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Good Family Watchdog Traits
Although certain breeds are known for their inherent traits, picking the right guard dog for your family has more to do with the specific dog you’re adopting and your household environment. Looking for these personality traits during the initial meeting will be the best way to tell if they have the making of a good family watchdog.
The most important watchdog trait is the only noninherent one: loyalty. Your dog will be steadfast and unswayed in their devotion to you if they feel this is reciprocated in its care and home life.
It doesn’t have to be the biggest or smartest breed, but if it doesn’t have the innate desire to protect, it can’t be a guard dog. You’ll need to find the right balance of protective and territorial so that looks after everyone living in your home, and not just who feeds or walks them.
It’s a no-brainer that your dog will need to be intelligent or a great problem-solver to be able to tell friend from foe when strangers come in. Not to mention any guard dog will require the ability to quickly pick up commands during protection training.
While big dogs aren’t necessarily the only kind of guard dogs, you’ll often see them in this position because they tend to have inherent dominance. This means they are confident and in charge, and other dogs even recognize this. This is why you hear insecure small dogs regularly bark at others.
Sure, a guard dog is supposed to be aggressive, but a family guard dog should be able to play around gently with your kids too. It’s best to choose a puppy that can be introduced to your family young if it’s going to be around children or other pets.
List of Best Guard Dog Breeds for Families
While it can differ from dog to dog, below is a list of dog breeds that tend to emerge as the best family watchdogs. As with any pet, be sure you are ready to care for it in all regards—including the added protection training—before you adopt. Prices listed below reflect family-friendly dogs purchased through breeders, but it is always much cheaper to adopt—around $300 total.
1. German Shepherd
There’s a reason they’re often used in law enforcement: German Shepherds are intelligent, protective, and athletic. Protection training will go by quickly with this breed, and you can expect them to be great for playtime with the kids too. German shepherds cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500.
2. Rhodesian Ridgeback
Previously known as the “African Lion Hound,” the Rhodesian Ridgeback was originally bred to be courageous enough to hunt large South African game such as lions. They are big, athletic, and have a great temperament that makes them affectionate with loved ones. Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies cost between $700 and $2000.
3. American Staffordshire Terrier
Small but mighty, the American Staffordshire Terrier or Staffordshire Bull Terrier has impressive power behind it’s medium, muscular frame. It’s an agile, confident, and good-natured friend you can count on to watch over your home. Anywhere between $800 to $2,500 is how much it can cost you to get an American Staffordshire Terrier.
If you’re in need of a sturdy working dog with plenty of energy, agility, and fearlessness, look no further than the Kuvasz. Your kids will feel like they’re cuddling a sheep with its all-white appearance! The average price of a Kuvasz is $1,200, but they can even go for higher than $2,000.
Aggression comes naturally to the powerful Rottweiler, but gentleness needs to be nurtured. This means that introducing this dog as a puppy to your family will bring them up to be a tender playmate but watchful guardian. Rottweilers are on the more expensive side for dog breeds, selling anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500 or more.
6. Doberman Pinscher
Alert, energetic, and obedient: it’s no wonder this breed is so often portrayed as watchdogs in film and TV. The elegant looks and fearless heart of a Doberman Pinscher make it the perfect family friend and protector. Dobermans go from $1,500 to $2,500 as price increases with show quality.
This white moppy-looking dog may not seem like the ideal guard dog at first glance, but the Komondor’s power, loyalty, and herding roots make it intelligent and independent enough to trust with the task of guarding your family. However, this stubbornness is two-sided—you’ll want an experienced protection trainer helping you out. A Komondor ranges from $800 to $2,000.
Similar to the Komondor, the Puli is covered in thickly-corded hair and was originally a Hungarian flock herder. Their agility and alertness shine through when they quickly pick up protection training lessons. A puli will average $1,200 to $2,000 in cost.
9. Giant Schnauzer
Giant Schnauzers are sturdy, valiant, and easy to work with. Your kids and their friends will love their playfulness, and your relatives and friends will comment on their phenomenal composure. The price for Giant Schnauzers varies significantly: you could drop anywhere from $700 to $5,500, but the $1000-$2000 range is not uncommon.
Bullmastiffs were bred to use size, strength, and alertness to catch poachers on Old English estates. Now, this active breed is the perfect affectionate household companion and defender. Bullmastiffs go from $1,000 to $2,000.
The Importance of Protection Training for Guard Dogs
A guard dog can help tremendously with home security to protect your family. Although dogs in any home act as natural protectors and alarm systems—and some breeds’ intimidating looks alone ward off intruders—protection training is a big undertaking.
Your dog needs to follow all your basic commands 100% of the time to even merit evaluation from a dog trainer. Here, the trainer can observe their skills and temperament to determine if they’ll be a good fit. If they’re deemed a good candidate, they’ll undergo command training and decision-making lessons, which you may need to review as often as every day to keep them at peak performance as a guard dog and stimulated as a family dog. This training is crucial for you and your dog to know what is expected of them in times of crisis.