The Paw Print Genetics Blog

The Best Guard Dog Breeds

The Best Guard Dog Breeds

Throughout the evolution of the modern canine, one of the most important symbiotic relationships with humans has been as the role of protector by the dog.

Those wolves that stuck close to humans in hopes of scavenging leftovers, and which slowly evolved into modern canines, provided early man with advanced warning systems and protection when other wild creatures in nature provided a much greater threat than they do today.

However, not much has changed in tens of thousands of years. Today’s dogs are used by the military, businesses and in homes throughout the country (and world), for protection and guard duty.

In fact, the right dog in a home can be a greater deterrent for criminals than the presence of a firearm. In a study that involved 589 convicted property offenders, the question was asked: “How effective is each of the following likely to be in preventing burglary, breaking and entering and grand theft?”

The results were:

0: not effective; 1: somewhat effective; 2: very effective

Monitored burglar alarms: 1.51
Electronic sensors in windows: 1.35
Closed circuit TV cameras in stores: 1.31
Private security patrols: 1.14
Weapons in home: 1.10
Guardhouses protecting homes: 1.07
Random police foot patrols: 1.05
Better exterior lighting: 1.02
"Neighborhood Watch" programs: 0.98
Safes/strong boxes: 0.83
Local burglar alarms: 0.83
Deadbolt lock: 0.79
Timed interior lights: 0.78

That study, as well as some great background information on breed intelligence, trainability, propensity for the guard duty, intimidation factors, etc., came from a great article with several sources entitled "Dogs and Personal Security: An Introductory Guide," which ultimately suggest the following breeds as the best dogs for guard duty (in no particular order):

  • Belgian malinois

  • Bullmastiff

  • Doberman pinscher

  • German shepherd dog

  • Rottweiler

  • Akita

Like all dogs, especially purebreds developed to carry out a specific task, these guard-dog breeds can carry genetic mutations that can lead to diseases that can impact the dog’s quality of life or lifespan, as well as your pocketbook.

For instance, perhaps the best overall guard dog, the Doberman pinscher, is susceptible to von Willebrand's Disease, cervical vertebral instability, dilated cardiomyopathy, hypothyroidism, chronic active hepatitis, narcolepsy, alopecia and malignant hyperthermia.

The prototypical guard dog, the German shepherd dog, has a long list of genetic disorders: Anhidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, Hemophilia A, Leukocyte adhesion deficiency, type III, Renal cystadenocarcinoma and nodular dermatofibrosis, Mucopolysaccharidosis VII, Dwarfism, pituitary, Urolithiasis, Degenerative myelopathy, Malignant hyperthermia, Multidrug resistance 1 and Renal dysplasia.

The article does a good job of summing up genetic defects and the dichotomy of popular breeds and less popular breeds in regards to overall health and likelihood of research:

"ALL breeds are subject to genetically-linked defects in health and temperament. Working with a good breeder minimizes (but does not eliminate) the chance that one will end up with a defective dog.

Don't be scared by talk of genetic defects and health problems. Although some breeds have been severely damaged by poor breeding, the best response to a long list of possible defects and problems is to be alert for them at the outset. Also, keep in mind that the length of a list may reflect the state of knowledge about a breed more than the likelihood of running into problems. Uncommon breeds are generally less well studied than more common breeds, and so may have shorter lists. A defect in an uncommon breed may also propagate more quickly and be harder to eliminate from the smaller population. Popular breeds will generally have longer lists in part because they've been studied more intensively."

Regardless of your guard dog of choice, insisting on a Canine Genetic Health Certificate© that shows the carrier status of your puppy is the first step to ensuring your guard dog will enjoy a long, healthy life, and that you will enjoy a safe and protected home.