Whether you live alone, are starting a family, or already have children begging for a puppy, adding a dog to the family means looking for a loving companion and a good protector. If you’re on the hunt for a new family member, you may find the perfect fit among some of the most protective dog breeds.
Gina DiNardo, assistant vice president of the American Kennel Club (AKC), told Pets.WebMD.com that when searching for the right dog for your family, look for breeds with characteristics you like.
“You should consult your veterinarian and then look on the AKC website. Look at each breed you’re interested in and determine the exercise requirements, the grooming requirements, the temperament, and the trainability of each breed. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few breeds, then talk to some experts on those breeds. You can go to a dog show and talk to breeders, or use our website and call people from the national club,” she suggested.
The dogs who tend to be both trainable and protective come from the herding, working, or hound groups. If one of these 12 isn’t your future best friend, other dogs within those categories may be your perfect home protector.
1. German Shepherd
In search of a family protector who will be the goodest boi? German Shepherds are, of course, top of the list. The AKC noted they’re renowned for their “loyalty, courage, confidence, ability to learn commands, and the willingness to put their life on the line in defense of loved ones.” They’re the number one choice for police forces and military jobs the world over, and do just as well guarding a home.
2. Rhodesian Ridgeback
Rhodesian Ridgebacks were originally bred in Africa to track and corner literal lions, so yeah, you could say they’re good protectors. The American Kennel Club noted that they’re still known today for being loyal to their families and affectionate with children. And because they rarely bark, when they do, you’ll know something sketchy is happening.
These herding dogs are a smaller protector, weighing in at 25 to 35 pounds, but just as good at their jobs, suggested the AKC. They’ve been known to herd anything from sheep to birds to toddlers — specifically away from danger with a tug on the diaper. Their coat may need a bit more care than other breeds, but it sounds like families get an adorable live-in babysitter in return.
Looking for a larger curly companion? These pups have historically been used to protect sheep from wolves, and their coats are designed to protect them from weather and wolves’ teeth, and help them blend in with the flock, says the AKC. Purina.com also wrote that they’re extremely loyal to their loved ones and are happiest when they have a job to do.
5. Standard Schnauzer
The stern look and wizened beard of a schnauzer basically screams “Get off my lawn,” so is there really a better guard dog? The AKC says these medium-sized pooches are fearless, make loving companions, do well around children, and are protective of their family members. A schnauzer will make sure squirrels stay on the other side of the fence and the mailman knows his place.
6. Great Dane
The intimidation factor is real with these big fellas — Great Danes can grow to 175 pounds and have historically been used to hunt wild boars, says the AKC. Eventually they turned into home guardians rather than hardcore hunters. Today, they’re known for their sweet disposition, gentle nature with people of all ages, and their willingness to stand up to intruders.
The breed has been called a “world-class protector and family companion” by the AKC, which makes sense — they were bred to protect animals on game preserves from poachers in 19th century England by tackling and pinning the poachers for arrest.
The AKC calls these pups “loyal, loving, confident guardians,” adding that their territorial instincts lend themselves well to guarding their home. They’re pretty ambivalent about people they don’t know, but can be big, smiley goofballs at home with the people they love.
9. Great Pyrenees
Much like many other home protecting dogs, the Great Pyrenees are bred to guard livestock. Today they’re loved for their “Zen-like calm,” per the AKC, and their disposition makes them excellent family pets. They will still bark to alert owners to danger, no matter how many children are piled on top of them at the moment.
The AKC says these brave boys used to guard sheep from wolves and thieves, and noblemen even used them for bodyguards. While their instincts are great for home guarding, they’re also beautiful, fluffy, and very sweet-natured with both adults and children.
11. American Staffordshire Terrier
These pups are known for being mellow housemates, extremely loving, and having the biggest, roundest puppy dog eyes no matter their age. Because of their build, courage, and willingness to follow commands from their owners, sadly they have been used as fighting dogs for years, according to the AKC. But those same qualities make them great home protectors — and they’re really stinkin’ cute, too.
12. Doberman Pinscher
If one of these baddies looks back at you through a window, are you really going to break into its house? Unlikely. Doberman Pinschers are used internationally for police work, as service dogs, therapy animals, and for search and rescue. The AKC says they were originally bred to protect tax collectors on their rounds to gather money, so their personal protection game is strong.