What is the best guard dog for first time or inexperienced owners? After all, many guarding breeds are both powerful and difficult to handle for the average person. A beginner that gets the wrong dog to guard them can end in tragedy. But still, many first time owners want a dog that can either be a visual deterrent, or a watchdog that warns them of intruders.
So, if you are a first-time dog owner and you want a dog to guard you, what breeds can you consider? First let’s have a look at what the easiest dog to train for protection might be.
In this article:
What is the easiest guard dog to train?
The German Shepherd might be the easiest dog to train for protection and guard dog work. This is because they are intelligent and obedient, and many come from special working bloodlines that create the genetic blueprint for a trainable guard dog. Keep in mind that working bloodlines mean that a beginner should always invest in a professional trainer to help channel a dog’s instincts, and to learn how to handle a true protection dog.
Many other breeds traditionally associated with guarding, no longer possess “working” bloodlines. That is, they have been kept as pets or bred as show dogs for so many years, it can be much harder to train them as real protection dogs. On the other hand, some highly trainable protection dogs like the Dutch Shepherd or Belgian Malinois are so intense that they need extremely experienced handlers only.
Background and genetics must be considered in determining the dog’s trainability as a guard dog. For example, even a German Shepherd genetically predisposed to anxiety issues will not make a good guard dog.
Is there a difference between a guard dog, watchdog, and protection dog?
It is important that first-time owners understand what it is that they are looking for in a guard dog. A watchdog can simply be any alert and feisty dog that will alert you to intruders. They may not always have the size and stature to cause real damage, but they still do their best to defend their people. These are often the best choices for beginners.
A protection dog implies a dog that is professionally trained to protect their owners. These can be quite expensive, and they usually come from traditional working breeds such as Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, or Rottweilers. Many of these dogs will protect their owners naturally, but the training helps give a first-time owner vital control over them.
A guard dog is usually not trained. These are the dogs with the power and stature to scare off an intruder, and the muscle to back it up. There are different kinds of guard dogs, including perimeter guardians, livestock guardians, and close-quarter guard dogs. These are usually powerful and independent dogs, who naturally guard their territory. Many guard dogs, like Boerboels, are not recommended for first-time owners because of their dominant and independent natures.
What are the best small breed guard dogs for first time owners?
Perhaps you live in an apartment, and large breeds can’t work for you. Or you prefer small-bodied dogs. Whichever the case is, the good news is that small dog breeds can also do a good job protecting those they love. These breeds are tiny but don’t let their size deceive you; they make excellent defenders of their home.
If you want to read more about guard dogs for people living in apartments, you can see our article here.
Small dogs are not as intimidating as large dogs to any intruders. However, they do make excellent watchdogs because you will be sure to be alerted the moment that something is off. Here is a list of the best small guard dogs:
Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russell Terriers are excellent guard dogs because they are highly aware and alert dogs, having been originally bred to hunt. These dogs are incredibly intelligent, which eases training. Jack Russells are loyal dogs that form unbreakable bonds with owners, making them protective of the people they love.
These terriers are highly energetic dogs, and physical under-stimulation could lead to boredom. Without plenty and regular exercise or physical engagement, these dogs could act out with unwanted behaviors. Jack Russells can be vocal dogs, and you are sure to be alerted whenever any trouble comes up.
Chihuahuas despise unfamiliar situations, which can make them aggressive. Known for standing up to humans and animals even up to 100 times their size, the bravery of these dogs makes them excellent guard dogs. Typically very devoted and loyal to their owners, Chihuahuas will be sure to protect you.
Chihuahuas can be yappy, a desirable attribute because you need to be alerted of any suspicious activity. They also rank high in aggression levels which could be an asset as guard dogs. Adequate socialization is essential to ensure friendly Chihuahuas. After all, they are called ankle biters with good reason.
Beagles are great guard dogs for a variety of reasons. First, they were initially bred to be hunters. This means they can detect minute changes in their surroundings and have a keen sense of smell. They are friendly dogs that can get protective of those they love, which is characteristic of good guard dogs.
Beagles have a remarkably startling bark for their size, which could scare off trespassers because they sound larger than they are in reality. As hunting dogs, beagles are naturally curious and are more than happy to make a run for it as soon as you let go of the leash, meaning you must keep a close eye.
These fluffy pups can be very vocal. They are known to bark at any and everything, so Pomeranians will raise the alarm when anything is off in your house. Pomeranians aren’t too trusting of people outside their families, making them likely to bark at the sight of unfamiliar faces.
Be careful not to leave these dogs outside in the heat for too long. Their thick double coat makes them susceptible to overheating, which is dangerous for dogs. Overall, Pomeranians are good small guard dogs for first-time owners because they are highly affectionate dogs but still have a protective streak.
What are the best medium-sized guard dogs for first time owners?
Some medium-sized dogs are impressive guard dogs and can be good choices for first time owners. Unlike small dogs, who can do very little when it comes to overpowering a human as they provide physical protection, these breeds have the physical capacity to protect you and your home.
Keep in mind that almost all medium-sized dogs have significantly high energy requirements, which means they need more exercise than small dogs. So what are some of the best medium-sized guard dogs?
Standard Schnauzers were initially bred to be guard dogs and ratters on German farms. This makes them territorial dogs that will not hold back on an invader. Standards are hypoallergenic dogs making them ideal for allergy sufferers. These loyal dogs are highly intelligent, which makes them take commands easily.
