Beautiful tan-and-black German Pinscher
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Best Guard Dog Breeds for Keeping Your Home Safe

Beautiful tan-and-black German Pinscher
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Barks That Are on the Mark

It’s not easy to know what makes a good guard dog. Great Danes? They’re big but way too friendly. Greyhounds? Too quiet. What you need is a protective, vigilant, and — whether you want a watchdog or a guard dog — intimidating canine who’ll bark like heck when a stranger comes knocking. To help you find the best protection dog, we’ve researched dozens of breeds to bring you 20 top-tier guard and watchdogs.


Related: 36 Popular Dog Breeds That Don’t Shed

A purebred Boxer dog listening with a head tilt
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Boxer

Size: Medium

Kid-friendly: Yes

Training: Moderate


Fearless, protective, and muscular, the boxer is the perfect all-around guard dog, which is why they’re so often used in military and police contexts. Unlike a Lhasa, a properly-trained boxer will stop an intruder in their tracks. And yet, they’re also incredibly loyal, friendly, and gentle around children.


Related: Dog Breeds That Live the Longest

german shepherd dog lying on the grass
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German Shepherd

Size: Medium

Kid-friendly: Yes

Training: Easy


Like the Boxer, the German Shepherd possesses all the traits that make a courageous guard dog. They’re eminently trainable, intelligent, and vocal when they have to be, though they do require a lot of attention. But if you’re prepared to put in the work, these dogs are exemplary guardians and even better companions.


Related: The Most Popular Dog Breeds in America

Dog breed Tibetan Mastiff
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Tibetan Mastiff

Size: Large

Kid-friendly: Yes

Training: Moderate


Large and in charge, the Tibetan Mastiff is a gargantuan and imposing fluffball that isn’t afraid to subdue intruders with its pure size and strength. It may be difficult to find one of these in the U.S., and if you do find one, you’ll pay top-dollar for this extra-large companion. But if you have the dough, then there aren’t many breeds that can match the Tibetan Mastiff’s domineering size and strength.


Related: The Most Family-Friendly Dogs to Bring Home to the Kids

American Akita in the park
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Akita

Size: Large

Kid-friendly: No

Training: Hard


Bred to take on boars and bears in Japan’s forests, the Akita is powerful, protective, and fearless, making it the quintessential guard dog. Seeing the breed’s potential, the Emperor of Japan and samurai even employed them as royal sentinels. But for the same reasons that make the Akita an excellent protector, the breed can also be aggressive, stubborn, and difficult to handle.

Puli dog outdoors in nature
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Puli

Size: Medium

Kid-friendly: Yes

Training: Moderate


The puli may look more like a mop than a vicious guard dog, but this herding breed is known for its protectiveness, particularly around children. Well-trained Pulik — the plural of Puli — are even known to watch over little ones, keeping them out of danger. That level of vigilance, combined with the breed’s penchant for barking, makes the puli a model guard dog.

Appenzeller Sennenhund
Appenzeller Sennenhund by Christel Hust (CC BY-SA)

Appenzeller Sennenhund

Size: Medium

Kid-friendly: Yes

Training: Easy


Hailing from the Swiss Alps, the Appenzeller Sennenhund was bred to herd and guard cattle. But this mountain breed also excels as a watchdog thanks to its fearlessness, intelligence, and mistrustful nature. (The American Kennel Club claims they can’t be bribed). And as long as they’re well-trained and socialized, it’s safe to leave your children with these cheerful working dogs.

Lhasa Apso
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Lhasa Apso

Size: Small

Kid-friendly: Yes

Training: Moderate


Don’t be fooled by this lap dog’s size or cute face. The Lhasa apso’s original Tibetan name means “Bark Lion Sentinel Dog” because it would work in tandem with mastiffs to guard monasteries. And because of their small size, they’re a logical choice for apartment-dwellers who need a watchdog. That said, don’t expect a Lhasa to stop an intruder. While they may think they’re big dogs, they only weigh around 12 to 15 pounds.

dog Beagle in thick fog while walking in autumn Park
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Beagle

Size: Medium

Kid-friendly: Yes

Training: Hard


With their floppy ears and permanent frown, the beagle isn’t exactly menacing. But as any beagle owner knows, they sure can bark, and that’s all you need in a good watchdog. And with their keen sense of smell and perceptivity, nothing is likely to get past a patrolling beagle.

