Protection dogs are some of the most admirable dogs on the planet. They are willing to risk life, and limb for those they hold dear. The best dogs for protection are those that have a strong protective instinct, and the intelligence to know when to use it.
What are the best dogs for protection?
The German Shepherd
The German Shepherd is a wonderful protection dog.
With traits such as loyalty, courage, and speed, they can’t be overlooked for personal protection.
The German Shepherd has a reputation as a police K-9, and this fact alone is a powerful deterrent for would-be criminals.
German Shepherds that are properly trained and socialized, are known to do well with children, and make one of the best family guard dogs.
In fact, they are normally very protective of the children in their family.
This is a very energetic breed, that needs ample physical activity and mental stimulation.
They weigh between 65- 90 pounds, with a lifespan of roughly 7 to 10 years (AKC).
German Shepherds can suffer from hip dysplasia, so be sure to get your puppy from parents that have been health tested.
German Shepherds do shed excessively, therefore if you don’t want dog hair throughout your house you may want to choose a different breed.
The Cane Corso (Kah-nay-Kor-so)
The menacing appearance of this dog is probably enough to deter most criminals.
The Cane Corso aka “Italian Mastiff”, is a serious guard dog, and one of the most protective dog breeds.
They can be dominant and strong-willed.
This is not a dog for inexperienced dog owners.
This breed requires a strong leader, but you will be rewarded with a loving and very loyal guardian.
The Cane Corso will need extensive obedience training, as well as socialization with humans, other dogs, and any other animals it may be exposed to.
Once trained these dogs can make wonderful companions and pets.
They weigh 115 pounds and up, and have an average life span of 9- 12 years (AKC).
This dog is easy to groom, and is a low shedder.
Next on our list of the best dogs for protection is The Giant Schnauzer
The Giant Schnauzer is known to have a “clownish” personality, more-so than most other protection dogs, but make no mistake, this dog can be a fearsome guardian should the need arise.
This breed can be a handful as puppies, but through consistent training and socialization, this breed will prove to be a worthy investment of both your time, and energy.
The Giant Schnauzer is known to be fond of children, although they are large enough to knock them down unintentionally.
The main health concerns for this breed is hip dysplasia, and certain cancers, especially toe cancer.
This breed weighs between 75-85 pounds and has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. (AKC)
The Belgian Mallinois
The list of the best dogs for protection wouldn’t be complete without this dog!
The Mallinois is the supreme athlete of the canine world.
Their high energy level and drive is too much for most people to comfortably handle.
Many mistake this dog for a German Shepherd.
And however alike they may be in some respects, they are very different in others.
In comparison, the Mallinios has a much more intense temperament, and is more energetic than the German Shepherd.
The Mallinois is confident and loves to work.
This breed has a strong instinct for protection work, and are very loyal to those they have bonded with.
These dogs find employment in both military and police work.
They are generally healthy, but can suffer from hip dysplasia, joint problems, and some eye conditions.
The Mallinois has an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, pretty good for a larger breed.
Dogue De Bordeaux
The Dogue is also known as the French Mastiff.
Although the Dogue is a formidable protection breed, they are loyal and docile with family.
This dog’s fierce appearance alone is enough to intimidate a transgressor.
The Dogue is a naturally dominant breed, so they will need early and consistent training.
They make a wonderfully calm companion in the home, and don’t require much physical activity.
This dog is definitely a drooler, so if keeping your home spotless is a priority for you, pass this breed over.
The Dogue can experience several health complications such as, skin issues, bloat, hip dysplasia, and heart problems.
This breed weighs 100 pounds and up, and has a sadly short lifespan of only about 6 to 8 years.
Next on our list of best dogs for protection is the Rhodesian Ridgeback
The Ridgeback originates form South Africa.
This breed was originally developed to keep lions at bay.
This dog is highly intelligent, but not always obedient.
They are naturally independent thinkers.
The Ridgeback can be territorial, and as such, they need extensive socialization and firm, but kind, training.
They are amazingly affectionate and loyal with family members.
This breed is a fierce protector with a menacing bark and growl.
The Ridgeback is also known to do well with children.
This dog weighs in at around 70 to 80 lbs. The average lifespan of this breed is 10 to 12 years.
This dog does have some health issues to be aware of, for example, hypothyroidism, bloat, skin issues, and cataracts.
The Rottie is one of the most confident dogs, and possibly one of the best dogs for protection.
These dogs are fiercely protective by nature, and because of this they are alert and aware of their surroundings.
The Rottweiler is a dominant dog, and as thus, can be very stubborn.
Because of their dominant nature, this breed is frequently dog aggressive, and can have a propensity toward resource guarding.
The Rottie also has the tendency to become overweight.
This breed can suffer from cancer and eye problems.
They weigh between 110 to 125 lbs, and have an average lifespan of 9 to 10 years. (AKC)
The Doberman is one of the few breeds actually developed for human protection.
They are highly intelligent and actually rank as the 5th smartest dog in the world according to Dr. Stanley Coren, author of “The Intelligence of dogs.”
This dog is not only smart, but very easy to train.
However, start their training early, because they can be stubborn.
The Doberman is very protective of their owners, because this dog bonds very closely to his people.
Through firm and consistent training, the Doberman will make a fine protector and family member.
This breed can suffer from hip dysplasia and DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy).
