Dogs aren’t just the furry members of our family that we love to love; they also serve an important protective purpose. Studies have shown that having a dog in the house is a major deterrent to burglary. Plus, they can alert you if an intruder does enter your property.
Still, many want to know what the best guard dogs for families are. Especially with kids in the house, it’s important to know which breeds will both protect your property and be gentle with the smallest members of your family.
Check out our 10 most protective guard dog breeds, with experience level, care and training tips, and temperament included so you can find the best dog to keep you happy and safe.
Best Guard Dog for a First Time Owner
1. German Shepherd
A German Shepherd is one of the best breeds you can choose for this purpose. They are large, muscular, and typically weigh between 60 and 90 pounds. German Shepherds have been used by the military and the police for decades due to their courage, intelligence, and obedience.
They are highly trainable, even if it’s your first time having a dog. This guard dog breed is perfect for anyone who wants to keep their home safe from any intrusions.
German Shepherds won’t thrive in closed environments, though, which is why they are best for families that have a yard. Still, just like with any dog, you shouldn’t keep them only outside.
They are intelligent and loyal, which makes them great companions for your children. Their friendliness and trainability make them among the best guard dogs for families.
All in all, they learn quickly, have gentle personas, and rarely misbehave.
Tips on Taking Care of a German Shepherd
Keep them active.
German Shepherds need to be active. Taking them on long and frequent walks is a must, and playing games to keep them stimulated will prevent boredom and restlessness.
Maintain socialization from a young age.
German Shepherds are one of the best family guard dogs and won’t have any trouble assimilating. They can, however, become overly protective of their owners, so maintaining a large social circle will show them it’s normal to interact with other people.
(Not a Bully)
Rottweilers are among the scariest-looking family protection dogs out there, and they have a stereotype to match their appearance. It’s true, Rottweilers were bred to protect, and without proper training, they can become aggressive.
Due to their intimidating exterior, just having one roaming around your yard is enough to deter most intruders. These dogs are extremely loyal, and with proper training and socialization, they are perfect for being around children.
Rottweilers are definitely one of the best guard dogs for families.
By surrounding your Rotty with lots of different kinds of people from an early age, you will teach them to see the difference between friends and intruders. This is an essential part of your dog’s training to avoid any potentially dangerous misunderstandings.
Rottweilers are very easy to train and thrive on discipline. They can even be one of those protective family dogs that make a great first pet. They may have a bit of a stubborn side to them, though, so make sure you enforce your rules with lots of positive reinforcement.
Tips on Taking Care of a Rottweiler
Opt for a Rottweiler pup.
Adopting a 100-pound Rottweiler can be a good idea for adults. If you have children in your household, however, you shouldn’t risk it.
While this breed is among the best guard dogs for kids and can be a fantastic addition to the family, having a young Rottweiler in your home gives you a chance to provide proper training and socialization for interacting with children.
Socialize them early.
Rottweilers have a tendency to misinterpret situations. To prevent dangerous mishaps, make sure you surround them with people from the moment they join your family.
Always use positive reinforcement.
While no dog likes punishments, some of them are more deeply affected. Rottweilers are one of those protective dog breeds for families that could turn against you if you’re not gentle with them.
With a reward-based training technique instead of punishment, Rottweilers become loyal and good-natured dogs perfect for any family.
3. Great Dane
A Great Dane is another breed that will ward off any potential intruder with its intimidating appearance. The reality is that Great Danes are actually pretty mild-spirited.
They are among the best family protection dogs that will guard you by looking dangerous and alert you to intruders with their loud and powerful barking. These gentle giants are fantastic with children and are pretty calm overall.
Tips on Taking Care of a Great Dane
Monitor their health frequently.
Due to the size of Great Danes, they are prone to various health issues. Problems with hips, bone cancer, skin growths, and various allergies are common. Therefore, monitoring their health and taking them to the vet regularly is essential.
These kid-friendly guard dogs can be extremely sensitive. So, if you want a happy pup, you should be patient with them and only use positive reinforcement during training.
4. Giant Schnauzer
(American Kennel Club)
A Giant Schnauzer is a popular guard breed. They are always on alert and ready to defend their owners. If their owner is in danger, they are known to switch to attack mode in a matter of seconds, making them effective family guard dogs.
