Top 10 guard dog breeds for families

May 28, 2013

Readers Digest published interviews with convicted burglars in 2009; one burglar admitted that he steered clear of houses with loud guard dogs. In fact, research shows that more than four in five dog owners are never burgled.

It makes sense to explore the option of getting a guard dog to protect your home. However, it should be a well-informed decision, since not all dogs are ideal for the job. Some breeds are simply too frisky or dangerous to be kept inside homes. Other breeds aren’t strong enough or lack the protective instinct.

A few breeds of dogs are perfect for the job, on the other hand. These pets know how to be both affectionate and protective.  So, how do you know which is which? Here’s a list of 10 guard dog breeds for families that are both great watchdogs and fun playmates.

1. Bull Mastiff

The bull mastiff is a cross between a bulldog and a mastiff. This dog uses its weight and agility to pin down intruders. It has natural instincts to protect its family. The bull mastiff is docile in a home environment and tolerant of children.

Bull Mastiff care:

  • Need a firm master who sets consistent rules
  • Minimal grooming
  • Minimal exercise (good for families who are short on time)

Bull mastiffs’ height ranges from 24-26 inches (61 – 69 cm). These dogs can weigh anywhere between 100 – 133 pounds. (Source:

German Shepherd Guard Dog Breeds Sign

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2. German Shepherd

German Shepherds look tough, and that is often enough to deter potential thieves. These dogs are quick to obey commands. A trained German Shepherd is good with children. Their thick fur keeps them warm in colder climates. Their huge size makes it easy for them to tackle intruders.

German Shepherd care:

  • Need to be played with constantly, and require plenty of exercise
  • No special grooming, though they shed heavily

German Shepherds vary in height from 21 to 26 inches (55 – 65 cm). They weigh between 77 and 85 pounds.

3. Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinschers are big dogs and that gives them an advantage. As these dogs are extremely attuned to strangers, they make good guard dogs. Their fearsome growls and barks can be enough to deter trespassers.

Doberman Pinscher care:

  • Easy to train, but need owners who can exert authority over them
  • Must be socialized with children so they don’t treat kids as a threat

These dogs can be between 24 to 26 inches (61 – 66 cm) in height. Their weight can range between 66 to 80 pounds.

Rottweiler Guard Dog Sign

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4. Rottweiler

Another fearsome looking dog, the Rottweiler’s snarl can strike terror in the hearts of burglars. These intelligent dogs are also obedient. With proper training, they serve families well. Rottweilers have been seen to stay aloof from strangers unless introduced to them. Trained Rottweilers who have received consistent leadership are good playmates for children.

Rottweiler care:

  • Highly responsive to training, fast learners
  • Heavy shedders

These dogs vary in height from 22 to 27 inches (56 to 69 cm). Their weight can be between 85 – 130 pounds.

Boxer Guard Dog Sign

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5. Boxer

A distant cousin of the bulldog, the boxer shares its menacing snarl. It also looks fearsome but is calm by nature. Boxers are alert dogs, and athletic too. These qualities help them be good guard dogs. Boxers get along well with children.

Boxer care:

  • They are shorthaired, so they do not need much grooming
  • Boxers need dominant owners
  • They are also voracious eaters and can suffer from health problems

Boxers can range in height from 20 to 25 inches (53 – 63 cm). Their weight could be anywhere between 53 – 70 pounds.

6. Newfoundland

Often called Newfies, these dogs are large sized and thus intimidating to thieves. They are friendly and get along well with children.

Newfoundland care:

  • Must be trained in a calm yet firm manner
  • Need thorough grooming, since they have thick coats
  • Must be exercised regularly (good for families with active lifestyles)

Newfoundlands can vary in height from 24 to 30 inches (63 – 74 cm). Their weight ranges from 100 to 150 pounds.

7. Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgebacks were bred for lion hunting, and so you know they can hold their own against intruders. These dogs bark only when necessary. They like to be cuddled, making them an appealing fit for families with children.

Rhodesian Ridgeback care:

  • Not obedient by nature, therefore they require training.
  • Minimal grooming

They vary in height from 24 to 27 inches (61 – 69 cm). Their weight can range from 65 to 90 pounds.

Terrier Guard Dog Sign

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8. Airedale Terrier

Airedale Terriers are larger and stronger than other terriers, making them suitable guard dogs for families. Alert, energetic, and independent, they are known as the King of the Terriers. They are high strung, so they don’t let trespassers in your home.

Airedale Terrier care:

  • Good with children, but need to be socialized
  • Easy to train

These dogs range in height from 22 to 24 inches (56 – 61 cm). Their weight can vary from 40 to 65 pounds.

9. Akita

Akitas are protective but quiet dogs. If they bark, it’s worth paying attention. These dogs are large and independent.

Akita care:

  • Must be trained early, with positive reinforcement
  • Teach children to show leadership qualities so that these dogs obey them

Akitas vary in height from 24 to 28 inches (61 – 71 cm). Their weight can range from 75 to 150 pounds.

10. Fila Brasileiros

Filas are loyal, protective, and can attack intruders. Although this is a less common dog breed, a well-trained Fila is affectionate with children.

Fila Brasileiros care:

  • Difficult to train
  • Shorthaired and easy to groom

Their height can vary from 25 to 30 inches (65 – 75 cm). Their weight ranges from 90 to 110 pounds.

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Category: Guard Dog Animals, Property