best guard dog breeds for families with children
Pet Behavioral Problems

Top 20 Most Loyal and Protective Dog Breeds for Families

People get dogs for different reasons, but one of the most popular reasons is that they want a family dog. All breeds have different characteristics. So, it’s vital to know some of the common traits of a dog before you decide which breed is the right one for your home.

When you’re deciding on a dog, you should also think about your lifestyle. Dog breeds that are loyal and protective can be great for all different types of families. But, you may also want to look for the best guard dog breeds for families with children. Dogs that are relatively protective around kids can take a lot of stress away.

The best watchdogs for families aren’t always what you might think. There are small guard dog breeds, as well as dog breeds that bond with one person more than anyone else. Keep in mind that even though specific breeds tend to have certain characteristics, each dog’s personality is unique, just as it is with a person.

When you know more about different dog breeds that are brave and loyal, you can narrow down your search. The best thing you can do, though, is to meet a dog in person to learn about their true personality.

Which Dog Breeds Are the Most Protective?

This guide will look at the top dog breeds that are fiercely loyal, protective, and obedient. Whether you’re looking for the best guard dog for a first-time owner or you’ve had many dogs in the past, no two breeds are exactly alike.

By knowing more about each breed, you can decide which characteristics will fit best with your family’s personalities and lifestyle. It’s not only vital that the dog is a good fit for you. It’s also crucial that you’re a good fit for the dog. For example, dog breeds that need a lot of exercise and play may not be the best fit for a family that lives in a small apartment complex, etc.

Let’s take a look at 20 of the most loyalty and protection dog breeds. The more you know about the kind of breed(s) you want, the closer you’ll be to introducing a new furry friend into your home.

  1. Great Dane

Great DaneIt’s easy to assume a Great Dane would be a good guard dog because of their size alone. A female Great Dane can weigh up to 130lbs, and a male can weigh up to nearly 200lbs. But, it’s not just their size that makes them such good protectors. They have an intimidating bark which can quickly scare off intruders. They can also be aggressive if they feel as though they are in danger, or threatened.

This breed is often referred to as a ‘gentle giant.’ Their size can intimidate a lot of people. But, they are extremely loyal, playful, and smart. They’re usually great with children and are known for being quite patient. But, an intruder certainly doesn’t need to know that, and anyone trying to harm you or your family will be quickly deterred by a dog of this stature.

  1. Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain DogsBernese Mountain Dogs are loyal and dependable companions. In recent years, they have become increasingly popular as family dogs. The breed itself isn’t known for being aggressive. But, their size and bark can be extremely intimidating.

Bernese Mountain Dogs can weigh up to 110lbs. They do take patience, understanding, and encouragement as you train them. But, with the right training and adequate time, they can be one of the most obedient dog breeds for your family.

  1. Akita

AkitasAkitas may look like cute and cuddly giants, but they are also great guard dogs. This large breed is known for being extremely loyal and loves human companionship. According to the American Kennel Club, they also have a deep desire to protect those they love, and they can be incredibly courageous in doing so.

Akitas can show aggression and hesitation around strangers, which makes them great for protecting your family. But, they rarely show the same kind of aggression around people they know and love. In fact, they’re one of the best family dogs because they are so protective and loyal. They’ll happily play with kids and show affection to people they know and care about. These giants offer the best of both worlds when it comes to a protective, yet gentle dog breed.

  1. Boxer

Boxer dogIf you’re looking for a loyal dog that is great with kids, look no further than a Boxer. Boxers can certainly look tough, ranging anywhere from 55-70lbs. But, they will do just about anything for human love and affection. That’s what makes them so great with children.

Male boxers typically don’t have aggression toward other people but can sometimes not get along with other male dogs. It may be best for a Boxer to be the only dog in a house. They are alerted easily and quickly to potential danger and won’t hesitate to let their family know if they feel something is strange or wrong. They are an athletic, working breed and they can use that athleticism to scare away potential intruders or anyone who may be trying to hurt you or your family.

  1. Doberman Pinscher

Doberman PinschersThere’s a reason Doberman Pinschers are often used as police dogs and military dogs. They are extremely smart and easy to train. They are also incredibly loyal to their owners. Their intelligence and obedience make them wonderful companions, but they do need proper training.

Doberman Pinschers are naturally cautious around people they don’t know. They are also quite fearless. So, it’s a better idea to raise one as a puppy than bring an older one into your home. If you do, they may have a harder time warming up to you, especially if there are young children around. If you’re able to raise a Doberman Pinscher from birth, though, they will remain loyal and protective for many years!

  1. German Shepherd

German ShepherdIt’s impossible to think about a loyal family dog and a fierce protector without including the German Shepherd. You only have to look at a German Shepherd to know why they make a great protector. A male German Shepherd can weigh up to 88lbs and stand at over two feet tall. Their look alone can be intimidating to predators and intruders.

