Top 7 Characteristics of the Best Guard Dogs

Suzie Cyrenne
Authored by Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie is a Certified Homeopath and Co-Founder of Zumalka
, specializing in natural and holistic remedies for pets.

Getting a guard dog is one of the best ways to protect your family while also having a canine family member. However, many people mistakenly believe that any dog breed is suitable for this crucial role.

It's important to understand the key characteristics in selecting an effective guard dog, and this blog post will guide you through them. Have you ever wondered what makes a guard dog truly effective, and why some breeds are better suited for the job than others?

First, let's define what a guard dog is and why not all breeds are suitable for this role. Understanding these basics is essential before we delve into the specific characteristics that make an ideal guard dog.

What is a Guard Dog?

A guard dog's primary job is to alert its family to any suspicious activity. However, its secondary responsibility is to protect and, if necessary, neutralize threats, such as a full-grown man, should the situation escalate.

Always remember, a large dog is not necessarily suited for the guard dog role. Stay tuned because we will discuss the dog breeds that are ideal for this role as we go on.

Can all dogs become excellent guard dogs?

The short answer is no.

Not all dog breeds can serve as guard dogs. In addition to strength, endurance, intelligence, and proper obedience training, a guard dog must be able to sense people's intentions and possess strong defensive abilities.

Being one requires more than an intimidating look and a loud bark.

Is there a difference between guard dogs and watch dogs?

Yes, while watch dogs undergo positive reinforcement obedience training, they primarily alert their owners by barking loudly and continuously when they sense something is off.

This could be a suspicious person, an odd sound, other animals, or anything else they perceive as out of the ordinary and potentially dangerous. This role is often delegated to small, agile, and excitable breeds.

The Japanese Spitz, Chihuahua, Dachshund, Beagle, Shih Tzu, and Yorkshire Terrier, make better watchdogs due to their alert nature and strong barking abilities.

7 Key Traits of the Best Guard Dogs: What Every Owner Should Know

7 Key Traits of the Best Guard Dogs: What Every Owner Should Know - black Cane Corso dog sitting next to his owner

As I've emphasized earlier, a great guard dog must possess certain characteristics to perform its job well.

Besides having the endurance to undergo rigorous training, they must be proficient at sensing people's intentions and possess great attacking qualities if they are needed.

To better understand what makes a great guard dog, let's go over these qualities in more detail.


#1. A balanced temperament is key.

Excellent guard dogs must stay calm and patient during stern training. On the other hand, they must also have a kind nature and easily fit into a healthy environment as loving family pets.

In addition to their protective instincts, one important attribute of a great guard dog is being gentle and loyal around small children.

#2. A responsive nature is a must.

Excellent guard dogs must respond to strict orders immediately, which is crucial for protecting their family, especially young children. As stressed earlier, this requires constant training, making responsiveness a key attribute.

This ability to respond quickly goes hand in hand with accurately perceiving potential threats, enhancing the guard dog's protective role.

#3. Exhibits a balance between energy and eagerness.

While high energy and drive are crucial, guard dogs must also be able to retain their training. They need to know when to be in "learning mode," when to stay relaxed, and when to protect.

A high energy level alone isn't enough. Guard dogs must also be eager to learn, as their role will require stern training.

#4. Complete control over aggression is crucial.

Keep in mind that being "fiercely loyal" is totally different from having a violent streak. A potential candidate must be a great family dog and will only be in "protect mode" when necessary.

Regardless of the size and breed of a particular dog, it cannot fit the role if it cannot control its aggression.

#5. Possesses high levels of concentration.

While this may sound exclusionary, only the smartest breeds can truly excel as guard dogs. Simply being large and having a menacing look is not enough. Training to become a protective guard dog is rigorous and can be very taxing.

Given the high standards of training, some lessons will need to be repeated a few times. A dog should be able to undergo this without a change in temperament.

#6. Knows when and where to be territorial.

Guard dogs should be able to discern potential dangers and respond appropriately. They should not attack indiscriminately or remain in a constant state of territorial aggression. Instead, a well-trained guard dog can differentiate between genuine threats and normal situations.

Remember, being territorial is about protecting their designated space, not attacking anyone or anything without reason.

#7. Maintains a loving disposition despite rigorous training.

While dog breeds trained as guard dogs often possess attributes such as size, strength, and intelligence, they should also be fun-loving and loyal as family pets. These qualities ensure that your guard dog can protect you effectively while remaining a cherished member of the family.

What are the Best Guard Dog Breeds?

Now that we've covered the essential characteristics of a guard dog, let's explore the dog breeds that are considered the best options for this role:

Giant Schnauzer

Best Guard Dog Breed - Giant Schnauzer

The Giant Schnauzer is a large-sized dog that was originally bred to help farmers protect animals and property. Besides being smart and gentle, this furry breed can also be territorial and defensive when necessary. Additionally, this dog has a strong genetic background that makes it exceptionally loyal and vigilant.


