17 Best Guard Dogs for Protection and Family Companionship

These breeds excel as protectors, but also love their people and make great pets for your home.

Updated April 8, 2023
Guard dog

There are few things that can make us feel as safe and secure as a well-trained, loyal guard dog. The best guard dogs for your family depend on your lifestyle. Finding the right protector for your home means matching your needs against each breed's natural tendencies and strengths. Some are known for their intimidation factor, while others are competent watch dogs. All make great companions.

1. Bullmastiff

In the 1860s in England, the Bullmastiff guarded large estates. This breed is known for pinning and holding intruders. Powerful and fearless, these dogs claim the No. 1 spot for guarding families and homes today. Although the Bullmastiff was originally bred to be a guard dog, they are known to be gentle and loyal family companions.

Need to Know
  • Height: 25 ot 27 inches
  • Weight: 100 to 120 pounds
  • Characteristics: Affectionate, protective, loyal
Bullmastiff dog

2. Doberman Pinscher

The Doberman Pinscher originated in Germany around 1900 to protect tax collector Louis Dobermann. The breed is highly intelligent and never forgets a command. A Doberman's courage and obedience make them highly valued as police and war dogs, as well as guard dogs.

They are protective and loyal to their owners, but can be aggressive with strangers. They're a powerful dog that needs exercise to stay fit and healthy. They can be aggressive with other dogs, so early socialization with other animals is important when they're puppies.

Need to Know
  • Height: 27 to 28 inches
  • Weight: 70 to 100 pounds
  • Characteristics: Loving, eager-to-please, intelligent
Doberman Pinscher Dogs


Rottweilers are high-energy, powerful dogs whose ancestors assisted Roman armies during battle in ancient times. This breed is fiercely loyal and protective of family members and territories. Rotties are confident and assess new people carefully.

In addition to being used as guard dogs, Rottweilers are also trained for search and rescue, obedience, tracking, and other duties. A well-trained Rottweiler can be a family pet in a loving home environment. However, as with other guard dog breeds, they need early socialization to become a well-rounded adult.

Need to Know
  • Height: 25 to 27 inches
  • Weight: 85 to 115 pounds
  • Characteristics: Determined, energetic, affectionate


The Komondor, a large, muscular breed, hails from Hungary. For more than 1,000 years, the breed watched over sheep. Today's komondors protect their humans with equal tenacity. This dog is cautious around strangers but playful with human family members. Some refer to komondors as "mop dogs" because of the dog's corded coat appearance.

Need to Know
  • Height: 25 to 28 inches
  • Weight: 80 to 100 pounds
  • Characteristics: Affectionate, brave, loyal
Quick Tip

This breed does not generally get along with other dogs; however, they may if they're raised with them from puppyhood.

Komondor standing in field


The Puli is a Hungarian sheepdog. They are one of the most ancient dog breeds in the world and are renowned for their long, corded coat that grows from head to tail. Ancestors of the puli dog breed also protected sheep in ancient Hungary. The puli is extremely smart, fiercely loyal, and suspicious of new people and circumstances.

Pulik are lively, intelligent dogs that thrive on human companionship and activity. They are excellent family pets and can be trained fairly easily if they receive enough exercise each day. They are also very protective of their human family members and other animals in their household like cats and other dogs, though they can be aggressive towards strange dogs if not properly socialized when young.

Need to Know
  • Height: 16 to 17 inches
  • Weight: 25 to 35 pounds
  • Characteristics: Active, stubborn, loving
Puli Standing On Grassy Field

Giant Schnauzer

The Giant Schnauzer is a very loyal and protective dog and can make an excellent guard dog. They will bark when they sense danger and will protect their home and family. You should not consider using this breed as a guard dog unless you are willing to put in the necessary time and energy required to train them properly.

The Giant Schnauzer has been bred for centuries as a working dog, so they're not going to be able to sit at home all day while you're at work. They need regular exercise, both physical exercise and mental stimulation. If you can provide that for them, they will be happy, healthy, and well-behaved.

Need to Know
  • Height: 23 to 27 inches
  • Weight: 55 to 80 pounds
  • Characteristics: Energetic, territorial, devoted
Giant Schnauzer

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is the quintessential guard dog. They have been used as a guard dog since it was first bred by Max von Stephanitz in 1899. Their intelligence and loyalty to their owner and family make them good family dogs in addition to serving to protect. This breed has an intense desire to please their owners, which also makes them an excellent choice for police work or personal protection dogs.

The breed is fiercely strong, agile, and ready to protect family members. They make good companions and form strong bonds with children. This breed's popularity is often attributed to the Rin-Tin-Tin movies.

Need to Know
  • Height: 25 to 27 inches
  • Weight: Up to 90 pounds
  • Characteristics: Social, loyal, protective
German Shepherd

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are independent, fearless, and loyal dogs that make excellent guard dogs because they are confident and courageous. They are known for their ability to protect their owners from intruders or attackers. This breed's impressive instinct is their effort to protect the family's children.

They were originally bred in Southern Africa as a hunting dog, but they have also been used for guarding livestock and property. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a very affectionate dog, but they do not like strangers who come into their territory without permission. They can be aggressive towards cats as well, so it's best for these two species not to be kept together.

Need to Know
  • Height: 25 to 27 inches
  • Weight: 70 to 85 pounds
  • Characteristics: Brave, calm, affectionate
Rhodesian Ridgeback dog


The Kuvasz is large, muscular, and fiercely protective of their human family. This breed is polite but not friendly and possesses a keen instinct to act at just the right moment. Kuvasz translates to "armed guard of the nobility," and his ancestors lived exclusively with European and Hungarian royalty. The Kuvasz served as a bodyguard to the king or queen.

