While some breeds have been bred to be predisposed to be excellent guard dogs, the temperament of any individual dog is the most important thing to consider. An ideal guard dog will not react to strangers with fear. Training a nervous dog to protect their family when they feel threatened is like loading a gun and firing it often and randomly. Great guard dogs are confident and only attack in dangerous, unique situations. Growling and raising hackles should never be encouraged with treats or attention while raising a guard dog, puppies should be carefully socialized from age 6-16 weeks if they’re being raised for guarding. It’s imperative to avoid training a nervous dog as a guard dog.
New owners can watch for some ideal personality traits when interacting with a potential guard puppy. Dogs who are prey driven make great guard dogs, owners should watch for puppies who love to play tug of war or fetch. These puppies are attentive and willing to put their instincts into action. After some guard dog training sessions this prey drive can be expanded upon to create healthy protective instincts.
Good guard dogs in training also take correction well. Any dog who becomes despondent or discouraged during training does not have the ideal temperament to become a guard dog.
Lastly, owners should only take puppies who excel at ceasing to engage in negative behaviors on command and waiting for an owner’s command to proceed with actions (such as always waiting at the curb before crossing the street). These dogs will have protective instincts their masters can control and are less likely to seriously harm anyone.
There are some breeds classically thought of by owners and trainers as the best guard dogs. These dogs have been bred to be strong, confident, and warm to strangers slowly rather than accept any friendly person at face value. While Labradors are strong and confident, some owners would argue that Labs might not make a good guard dog because they’re so friendly and easy to ingratiate. Breeds who are widely considered to have been bred to display ideal temperaments are Rottweilers, Bullmastiffs, German Shepherds, Cane Corso’s and several varieties of Ridgebacks. Doberman Pinschers are cited as being confident, obedient, strong and also fast. Dobermans may be the ideal guard dog for an owner with large lots to survey.
Lastly, Swifto would like to strongly advise taking a dog to specialty guard dog training schools. Trying to train a guard dog independently can result in a dangerous or neurotic dog. Owners should work at training guard dogs to obey their commands to attack and cease their attack for their entire lives, but actually teaching attack and guard behaviors should be handled by a professional.