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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A guard dog is a dog employed to guard against, and watch for, unwanted or unexpected people or animals.

Both guard dogs and watch dogs bark to alert their owners of an intruder's presence and scare away the intruder. The watch dog's function ends here; a guard dog is capable of attacking or restraining the intruder. For example, livestock guardian dogs are often large enough and strong enough to attack and drive away predators such as wolves. In cases where intruders are more likely to be human, guard dogs are sometimes trained simply to restrain an intruder with his owner's guidance, as in Schutzhund or K9 Pro Sports training. Occasionally, guard dogs are trained to attack human intruders, though this practice might be locally illegal.

Some breeds (such as Keeshonden) are excellent watchdogs but not excellent guard dogs because they bark loudly to alert their masters of intruders but are not given to attack behavior. Similarly, even very small but attentive dogs (among a few other species) may function well as watchdogs.



Breeds like this Doberman were specifically bred for guard duty.

Many of the now prominent guardian breeds such as Rottweilers started as farm dog types but then developed over many years into guard breeds. Some breeds, such as the Weimaraner and Rhodesian Ridgeback, were originally bred for hunting, but their large intimidating look and territorial instincts have helped them evolve into guard dogs in today's society. Others like Dobermans were specifically bred as guard dogs. Many of the below breeds have a greater amount of molossoid or mastiff DNA. This is confirmed by a DNA study done on >270 pure breed dogs. The study suggests that in the distant past thirteen ancient breeds broke off early on after which a group of mastiff style dogs were developed[1]. These dogs are grouped with the mastiffs Great Dane and Irish wolfhound. The Irish wolfhound (a traditional hunting guardian breed) has evidence that its population was nearly wiped out 200 years ago and its existing members descend from a very small group of dogs and thus it is a rebuilt breed, but evidently out of somewhat different building blocks[2]. Some people think that the Irish wolfhound contributed to the Great Dane.

The St. Bernard is also somewhat different from the mastiffs and is not in the molossoid group;[1] however, the Swiss mountain dogs are. The Moscow Watchdog thus likely inherits its guarding ability not from the St. Bernard but from its other major contributor, the Caucasian Ovcharka (no evidence other than speculation and the known breed characteristics). Great Danes are odd because they are not in the molossoid group[1] and traditionally behaved as though they should be.

The original Saint Bernard was used for alpine rescue in the Saint Bernard Pass by the monks. An avalanche killed off many of the dogs used for breeding. The Saint Bernards had to be bred with larger dogs such as mastiffs which gave it the large size and the guard dog instinct which the Saint Bernard has today.

It is claimed that female dogs tend to make better personal guardians than males, due to maternal instincts, but males are considered better for guarding property because of their greater territorial instinct.[3] Female protection dogs are much easier tend to train and learn at a faster rate. Less independent, they are adept at integrating into their new family and swiftly blend into any situation they are consigned to.

The Jindo dog is widely used in civilian and military in South Korea.

The German Shepherd dog is widely used by the Metropolitan Police Force and private security companies in the UK[4].

List of breeds commonly used as guard dogs

Guard dogs, like this German Shepherd, may be trained to target the arms and legs, incapacitating—but not killing—intruders.

List of other guard dog breeds

Note some are not AKC, UKC, recognized and a few are not FCI recognized, but all at least have their own breed club.

Rare breeds

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Genetic Structure of the Purebred Domestic Dog" Science, 21 May 2004: Vol. 304. no. 5674, pp. 1160 - 1164. (Subscription required) Note: pay special attention to Figure 3 of the study.
  2. ^ "Genome sequence, comparative analysis and haplotype structure of the domestic dog" Nature 438, 803-819 (8 December 2005) | doi:10.1038/nature04338
  3. ^ Willis, Malcolm B.. Genetics of the Dog. 
  4. ^

Simple English

Certain types of dogs are used to keep their owners or their owners safe from danger. These dogs are called guard dogs.


Different breeds

Different dog breeds can be used as guard dogs. A dog will sometimes bark at people it does not know and may alert its owner that way. Such dogs are called watchdogs and do not usually become a guard dog. Guard dogs may be trained to attack when given a command to do so.


Different breeds of dogs are bred for different reasons, and these dogs are sometimes used as guard dogs:

The reason for Guard Dogs

Lots of people want dogs to keep them safe or look after things, so they buy dogs that are trained to be guard dogs. Guard dogs have been trained by people to bark at strange people, and sometimes they even attack people that come near them.

Guard Dogs as Pets

Guard dogs are very important to people, but if you ever see a guard dog it is better to leave it alone as it might bark, bite or attack. This is the dogs’ job.


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