Best Dog Breeds To Protect Against Mountain Lions

Written by Colby Maxwell
Updated: September 28, 2023
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Dogs truly are man’s best friend. Whether it’s a family-oriented snuggler or a hard-working field dog, there is a breed for almost any job that humans have come up with. One of the most notable things that dogs are used for is protection. All dogs can be protective, but certain breeds have been bred and trained for years to be the best guardians around.

Today, we will explore some breeds that may be perfect for anyone looking to hike in mountain lion territory! As the outdoor activities increase with the weather, having a companion join you on your hike may be the best thing you can do. Let’s discover the best dog breeds to protect against mountain lions!

Infographic showing the seven best dog breeds to protect you against a mountain lion.
The Belgian Malinois, with its strength and agility, is a great dog for defense against mountain lions.

Can A Dog Protect You From A Mountain Lion?

Best Dog Breeds to Protect Against Mountain Lions

Cougars are large cats and, although not usually aggressive, have been involved in attacks on




Before we start, it’s important to know that no dog, regardless of the breed, would be able to take on a full-grown mountain lion solo. Mountain lions are apex predators with the ability to kill elk, mule deer, and coyotes with ease. A domesticated dog wouldn’t stand much of a chance, despite what Where the Red Fern Grows tells us.

Still, having a dog around you can act as a deterrent for any predators that would otherwise have a go at you. As a general rule, predators like bears and cougars are opportunistic and don’t really want to risk getting hurt attacking two creatures, especially if one is barking and snarling.

With that in mind, we made a list of some of the best dogs that you could have that wouldn’t hesitate to protect you in the case of an emergency. While there are literally hundreds of amazing and protective dog breeds, we tailored this list for a few reasons.

Although some dogs are great protectors, they are much too big for hiking in habitats where a chance of mountain lion occurrence could happen. A Mastiff, for example, would be a great deterrent, but they don’t make great hiking companions due to their size and stamina.

close up of an English mastiff laying in grass

The mastiff would certainly offer protection but would lack the stamina for a long hike.

©Kachalkina Veronika/

Our list has dogs with:

  1. Strong protective instincts
  2. Stamina and agility for hiking
  3. Physical size

Let’s get started.

A List Of The Most Protective Breeds For Hiking

1. Akita

Best Dog Breeds to Protect Against Mountain Lions

The Akita was bred in Japan to protect royal families and hunt bears.

©Erika Tcogoeva/

The Akita is an ancient dog breed that was originally bred in Japan as a protector of the royal families and to hunt bears.

Akitas are exceptional protectors and are known for their regal and headstrong nature. The drive to protect is so strong in this breed that early socialization is very important for them. Akitas are usually 20-30 inches tall and weigh between 50 and 120 lbs.

As far as guardians go, Akitas are among the best and a clear deterrent for predators. The only thing to be mindful of is their coat. They have thick double coats that could cause them to overheat if you are hiking during the summer.

2. Belgian Malinois

Best Dog Breeds to Protect Against Mountain Lions

There are few working dogs with the drive, energy, and intelligence that a Belgian Malinois has.


Belgian Malinois are among the most versatile dogs on the planet. They are widely used as police dogs, drug dogs, herding, obedience, and more. These dogs can be trained to do nearly anything, as a quick YouTube search will show. With a sturdy and athletic build, they are prime for highly athletic households. Mals are usually 22-26 inches tall and weigh 44-66 lbs.

Mals are wonderful dogs that wouldn’t hesitate to lay their lives down for the owner they love. As highly athletic working dogs, they won’t have any trouble keeping up with a human on the trail, either. The only concern with Mals is that they require extensive training and care in order not to become destructive.

3. Doberman Or Beauceron

Best Dog Breeds to Protect Against Mountain Lions

The Doberman and the Beauceron are wonderful companions and marvelous guardians.


The Beauceron, an ancient French breed, and one of the later breeds created from it, the Doberman, are widely recognized as some of the best guardian dogs around. Although the Doberman is more famous, the Beauceron is actually much older and was one of the breeds that were used to create the modern Doberman.

Both dogs are strongly built and incredibly athletic, although the Doberman is leaner and more angled, while the Beauceron is quite a bit thicker. Dobermans are usually 25-28 inches tall and weigh 71-100 lbs. Beaucerons are usually 24-28 inches tall and weigh 66-115 lbs.

There isn’t much that is needed to be said about Dobermans. They are agile, intelligent, and magnificent guardians. Beaucerons are like thicker versions of Dobermans. They are hard-working, intelligent, and natural herders and guardians.