Best Guard Dog Breed - Rottweiler sitting in the grass

The Rottweiler is a formidable guard dog, known for its robust size, controlled aggression, and adaptability to various environments. This breed gets along well with family members, including young children, but can display fierceness when necessary.

Cane Corso

Best Guard Dog Breed - Cane Corso dog laying on the beach

Its breed name can be translated to "guardian dog." Originally bred in Italy, this large dog was more than just a popular family pet. It was also used to protect livestock and deter intruders. Moreover, the Cane Corso is highly intelligent and trainable, making it both a capable protector and a beloved companion.

Belgian Malinois

Best Guard Dog Breed - Belgian Malinois running

The Belgian Malinois is one of the most fearless dog breeds. Unlike other dogs that can be easily distracted by loud noises, this breed remains calm and composed even in tense situations. They also possess a high work ethic, particularly in military tasks.

German Shepherd

Best Guard Dog Breed - German Shepherd dog

The German Shepherd dog breed is renowned for its versatility, including physical strength, endurance, agility, intelligence, loyalty, and protective instincts. Additionally, German Shepherds easily form close bonds with family members and other pets. Trivia: did you know that Strongheart, a German Shepherd, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

Australian Shepherd

Best Guard Dog Breed - Australian Shepherd dog lying on the grass

Although smaller than some larger dog breeds, Australian Shepherds are known for their high intelligence, stamina, alertness, and trainability. This breed requires plenty of exercise and can be trained to cover extensive ground, protecting family and property while establishing clear territorial boundaries.


Best Guard Dog Breed - Bullmastiff dog laying on the grass

The Bullmastiff has a hulking physique that easily deters wild animals and intruders. Renowned for its balanced temperament, this breed is loyal and composed, displaying aggression only when necessary. Experts also regard the Bullmastiff as one of the most vigilant dogs.

Doberman Pinscher

Best Guard Dog Breed - Doberman Pinscher dog sitting on the grass

With a streamlined body, the Doberman Pinscher is agile and fast. Its high intelligence allows it to master complex tasks and tricks. Confident and resolute, it stands its ground even in dangerous situations involving intruders.

Japanese Akita

Best Guard Dog Breed - Japanese Akita standing on the grass

The Japanese Akita is renowned for its loyalty, alertness, strength, and dedication. Known for its protective instincts, this breed may exhibit aggression when it perceives threats to its family or territory. Although this protective nature can sometimes lead to a negative reputation, with rigorous training—such as consistent obedience exercises and socialization—the aggression can be transformed into a commendable trait.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Best Guard Dog Breed - Staffordshire Bull Terrier dog standing on grass

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, often misunderstood because of its "mean" look, is actually one of the most affectionate dog breeds. Known for their loving nature, these dogs are excellent companions for children and other pets. While they are generally friendly, Staffordshire Bull Terriers also possess a strong protective instinct, making them vigilant guardians when faced with an intruder or threat.

Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Best Guard Dog Breed - Caucasian Shepherd Dog standing on snow

Also known as the Ovcharka, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog is renowned for its loyalty, confidence, and protective disposition. This breed excels in guarding large areas and various types of property. Notably, it has the capability to deter predatory animals such as wolves and coyotes, making it an invaluable asset in regions where these threats are prevalent.

Even the Best Guard Dogs Can Be Vulnerable to Emergencies

In these unexpected situations, you'll need the right resources to support their wellness and quality of life. One essential item to include in your home pet care checklist is Zumalka's HOME ESSENTIALS KIT.

The HOME ESSENTIALS KIT supports circulation and the immune system and can be used for physical injury and trauma. Designed to keep guard dogs in peak condition, this kit is a valuable addition to your pet care arsenal.


About the author

Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie Cyrenne


Suzie Cyrenne has dedicated more than 20 years of her life in making and improving natural animal health solutions in the global setting.

Being the co-founder of Zumalka, Suzie is a forerunner in enhancing the lives of pets through natural and homeopathic options using the knowledge she has gained from the Classical Homeopathy School in Quebec.

Through the guidance of her mother-in-law and fellow natural health expert, Denyse Lessard, Suzie constantly devotes herself to create premium pet products that are aimed at dealing with the root causes of wellness problems and not just their symptoms.

Besides immersing herself in books, personal development and visiting new places, Suzie also enjoys keeping herself in tiptop shape by snowboarding and taking daily hikes with her husband and Zumalka co-founder, Matt Lessard, and their Golden-Doodle, Westin.

Find out more about Suzie when you click HERE.


  • Zumalka February 14, 2023 at 1:39 pm

    Hi Elizabeth! You are very welcome. Your new puppy sounds like a great addition to the family!

  • Elizabeth February 14, 2023 at 1:39 pm

    Thank you for such an informative article. It will help me train my staffiordshire puppy. He just showed up at our farm in southern Chile four months ago He is very intelligent, agile and lovable

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