Throughout history one of the most popular ways to enhance home security has been through the usage of trained dogs. However, in choosing which to dog to guard your family or property you should way different options carefully, depending on your particular circumstances.
Family Watchdogs vs. Guard Dogs
One of the common misconceptions among dog owners is that watchdog is simply another name for guard dog. In essence, a watch dog acts as an alert, barking to warn occupants of approaching strangers. Many breeds of dogs, including miniatures such as Chihuahuas, may fit this role.
A guard dog, on the other hand, possesses the physical capability to render a would-be assailant incapable of harming the dog's owner either through restraint or injury.
Recommend Breeds as Guard Dogs
People wishing to adopt watch dogs or guard dogs should examine a number of factors before deciding which breed is best for them. Various breeds of dog naturally show different characteristics. These include:
- A sense of the dog's territory
- Resistance to counterattack
- Tendency to protect the dog's adoptive family
- Propensity to be properly trained
Aloofness to strangers is also regarded as a virtue because as aloof dogs are not swayed by superficial attempts at friendship. Although the dogs generally enjoy their role of protecting the entire property, a lone dog is also susceptible to attack from an armed intruder. The owner should note that a dog guards the family best within the house during hours when intrusion is most likely.
If a burglar is able to break into a house in an area which the guard dog outside cannot reach, the protection is moot.
Bull Mastiff - Many regard the Bull Mastiff as the ideal guard dog. These dogs are very strong, possessing a heavy amount of bulk and muscle. It is also an intelligent breed and highly alert, as well as very courageous. Despite its physical gifts and lack of fear, it is docile within a family environment, making it a good pet.
Doberman Pinscher - The Doberman Pinscher makes another fine guard dog. Like the bull mastiff, they are also strong, intelligent, alert, and fearless. However, they are also loyal and obedient to family. They are also quite fast runners and this characteristic may be advantageous for homeowners with large lots who need a guard dog that is able to reach a possible security breach quickly. Female Dobermans are thought to be more protective of family and more obedient, while males are more adept as finding solutions to problems.
Rottweiller - Rottweilers also serve well as guard dogs, possessing a combination of strength, confidence, and courage. They also show loyalty and a tendency to protect members of their adoptive families. Rottweillers tend to be aloof to strangers and are not swayed by superficial attempts at friendship.
Komodor - Not as well known as the other breeds, but another dog effective at providing guard duty is the Komodor. This dog is also powerfully built and courageous and was bred to guard flocks of sheep. It is loyal and faithful to its owner.
Puli - Pulis are very vigorous, active dogs originally bred as sheep dogs in Hungary. They make also good watchdogs as they have a suspicious nature.
Giant Schnauzer - The Giant Schnauzer is another strong and hardy dog that is also intelligent, alert, and courageous. They also adapt easily to training and are loyal. Thus, they also make good family pets.
German Shepherd - This breed retains a calm demeanor but is able to act when situations call for firmness or assistance, i.e., a good seeing-eye dog. It also retains a detached attitude that allows it to resist being swayed by superficial attempts at befriending.
Rhodesian Ridgeback - Rhodesian ridgebacks are strong and sturdy, fast dogs with even temperament. They are loyal to their owners but aloof to strangers.
Kuvasz - The Kuvasz represents another example of dogs fit for guard duty. It is a strongly muscled dog but also intelligent, loyal, and aloof to strangers. It is especially courageous and is even prone to self-sacrifice.
American Staffordshire Terrior - These dogs are strong and agile, as well as very courageous.
Chow Chow - Also strong and highly intelligent. The Chow Chow also does not automatically befriend strangers.
Belgian Sheepdog - These dogs are also strong, intelligent, courageous, alert, and devoted to their owners.
Belgian Malinois - The Belgian Malinois is strong and agile. It is typically aloof with strangers, but affectionate with its adoptive family.
Belgian Teruven - These dogs are also strong and agile. They are intelligent, courageous, and alert. They are protective of their owners.
Dogo Argentino - The Dogo Argentino (Argentine Mastiff) is another strong, intelligent, and even-tempered breed with exceptionally powerful jaws. They also often make good family pets, but can be aggressive towards other dogs.
Tosa Inu - The Tosa Inu will fiercely guard family members, however it rarely barks and therefore does not present a proactive deterrent.
South-African Boerboel - This breed is also large and strong as well as intelligent and obedient. It is noted as a breed that will guard the home without fail, but will only become aggressive when necessary.
Neapolitan Mastiff and Bulldog - These dogs are also very large and strong, as well as imposing. It is loyal to its owner and even-tempered. It is aggressive when necessary.
