Giant Guard Dog Breeds

Updated October 16, 2022
Man spending quality time with his german shepherd in the park

Giant guard dog breeds can be both fascinating and intimidating. Why the interest in giant guardian dogs? To some people looking for protection, bigger is always better. Many would-be intruders are far more intimidated by the sheer size of a dog than anything else. A large, muscular dog that announces by his very presence that he is in charge is often enough to make most intruders decide to pick an easier target.

Difference Between a Guard Dog and a Watch Dog

Though sometimes a dog can be both, there are distinct differences between guard dogs and watchdogs. Watchdogs are primarily meant to alert you to the presence of intruders. Often they are selected for breed tendencies, such as barking. Because of this, small dogs that are known barkers can be just as good of a watchdog as a larger breed. Sometimes these dogs are trained for the task, whereas often owners simply rely on the dog's natural temperament to do the job.

Guard Dogs

These dogs, which may come from typical "watchdog" breeds, guard a person or persons or livestock. Unlike a watchdog which watches an area of property such as your yard, guard dogs will move to protect a person or animal. These dogs are selected for specific breed tendencies and usually are large dogs meant to intimidate. For example, an Anatolian Shepherd will use their size to ward off predators that seek to take down the livestock in their care. Or, a Rottweiler will stand guard over its human family if it perceives a threat to them.

List of Giant Guard Dog Breeds

As you scan the following list, you'll notice that a number of breeds known for their guard dog tendencies (such as Doberman Pinschers) are not included. You'll also notice that some of the biggest overall breeds (such as Great Danes) are also not on this list. That is because this list is meant to represent only the largest breeds commonly used as guard dogs. Take a moment to learn about breeds that fall into this category.

Akita

Originally from Japan, these powerful dogs have strong guarding instincts. They are one of the most powerful breeds, and they are loyal, protective, and intelligent. They are not usually aggressive unless they feel threatened or provoked.

Anatolian Shepherd

This Turkish dog was originally bred to guard livestock. The Anatolian Shepherd can be trained to be protective without being aggressive towards people. But they do need regular exercise, training, and socialization in order to be happy and well-adjusted dogs.

Boerboel

The African Boerboel is a Mastiff-type, fearless yet reliable guard dog. They are a large, powerful breed that can weigh up to 180 pounds. It has a natural protective instinct and will defend its family from any threat.

Bullmastiff

The Bullmastiff's ability to think for himself is a true asset for a guard dog. They are a large, muscular dog that can grow to between 90 and 100 pounds. They were originally used as hunting dogs, but they are now more commonly seen as guard dogs at homes and businesses.

Cane Corso

A powerful Italian mastiff, the Latin root of this breed's name means "protector." Unlike some other guard dogs, the Cane Corso is not aggressive towards strangers without cause. However, they will definitely protect their family if there's danger.

Doberman Pinscher

A German breed that is known for being an excellent guard dog and is often used as a working dogs by the police and the military. They were bred to guard, hunt, and herd, and their temperament can be aggressive without proper training. However, if you are looking for a dog that will protect your family, the Doberman Pinscher may be the right choice for you.

Dogue de Bordeaux

Also known as the French mastiff, this is a massive and impressive breed. They're often used as guard dogs because of their size and strength, but they can also be very loving toward people who are kind to them.

Fila Brasileiro

This dog is absolutely fierce toward strangers and requires training and socialization and a knowledgeable owner. They are known for their incredibly protective nature, and they will never let anyone get close to their family without warning. They are very loyal and loving dogs who will do whatever it takes to protect their owners and homes.

German Shepherd

Highly prized for their intelligence and courage, the German Shepherd is an excellent guard dog who makes a good family companion as well. They are strong and athletic, but they also have a lot of energy, so they need plenty of exercise. Their intelligence makes them easy to train, and their loyalty means that they will protect their owners with everything they've got.

