As a first-time dog owner, you want to be careful that the dog you choose to give a forever home is one that you can handle. If you’re looking for a guard dog, you must be even more careful with your choices. The first thing that needs to be cleared up is the difference between a watchdog and a guard dog. A guard dog is usually larger, stronger, and can take someone down who is threatening you.
On the other hand, a watchdog is excellent for alerting their pet parents to a threat, but they can’t take that threat down. In the guide below, we’ll give you our top 11 choices of great guard dogs for first-time dog owners.
The 11 Great Guard Dogs for a First-Time Dog Owner
The Boxer is an extremely popular breed that, while fun-loving, is very loyal and protects its pet parents. The dogs are intelligent and playful and build outstanding bonds with children. The males top out between 65 and 80 pounds, with the females being about 15 pounds lighter at full growth.
They understand the need to be gentle with the children but can become fierce if they think the children or pet owner is being threatened. If you’re looking for a family dog that will protect the family when needed, then the Boxer is an excellent choice for any first-time dog parent.
2. German Shepherd
The German Shepherd is one of the dogs that get a bad rap because they resemble a wolf. However, if trained and socialized the right way, a German Shepherd is loyal, courageous, and super loving, all part of why this breed makes an excellent guard dog.
They are muscular and reach around 26 inches in height. They also weigh between 65 and 90 pounds for males and 50 to 70 pounds for females. The breed is easy to train and highly intelligent, making them the perfect choice for a first-time dog owner. They are also affectionate with the humans they love, which is certainly a bonus.
3. Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman Pinscher dog breed can be scary at first glance, but they are really old softies at heart, at least with their families. They are also loyal, fierce, and considered one of the world’s best dogs for protection, as they are alert to danger and react quickly.
The male Doberman averages between 75 and 100 pounds, while the female averages 60 to 90 pounds. It is gentle with babies and children and will protect its family at all costs.
The Doberman loves to play and is goofy and sweet, but if someone breaks into your home, they will regret it quickly with this breed around.
4. Great Dane
Many people are scared of the Great Dane just because of its sheer size, but in reality, they are gentle, friendly, and very loving to most people. It can reach up to 31 inches in height, with the record going to a Great Dane that reached 44 inches tall. They can weigh up to 180 pounds at full growth, which is a massive, intimidating dog.
While intimidating, these dogs have earned the nickname gentle giants for how calm and loving they are with children. Great Danes have strong protective instincts and make remarkable guard dogs.
5. Australian Shepherd
The Australian Shepherd isn’t only a gorgeous animal; it’s a fantastic guard dog. Though the dog is only a medium-sized breed, it is very protective of its owners. They could be classified more as watchdogs than guard dogs because they aren’t very aggressive animals.
Your average Australian Shepherd male weighs between 60 and 65 pounds, with the females weighing between 40 to 55 pounds at full growth. They stand between 18 and 23 inches in height. While they aren’t the largest breed, they make up for it with a love of barking and can be intimidating despite not being the size of a Great Dane.
Aussies were bred to be herding dogs, which helps them be excellent protectors also.
6. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is already known for its gorgeous looks, sweet temperament, and loyalty. Many people don’t realize that along with that sweet gentleness comes plenty of courage to defend you, your family, and your home.
Labradors stand 21 to 25 inches tall and weigh 55 to 80 pounds when grown. If you’re looking for an aggressive guard dog, the Lab might not be what you need. However, if you’re looking for a dog that will protect its territory, it will work with the proper training. While Labradors aren’t naturally a protective breed, they are loyal and very intelligent.
Another dog breed that gets a very bad rap is the Rottweiler. There’s also a debate over whether this breed makes a good guard dog for first-time owners. Many experts say that this breed needs an experienced firm hand to make a good guard dog and not be dangerous.
Other experts claim that they are fantastic guard dogs and can be easily trained by almost any dog owner. While not the size of Great Danes, Rotties are large dogs. The male weighs 95 to 135 pounds, and the females average 80 to 100 pounds.
The Rottweiler has an intimidating appearance and is fiercely loyal. They are also fearless, strong, and loving. They are willing to investigate any disturbance while showing no fear. We think that these are excellent guard dogs for the beginning dog owner because of their loyalty and extreme intelligence, which makes them easy to train.
The Newfoundland is another dog that makes not only an excellent guard dog but also an excellent pet. It stands about 28 inches tall and can reach up to 176 pounds at full growth. The Newfoundland is great with kids, loyal to a fault, and loving. They are a large, strong breed that will have no problem protecting their property and the family they love. They are very social and need to be around people to be healthy and happy.
9. Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog is an intimidating and huge breed. Just the dog’s looks and size alone would be enough to scare off any intruder. It stands 27 inches tall and weighs around 160 pounds. The dog is friendly, good-natured, and calm. As a family-friendly pet, the Bernese Mountain Dog is highly trainable and very intelligent.
They make excellent guard dogs but do have quite a bit of energy. Because of its massive size, you’ll want to be careful with the dog around younger children and smaller pets. As a first-time dog owner, it’s best to get this breed as a puppy, so you can easily train and socialize it early on for the best results.
10. American Bulldog
The American Bulldog is a bit bigger than its cousin, the English Bulldog, weighing in at around 100 pounds when it’s full-grown. It is considered to be very intelligent and courageous. You don’t have to worry about your American Bulldog running away from danger if an intruder should decide to come into your home.
Since this dog is muscular and has a natural tendency to guard its home and family, it can make a powerful guard dog. The American Bulldog will get along famously with children. However, you must train and socialize the dog as a puppy to ensure it stays calm around the kids.
11. American Staffordshire Terrier
The American Staffordshire Terrier is a good-natured breed that is also confident and intelligent. They make great guard dogs because they are highly alert and aware of their surroundings. The male weighs between 50 and 70 pounds, while the female reaches 40 to 55 pounds.
While the American Staffordshire Terrier isn’t the biggest dog on our list, they are fiercely loyal and protective of their pet parents. The breed is exceptionally great with kids but does need to be trained and socialized as puppies so they will do well with other pets.
What Is a Good Guard Dog?
Good guard dogs come in all sizes, breeds, and coat types. In other words, the instinct to protect their territory, families, and themselves can be found in any dog breed, whether that breed is small, medium, or large. However, most families prefer medium to large dogs because they can intimidate and repel intruders.
Loyalty is one of the most desirable traits of a guard dog. If the dog isn’t loyal to you as its pet parent, it will not protect you when the chips are down and you’re in danger. If you build a close bond with the dog you give a forever home, it will be loyal and loving and will do anything to protect you.
While most of the breeds on our list are loyal, loving, and gentle, they need to be trained and socialized from a young age to ensure they stay that way. While you want a dog that will protect and guard your family if an intruder threatens you, you also want to ensure that the dog isn’t necessarily aggressive and dangerous to others.
The breeds on our list should work well in these categories. Remember, however, that every dog is different and has their own quirks and personalities. Treat and train the animal well, form a bond with it, and you’ll get a loyal, loving, protective guard dog in return.
Featured Image Credit: Dolores Preciado, Shutterstock