10 Best Dog Breeds for Protection

Canines That Make Good Home and Family Guards

Dog laying in front of suburban house
Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

If you are searching for the right dog to protect you, your family, or your property, some dogs are born with instincts to act as guard dogs. Protective dogs usually have a strong sense of loyalty to you and your family, are highly alert and observant, and act obediently. An ideal guard dog is typically large, fearless, and responsive to training.

Here are 10 dog breeds that generally serve well as companions and protectors if you are considering getting a guard dog.

Tip

Fearless dogs make for excellent guard dogs, but they must never be aggressive. Large, strong dogs can cause injury or worse. Your dog should have obedience training so you learn how to control your dog and strike the delicate balance between protecting and attacking.

An illustration of the best guard dogs

The Spruce / Emilie Dunphy

  • 01 of 10

    Akita

    Portrait of an Akita
    Danita Delimont / Getty Images

    Akitas are one of the most loyal dog breeds. Bred for guarding royalty and nobility in feudal Japan, this courageous and alert breed is naturally suspicious of strangers. Akitas will keep watch over you and your family at all times. This breed takes this task seriously and will typically perform its guarding duty with little to no training. This dog will require obedience training, or you can consider guard dog training to sharpen its skills. As with all dogs, it will require proper socialization to help prevent unnecessary standoffishness or aggression.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 24 to 28 inches

    Weight: 70 to 130 pounds

    Coat and Color: Thick double coat; colors include black, fawn, red, and more

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 13 years

  • 02 of 10

    Belgian Malinois

    Belgian Malinois outside

    Tara Gregg / Getty Images

    Intense and athletic, the Belgian Malinois is a favorite breed of police and military K-9 units for its agility, search and rescue abilities, and trainability. This dog has a high energy level and thrives when it has a job to perform. It must get specialized training and proper socialization to be at ease in new or unfamiliar situations. This dog must get plenty of exercise every day. 

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 22 to 26 inches

    Weight: 40 to 80 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short double coat; colors include fawn, mahogany, and red with a black mask

    Life Expectancy: 14 to 16 years

  • 03 of 10

    Bullmastiff

    Bullmastiff standing in garden
    Danita Delimont / Getty Images

    Gamekeepers initially developed the loyal and brave bullmastiff to protect their game from poachers. The bullish looks of this large breed can be intimidating to intruders. In actuality, this dog is naturally affectionate towards its family, making it an excellent companion. The bullmastiff is a born protector that needs structured training to reinforce its natural guarding instincts.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 24 to 27 inches

    Weight: 100 to 130 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short coat; colors include fawn, red, and brindle with a black mask

    Life Expectancy: 8 to 10 years

  • 04 of 10

    Cane Corso

    Cane corso sitting on field

    Damjan Gosak / Getty Images

    The cane corso (pronounced "KAH-nay KOR-so") is an Italian dog breed historically used as a guard dog, war dog, and hunter. Its large size, heavy build, and deep-toned bark help ward off trespassers. The breed possesses an instinct for guarding. Its training should focus on obedience and honing its natural skills.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 23.5 to 27.5 inches

    Weight: 80 to 120 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, coarse coat; colors are black, gray, fawn, and red; brindle is possible in all colors; may have black or gray mask and small patches of white

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    German Shepherd

    A German shepherd on dog bed

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    Similar in looks and temperament to the Belgian Malinois, the German shepherd is another intense, active breed also favored as a police or military working dog. This breed exhibits a deep sense of loyalty toward its family members. Just like other protective dogs, training is critical to keep these dogs focused on being guard dogs. You will need to socialize your German shepherd to avoid fearfulness and nervousness. This dog also needs about two hours of exercise daily.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 22 to 26 inches at the shoulder

    Weight: 60 to 100 pounds

    Coat and Color: Coarse, medium-length double coat that comes in a variety of colors; pointed ears that stick straight up

    Life Expectancy: 7 to 10 years

  • 06 of 10

    Doberman Pinscher

    Close-up of Doberman pinscher

    Tara Gregg / Getty Images

    Historically, the Doberman pinscher has had a bad rap as an aggressive dog breed. But with its human family, it is affectionate, docile, and even goofy. Most are not even hesitant towards strangers unless they sense danger. Dobermans can often do an excellent job of protecting with little to no formal training. With a structured training program, you can hone your dog's protection skills and turn your dog into an excellent guard dog.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 24 to 28 inches at the shoulder

    Weight: 65 to 100 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, smooth, sleek coat that comes in red, blue, black, and fawn

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 07 of 10

    Komondor

    Komondor dog with white hair
    Agency Animal Picture / Getty Images

    Known for its signature "dreadlocks," the Komondor's white corded coat makes this breed look a lot like a mophead. However, don't let its looks fool you. The Komondor is a large, strong, and courageous working dog that originated in Hungary to guard livestock and property. Affectionate with its family, it is reserved around strangers. You can shape its natural desire to protect with a structured training program. Socialization will be essential to help expose this breed to different situations.​

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 26 to 28 inches

    Weight: 80 pounds and up

    Coat and Color: White corded coat

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 08 of 10

    Rhodesian Ridgeback

    Rhodesian ridgeback dog on sand dunes

    Frank Schrader / Getty Images

    Historically a hunting dog for large game and lions, the Rhodesian ridgeback has an intense loyalty to its family, making it naturally inclined to protect. This dog is an affectionate and noble breed that makes a beautiful companion. This breed does not need guard dog training; it heightens its protection instincts too much. However, basic obedience training is essential to give this dog structure. This breed needs to be able to listen to you and follow your commands.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Hounds (AKC)

    Height: 24 to 27 inches at the shoulder

    Weight: 70 to 85 pounds

    Coat and Color: Coats are short and smooth, coming in light wheaten to red wheaten colors

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Rottweiler

    Rottweiler standing on boulders
    Danita Delimont / Getty Images

    A Rottweiler is another breed that has a reputation for being aggressive. This breed can be a big goofy lovebug one moment and an intimidating defender the next. If a Rottweiler trusts you, the dog will likely be loyal and affectionate with you. Rotties are usually hesitant toward strangers until the dog verifies the person poses no threat. This dog can become an excellent guard dog when adequately trained. This breed needs socialization, structure, and a task driving its daily activities. 

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 22 to 27 inches at the shoulder

    Weight: 80 to 130 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short double coat that comes in black with tan, rust, or mahogany coloring

    Life Expectancy: 8 to 10 years

  • 10 of 10

    Tibetan Mastiff

    Tibetan mastiff running in field

    Juergen Kolk / Getty Images

    A Tibetan mastiff is the ultimate guard dog. No one is getting past this giant, watchful, powerful, and intimidating dog. Historically, this Tibetan guard dog protected caravans of people and herds in the Himalayas against wolves and snow leopards. Today, the Tibetan mastiff is easygoing around family but tends to distrust strangers and may exhibit territorial behavior if threatened by a stranger. Though not the most affectionate breed, this is a loyal dog that will protect you and your family. This dog also needs structure through training and socialization.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 24 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder

    Weight: 70 to 150 pounds

    Coat and Color: Fine double outer coat with heavy, soft, and woolly undercoat; black, brown, blue/gray, or gold coloring

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Breeds to Avoid

Dogs that do not make great guard dogs are those that are usually calm or low-energy breeds that will likely ignore strangers or welcome them into your home. Super friendly canines like Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and Irish setters are usually happy-go-lucky dogs that will welcome anyone to their home. Basset hounds tend to be lazier, and this breed may not get out of its dog bed when someone enters the house.