Cane Corso, a Dog Breed from Italy, Male standing on Grass
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Cane Corso

Size: Large

Kid-friendly: No

Training: Easy


The Cane Corso has been guarding homes since before the fall of ancient Rome. It’s in the breed’s Latin name: “bodyguard dog.” These massive canine bodyguards regularly weigh over 100 pounds, which, combined with the Cane Corso’s square jaw and athletic frame, makes this one intimidating animal.

Thai Ridgeback Dog is Running.
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Thai Ridgeback

Size: Large

Kid-friendly: No

Training: Hard


A “pariah dog,” the Thai ridgeback wasn’t bred like the German Shepherd; rather, this dog breed developed almost entirely through natural selection. But humans quickly learned that Thai Ridgebacks are athletic, hard-working guard dogs and hunting companions, which is how they’ve been used in Southeast Asia. However, first-time dog owners should be aware that the ridgeback is notoriously difficult to train.

Tan-and-black German Pinscher
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Doberman Pinscher

Size: Large

Kid-friendly: Yes

Training: Easy


The Doberman Pinscher has a reputation for being vicious — and it’s not totally unwarranted. After all, there’s a reason these protective, courageous canines make good watchdogs. But just because they’re fierce guardians doesn’t mean they’re always ferocious. On the contrary, they can be great companions and family dogs, provided you train them well.

australian shepherd
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Australian Shepherd

Size: Medium

Kid-friendly: Yes

Training: Easy


Full of energy, intelligence, and protectiveness, the Aussie is a force to be reckoned with, and owners should be prepared to spend lots of time playing with these ranch dogs. So if you have the time and want a tireless companion who’ll double as a watchdog, then look no further than the Australian Shepherd.

Portrait of a Boerboel dog
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Boerboel

Size: Large

Kid-friendly: Yes

Training: Hard


Weighing in at around 150 pounds and standing at 27 inches tall, can we even be sure that the boerboel is a dog and not a small horse? Whatever it is, this South African breed makes a worthy guard dog — and not just because of its size. These dominant pups are also protective and devoted to their owners, though the inexperienced should do their research before settling on this massive breed.

Canaan Dog
Canaan Dog by Giora Sluzky (CC BY-SA)

Canaan Dog

Size: Medium

Kid-friendly: No

Training: Easy


Israel’s national dog, the Canaan has been roaming the deserts of the Middle East for thousands of years. And because of its protective shyness and mistrustful attitude, this tough pariah dog makes a capable and watchful guardian.

Bouvier of Flanders looks ahead.
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Bouvier des Flandres

Size: Large

Kid-friendly: Yes

Training: Easy


The Bouvier des Flandres, or “cow herder of Flanders,” was bred as a Belgian working dog, though today the Bouvier is commonly used in law enforcement and as a guard dog. And we see why. Put simply, the Bouvier is “built differently,” with its large bones and sinewy frame.

Beauceron dog play in the snow a winters day
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Beauceron

Size: Large

Kid-friendly: No

Training: Moderate


It may sound very French and very elegant, but the Beauceron is a muscular and intimidating breed known for its aptitude as a guardian. To know what it’s like to own a Beauceron, the AKC says to “imagine a border collie’s brain in a 100-pound body,” which, to be frank, is a little frightening.

Dog breed Giant Schnauzer
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Giant Schnauzer

Size: Large

Kid-friendly: Yes

Training: Yes


The largest of the German Schnauzers, this centuries-old breed was developed in the Bavarian Alps as a working dog. The AKC’s official breed standard describes the ideal giant schnauzer as “a bold and valiant figure of a dog.” And who wouldn't want a bold and valiant guard dog?

Tornjak, Croatian and Bosnian shepherd dog
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Tornjak

Size: Large

Kid-friendly: Yes

Training: Moderate


This shepherding dog traces its roots back to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where it was bred as a livestock guardian. And we see why. While the Tornjak may be friendly with its human friends, it also has a darker, more aggressive side when encountering other animals — or humans who threaten the Tornjak’s flock.

Bullmastiff looks in camera.
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Bullmastiff

Size: Large

Kid-friendly: Yes

Training: Easy


Even its name inspires fear — or it ought to. This brawny English guard dog has been chasing down poachers and other baddies since the 19th century, so it will make an excellent guard dog. That said, the bullmastiff is also loving and mellow around friends and family. And while the Bullmastiff may look like a bodybuilder, its calm disposition means that it’ll be content with a few short walks every day.