Giant Schnauzer

While Giant Schnauzers are known for being loyal and loving to their families, they can be fierce guard dogs when called upon. They are a great companion for both families with small children and single homeowners who want protection from intruders, but can also be aggressive toward strangers if not trained properly.

Great Pyrenees

A quiet family companion, the Great Pyrenees will spring into action when a threat appears. The Great Pyrenees has a calm demeanor, but it will defend its family if necessary. This breed is gentle with children and other animals.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

The large, sturdy "Swissy" was originally bred to guard livestock. With a thick coat and a sturdy body, this breed is well-suited to outdoor life. They are also very loyal, so they will stay by their owner's side no matter what happens.

Komondor

Originally bred to protect livestock, the Komondor is a natural guardian of his family. Komondors are large dogs that can weigh up to 100 pounds, so they're not suited for small apartment living.

Kuvasz

The meaning of this breed's name is "guardian of the nobility" and they were originally bred to be protectors of nobles in Europe. These dogs have been bred over time with other breeds such as German Shepherds and Great Pyrenees to create an even more powerful protector.

Neopolitan Mastiff

This dog's ancestors were Roman dogs of war. Few dogs look more intimidating. Neopolitan Mastiffs are not normally aggressive toward people unless provoked or threatened, but they will certainly bark at any intruder or unfamiliar person who enters their territory. They are also known for being protective of children, which makes them an ideal choice for families with children.

Perro de Presa Canario

This is the ultimate intimidating dog. It makes a formidable guard dog, but it's not for everyone. They are territorial by nature, which means they will protect their owners as well as their home from intruders or other animals entering their territory without permission. They are very protective of their families, so if someone trespasses onto your property without permission, you can expect this dog to attack them immediately without hesitation.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

These large, intimidating dogs were bred to guard hunters from lions. They are independent, territorial, and can be aggressive towards strangers. They are also very loyal to their family.

Rottweiler

Perhaps not a true "giant," many Rotties exceed the desired medium-large stature to make truly intimidating guardians. Rottweilers love people, especially children. They are friendly, gentle and affectionate with people they know well. But if you are a stranger, the Rottweiler can be very aggressive and menacing.

Characteristics of a Natural Guard Dog

There are common hallmarks shared by nearly all the breeds that have been bred and trained to work as guard dogs. These include:

  • A natural instinct to protect
  • Physical strength and agility
  • Steady temperament
  • Courage
  • Confidence
  • Keenly alert to surroundings

Of course, these characteristics are just the base on which a reliable guard dog is built. Since most of these dogs are quite powerful in their own right, early training is crucial if you want to help them develop to their fullest potential.

Don't Confuse Aggression With Guarding

It's sometimes assumed that an aggressive dog can make a good guard dog, but that's not really the case. The very best guard dogs are capable of independent thought, and they protect the people they serve out of a sense of loyalty and affection for them. A good guard dog thinks its way through any dangerous situation, listens to its owner's commands and only uses the necessary strength and aggression needed to deter or subdue an intruder.

Attack Dogs and Guarding

Some people confuse the term "attack dog" with guard dogs. A more accurate term for an "attack dog" is a personal protection dog. These dogs are different from guard dogs because they are highly trained to do a variety of tasks. Usually, you will find these dogs working in law enforcement, the military, and private security firms.

They are sometimes trained to take down a criminal by police K9 officers, or to use barking and intimidating behavior to protect an individual. But the two are not necessarily the same. Training a personal protection dog incorporates many elements that may not be necessary or desirable for a guard dog. Sometimes, smaller breeds who bark a lot are suitable for some guard dog duties, for example, while these same smaller breeds rarely serves as personal protection dogs.

Responsible Ownership

Owning one of these giant guard dog breeds is a huge responsibility. Make sure your dog receives proper training from an early age. Begin with socialization and obedience training and then enroll your dog in professional guard dog classes. This will give you the most control over your pet, and help ensure the safety of your family as well.

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Giant Guard Dog Breeds