Best breeds for guard dogs

Please read the warnings in this article if you an ordinary family looking for a guard dog or thinking of buying a particular breed to be a guard dog to guard your family. They could save your life or those of your children. (If you are looking for a guard dog for a security firm, you are unlikely to be reading this article for advice!) You also should be aware of the difference between a watchdog and a guard dog.

If you train your family pet dog to be a guard dog or if you buy a breed known to be aggressive you could end up with unintended consequences. The same thing applies if you train your dog to be vicious – it could easily turn on you or your children. See for example http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/eng land/merseyside/6226565.stm, the story of a five year old girl mauled to death by a family pet.

In this case the breed was a pit bull, which is a prohibited breed in the UK, but which is claimed elsewhere to be a great breed to have as a guard dog. The reasons the dog attacked the young girl and killed her are unclear, and possibly nothing to do with the breed, but if you have children, why take risks? Whatever the breed, never ever leave a child alone with a dog, no matter how friendly the dog appears to be with the kids.

There are many, many similar stories of attacks or near-fatal attacks. Even dogs that have not been bought or trained as guard dogs can inexplicably attack people. See http://www.smh.com.au/news/sci ence/worlds-first-face-transpl ant/2005/12/01/1133422052431.h tml for instance, for the story of a French woman whose face was bitten off by her own pet labrador out of the blue. (She had the world’s first face transplant.)

The moral of the story is: if you want a dog as a guard dog, be careful because guard dogs are by definition trained or bred to be agressive. Be especially careful with any dogs around children, and never be cruel to any dog, regardless of the breed, or they might just turn and bite you one day (and it will serve you right). Dogs can be dangerous, especially if ill treated.

The best guard dog for a family is therefore one that is loved and is part of the family. If you treat a dog well it will be your best friend, and part of friendship is looking after you and your family. Most dogs will act as watchdogs, alerting you to dangers or intruders, quite naturally. When people say they want a guard dog, most often it is actually a watchdog they want. Many small, excitable breeds that bark a lot, such as terriers, or even the tiny chihuahua, make particularly excellent watchdogs.

If it’s really a guard dog you are after, and if you are aware of the dangers,and if you know what you are doing in training the dog, then of course some breeds are better as guard dogs than others. Some dogs have a special aptitude for guarding or have been bred especially to be guarding dogs.

Guarding or protecting dog breeds are larger (to be more imposing), and breeds recommended for this purpose include German Shepherds, Rotweillers, Doberman Pinschers, Akitas, Belgian Shepherds, and Bull Mastiffs. Dark coloured dogs are considered more of a deterrent than lighter coloured dogs.

For most people, especially those with children, a watchdog and a security alarm are a much safer option than a guard dog trained to attack intruders.

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