Need to Know
  • Height: 26 to 30 inches
  • Weight: 70 to 110 pounds
  • Characteristics: Loving, reserved, aloof
Kuvasz Dog Adult

American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terriers are known to fight to the death to protect their family. The breed is exceptionally muscular, courageous, and keenly aware of their surroundings. This terrier is a working breed and needs a job to occupy their focus. The staffie is a cross between a Bulldog and a Staffordshire Terrier. People refer to the breed by multiple names, including Staffordshire Bull Terrier and pitbull.

This breed has a friendly personality, which also makes them an excellent family companion dog. The breed's popularity soared following its use at World War I as a military mascot, most famously Sergeant Stubby, who was promoted to corporal in 1917. They were also used in World War II with propaganda films made about them. Today they are still used as search-and-rescue dogs due to their strength and endurance.

Need to Know
  • Height: 17 to 19 inches
  • Weight: 40 to 60 pounds
  • Characteristics: Loving, alert, energetic
American Staffordshire Terrier

Chow Chow

The Chow Chow protects their humans and is affectionate. They are muscular and keenly intelligent. The breed is also independent, aloof, and not particularly eager to please so training could come with a side streak of stubborn attitude. Their ancestry goes back to the Chinese Han Dynasty. The breed is known as a hunter, herder, and protector.

Need to Know
  • Height: 17 to 20 inches
  • Weight: 45 to 70 pounds
  • Characteristics: Wary, stubborn, aloof
Chow chow

American Mastiff

The Mastiff guarded English homes for more than 2,000 years and is known for their power, courage, and loyalty. Don't mistake this breed's tender side for lack of tenacity. This mastiff is the same dog that Caesar forced to fight lions, bait bulls, and fight human gladiators.

The American Mastiff is gentle enough to be around small children, but they may be too large to live in an apartment or condo. This breed needs lots of exercise and plenty of room to roam. If you provide these things, the American Mastiff will be a great companion for many years.

Need to Know
  • Height: 27 to 30 inches
  • Weight: Up to 220 pounds!
  • Characteristics: Loyal, brave, soft-hearted
American Mastiff sitting in field

American Bulldog

The American Bulldog is not only a great guard dog, but they are also very protective of their family. They will not hesitate to attack anyone who tries to harm their loved ones. These dogs are naturally aggressive towards strangers as well, so they make great watchdogs as well as guard dogs.

They are generally easygoing and affectionate toward people, but can be aggressive toward other dogs. They need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy in their homes. They are good with children if they are raised with them from an early age, but do not tolerate rough handling by small children well.

Need to Know
  • Height: 20 to 28 inches
  • Weight: Up to 120 pounds
  • Characteristics: Affectionate, devoted, family-oriented
American bulldog sitting in yard

Anatolian Shepherd Dog

This breed is a livestock guard dog and protects farms all over the world. The breed is hardy, powerful, and still used in Turkey as a working dog. They are extremely protective of their territory and will do whatever is necessary to keep it safe. This can include barking, growling, and even biting.

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs make excellent companions because they love being around people and want to spend as much time with them as possible! They enjoy being part of the family unit and will try to include themselves whenever possible, whether that means playing fetch or just sitting next to you while you watch TV.

Need to Know
  • Height: 27 to 29 inches
  • Weight: 80 to 150 pounds
  • Characteristics: Affectionate, loyal, adaptable
Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Cane Corso

The Cane Corso is a descendant of Rome fighting dogs. This breed is mainly used for guarding and tracking. This extremely strong and robust dog needs a savvy owner with guard dog experience.

The Cane Corso will make an excellent addition to any family, as long as they are properly trained and socialized from a young age. These dogs are extremely affectionate with their owners but can be somewhat stand offish with strangers. It is important that you spend time training your dog so they know what is expected of them in different situations.

Need to Know
  • Height: 23 to 28 inches
  • Weight: 90 to 120 pounds
  • Characteristics: Stubborn, devoted, intelligent
Cane Corso

Great Dane

The Great Dane is known as the "Apollo of dogs" in Egyptian art. They're one of the tallest canines and first appeared in the 18th century in Germany. They were originally developed as a boarhound, used to hunt wild boar in Germany and other Central European countries. They have also been used for centuries as a palace guard dog due to their intimidating size.

Although this breed can be used as a guard dog, they are very family-oriented. They're a gentle giant that loves people and attention. In fact, these dogs are often referred to as "Velcro dogs" because they want to be near their people at all times. The Great Dane's giant size makes it easy for him to knock over small children or jump up on furniture, so they should always be supervised around young kids.

Need to Know
  • Height: Up to 34 inches
  • Weight: 140 to 170 pounds on average; can occasionally reach 200 pounds
  • Characteristics: Silly, loyal, loving
Great Dane


Boxers are known as a gentle breed, but they can make great guard dogs. They're very protective of their owners and their property. They are not usually aggressive towards people, but they will protect what is theirs. Boxers do not bark much, but when they do bark, it is usually a warning that someone or something is coming near your home.

Boxers enjoy playing in the yard with children, or just lounging around the house with them. When it comes to children, it's important to remember that Boxers are large dogs and may not be suitable for smaller children. This is especially true when it comes to toddlers who like to play rough with their pets.

Need to Know
  • Height: 21 to 25 inches
  • Weight: About 60 pounds
  • Characteristics: High-energy, eager-to-please, affectionate
Boxer dog

Choosing the Best Dog for You

Review each breed carefully and conduct more research prior to adopting or purchasing a certain breed. Many dogs are re-homed because their owners liked the way they looked or thought they could force the match. The fact is that you need a breed that will resonate best with your family while being a good guard dog. Check each breed's characteristics, qualities, and needs and weigh the options.

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17 Best Guard Dogs for Protection and Family Companionship