactical Harness
The German Shepherd is one of the most favored breeds in the police and military world.

Like the Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds are courageous, confident, and smart. They would face anything to protect their master, making them one of the best guard dogs you could ask for.

German Shepherds are one-man dogs. Sure, they love and protect every family member equally, but they give everything to their main caregiver. German Shepherds are aloof with strangers and treat everyone with suspicion. They weigh between 50 and 90 pounds but are just as graceful as they are powerful.

Giant Schnauzer

Giant Schnauzer Training
The Giant Schnauzer is a ‘bold and valiant figure of a dog.’

They were initially bred in the Bavarian Alps to drive cattle from farm to market. But when this employment dried up, they were soon taken up by local police forces due to their protective and courageous nature. Plus, they are hugely loyal and alert.

But their guard dog traits don’t stop there. Giant Schnauzers are also very vocal dogs, which is why they have earned the nickname, ‘shouty Schnauzer.’ You can be sure that if anything makes noise outside, your shouty Schnauzer will make an even louder noise to scare them off and alert you simultaneously. They weigh between 55 and 85 pounds.

Hovawart

Hovawart Dog Outdoors
The Hovawart is one of the youngest working breeds, making them one of the least common.

So, if you’re looking for a unique guard dog, this could be a top choice. They are also one of the healthiest and long-lived due to stringent breeding requirements. The name Hovawart loosely translates to farm watchman, making this an obvious choice for a guard dog. They weigh between 65 and 90 pounds.

Hovawarts are intense and need an outlet for their working energy. Otherwise, they become destructive. They also need to feel like they’re an integral part of the family. And if they do, they protect their humans with their life. If you haven’t got the time to entertain this dog, you should pick an easier-going guard dog.

Perro De Presa Canario

This dog is another brutish-looking pooch but with a calm and chilled expression. Don’t expect any trouble from this pooch unless, of course, you’re threatening their family. Presas are devoted to their family but extremely suspicious of strangers, making them ideal guard dogs. Plus, with up to 110 pounds behind them, you’d be a fool to pick a fight with this pup.

They were bred to protect land and cattle and exterminate stray dogs coming into their territory. They also have a history of dog fighting, which might not be the best option for multi-dog households or those in frequent contact with outside dogs. This strong instinct needs a tough and experienced owner to reign them in.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Red Rhodesian Ridgeback Outdoors
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is from South Africa, bred to protect farmers and their land from predators.

They weigh around 70 to 85 pounds and are athletic looking. They don’t look like a typical guard dog, but they are great at it. Their faithfulness and super sweet nature make them a great addition to family homes.

They have Greyhound blood in their veins, meaning they are nimble and quick-footed to catch prey. This is why the Rhodesian has a high prey drive, meaning they are not suited to multi-pet households with small furries. Want to protect your yard from the local felines? The Ridgeback is a top contender.

Rottweiler

Black and Tan Dog Standing on a Road
Rottweilers are among the most popular dog breeds in the States.

The Rottweiler is another obvious pick for this list. They regularly work for the police and military for protection services. At 80 to 135 pounds, they’re a formidable sight for sure. Rottweilers are confident in their abilities to protect their family, watching the world from a distance with suspicion. Step a foot toward their family, and they step two feet toward you.

Despite their hard-as-nails image, they’re sweet, loving, and super goofy with their loved ones, worlds apart from their serious and protective side. Rottweilers are a sucker for affection and belly scratches, and you’ll find a best friend for life in the Rottie.

Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff History
The Tibetan Mastiff has become more popular in the last five years.

The Tibetan Mastiff is a mountain dog weighing 70 to 150 pounds. Tibetans are the guardian dog extreme, and historians think they might be the original Mastiff. Although this breed of dog’s origins is unknown, we know they protected the Himalayas from baddies. So your homestead is nothing compared to that.

Tibetan Mastiffs are famous for being protective and aggressive towards anyone threatening their family, meaning no-gooders should automatically stay away. They also love wood. So it’s essential to keep them entertained otherwise they might destroy your house and other wooden things.

Tosa

Japanese Tosa Inu Dog
The Tosa Inu is a breed of Japanese Mastiff, that can be very intimidating,

The Tosa is the largest of the Japanese breeds. They weigh between 100 and 200 pounds, making them one of the most sizeable on this list. Tosas were initially bred for dog fighting but are now used as watchdogs. Tosas are aloof with strangers but never aggressive. But they may react aggressively toward other dogs if they feel their loved ones are in danger.

In Japan, Tosas are viewed as the canine equivalent of Sumo wrestlers, so they’re given much respect and frequently dressed in full ceremonial regalia. Although relatively rare in America still, they are popular among experienced dog owners needing family and estate protection. Tosas are highly vigilant with a loud bark.

Final Thoughts

Although you want your guard dog to be fearless, you must never train them to be aggressive or let them out of control. All of these dogs can be dangerous, considering their size and guarding nature. Therefore you must be a confident dog owner and train them well so that they are obedient.

As long as you know the challenges ahead and are willing to put effort into training them, you are bound to find a sweet and protective pooch. But more importantly, one willing to protect you and your family and be the best guard dog you could wish for.

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