4. German Shepherds

Best Dog Breeds to Protect Against Mountain Lions

German Shepherds are among the best all-purpose dog breeds around.


German Shepherds are among the most famous dogs today. They were bred as all-purpose dogs and are often recognized among the finest breeds in their fields. German Shepherds are large dogs with sharp minds and wonderful demeanors. They are usually 22-26 inches tall and weigh 50-88 lbs.

A healthy adult German Shepherd is one of the finest guardians in all of the world. German Shepherds would, without a doubt, lay their lives down in order to protect their families. Whether it’s a cougar, bear, or wolf, a German Shepherd would charge headlong to save their loved ones.

5. Pit Bull Breeds

Best Dog Breeds to Protect Against Mountain Lions

Pit bull breeds are incredibly strong, protective, and loving.

©Sophia Tr/

Although it isn’t commonly known, there are multiple breeds within the “put bull” category. Some of the common breeds are the American Bully, the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the American Bulldog.

Although many of these breeds are different in a few ways, they share similar traits, namely their aptitude for protection. These dogs are incredibly powerful and have the courage that can be astounding to watch.

Sadly, many of these breeds have a bad reputation, often due to their protective natures and use in fighting rings. If you know one personally, however, you know how amazing they are. Despite being outclassed by mountain lions in size, their heroic drive and courage abound.

6. Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Best Dog Breeds to Protect Against Mountain Lions

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are from South


and were historically used to track lions.


Rhodesian Ridgebacks have become more popular in recent years, but not without reason. These dogs are fearless and ferocious when acting as guard dogs but love their families and a good snuggle at home. Additionally, they are incredibly athletic and powerfully built, perfect for keeping up on a long hike. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are usually 24-28 inches tall and weigh 77-100 lbs.

This breed is well-known for the distinct ridge running down its back, giving it its name. Rhodesian Ridgebacks were originally bred to track and bay lions, making them the perfect option for people looking for dogs with some experience! To be clear, Rhodesian Ridgebacks never killed lions, but they did track and bay them as a pack.

7. Rottweilers

Best Dog Breeds to Protect Against Mountain Lions

Rottweilers are well known to be powerful, protective, and loyal, famous for their instinct for guarding.

© Richter

The Rottweiler is a superbly strong dog that descends from the ancient mastiffs that the Romans used in battle thousands of years ago. In a home, Rottweilers are silly playmates and wonderful friends. In the field, they are world-class guardians that are still used today. They are usually 22-27 inches tall and weigh 77-132 lbs.

Rottweilers work as cart dogs, protectors, herders, and drivers all around the world. In fact, they get their name from the region of Rottweil, where they began pulling butcher carts. Although they are quite large, they have great stamina and would make wonderful protectors for anyone hiking where there are mountain lions around.

How Often Do Mountain Lions Attack Humans?

Mountain lion on a rock

There have been less than 20 deaths to humans from mountain lion attacks in the last 25 years.

©Holly Kuchera/

For humans, there is always a concern when it comes to encountering a wild animal in its natural habitat, or elsewhere if one happens to stray into urban areas. Unfortunately, cougars have been known to attack humans and are responsible for some fatalities. However, the number of documented attacks in the U.S. in the last 100 years is 126, of which only 27 were fatal. Those attacks break down by decade/period as follows:

  • 1868-1953– 9 deaths 
  • 1970’s– 3 deaths (all children 12 & under)
  • 1980’s– 3 deaths (all children 12 & under)
  • 1990’s– 7 deaths
  • 2000’s– 3 deaths
  • 2010’s–2 deaths

Of these deaths, many occurred in remote areas where a person was hiking, biking, on a camping trip, or even riding horseback. Multiple deaths were young children, who would be more vulnerable to a mountain lion due to their smaller size. Many of the victims were eaten.

However, as horrifying as it sounds, if you look at the fact that in the last 25 years, there have been less than 20 deaths from mountain lions. When comparing the average population to the known occurrences, the odds of being killed by a mountain lion would be roughly 1 in 1 billion.

Summary Of The Best Dog Breeds To Protect Against Mountain Lions

RankDog Breed
2Belgian Malinois
3Doberman Or Beauceron
4German Shepherds
5Pit Bull Breeds
6Rhodesian Ridgebacks

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Lukas Gojda/

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About the Author

Colby is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering outdoors, unique animal stories, and science news. Colby has been writing about science news and animals for five years and holds a bachelor's degree from SEU. A resident of NYC, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone about what birds he saw at his local birdfeeder.

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