- Guard dogs were bred to protect property and livestock from working and hunting breeds.
- The Cane Corso and Tibetan Mastiff have the most powerful bite force.
- German Shepherds are great guard dogs, police dogs, service and family dogs.
- Some breeds are just too friendly to attack anyone — Labrador and Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters and Basset Hounds, to name a few.
Guard dogs are on high alert to let you know of any danger and also serve as protection dogs. There are different types of guard dog breeds, from those that are more general watchdogs to protective dogs that immediately and aggressively attack, but they’re all loyal and protective. To find the best family guard dog that’s right for you, read on to learn more about some different types of guard dog breeds from the low-energy guard dog to the best attack dog. Whether common or rare, intimidatingly big, or a more manageable medium-sized breed, these 10 breeds of protective dogs are experts in what they do.
1. Cane Corso
The Cane Corso is the Italian version of the Mastiff. Also called the Italian Mastiff, it is closely related to the Neopolitan Mastiff. It makes for a low-energy guard dog that doesn’t need much exercise. It’s also easy to train, especially from a young age. First used to herd livestock and hunt large game, the Cane Corso can also protect livestock and serve as a companion dog or guard dog. With a bite force of 552psi, it has the second-highest or third-highest bite force of any dog breed around, depending on who you talk to.
2. Tibetan Mastiff
Mastiffs are popular for their intimidating large size and are often used as guard dogs. However, the Tibetan Mastiff’s name was a misnomer from European visitors to Tibet. Although it was used as a guarding and herding dog for Tibetan nomads and a watchdog in Tibetan monasteries, the Tibetan Mastiff is not a true mastiff. It is a low-energy guard dog when inside and becomes more active outside. This breed has a bite force of 500-550psi, making it one of the most powerful and best attack dogs. It is rare and expensive, however.
One of the most loyal and protective dogs, the Akita was originally bred to guard royalty and other nobility in feudal Japan. Today, it makes the top of the best family guard dogs due to its large size, strength, stubbornness, and suspicion towards strangers. It’s also the top of the best attack dogs and protection dogs with a bite force of 400psi. This brave and vigilant breed never stops watching you and your family and its large size makes it look intimidating.
Although it needs obedience training like any other breed, it doesn’t need guard dog training except as an option to improve its skills. One caveat: It is not recommended to have it around other dogs. Note that there is a Japanese Akita and an American Akita, they differ only in appearance, with the American Akita being heavier-boned and larger.
Another German dog breed, the Rottweiler is medium-sized to large-sized. It was originally called Rottweil butcher’s dog because its job was to herd livestock and pull carts. Today, this dog is used as a police dog, search-and-rescue dog, and guard dog because it is smart, strong, obedient, alert, calm, and eager to work. As a quiet wait-and-see watchdog with guarding instincts, it looks fierce to anyone it doesn’t trust or thinks is dangerous. And with a bite strength of 328 to 400psi, it makes for one of the best attack dogs and protection dogs as well.
5. Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman Pinscher is intimidating and fearless to people it doesn’t trust. This medium-sized to large-sized breed is smart, vigilant, loving, strong, loyal, and protective. It is very unlikely to attack its owner and has a higher than usual chance of attacking strange people and dogs. As one of the best attack dogs, it can deliver a bite force of 245psi.
6. German Shepherd
The classic German Shepherd is a medium-sized to a large-sized working dog from Germany. First used for herding sheep, the dog’s intelligence, strength, obedience, and trainability make it excellent as a service dog in disability assistance, search-and-rescue work, police, or military work. Popular as an all-purpose breed, it can learn to track, patrol, detect and hold criminals. It stays watching during any suspicious behavior or while you’re not home, and if necessary can deliver a bite force of 238psi. This breed is easygoing enough around children to be one of the best family guard dogs around.
7. American Staffordshire Terrier
Although not a rare breed, the “Pittie” and other pitbull-type breeds are banned in many areas due to their reputation for aggression. Compared to the Pitbull, the American Staffordshire Terrier was specifically used as not only a guard dog but a family dog that’s excellent with children; hence, its nickname as “Nanny Dog” despite its tough appearance. Its bite force is 235psi, which is not as powerful as that of other breeds, but it makes up for it with its large size and protectiveness towards everyone in the household, making it one of the best family guard dogs.
8. Australian Shepherd
The Australian Shepherd makes excellent use of its attentiveness, intelligence, adaptiveness, and quiet working as a guard dog. Its herding instinct with a tendency to herd, nip or bite people and animals can easily turn into the ability to attack dangerous people, with a bite force of 235psi. On the other hand, it is a loving and high-energy companion animal that makes for one of the best types of family guard dogs.
One of the most popular breeds in the United States, the Boxer is a dog that hails from Germany. It was bred specifically to be a guard dog and also used to hunt and hold down large games, which makes it also useful for humans. With personality traits like high vigilance, territorial instinct, and tendency to bark at potential threats, it only needs direction. Unlike some other guard dogs, it is a gentle breed that attacks with a body slam over jaws and teeth, but when it does, it has a bite force of 230psi. It’s not likely to let criminals getaway.
10. Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois, also called Belgian Shepherd, is similar to the German Shepherd. Like its German relative, this type of guard dog is easy to train and valued as a police and military dog. The main qualities that make it different are that it has more stamina and it has an independent streak that makes it prone to wanderlust. Although it has a lower chance of biting people and a bite force of 195psi, it is territorial and is great as a home or family guard dog.
Breeds That Can’t Be Guard Dogs
Small dogs obviously cannot be guard dogs. On the other hand, some large dog breeds can be trained to be protective dogs, while others can never be. The aforementioned list is just a sample of many guard dog breeds, and certain large breeds just can’t make it as protection dogs. These breeds tend to be too friendly to attack people:
Guard dogs are all watchdogs but not all watchdogs are guard dogs. Guard dogs are members of either the working, hunting (hound), or herding groups of dogs. They were originally bred and developed to be watchdogs and protection dogs for livestock and homes and do work such as herding or carting. Naturally fearless, strong, watchful, loyal, and protective, these instincts make them the best for home security and personal protection.
The Bravest Guard Dog of them All
Whether it’s controlling crowds for the police or sniffing out bombs for the army, German Shepherds are considered to be the bravest of all dog breeds. As a family pet they will happily put their lives on the line to protect their humans.
Summary of the Types of Guard Dog Breeds
Here’s a recap of the breeds that make the best guard dogs:
|1.||Cane Corso||Bite Force|
|2.||Tibetan Mastiff||Bite Force|
|3.||Akita||Brave and Vigilant|
|6.||German Shepard||Many Diverse Strengths including Bravery|
|7.||American Staffordshire Terrier||Known as the Nanny Dog: Good with Children|
|8.||Australian Shepard||Good for Families|
|9.||Boxer||Attacks with Body Slam|
Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the entire world?
How about the fastest dogs, the largest dogs and those that are -- quite frankly -- just the kindest dogs on the planet? Each day, AZ Animals sends out lists just like this to our thousands of email subscribers. And the best part? It's FREE. Join today by entering your email below.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.