Furthermore, Giant Schnauzers are bright, and you’ll be able to easily train them if you get them when they’re young. They are great around children and are known to develop strong bonds with them.
Tips on Taking Care of a Giant Schnauzer
Adopt them when they’re younger.
Giant Schnauzers can be a bit of a handful if you adopt an older dog. It’s best to get a puppy if you want to make the most of their training.
Get ready for regular grooming.
Giant Schnauzers are high maintenance when it comes to grooming. They require frequent brushing and clipping or hand stripping. They are, however, perfect for those looking for family guard dogs that don’t shed.
Keep them active.
This breed needs plenty of exercise. If their owner fails to provide them with that, they can get restless and start misbehaving.
(My Brown Newfies)
Newfoundland dogs are probably the best breed for families with children. They are good family protection dogs — they’re known as “nanny dogs.” Newfoundlands are smart and will quickly adapt to the house rules. They have a loving, calm nature, and they don’t look too intimidating, making them perfect for family life.
This breed is very protective, but their friendly nature can make it difficult for them to detect intruders. Still, they’re one of the best watchdogs for a family, as they will quickly switch to protection mode when they notice distress in their owners.
Tips on Taking Care of a Newfoundland
Prepare yourself for regular grooming.
Newfoundland dogs have long coats that shed twice a year, which makes them high-maintenance. They require brushing once a week, but during the shedding season, you may need to do this every other day.
Let them swim.
These dogs are fantastic swimmers and are famous for saving people from drowning. Allowing them to experience fun in the water will make them happier and provide them with extra stimulation and activity.
Best Family Guard Dogs for Experienced Owners
1. Border Collie
Border Collies are medium-sized dogs that weigh around 30–55 pounds, and they have a gentle nature. Border Collies may not be known for it, but they make great guard dogs, since they can be quite distrustful of strangers.
Throughout history, Border Collies have been trained to herd and protect sheep. They are intelligent and attentive, making them easy to train.
A Border Collie is friendly and will likely get along with other pets in your household and be loyal and loving to children. They need a lot of attention, though, so having them around kids or other dogs and pets is a great way to ensure they are always engaged.
Border Collies are known as the smartest dog breed. This means that you have to keep these guard dogs for families constantly entertained, which is why pet owners often report that they are high-maintenance.
Tips on Taking Care of a Border Collie
Come up with various activities.
Border Collies need to be active, since they have lots of excess energy. Providing them with daily activities that exercise both their intelligence and body will help keep them from being restless.
Be prepared for lengthy training.
Border Collies are only for experienced dog owners. They are smart but can be overly sensitive to your actions and emotions. Most of these family-friendly guard dogs will take time to analyze your actions and may not always understand them correctly.
Spending lots of time training them and playing with them will help your Border Collie learn your and your family’s behavior.
(Animalso, Pet Assure)
Even though they look intimidating, most boxers are essentially calm dogs. They are a great pick among families because of their intimidating appearance and gentle nature. They are the perfect description of “all bark, no bite.”
Boxers are also the best guard dogs for a family with cats due to their easy-going temperament. They get along well with other pets and are playful without getting annoyed by younger kids.
While they look scarier than they actually are, boxers can still protect you. They are always on alert, have an intimidating appearance, and can warn you about potential dangers.
Tips on Taking Care of a Boxer
Boxers are social dogs and are one of the top guard dogs for families with a large social circle. The flip side is that they can become lonely without enough interaction, so many suggest raising them in a household with other pets.
Keep them active.
Like most bigger dogs, Boxers need a lot of exercise. Experts suggest walking them at least once a day for an hour. This allows you to bond with your dog while keeping it healthy.
Experts say that this guard dog breed needs around three years to fully mature. So, be patient, consistent, and positive. These gentle dogs are well worth the effort.
Akita dogs are not the best option for many families due to their temperament. These large and furry dogs are both dominant and independent, making them quite high-maintenance if not trained from a young age.
Akitas are a perfect choice for guard dogs, as they are very loyal and one of the most protective family dogs. However, Akitas require a strong leader that sets boundaries and clear expectations.
Also, these dogs don’t play so well with others unless exposed to other dogs while still puppies. So, if you want to have more than one dog, adopt them at the same time or from the same litter.