Standard Schnauzers can be stubborn dogs. Their strong-willed temperament necessitates an owner who can take charge. Else they will become defiant. This dog is for you if you live an active lifestyle and can meet a Standard’s energy requirements.
The Thai Ridgeback is not too popular and may be challenging to get a hold of outside Thailand. They are still a worthwhile pick if you want a loyal pet as a guard dog. These dogs are protective of their territory and were domesticated centuries ago to be guard dogs. This makes them naturally apprehensive of strangers.
Thai Ridgebacks are protective of their owners, making them good guard dogs. As a naturally athletic breed, Thai Ridgebacks need to be walked and exercised every day as an energy outlet to stay out of trouble. They are known to be aggressive with other dogs, and need a lot of careful socialization.
Don’t let the grandpa wrinkles fool you. The Sharp-Pei makes a good guard dog, so good that he was the common man’s fighting dog in ancient China. They are relatively quiet dogs but are ready to guard their families when the need arises.
Shar-Peis may seem aloof, and early socialization is needed to prevent hostility to other dogs and people. An important point to note is that these dogs are prone to overheating due to their short noses. Keep your Shar-Pei inside with air conditioning or fans during the hot summer months.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is highly affectionate but still has a protective streak. Staffies are also good with children, which won them the name “nanny dogs.” Their instinct to protect makes them ideal guard dogs while still being loving companions. They are also strong enough to face up to intruders if need be.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are commonly mistaken for pit bulls and may even face the same biases and negative stereotypes that pit bulls do from outsiders. If you plan on owning a Staffy, your dog may receive dirty looks from judgmental outsiders, but Staffies are truly wonderful pets.
What are the best large guard dogs for first time owners?
Large breeds have the best physique for guard dogs. The tenacity and size of large dogs make them suitable for deterring any intruders or unwanted animals from getting into your house.
Most of these large breeds were bred specifically to guard. They are strong-willed and also susceptible to unwanted aggression if not properly trained. Even though these breeds make excellent guard dogs, they all need plenty of training and dedication, which you must consider as a new dog owner.
So which is the best large guard dog?
German Shepherds possess nearly all the necessary traits for good guard dogs. Protection dogs are trained to attack on command and can be commanded to stop as well. German Shepherds are one of the highest-ranking dogs in intelligence, and learning these commands would be easy for them.
These naturally brave dogs are eager to please their owners and have a high work drive. They are extremely keen to detail, and any suspicious activity will catch their attention. German Shepherds need early training such as basic obedience, or else these smart dogs will become a bother to their families.
Dobermans are fearless and loyal dogs that are known to be incredibly fast. If you have a large piece of property that needs protection, a Doberman would be a good fit because he will catch up to the intruder in a matter of minutes. They bond deeply with their owners and will protect them at any cost.
Doberman Pinschers have a very energetic demeanor, and even if their size could allow them to stay on your lap, they would prefer to be up and about. So they need plenty of exercise. The Doberman is known to be quite sensitive despite the tough exterior. They will react to harsh treatment with anxiety and aggression.
Rottweilers have a strong instinct to guard. Their intimidating appearance and bark make them excellent protection dogs. Rotties are intelligent and can differentiate between friends, family, and potential threats when trained. This breed’s protective instinct is natural and can be harnessed through training.
Rottweilers have massive jaws giving them one of the most powerful bite forces in the dog world. They are fearless dogs that are unlikely to back down from a fight no matter the assailant. The bark of a Rottweiler has even been described to sound more like a roar which must be terrifying to an intruder.
Originally used to hunt lions by teasing and disorienting them, this breed is undeniably one of the best for guarding and protecting. The strong prey drive in these dogs means that they are alert. Suspicious activity will be followed closely with barking. They are wary of strangers; that’s good for a guard dog.
Like the other large breeds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks have physical attributes like being big-bodied, ideal for protection dogs. They are generally quite selective with their barking, so you should certainly investigate what the cause is when they do bark. Proper training is of the essence, just like other breeds.
Which guard dogs are not for first time owners?
All dogs are lovely, and most dog experts believe there is no such thing as a bad dog or a bad dog breed. Still, some breeds are particularly challenging for novice pet owners trying to figure it all out for the first time. A good pet owner must take charge of their dogs to ensure they follow their commands. It can also take years of experience to safely work with a reactive and powerful dog.
These breeds are incredibly strong-willed and powerful. If these traits aren’t appropriately channeled, these dogs can become dangerous to their owners, loved ones, other dogs, and unwitting strangers. A few owners misuse some of these dogs in unethical and disturbing practices like dogfighting which gives them a bad rep.
Here are a couple of dog breeds that we wouldn’t recommend to inexperienced dog owners:
- Fila Brasileiro
- Presa Canario
- Caucasian Ovcharka
- Black Russian Terrier
- Belgian Malinois
- Napoleon Mastiff
- Cane Corso
- Dogo Argentino
- St. Bernard
- Tibetan Mastiff
- Bull Mastiff
- The American Bulldog
- Gull Dong
- Wolf-Dog Hybrids
Proper training and early socialization are crucial in having a well-behaved and obedient pet, no matter the breed. Large dogs make the best guard dogs, but they are more demanding in training and exercise than smaller dogs. Small dogs make good watchdogs but not the best guard dogs because of their size.
Some are typically too strong-willed for first-time pet owners, so if you are an inexperienced or beginner pet parent, opt for dogs with easier-going temperaments and a will to please their owners.