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Which dog can protect their owner?

10 Best Guard Dogs for Families

10 Best Guard Dogs for Families

Here, our Walnut Creek vets discuss the best guard dogs for families, that could be both protective and lovable family pets.

When deciding on a dog to protect your family there are many things you have to take into consideration such as will they get along with kids and other pets, their size and energy level. Below we have selected our top picks to help you decide on a new addition to your family.

German Shepard

This dog is brave, gentle, loving, and will do their best to guard and protect the ones they love making them great for families. When this breed is properly trained they are excellent at learning, listening, and obeying commands.

When you are going to the breeders to adopt this dog make sure they are reputable and if possible, meet the dog’s parents to make sure they are coming from a healthy environment.


Rottweilers are excellent guard dogs, and if they are trained well can become loving family pets, even for small kids. They are among the smartest breeds in the world, and if trained properly they will be loyal and obey the commands you give them.

The key to adding a rottweiler to your family (especially if you have young children) is to make sure they are properly trained because without stern training they can be aggressive. As a puppy, we also recommend socializing them regularly because they are naturally wary around those they do not know.

Doberman pinscher

This breed of dog is very intelligent and they tend to look intimidating in general and are cautious around new people, which makes them excellent guard dogs. They are also extremely loyal and with proper obedience training will be great at following your orders. They are very athletic dogs with tons of energy so they require lots of exercise and activity every day.

If you want to bring a Doberman pinscher into a family with kids, you should raise them from a puppy in the family environment instead of bringing one home once it has grown. This dog can be very destructive, so it’s very important to have this dog well trained from a young age.


What makes this dog a great guard dog is its menacing look and talent for sensing people’s intentions. For families, this medium to large size dog is friendly, fun-loving, and will use its athleticism to protect its owners. They don’t have a violent streak and will often seek love and attention.

Although, boxers have a lot of energy from the beginning and require lots of exercise from their owners.

Bernese Mountain Dog

This dog makes a great watchdog, though the breed probably won’t go out of its way to attack an intruder. But, they will bark if something suspicious is going on and are cautious around strangers. This large dog also loves being around children and is very playful, making them a great family pet. This dog, however, is very furry and will need to be brushed and groomed routinely.

Giant Schnauzer

They are loyal, intelligent, and grow to be very large with an intimidating look that can ward off strangers. If you raise this dog from a puppy alongside your kids and family, they will also be very good with children. However, you do need to brush and groom them daily.

Great Dane

Great Danes are very big and have a loud bark, making them good at scaring away intruders. However, this dog is actually very gentle and patient with kids, as well as makes friends easily. They are better watchdogs than they are protectors because of their kind nature.

This breed requires lots of exercise through daily walks and lots of positive reinforcement obedience training from the beginning. They also need lots of attention and supervision until they are used to the rules and become accustomed to your home.

Great Pyrenees

With training and guidance, this large, furry breed can make a loyal and protective guard dog. They are gentle and can adapt to the dynamic of your family and home but will be cautious of guests and intruders making them the perfect companion and guard.

The reason why this dog wasn’t placed first on the list is that they are hard to train. They have to be trained with love and attention from their puppy days because when they are young they have the habit of barking and growling, they won’t grow out of this without training. They also challenge the leadership of their owners which makes them more difficult to train.

Saint Bernard

This very large dog is typically great with kids and families and is very friendly which doesn’t make them good attack dogs. However, their large size and loud bark can help scare intruders from entering your home. Making them a perfect addition if you are looking for a mild-mannered dog, with a bark that is bigger than their bite.

Saint Bernards tend to be clumsy dogs until they are fully grown and don’t understand their size so they may accidentally knock down small children, so we recommend this dog for families that have children that are a bit older. They can also be a bit harder to train and tends to eat more than other dogs, but only need to be walked and brushed a few times a week.


It doesn’t take them long to recognize their owners as their pack and will do anything to protect you. They also look intimidating and are always aware of what is going on around them making them excellent guard dogs, without putting your children at risk. This dog shows great attacking qualities and can easily take down a full-grown man. If you raise this dog from a puppy with your kids and family and provide them with constant training they can make a great, loving, member of the family.

This dog does require stern training from a young age in order to obey your orders and get along with others, without it they will become aggressive. They also need strict orders and lots of exercises.

Security Dogs

a security dog at work

Since their domestication thousands of years ago, dogs have been used to protect the home and the workplace, giving owners a sense of security against intruders. The most common dogs used for protection are larger breeds like Dobermans, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Chows, and Pit Bulls.

“But pet owners should be careful when using a dog solely for protection,” says Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon, Clinical Assistant Professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

“When dogs are trained to protect the home, they are using their natural territorial instinct and can attack anyone unfamiliar to them, which may include a friendly visitor,” says Blue-McLendon.

Dogs used for protection can also be unreliable depending on their own unique personality.

Some dogs are naturally aggressive and may attack any animals or humans that violate their territory. Guard dogs are often trained to be aggressive toward people and may view anyone outside the family as a potential threat. This may present a constant danger since owners can never be completely sure that their pet will not someday view a family member or friend as a threat.

Aggressive behavior in a pet dog may become an added liability for its owner, especially if the animal has bitten before.

“Many cities have laws regulating aggressive dogs and some require a special type of permit for those that have bitten other animals or people. In most cases, owners of protection dogs should look into increasing their liability insurance,” said Blue-McLendon.