You shouldn’t have any issues with Akitas getting along with other family members, though. Even though these dogs might be better suited for older kids, Akitas can be very affectionate and learn to get along with younger children.
Tips on Taking Care of an Akita
Opt for a puppy.
While they might be the best family guard dog, Akitas can be challenging to handle. The easiest way to avoid any potential issues is to get them at a young age and dedicate your time to training them.
By socializing them properly, creating routines, and enforcing healthy discipline, you can avoid an overly domineering — and very strong — adult dog.
Introduce them to people and other pets.
If you want your Akita to get along with kids, other pets, or strangers, you’ll have to teach them to do that by socializing them early. These dogs are not naturally good with people that aren’t their family.
Be prepared for longer training.
Akitas are often stubborn and are best suited for experienced dog owners that have the time and patience to invest in training. It may take more effort at first, but once trained, these dogs are loyal and protective of their family.
4. Bull Terrier
Bull Terriers are famous guard dogs and best known for their personality traits. With a big bark and dominant character, Bull Terriers not only deter intruders but also follow through if faced with a threat.
Choosing this guard dog for a family comes with caution. Training them from a young age to be around children is essential to keeping everyone safe and satisfied.
With lots of attention and training, a Bull Terrier will become a great, loyal dog to you and your whole family. Just keep in mind that, like most terriers, they need to be kept physically active. If it’s fun, they’ll enjoy it, and there’s no limit to what they can do.
Tips on Taking Care of a Bull Terrier
Do lots of research on proper training.
While Bull Terriers are among the best guard family dogs, they’re also one of the most challenging breeds to train. You need to be patient and assertive and use positive reinforcement only.
Find energy outlets.
Bull Terriers have a lot of energy that can lead to destructive behavior if misdirected. Giving them plenty of space to exercise and providing tasks during the day will keep them occupied and away from your shoes.
5. Jack Russell Terrier
A Jack Russell is the smallest breed on our list, but that doesn’t make it harmless. Jack Russells are known for being muscular and strong, and they are definitely one of the best small guard dogs for families.
If you’re looking for a smaller, protective dog, a Jack Russell could be perfect for you. While they may be small, Jack Russells are hunting dogs and have an assertive side.
With good training, they can develop their protective nature while not misbehaving. Most Jack Russell Terriers get along well with kids. Their playful energy allows them to easily bond with the youngest members of the family.
Jack Russells aren’t the easiest to train, however. They are both smart and stubborn, requiring a special training approach to make them the best family-friendly guard dogs they can be.
Tips on Taking Care of a Jack Russell
Learn how to train them.
Most experts will tell you that Jack Russells aren’t that difficult to train, but they do require a special approach. This breed gets bored easily, so maintaining short and regular training sessions is key to success.
By mixing up your exercises and keeping things fresh, your Jack Russell will feel stimulated and learn faster.
Keep them active.
These dogs can be the best guard and family dogs around, but they do require a lot of exercise to keep them from getting into mischief. Give them ample space and time to run around every day, and teach them new tricks on a regular basis to keep them occupied.
Finding the right guard dog that is also compatible with family life is a big decision. Whether you’re an experienced dog owner or not determines what kind of dog you should get.
To prevent your family guard dogs from being domineering or anxious, getting them as puppies and properly socializing and training them can prevent most issues.
Whether you want a big and scary beast with a soft heart or a little alarm dog with a big bite, there are many great guard dogs out there just waiting to protect you and the ones you love.
What is the best guard dog for a family?
All dog breeds from our list can be a perfect addition to your family. Not all of them are the easiest to train, however.
Evaluating how much time you are willing to invest in training — and deciding whether you want a dog that is actually willing to attack vs. just looking big and scary — can help you narrow down the list.
What dog is most protective of its owner?
According to research, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Giant Schnauzers are breeds from our list that are most protective of their owners.
With these breeds, taking time to teach them the difference between intruders and friends is essential in order to avoid dangerous misunderstandings.
What is a good first-time guard dog?
A German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Great Dane, Giant Schnauzer, or a Newfoundland dog would be great for first-time dog owners. They are easier to train, and with some exercise, much calmer around their family members.