15 Best Guard Dog Breeds

Having a well-trained dog to help watch over your home can provide peace of mind—and a loving, loyal companion to greet you when you walk in the door. Some dog breeds are natural guards, born with the instinct to protect their humans. To help you decide which guard dog breed is best for you we’ve rounded up a list of top dogs for the job, based on recommendations from the American Kennel Club (AKC). From smaller breeds like the hairy, lovable Puli to larger dog breeds like the bullmastiff, these dog breeds are smart, fearless, and faithful.

Keep in mind that, before you adopt any dog, you’ll need to be able to commit to extensive training and ongoing socialization, as they are especially important for guard dog breeds who tend to be more territorial. You’ll also want to choose a breed that fits your lifestyle. Some breeds, like the Appenzeller Sennenhund or Australian Shepherd, require lots of exercise, while pups like the Briard need frequent grooming. Once you’ve decided on a type of guard dog, be sure to research reputable, responsible breeders via the AKC website to make sure you adopt a healthy, happy puppy.

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Akitas represent happiness and long life in Japan where the breed was developed in the 17th century, and are known for being courageous and loyal to their owners. They’re independent thinkers and don’t always mix well with other dogs or strangers, so it’s especially important to provide consistent training and socialization from an early age.

Height: 24-28 inches
Weight: 70-130 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10-14 years

Appenzeller Sennehunds are quick and agile, bred to work on farms and drive cattle. They’re intelligent and quick to learn, making them easy to train, and also very active, so they’re better suited to homes with plenty of space to run and play.

Height: 19-22 inches
Weight: 48-70 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Popular with ranchers thanks to excellent herding instincts, Australian Shepherds also make great guard dogs as they’re clever, obedient, and protective of their families. Aussies are best suited to homes with plenty of space to roam as they’re high energy and require plenty of daily activity and exercise.

Height: 18-23 inches
Weight: 40-65 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Bergamasco Sheepdogs are social creatures, affectionate with their families as well as other animals. They’re signature coat is long and layered—and surprisingly low-maintenance—requiring just a few baths per year and zero brushing as they don’t shed.

Height: 22-23.5 inches
Weight: 57-84 pounds
Life Expectancy: 13-15 years

Keen, alert, and fearless, boxers are natural guard dogs. Their patient, protective, and playful nature—and the fact that boxers crave lots of time with their humans—makes them a good fit for families with kids.

Height: 21.5-25 inches
Weight: 65-80 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Sometimes called “a heart wrapped in fur” briards are a well-suited to kids thanks to a loyal, lovable nature. They also love to be active, making them perfect for owners who like four-legged companions while running or hiking. They’re also a good fit for humans who don’t mind grooming duty, as their long coats require frequent brushing and baths.

Height: 22-27 inches
Weight: 55-100 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12 years

A mix of mastiff and bulldog, bullmastiffs were originally bred to ward off poachers on estates in England. They’re devoted family dogs and natural protectors.

Height: 24-27 inches
Weight: 100-130 pounds
Life Expectancy: 7-9 years

With a history that dates back to the Roman Empire and a name that translates from Latin as “bodyguard dog,” the Cane Corso is a noble, intelligent, and sweet-natured breed with excellent guarding instincts. In addition to early and consistent training and socialization, they also need plenty of exercise and excel at canine sports like dock diving or tracking.

Height: 23.5-27.5 inches
Weight: proportional to height
Life Expectancy: 9-12 years


Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Bred to retrieve ducks from the cold waters of the Chesapeake Bay, these athletic pooches make excellent companions for outdoor enthusiasts and are loyal and clever, too.

Height: 21.5-26 inches
Weight: 55-80 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10-13 years

Smart, strong, and fast, Doberman Pinschers make excellent guard dogs, and their sweet nature and ability to learn quickly make them excellent companions too. They need plenty of exercise, so owners should plan for long daily walks or hikes.

Height: 24-28 inches
Weight: 60-100 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Named for the Estrela Mountains in Portugal where it hails from, this breed was originally a flock guardian, and can be just as protective of its family. Estrela Mountain Dogs are especially lovey dovey and are great choices for families with young children.

Height: 24.5-29 inches
Weight: 77-132 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10-14 years

Loyal, loving, and intelligent, German Shepherds make excellent pets and are quick to protect their family. With adults measuring between 22-26 inches, German Shepherds one of the most popular larger dog breeds, and are also one of the most common police dog breeds.

Height: 22-26 inches
Weight: 50-90 pounds
Life Expectancy: 7-10 years

Originally bred in the Bavarian Alps to watch over homes, inns, and farms, Giant Schnauzers remain excellent guard dogs, and are affectionate with their families, intelligent, and easy to train. Giants need plenty of exercise, as well as weekly grooming.

Height: 23.5-27.5 inches
Weight: 55-85 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

They may be on the smaller side for guard dogs, but Pulik make a big impression with their distinctive corded hair and their excellent herding instincts. They’re quick, clever, and faithful, and their energetic nature makes them great playmates for kids.

Height: 16-17 inches
Weight: 25-35 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10-15 years

Weighing up to 135 pounds, Rottweilers certainly look imposing, but they’re generally calm, confident, and loyal family members. They can also be playful and cuddly, just be sure to provide plenty of socialization and training as Rotties can be territorial.

Height: 22-27 inches
Weight: 80-135 pounds
Life Expectancy: 9-10 years

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