However, if you do need a specially trained guard dog, try to maintain control of the animal. Dogs in the wild remain submissive to the dog they view as the leader, referred to as the “alpha dog,” and will protect it and the surrounding territory.

“Owners and family members should all assume the role of ‘alpha dog’ by taking control of their pet while they are still young,” says Blue-McLendon. “Puppies often view humans as dominant because of their greater size and age. Owners can further reinforce this image by controlling access to toys and food.”

Rewarding animals for good behavior helps them to see the owner as the leader or alpha figure, which provides them with greater control of their pet and may prevent attacks.

“Most guard dog owners do not realize that the presence of a dog is usually security enough and that specialized training may be excessive,” said Blue-McLendon. “Dogs are sensitive to their surroundings and will usually alert their owners to a disturbance by barking, which may be enough to scare away potential intruders.”

Other security animals include some surprising ones – peacocks, geese and parrots, which can also offer some protection by using vocalized, “alarm calls” to announce someone’s approach.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at Suggestions for future topics may be directed to

Dog Guide: The 5 Key Difference Between a Guard Dog and a Protection Dog

A dog makes a great family pet. They’re great companions and they can offer you and your family protection.

However, if you’re looking into getting a dog to keep you safe, it’s important to know what kind of dog you’re getting. You may think you’re getting a protection dog, but you’re actually getting a guard dog!

That’s because guard dogs and protection dogs are not the same things. The good news is that getting the appropriate dog for your situation is pretty straightforward.

This dog guide is here to help you understand what kind of dog you’re getting. Let’s dive in!

Difference #1: Dog Training

The first way in which guard dogs are different from protection dogs is that guard dogs are working dogs. That means that they’re specifically trained to carry out a task.

In contrast, protection dogs do not undergo specialized training to teach them how to act as security animals. There are three major levels of training that a guard dog can be taught.

Alarm Dogs

Alarm dogs are typically large animals that have a loud, deep bark. These dogs are trained to bark when somebody approaches but not to attack. They are great for warding off unwanted visitors, such as burglars.

Sentry Dogs

Sentry dogs are what we typically think of when we think of guard dogs. These dogs are used to guard property, such as shipyards or warehouses. They are trained to attack anyone that approaches, making them more aggressive than a simple alarm dog.

Attack Dog

Attack dogs are the most ferocious type of guard dog. These types of dogs are typically only used by military personnel or police K-9 units. They are not for use as pets and are trained to attack or kill on command.

Difference #2: Dog Personality

Another difference between guard dogs and protection dogs is their personality. Both types of dogs are typically selected for their stamina, strength, and appearance.

However, the personality of the dog will differ depending on whether they are a working guard dog or a family protection dog. Protection dogs are usually socialized so that they can safely interact with friends, kids, neighbors, and family members.

On the other hand, guard dogs are not trained to be social animals. They are not appropriate for keeping as a pet and tend to have dominant personalities.

A few common dog breeds that are used as guard dogs include:

  • Rottweilers
  • German Shepherds
  • Giant Schnauzers
  • Doberman

While these aren’t the only breeds of dogs used as protection animals, they are a few of the more common breeds. This is because these dogs tend to have extremely loyal personalities, making them easy to train as protection animals.

Difference #3: Dog Breed

While guard dogs tend to fall in the aforementioned categories of dog breeds, protection dogs can be any breed of dog. That’s because protection dogs are not trained to be attack animals but merely to protect and defend their families.

When a family chooses a protection dog, the protection dog can even be a small dog. It’s entirely up to the family what type of dog they would like to use as a protection animal.

In contrast, guard dogs are almost always one of the four dog breeds mentioned earlier. These dogs have the personality traits and physical ability to serve as attack, sentry, or alarm dogs. Smaller dogs may not have the same physical capabilities that these other breeds do.

Difference #4: Owner-Dog Interaction

There are many different factors that affect whether a dog is an appropriate guard dog or a protection dog. One of the final ways that guard dogs differ from protection dogs is the way that they interact with their owners.

Guard dogs are trained so that they do not necessarily need their owner present in order to carry out a command. They have been taught to look for and recognize threatening behaviors and to take action when they see those behaviors exhibited.

For example, an alarm dog may be taught that if someone opens the gate to the shipyard, they need to sound the alarm. They do not need an owner present to tell them that it is time for them to bark.

In contrast, protection dogs tend to need an owner present. Protection dogs may behave protectively toward their owner or to their owner’s family when given a specific command or indication that things are not okay.

In this way, protection dogs require more interaction from their owners. They do not have the skills and training needed to work on their own the way that a working guard dog does.

Difference #5: Their Sense of Smell

While all dogs have a great sense of smell, guard dogs are a little bit different from protection dogs in the way that they use their noses. That’s because guard dogs need to be trained to use their nose the correct way.

Guard dogs identify narcotics and other drugs. This is one way that they can help support their handler and complete tasks that are part of their daily work.

In addition, guard dogs should be able to recognize the scents of family members due to their smell. This is true even if they have never met that particular family member. Protection dogs are not usually trained to have this kind of scent differentiation.

Closing Thoughts About This Dog Guide

Understanding the difference between guard dogs and protection dogs is critical. It’s what helps you figure out which type of dog you, your business, or your family requires.

If this dog guide was helpful and you’re ready to take the next step and get a guard dog that you can use, look no further than the team at 3DK9. Get in touch and we’ll help match you to the perfect working guard dog for your needs.

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