The Best Guard Dogs for Families

Lots of different breeds will bark to alert their owners to perceived signs of danger, but some dogs are particularly well-suited to protecting your family. (It’s important to clarify that all dogs, no matter what breed, should be properly trained.) Once you get them the training they require, there are certain dog breeds that are more naturally skilled at being guard dogs. Many were bred as herders and are accustomed to keeping flocks safe from predators. These ingrained instincts have carried over to protecting their adoptive families in modern times.

In general, larger dogs are more intimidating to would-be intruders, and those breeds make more sense if you’re looking for a family companion who can not only warn you about intruders, but help protect you from them as well. But any dog, no matter the size, has exceptionally good hearing (far better than humans) and can at the very least alert you to potential threats before you can hear them for yourself.

Loyal, protective, brave, and willing to do what it takes to keep their family safe, these are the dogs that will give you complete peace of mind at home.

1. Doberman pinscher

doberman dog outdoors
Dobermans are naturally protective. |

When most people think guard dog, they think Doberman. As one of the smartest dog breeds in the world, the Doberman is fast, fearless, intense, loyal, and intimidating. Those who don’t know him might stereotype him as vicious, but that’s not usually true.

The Dobie is a fiercely devoted family protector who can be trained to watch out for the family and safeguard them from any threats. Socialized Dobermans are gentle with young children and families, making this breed the ideal combination of family friend and fearless protector.

2. Akita

american akita
The lovable Akita will protect you. |

Large and protective, Akitas were bred to protect their families. You need to socialize this breed well if you plan to have them around other people or dogs. They were originally bred for guarding royalty in feudal Japan and then used to hunt wild boar, black bears, and deer. Smart, loyal, and fearless, he will not back down from a challenge — an essential trait in any potential guard dog.

3. German shepherd

German shepherd dog
German shepherds are natural born herders. |

True to his name, the German shepherd is a herding dog meant to keep the flock safe. This innate quality is what makes him prone to intense family loyalty and gives him a natural predisposition to keeping his family safe from external threats.

Popular as a police or military dog, this breed is incredibly courageous and devoted. You simply won’t find a more alert watchdog who is also sweet and gentle with his family, including small children.

4. Giant schnauzer

shaggy giant schnauzer standing isolated
His size makes him more intimidating to intruders. |

A schnauzer probably isn’t the first dog you picture when you think of a guard dog, but don’t let their amiable appearance fool you. The giant schnauzer is large and imposing, which can intimidate strangers. He has a particularly menacing bark that can ward off intruders and a fierce bite if he ever needs to use it.

Training, socializing, and providing plenty of exercise are all vital for this breed. Boredom is detrimental to him, and he needs both physical and mental stimulation, so be sure you have the time to devote.

5. Bullmastiff

puppy bullmastiff
A bullmastiff has brute strength. |

Large, strong, and physically intimidating, this breed doesn’t even need to use bared teeth to ward off intruders — his sheer mass can block a path or knock down a full-grown man. However, as protective as he is against outsiders, he’s incredibly affectionate and friendly with his family. With the proper training, he makes an ideal family pet.

6. Rottweiler

portrait of a purebred rottweiler
Your Rottie will scare off intruders — even if he’s a big softie. |

Similar to Dobermans, Rottweilers simply look intimidating. Luckily, that’s usually enough to deter would-be intruders, even if your Rottie is a big ball of love (which is often the case). He is loyal and loving with his family, but he can switch to fierce guard dog at a moment’s notice if he senses any threat to loved ones.

Because the Rottie is so smart and powerful, you need to train him well and show him who’s boss. But as long as he receives the proper instruction from an early age, this breed is a big sweetheart who loves his family and works hard to keep them safe.

7. Staffordshire bull terrier

With proper training, he’ll be a loyal family companion. |

This breed was originally bred for bear and bull fighting. He is naturally protective and, at times, aggressive, so proper training from a young age is absolutely imperative. But as long as you teach him well, he’ll be an excellent protector of his family.

8. Puli

corded puli laying down
His coat is impressive, and his desire to protect is strong. |

The puli is incredibly observant and suspicious, making him ideal for alerting his family of threats immediately. He is very active and well-suited to lifestyles that include running, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

This corded coat pup is confident, intelligent, and sensitive, making him great at attuning to the needs of the elderly and children and also an excellent therapy dog. But like all other breeds, obedience training is important for the puli, too.

9. Rhodesian ridgeback

dog rhodesian ridgeback puppy
He’s beautiful and protective. |

This impressive breed was originally bred to hunt lions — talk about fierce. Loyal, independent, and obedient, this large dog is a big cuddler and is also extremely affectionate with his family. Proper training is essential, but with that, he’s the ideal family companion who is also a dependable protector.

10. Bernese mountain dog

This dog goes from cattle herder to family protector. |

Originally bred as a cattle herder, this dog is large, friendly, and calm, making him a wonderful family pet if you have the time and space to give him. His size and naturally protective nature make him a wonderful guardian of the family, as long as you devote the proper time to train him. He loves to play and goof around, but he can easily become serious and protective when threatened by intruders.

11. Belgian Malinois

Belgian sheepdog malinois
Malis are intense and serious. |

This intense breed exhibits a loyalty to their families like no other. Another natural herder, he is highly intelligent, easy to train, and is often used as a guard dog.

Although their looks are similar to the German shepherd, Malis are much more sensitive, smaller, more alert, and less likely to respond to harsh training techniques. They are quick learners and very obedient, which is why they make fantastic guard dogs and family protectors.

12. Chow chow

Chow-Chow dog in studio
Chow chows used to guard royalty. |

He may look like a teddy bear, but he can be fierce as a grizzly. This breed used to guard palaces in Asia, which is part of what puts him on the list of great guard dog breeds. Extremely protective and sometimes unpredictable and temperamental, your chow chow requires proper training, especially if you have children at home. He’s very good at warning his family of potential intruders or suspicious individuals.

13. Kuvasz

Hungarian Kuvasz dog in the park
He’s a sweetheart — unless he senses a threat to his family. |

The kuvasz is another example of a breed that used to guard livestock, making them excellent at keeping watch over your home. This family friend is very sweet to his adopted family and has a mild temperament — until he’s provoked. Then, he’ll show his other side and do what it takes to keep everyone safe. It’s very important that this beautiful breed is properly trained, as he is a loyal and patient pet who can also be aloof and suspicious of strangers. He is very independent, which means he’s a challenging breed for inexperienced dog owners.

14. Chinese Shar-Pei

share pei laying down
The Shar-Pei will protect his flock. |

Most people know the Shar-Pei as a cute and wrinkly breed, but he also makes a fantastic protector of the home. This breed has roots in farming and sheep herding and also was trained to keep watch over the property. This ingrained instinct carries through to today, and a Shar-Pei will often become territorial toward strangers in his home. He is tough and strong-willed, so he needs to be shown a firm hand and know who the boss is. But he’s intelligent and eager to learn, so you can tame his stubborn tendencies with the right training.

15. Komondor

Cute Komondor dog
He’s cute but highly protective. |

He might look like a super fluffy mop, but your Komondor is a “reserved and serious” breed who will offer great protection for your home. This is another legacy herding dog who has a natural instinct to keep his flock safe from harm. These characteristics make the Komondor highly protective of your family and likely to stand guard against dogs or people he perceives as threats. This breed is incredibly intelligent, and with the right training he can serve as a loyal companion and family guard dog for many years.