Some breeds can be predictable “stand-by dogs” as they watch a crime take place, but others are considered the best watchdogs for protection and guard.
A few breeds on the below list will likely surprise you by being the best guard dogs.
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If you're getting ready to adopt a guard dog for protection, remember to do extensive research on the breed's other reputation aspects.
Also, consider that some home insurance companies and lessees will not allow having dogs that have a reputation as being aggressive, fighting dogs or generally being large and intimidating.
Guard dogs don't always have to be big and strong. Good watch dogs will have strong personalities and need additional training to make them perfect for the job.
Moreover, for families with kids, this list gives a general idea of how breeds behave around children, but individual dogs will vary and it's another important aspect to consider.
The 14 Best Watch Dogs and Guard Dogs
Best Guard Dogs for Families
This breed comes in many variations including the Bullmastiff, English Mastiff, French Mastiff and many more.
Mastiffs are great watch dogs.
They could even be considered guard dogs. From the Argentinian Mastiff to the Neapolitan Mastiff, there is sure to be a variation that fits your style and family.
These dogs are very affectionate and great with kids.
They are not the smartest dog, and may be difficult to train, so they are best suited for an experienced dog owner.
Also, these dogs are not suited for hot climates, so if you live in a hot area, your dog will need to be an inside pet.
From miniature to giant, dogs from the Schnauzer family make excellent guard dogs.
All Schnauzers are suspicious of strangers.
They are bold dogs; standing their ground and alerting their family to intruders.
Schnauzers will remain so until they are notified by their owner that a person is allowed.
These dogs are active, with all sizes needing daily exercise.
They are okay with kids, but your kids would need to know the proper way to treat and respect a dog.
3. Australian Shepherd
Not only are they one of the best watch dogs, these are great all around dogs and also very popular.
Australian Shepherds are good with other dogs and cats. They are excellent with children.
Like most herding dogs, they do have a tendency to nip at moving targets such as running cats, running kids, or joggers.
Australian Shepherds are very intelligent dogs, and take to training easily.
These would be considered more of a watch dog than a guard dog.
They are fairly needy and like to be around their family most of the time.
4. German Shepherd Dog
German Shepherds are one of the best watch dogs for good reason.
While they are aloof with strangers, they are extremely affectionate with their family.
This breed is friendly with, and protective of, the kids in their family.
They are also independent, making them great to work as a trained guard dog.
German Shepherds are aggressive with other dogs and cats that they were not raised with.
This is an intelligent bread, making training a breeze. They are moderately adaptive to all types of weather.
German Shepherds can spend some time alone, but they do prefer the company of people.
In fact, socialization is recommended to tame some of their natural aggressiveness towards strangers.
The Rottweiler is one of the smartest dogs in the world but the breed's reputation is entirely different.
It has, in many cases, an undeserved bad name as being one of the most dangerous dogs out there.
This breed is more of a guard dog than a watch dog. They are confident and strong.
Rottweilers are calm and calculating.
They remain level headed in most situations. They are not friendly towards strangers and animals outside their family unit.
Rottweilers have been labeled as scary dogs and they generally do not do well with cats, at all.
These are intelligent dogs that take well to training, but they are dominant minded and need a strong, effective trainer.
These dogs need to be well socialized at an early age to control their dominant behaviors.
Rottweilers are better suited to an experienced dog owner.
The may not be a dog that you'd expect to find on our list of the best watch dogs.
They are another breed that has a poor reputation, but for different reasons.
Poodles can be groomed to look prissy, and sometimes downright silly, but that does not match their personality.
They are one of the most intelligent, easily trained dogs in the world. They are smart, thinking dogs.
They love challenges, and they need to play games and learn tricks.
Poodles do the best in a household where the training never stops and they remain actively engaged in new activities.
These dogs are very friendly. They are excellent dogs for children. Poodles are active and need daily exercise. They make good guard and watch dogs.
They have a loud bark and aren’t afraid to use it.
A Poodle's high intelligence means they can discern from usual activity and unusual activity, and respond appropriately.
Best Working Watch Dogs (No Kids)
7. Doberman Pinscher
If you lived in the 1980's, this is an immediately recognizable dog.
They are a relatively new breed, bred specifically as a guard dog.
Dobermans are calm and self-disciplined.
Like some of the other best watch dogs, they are highly intelligent and easy to train which is why they are a popular K9 police dog breed.
They need lifelong mental and physical exercise. Dobermans are very loyal to their family and prefer to not be left alone for long lengths of time.
Although they are considered to be safe around children in their household, it is not recommended to expose a Doberman to children they are not used to.
These are brave dogs that may attack if not trained properly.
Dobermans are often trained as attack dogs. Even though they need lots of training and interaction, they do not require an expert dog owner.
Their intelligence and self-control make them a great dog for less experienced dog owners as well.
They do not do well in cold climates.
8. Dogue de Bordeaux
The Dogue de Bordeaux is not a beautiful dog, but they are definitely one of the best watch dogs.
The most famous one is Hooch from the movie Turner and Hooch.
If you saw the movie, then I don’t have to tell you about the drooling.
