10 Best Guard Dogs

The Best Dog Breeds for Protection

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

Are you searching for the right dog to protect you, your family, or your property? If you are considering getting a guard dog, there are plenty of dogs out there who are up for the job. It's important to be selective when choosing your next dog. Find a dog that will become both your companion and protector.

Many dogs have the natural ability to act as guard dogs. An ideal guard dog is large, fearless, athletic, alert, loyal, and very responsive to training. A guard dog should not be aggressive. It is important that the dog has a very strong sense of loyalty to you and your family, is highly alert and observant, is very obedient, and shows some instinctual protective behaviors (like barking at strangers). These traits can be developed through training to make the dog an excellent guard dog. 

An illustration of the best guard dogs
Illustration: The Spruce / Emilie Dunphy

An effective guard dog is able to intimidate anyone who trespasses on your property or threatens to harm you or your loved ones. Ideally, your guard dog will chase people off without the need to cause bodily harm to the offender. However, there may be cases when a guard dog attacks an intruder who poses a major threat. When training your guard dog, it is best to get help from a professional dog trainer. A guard dog must learn to obey you, especially if you give a cue to stop him from attacking. He must have some kind of structure regarding his response to threats. Otherwise, you can end up in trouble if an innocent person gets hurt. Perhaps someone accidentally comes on your property due to some kind of mistake or misunderstanding and your dog attacks. You might get sued. Or worse, local authorities might seize your dog and prosecute you if they deem your dog as dangerous.

Guard dogs do not always need specialized training to be effective protectors. However, they should receive thorough obedience training so they understand ​basic commands and any other cues you wish to teach them. Any guard dog training should be catered to develop the dog's natural instincts and provide structure.

Are you ready to start looking for your ideal guard dog? Any dog breed (or even a mixed breed dog) can become an effective protector if he has the appropriate qualities. However, there are certain dog breeds known for excellent guard dog traits that come from years of careful breeding. The following dog breeds are known for their natural ability to protect. 

  • 01 of 10


    Portrait of an Akita, New Mexico, USA
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    The Akita is one of the most loyal dogs you can find. This courageous and alert dog breed is naturally suspicious toward strangers. Your Akita will nobly keep watch over you and your family at all times. It is a job the Akita takes seriously and will naturally perform with little to no training. Obedience training and guard dog training will simply sharpen the Akita's natural skills. Proper socialization will help prevent unnecessary standoffishness or aggression.

  • 02 of 10

    Belgian Malinois

    Belgian Malinois On Field
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    Intense and active, it's no surprise that the Belgian Malinois is a favorite breed of police and military K9 units. The energy level of this breed required that he has a serious job to do at all times. It is essential that the Belgian Malinois receives specialized training to focus his natural abilities. Proper socialization is also very important so your dog will be at ease in new or unfamiliar situations. It is also absolutely essential that this breed gets plenty of exercise every day. 

  • 03 of 10


    Bullmastiff standing in garden, California, USA
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    The loyal and brave Bullmastiff was originally developed by gamekeepers to protect their game from poachers. The large size of this breed is intimidating to intruders. However, the breed is naturally affectionate towards its family, making this an excellent companion. The Bullmastiff is a natural protector that simply needs training in order to provide structure and reinforce its natural guarding instincts.

  • 04 of 10

    Cane Corso

    Cane Corso Sitting On Field
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    The Cane Corso ( pronounced "KAH-nay KOR-so") is an Italian dog breed that was historically used as a guard dog, war dog, and hunter. The large size, heavy build, and deep bark of the Cane Corso will in itself be quite effective in warding off trespassers. Because the breed possesses a natural instinct for guarding, training will focus on obedience and honing of the natural skills.

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  • 05 of 10

    German Shepherd

    German Shepherd Dog Smiling Outdoors
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    Similar to the Belgian Malinois, the German Shepherd Dog is an intense and active breed. The GSD has a deep sense of loyalty towards its family. Training is very important to help the GSD focus on the essential tasks needed to guard the property, but its natural ability and desire to protect will provide an excellent foundation for the training. Properly socialize your GSD to avoid fearfulness and nervousness. In addition, make sure your GSD gets plenty of exercise every day.

  • 06 of 10

    Doberman Pinscher

    Close-Up Of Doberman Pinscher
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    The Doberman has historically gotten a bad rap as an aggressive dog breed, but the truth is quite different. Though bred to protect, the Dobie is affectionate, docile, and even goofy at times around its family. Most are not even that hesitant towards strangers unless they sense danger. Most Dobies do a pretty good job of protecting without formal training. However, these abilities can be developed with the right training program, helping your Dobie to become an excellent guard dog.

  • 07 of 10


    Agency Animal Picture / Getty Images

    Known for its signature "dreadlocks," the Komondor's white corded coat makes this breed look like a mophead. However, don't let its appearance fool you. The Komondor is a large, strong, and courageous working dog that originated in Hungary. This breed is affectionate with its family but is naturally reserved around strangers. The breed has a natural desire to protect that can be shaped by careful training. Socialization is also important to help expose the breed to different situations.​

  • 08 of 10

    Rhodesian Ridgeback

    Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Standing At Great Sand Dunes National Park
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    Though historically a hunting dog, the Rhodesian Ridgeback has an intense loyalty to its family that makes it naturally inclined to protect. This is an affectionate and noble breed that makes a wonderful companion. Basic obedience training is essential to give the dog structure, but specialized guard dog training is not ideal as it may intensify the natural instinct to protect. It's more important that the breed is trained to listen to you when you needed. Daily exercise will help to keep your Rhodesian happy and healthy.

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  • 09 of 10


    Rottweiler standing on boulders, Arizona, USA
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    The Rottweiler is another breed that sometimes has a reputation as an aggressive dog. In reality, a Rott can be a big goofy lover one moment and an intimidating defender the next. When a Rottweiler trusts you, he will likely be loyal and affectionate towards you. However, many Rotts are hesitant towards strangers until it is proven that there is no threat. Naturally stubborn at times, a Rott will have no trouble telling (or showing) you that he does not approve of your actions. This is a true guardian dog that can become an excellent guard dog when properly trained. This breed needs socialization, structure, and a job to do.  

  • 10 of 10

    Tibetan Mastiff

    Tibetan Mastiff Running On Yellow Flowering Field
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    The Tibetan Mastiff might just be the ultimate guard dog. No one is getting past this large, watchful, powerful, and intimidating dog. Historically used as a guardian dog of Tibet, this breed has protection running through its veins. The Tibetan Mastiff is easygoing around family but tends to distrust strangers and exhibit territorial behavior if threatened by a stranger. Though not the most affectionate breed out there, this is a loyal dog that will protect you and your family. Be sure to provide structure through training and socialize your Tibetan Mastiff well.