Top 10 Guard Dog Breeds
It’s only been within the last one to two hundred years that we’ve viewed dogs more as companions rather than workers. While there are still large numbers of dogs working hard in a vast number of roles all over the world, our canine friends were once only bred to fight, hunt, herd or guard the home.
There are plenty of breeds that were bred for the sole purpose of guarding. Their development over hundreds of years has seen the valued traits of loyalty, intelligence and steadfast bravery remain. However these days we’re more interested in the guard dog that shares all these traits but is also suitable to family life.
Here are the best and most popular guard dog breeds in Australia at this time, listed from 10 to 1, along with a brief description. Is your best friend on the list?
- Chow Chow
The Chow Chow is a medium-sized, sturdy dog with small pointed ears and a very thick coat of long fur. Believed to have originated from Mongolia or Siberia, the Chow Chow is reckoned to be the domesticated breed with the closest DNA link to wolves.
Although originally bred as working dogs, Chow Chows are not especially aggressive or energetic. They are quite happy to be kept to smaller dwellings such as apartments or townhouses but require a walk at least daily.
The breed are quite good with children and are very loyal to their owners, but have developed a reputation for being over protective of territory, possessions and specific family members. Personality will vary between individual animals, but many Chow Chows show suspicion and sometimes aggression towards strangers.
A Chow Chow grows to about 43 to 50 cm and should weigh between 18 to 31 kgs. A healthy Chow Chow will generally live to between 12 and 15 years of age.
- Shar Pei
The Shar Pei is a mid-sized dog that has a distinctive wrinkled skin. It is also sometimes known as the Chinese Shar Pei. This unusual looking dog has a broad flat head and a solid body and the Shar Pei’s tongue is similar to the Chow Chow because it’s also blue. The word Shar Pei means ‘dog with sandy coat’ in Chinese.
The Shar Pei has a long history and it is thought to have hailed from the provinces of China as far back as the Han Dynasty around 200 B.C. Shar Pei’s were originally dogs that worked for farmers guarding stock and they were also used for other duties like guarding the homes of their owners, wild boar hunting and for dog fighting.
Male Shar Pei’s weigh around 25kg to 29kgs and females weigh between 18 kg to 25 kgs. Shar Pei’s stand about 45 to 51cms.
The average lifespan of a Shar Pei is about 10 years.
- Akita Inu
The Akita is distinctive large and powerful dog with an aloof attitude. The Akita can be territorial and the dog is not usually welcoming of strangers.
It is said that between 8,000 BC and 200 BC a dog was developed that is thought to be the Akitas ancestors. During the 19th century the people who were living in cities across Japan moves to country areas and they required a dog that would act as a guardian and protector.The people of Japan wanted to develop a large and powerful breed so they crossed the Matagi-Inu with other breeds like Mastiffs and bulldogs.
The Japanese Akita is known as the ‘Akita Inu’ or ‘Japanese Akita’ and the American bloodline is known as the ‘Akita’ or ‘American Akita.
Male Akitas weigh from 34 to 54kgs and females weigh 34 to 50 kilos. Male Akitas stand about 61 to 71cm and females stand from 61 to 66cm.
The average lifespan of an Akita is 10 to 12 years.
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is an English terrier, bred from the English Bulldog and a number of Old English Terrier breeds and is a very muscular, tenacious and loyal animal.
With a stocky and strong appearance, a broad head and a wide-set frame, the Staffordshire Terrier was first bred in the 1700s and 1800s for bull and bear baiting until the practice was banned in the UK in the 1830s.
The breed has a notable fondness for children and is especially protective of its family. An enthusiastic Staffordshire Bull Terrier may be too much to handle for young children, however, and it is suggested that kids under eight be closely supervised with the breed.
The average Staffordshire Bull Terrier will measure between 35 to 40cm and a healthy dog should weigh between 13 and 17kgs. They live to between 10 and 15 years of age.
Rottweilers are famous for their large, muscular build, unique coat colours. Originally bred as herding dogs, today’s Rottweiler is often used as a guide dog, guard dog, police dog, and search &rescue dog.
Of course, they aren’t just made for work – Rottweilers are fiercely loyal companions. Despite some portrayals in the media, they are not generally dangerous dogs. As with all breeds, the Rottweiler has potential for aggression if its owner fails to train and socialise it at a young age or assert his or her position as the “pack leader”, but in general, the Rottweiler is a docile and laid-back breed who makes a great playmate for other pets and children.