Dogues are very affectionate and loyal.
This is another breed that is considered to be safe around kids in its household, but not visiting kids.
They do not like strange people or strange animals. In fact, they should be the only animal in your house.
The Dogue de Bordeaux is massive and strong.
They may not start the fight, but they will finish it, and the results may be horrifying. This is not a very smart breed, which makes them harder to train.
For this reason, they need expert owners. To make up for that, Dogues are very adaptable and need little exercise.
This means that despite their massive size, they are great for apartment living and small yards.
9. Rhodesian Ridgeback
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is not the smartest of the guard dogs due to this breed's temperament.
He can still be moderately easy to train with a strong, experienced trainer.
They will test family members and other animals to determine their place in the order of things, preferring to be dominate.
For this reason, and them being one of the more stubborn breeds, Rhodesians are not good with children or other pets.
They need an owner that is firm and consistent and reminds the Ridgeback that the owner is, in fact, top dog.
Ridgebacks were created in Africa to protect their home and family members from not only people, but lions and other wildlife. They are a very territorial breed and do not back down from a fight.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks also can tolerate more alone time than some of the other dogs on this list of the best guard dogs.
This makes them popular as property guard dogs.
As with other aggressive dogs, they need to be consistently trained and socialized from a young age to keep them manageable.
Despite this, they are very affectionate with their owners, and love cuddles and play time.
This is another breed that was bred to protect family and animals from African predators. They are very intimidating in size. They are massive, muscular animals that have some of the strongest bites of all canines.
Like most dogs on this list, they need to be socialized from an early age.
BoerBoel need to be introduced to a wide variety of people, sights, and smells to calm their aggression.
These dogs are very pack-oriented. They need one clear leader in the family. BoerBoels can be aggressive around strangers.
They are protective and territorial.
For this reason, a BoerBoel's pack leader needs to be a strong, experienced trainer. This is not a well-known breed and information on them is harder to find.
There is not consistent information about whether this dog is good with children.
Make sure to research the breed thoroughly before deciding to adopt.
11. Cane Corso
The Cane Corso is in the Mastiff family, but unlike most Mastiffs (such as the English or Argentinean) he is not good with children.
Like other dogs in this section, you can find sites that say they are great with children in their family group.
These dogs are large, heavy, powerful canines, and I would not suggest anyone risk it.
Cane Corsos are great guard dogs because they are standoffish and only like the company of their family.
They generally do not want to be around your friends or other animals.
These dogs are intelligent and easy to train, but still require a strong, experienced trainer due to their temperament.
The Cane Corso needs a ton of socialization as a puppy to be manageable.
Despite this, when they are with their family, they are friendly, playful dogs.
In fact, Cane Corsos do not like to be away from their owner.
They become depressed and destructive if left alone too long, and quickly develop anxiety problems.
These dogs tolerate all sorts of weather, but they do not like apartments.
They need to be exercised regularly and need a yard in which to run around and explore.
Best Guard Dogs: Small Breeds
Believe it or not, these are some of the best watch dogs while also being a small breed that's great with kids.
While they are affectionate and friendly to their owners, even children, they do not like strangers.
Chihuahuas have the deserved reputation as ankle bitters. If there is a stranger around, you will know it.
These dogs do not tolerate extremes in temperature, preferring a mild climate. They do not need a lot of exercise and are great for apartment living.
Chihuahuas are great for first time pet owners. The main thing to remember, like with all purebreds, breeding is important.
Unfortunately, inbreeding has created a lot of nervous, neurotic Chihuahuas. You need to get your dog from a reputable source.
Another breed you may not have expected to see as one of the best watch dogs, is the Pomeranian.
They are another ankle biter that does not like strangers. They need to be socialized from a young age to be manageable.
Pomeranians do not like kids. They are great for a retired couple, as they don’t like to be alone, either. These dogs are very inquisitive and they love to play.
They are very affectionate with their adult owners.
The Pomeranian's long hair does require quite a bit of grooming, so be prepared for that.
These proud dogs are also great watch dogs. They are not good for households with children.
Dachshunds prefer to stand on their own four feet and do not like being pulled, pushed, or dragged.
They will growl at kids who push them too far, so any kids in the household need to be taught how to treat a dog with respect.
Although these dogs are friendly with their family, and even other animals, they do not like strangers.
You will be alerted if anyone is approaching the area.
In fact, they require quite a bit of socialization so that they are comfortable around the company. Like other small dogs, training can be difficult, but Dachshunds are hearty, healthy dogs that are good for first time pet owners.
The main concern with this breed is their back. Their long backs are susceptible to injury, so they do better in homes with no stairs.
Best Watch Dogs: Closing Thoughts
This list of the best watch dogs is not complete.
There are plenty of other options as well.
Some breeds that aren't on this list of the best guard dogs, for example, mutts with a hound bred in them from my experience make great guard dogs.
My little mutt, Belle, maybe 30ish pounds, but she's got quite the intimidating bark if there are strangers or intruders.
Let us know in the comments below of your experience with your breed and tell us about your guard dog, big and small!