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.
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.
Originally from Japan, these powerful dogs have strong guarding instincts.
This Turkish dog was originally bred to guard livestock.
The African Boerboel is a Mastiff-type, fearless yet reliable guard dog.
The Bullmastiff's ability to think for himself is a true asset for a guard dog.
A powerful Italian mastiff, the Latin root of this breed's name means "protector."
A German breed that is known for being an excellent guard dog and is often used as a working dog with the police and the military.
Dogue de Bordeaux
AKA the French mastiff, this is a massive and impressive beast.
This dog is absolutely fierce toward strangers and requires training and socialization and a knowledgeable owner.
Highly prized for their intelligence and courage, the German Shepherd is an excellent guard dog who makes a good family companion as well.
While Giant Schnauzers are known for being loyal and loving to their families, they can be a fierce guard dog when called upon.
A quiet family companion, the Great Pyrenees will spring into action when a threat appears.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
The large, sturdy "Swissy" was originally bred to guard livestock.
Originally bred to protect livestock, the Komondor is a natural guardian of his family.
The meaning of this breed's name is "guardian of the nobility" and they were originally bred to be protectors of nobles in Europe.
This dog's ancestors were Roman dogs of war. Few dogs look more intimidating.
Perro de Presa Canario
This is the ultimate intimidating dog. It makes a formidable guard dog, but it's not for everyone.
These large, intimidating dogs were bred to guard hunters from lions.
Perhaps not a true "giant," many Rotties exceed the desired medium-large stature to make truly intimidating guardians.
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
- 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, such as a police K9 officer or to use barking and intimidating behavior to protect an individual.
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.