Healthy male Rottweilers weigh between 50 and 60 kg and stand at 61 – 69 cm tall. Females weigh inat about 35 – 48 kg and stand at about 56 – 63 cm tall.
The average lifespan of the Rottweiler in the USA, UK and Denmark is 8-10 years, but some have been known to live up to 16 years old.
- Cane Corso
The Cane Corso is of Italian origin; a medium to large-sized dog with a muscular, strong and athletic appearance, the distinguished Cane Corso is an ancient dog of Roman decent.
The Cane Corso was put to work in a variety of roles that included guarding the house, hunting and fighting. The Romans bred the Cane Corso as a war dog and took the animal on campaign as well as employed it for sport in the arena.
The Cane Corso is a very energetic, strong and heavy-set dog, eager to please but tough to handle for an inexperienced owner. Early training is essential to maintain a firm grip on this stubborn breed and socialisation as a puppy is a must curb aggression.
The average Cano Corso is quite large, measuring between 64 and 68cm and weighing in at between 45 to 50kgs. A healthy Cane Corso will live for between 10 and 11 years of age.
The Boerboel is a very large domesticated working dog. Muscular, exceedingly strong and loyal to a fault, the South African Boerboel is a tough breed, bred for guarding the homestead in hard African conditions.
Boerboels are very independent dogs but require a good deal of attention from their owners. They are affectionate with children and very loyal but have a tendency to be a bit pigheaded and times. Training from an early age is important for this breed; they are large dogs and first-time owners may find the Boerboel a bit of a challenge.
The breed is a ferocious guard dog and will defend their family bravely, even to the death, if they feel threatened in any way. For this reason it’s important that strong discipline be introduced early and maintained.
The Boerboel is a large dog, measuring between 64 and 70cm and weighing in at between 70 to 90kgs. A healthy Boerboel will live to between 9 and 13 years of age.
- German Shepherd
The appearance of a German Shepherd is something of a lucky dip – its coat colour is not known until it sheds its puppy coat, but it is generally a mixture of black and gold. They’re famous for their bushy, thick tails, pointy ears and wolf-like appearance.
Healthy male German Shepherds generally weigh in at 30 – 40 kg and stand at 60 – 65 cm tall. Females are usually between 22 and 32 kg and stand at about 55 – 60 cm tall.
German Shepherds were bred for their intelligence, and are regarded as one of the smartest dog breeds. Their intelligence, obedience and trainability have led the German Shepherd to become one of the most adaptable and versatile dog breeds in the world and are often employed in military, search & rescue and police roles.
They are considered to be a very safe breed when trained well and socialised early & often, and for this reason they are a great family pet.
Their life span is usually around 9-13 years, but some have been known to reach the ripe old age of 20.
Dobermans generally have a square, compact build and short coat which reflects their athleticism, endurance and agility.
Although they are often portrayed as aggressive dogs due to their history as working dogs, modern Dobermans have a much more even temperament, are extremely smart, loyal and trainable. Even though they remain one of the breeds more inclined towards aggression, they are usually very sociable with humans and other dogs.
Dobermans are very energetic and need to be taken on a long walk or jog every day and the human must be the leader and should always be in front of the dog.
Healthy male Dobermans usually weigh between 34 and 45 kg and stand at an average of 68 cm tall. Females weigh between 27 and 41 kg and stand at about 64 cm tall. The average lifespan of a Doberman is 10-11 years old, but some live up to around the age of 13.
- Bull Mastiff
The Bullmastiff is a large strong breed of dog that has been used as a guard dog for many years. This majestic dog has a short coat that lies flat on his body. Coat colours include fawn, brindle and the dog may have black markings on the head.
The Bullmastiff was developed in the mid-19th century by English gamekeepers. They were bred as a quite but powerful and fearless breed to help gamekeepers track down poachers. The size of the dog meant they could hold down criminals rather than attack them by biting. The dog was known as the Gamekeeper’s Night-Dog and they were part of the gamekeeper’s family, living with them as a companion and guardian.
The Bullmastiff is all muscle, but this dog does not require a huge amount of exercise. Regular walks are suggested for exercise and mental stimulation. While puppies are full of energy and excitement this breed will eventually settle. Adults have a calm nature but if provoked they will become fierce and hard to settle.
Male Bullmastiff’s stand between 63 to 69 cm tall and females stand 61 to 66cm. Males weight a hefty 50 to 60kgs and females weigh 45 to 54kgs.
The average lifespan of the Bullmastiff is 10 years.