This dog weighs up to 100 lbs, and has an average lifespan of 10 years.
You would be hard pressed to find a more ferocious looking protection dog than the Neapolitan Mastiff, or Mastino Napoletano in Italian.
This breed needs early and ongoing training due to their stubborn nature.
They have strong protective instincts, and because of this, they are suspicious of strangers.
These dogs are very affectionate with their family, and make the most loyal protectors.
This breed doesn’t need much exercise, in fact they are content to lounge most of the day.
Unfortunately, this breed does have a lot of health concerns, a few being hip and elbow dysplasia, heart disease, skin conditions, cherry eye, and cancer.
This hulking dog weighs in at between 120 to 180 pounds.
They have a short lifespan of 6 to 8 years.
It’s worth noting that this breed slobbers excessively, so if you’re very picky about your home, the Neo is probably not a good fit.
This impressive dog has been known as a “Farmer’s Dog”.
They excel at protecting homesteads and farms from unwelcome guests, as well as wild animals.
This dog is calm, and confident.
The Boerboel is also a breed that’s known to be good with children, when socialized with them from a young age.
The guarding instinct in this dog is strong, so they are best for an experienced dog owner.
This dog is likely to weigh between 150 to 200 lbs, so you won’t be able to rely on your strength alone to keep them under control.
Early and ongoing obedience training is a must with this breed.
A few health concerns this dog may suffer from are hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as some heart conditions, but overall this is a relatively healthy breed.
Next on our list of the best dogs for protection is the Tibetan Mastiff
The Tibetan Mastiff is a very imposing looking creature, sure to strike fear into the heart of any would-be intruders.
This dog is calm and mellow around the home, preferring to lounge over physical activity.
This dog bonds strongly to its owner, but is very much a “one person dog”.
The Tibetan Mastiff has an independent nature, therefore, they are certainly not the easiest dog to train.
Don’t mistake this breeds unwillingness to follow commands for a lack of intelligence, they just choose to follow their instincts.
The Tibetan Mastiff is highly territorial with a strong protective nature, in fact they were used in the past to guard Tibetan monasteries.
This breed is very well suited to cold climates, due to its thick coat.
A big plus to this dog is that they don’t carry a “doggy” odor.
This dog can suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as epilepsy and heart problems.
This breed has a strong personality, and is “too much” dog for most people.
Black Russian Terrier
This dog looks a lot like the Giant Schnauzer, but their temperament is much different.
The Black Russian Terrier is an assertive protector.
Many refer to them as “sharp dogs”.
This dog weighs 100 pounds and up, and is very strong.
This dog is calm, but can be quite vocal if it sees something out of the ordinary.
Some of the health problems within the breed are hip dysplasia (like most large breeds), and elbow dysplasia.
Generally speaking though, this breed enjoys good health.
They have an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years.
This dog has a moderate energy level, and will need about 30 minutes of exercise daily.
The Bullmastiff is a calm and quiet guardian.
This breed doesn’t engage in excessive barking without reason.
The Bullmastiff is large, and brutish looking, which is a great benefit for a protection dog.
This breed has strong protective instincts and was originally used to guard estates.
This fearless dog makes a devoted companion to all in the household, however this they can be dog aggressive.
The Bullmastiff has a few health concerns.
First and foremost being hip and elbow dysplasia.
Another issue for this breed is gastric torsion (bloat).
They weigh between 100 to 130 lbs. The average lifespan of a Bullmastiff is 8 to 10 years.
Are protection dogs safe around children?
This largely depends on the individual dog.
Several dogs on this list have a reputation for being good with children, such as the German Shepherd, and the Giant Schnauzer to name a couple.
However, this is something that can differ from dog to dog based on genetics, temperament, socialization, and training.
Talk with the breeder you’re planning to purchase a puppy from, and ask questions about how their dogs relate to children.
Bust most importantly always supervise children around dogs, regardless of how trustworthy they may seem.
Related Post: Best dogs for kids
What is the difference between a watchdog and a protection dog?
A watchdog is a dog that alerts of potential danger through barking.
A protection dog will also alert through barking and growling, unless trained otherwise. But protection dogs are much more likely to actually engage a threat.
Which dogs make good watchdogs?
Almost any dog can be a good watchdog, but very vocal dogs such as the Yorkshire terrier or the Chihuaha do an especially good job.
Qualities of a protection dog
- Strong instinct to protect
- Strong nerves
- Discernment (ability to judge friend from foe)
Which dogs are the worst guard dogs?
The Labrador and the Golden retriever are two of the worst protection dogs.
They are great dogs, but they love and trust everyone, making them excellent pets but not very suitable for protection.
Do protection dogs need training?
All dogs should have obedience training and plenty of socialization, but this is especially true with dogs bred for protection, because they are naturally suspicious of strangers.
Is specialized training available for protection dogs?
Many trainers offer beginning and advanced personal protection dog training.
This may include a variety of things depending on the trainer you choose to work with. If you want to learn more about training protection dogs, check out this book series “K9 Personal Protection: A manual for training reliable protection dogs.“
Shutzhund is a dog sport that evaluates a dog’s suitability for various types of protection and police work. You may also find this book interesting “Der Schutzhund“
Having a protection dog is a big responsibility and should be taken seriously.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best dogs for protection!