Cane Corso - Also strong and intelligent as well as brave and loyal, the Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff) also makes an excellent pet for the entire family.
Bouvier des Flandres - This dog is not as large as the mastiff or bulldog, but it is strong, intelligent, and alert, as well as even-tempered.
Thai Ridgebacks - The Thai Ridgeback is alert and attentive to its owner. However, it can be difficult to train and needs strong oversight from its owner.
Beauceron - The Beauceron is also strong, intelligent, couageous, and obedient although some will display a degree of independence.
Other dogs noted as suitable for guard duty include the Ca de Bou, Akita Inu, Fila Brasileiro, Ovcharka, and the Dogue de Bordeaux. Other factors that potential dog owners may wish to consider include gender and color. As a general rule, females of many breeds may be less aggressive, however more protective of family members.
Although a dog's color has no direct correlation to its physical gifts or temperament, a darker dog, especially a black one, appears more menacing to would-be intruders. Also if a room or yard is very dark, a dark-colored dog may be difficult for an intruder to discern and make the intruder more hesitant.
Some dogs, such as many kinds of Pit Bull Terrier and the Presa de Canario have been used extensively as guard dogs. However, controversy surrounding these dogs have led many to distance themselves from them. Some jurisdictions have banned the ownership of these dogs altogether.
It is important to note that dog attacks are not a common occurrence and much of the source of aggression in dogs stems from abuse and mistraining by the dogs' owners.
Recommended Breeds as Watchdogs
As stated above, watchdogs and guard dogs differ in that watch dogs only alert their owners when they see a stranger approaching. They neither attack nor attempt to restrain or injure would-be assailants or burglars.
Therefore, the list of recommended watchdogs includes many small breeds that bark liberally but afford no physical protection. They also compensate for a lack of physical prowess with excellent hearing.
Nevertheless, some guard dogs such as Rottweilers and German Shepherds also serve as good watchdogs and should be included in this list (Please reference text for these breeds in the Recommended Guard Dogs section above).Since it is mostly their barking ability that suits them as watchdogs, further explanations of their temperament are beyond the scope of this article.
Recommended breeds include
- Scottish Terrier
- West Highland White Terrier
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Cairn Terrier
- Airedale Terrier
- Poodle (standard/miniature)
- Boston Terrier
- Shih Tzu
- Silky Terrier
- Smooth Fox Terrier
- Wire Fox Terrier
- Miniature Pinscher
Less likely, but possibly inclined to bark include the Pomeranian, Toy Poodle, Welsh Corgi, Shetland Sheepdog, Lhasa Apso, Akita, Maltese Terrier, Pekingese, Boxer, Samoyed, English Springer Spaniel, Dalmatian, and Irish Setter.
Dogs to Avoid as Watch Dogs
Some of these dogs may very well make good pets, but their lack of inclination to bark makes them unfit for use as watchdogs. These include the Bloodhound, Newfoundland, Saint Bernard, Basset Hound, Bulldog, Old English Sheepdog, Clumber Spaniel, Irish Wolfhound, Scottish Deerhound, Pug, Siberian Husky, and Alaskan Malamute.
Care for Your Dog
The realization that you will be responsible for maintaining the well-being of your dog is an important factor when deciding to adopt one. It is important to remember that unlike other security measures such as lighting and fences, a dog is a living, breathing, feeling individual and thus requires and deserves attentive, serious care from its owner.
In addition, like any other investment, the care for your dog will ensure that it will provide you longer lasting security for you and your family.Also your dog will require special needs such as flea treatments and veterinary visits. Their size, demeanor, and disposition notwithstanding, almost every breed of dog requires companionship and love.
Most dogs require companionship and affection from the families and are eager to return it. Dogs not receiving such attention may be prone to psychological trauma. Like children, dogs do not come with instruction manuals. Prospective dog owners should consult experts on the care and well-being of their new dogs. They should also be aware that behavior for puppies will be different from that of full-grown dogs.
Fences are a concern for many dog owners. Those wishing to keep dogs on their property should erect fences high enough to disallow escape. When considering which kind of fence to buy consumers should remember that fences with high visual penetration allow outsiders to taunt dogs located inside the fence.
Different breeds are susceptible to certain physical ailments. Nevertheless, veterinary science continues to advance and develop new treatments for many conditions. Many experts recommend spaying females before their third heat.
The sooner she is spayed the less likely she is to contract breast cancer. Many consider that neutering reduces aggression and rebelliousness in males.