German Shepherds are often recruited as military and police dogs because they love to obey orders and are easily trained. They also are rarely rebellious, so you can depend on them to obey orders all the time.

Despite an intimidating appearance, this is a loving and playful breed. They are especially gentle and kind with children and tend to form strong bonds with their owners and people they are around with the most.

  1. Rottweiler

RottweilersRottweilers have an incredibly intimidating look. They also have a stereotypical reputation that causes most human predators to steer clear. There’s a good chance your Rottweiler would never have to attack anyone. Most predators stay away based on the dog’s reputation and appearance alone. Rottweilers can be trained to be extremely effective guard dogs for families. They are instinctively protective and cautious.

This breed also is loyal and eager to please. It takes the right kind of training to make sure a Rottweiler will be both a great guard dog and loving family pet. But, if you have the time and patience to give to them, they’ll be able to protect your family and be a loving and loyal companion at the same time. Rottweilers can even be quite goofy with their family, but hesitant around strangers.

  1. Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees dogsGreat Pyrenees dogs were originally bred as mountain dogs. They were (and still are, in some areas) used to guard and protect livestock. So, it’s no surprise their natural protective instincts carry over to protecting their owners and people they care about.

These large and fluffy white dogs are generally friendly and make wonderful family pets, even with children of all different ages.

They are extremely alert, though, and can sense danger quickly. That’s not only an important trait to have when you’re guarding sheep – it can help to protect your home, too! When a Great Pyrenees senses danger, they will usually start barking and alert you that something may not be right. When they sense danger, they can also become aggressive toward the person/animal they feel is a threat.

  1. Bullmastiff

BullmastiffsBullmastiffs are large and muscular. So much so that their size and reputation can be intimidating. They used to be quite common in England as guard dogs for large estates and bigger homes. Their guarding and protective nature is still used today in family homes, and for good reason.

Bullmastiffs are natural protectors. They are willing to do just about anything to protect their family, even if it puts their own lives in danger. But, before they show any kind of aggression, they’ll be quick to warn you of danger. Bullmastiffs don’t often bark for no reason. So, if you hear this dog bark, it could be a sure sign that they feel something is wrong.

When you raise a Bullmastiff from a puppy, they’re much easier to train and manage. You’ll quickly find that they, too, can be considered gentle giants. They will likely be hesitant around strangers but affectionate toward you and your family.

  1. Beagle

BeaglesBeagles are medium-sized dogs and may not have the size of intimidation that some of the other dogs on this list have. But, that doesn’t mean they aren’t both great family dogs and guard dogs. They are one of the most popular breeds in America for a reason.

Beagles were bred as hunting dogs, so they are naturally alert. They aren’t overly-aggressive. They won’t usually attack anyone or anything unless strongly provoked. But, they are excellent watchdogs. A beagle may bark and/or howl if they see or hear something strange, alerting you to the problem. Their bark alone may deter intruders or predators from trying to harm you. A beagle’s bark tends to sound larger and more aggressive than they actually are.

This breed makes a great family dog that will remain utterly loyal to the end. What they lack in size they may up for in personality and spirit. It is essential that a beagle knows their place in a family. Proper training and making sure they know who is in charge will make things a lot less stressful for everyone.

  1. Boston Terrier

Boston TerrierIf you’re looking for an excellent guard dog that is a smaller breed, consider the Boston Terrier. These dogs typically don’t weigh more than about 25lbs. But, they are territorial by nature when it comes to their surroundings and the people they care about.

Boston Terriers are small but mighty. They are a muscular breed that was originally bred to kill vermin. For this reason, it’s essential to introduce them to other smaller pets early on. Proper socialization skills with other animals are necessary so they don’t show aggression toward those animals. Larger dogs and children shouldn’t be a problem for Boston Terriers.

Boston Terriers are perfect for smaller living spaces, like apartments. If you want the perks of having a guard dog and a loyal friend but you don’t want a large dog, this breed is a perfect option.

  1. Chow Chow

Chow ChowsChow Chows are often considered medium-sized dogs. They can range anywhere from 40lbs-70lbs and do as well in large homes as they do in small apartments. They are extremely fluffy and cuddly, but underneath all that fur is a dog that is muscular and solid. In fact, they’re a breed that is often identified as one of the closest to a wolf.

Chow Chows used to be known for being somewhat aggressive. Over the years, these aggressive tendencies have mostly been ‘bred out.’ But, they still usually have a protective instinct and a background in guarding. Chow Chows are extremely loyal pets. They’re most likely to bond with one person, in particular.

They will react and respond almost instantly to anything they feel is a danger to themselves or someone they’ve bonded with. Some people would even say they are protective to a fault. While this isn’t necessarily a bad quality for a dog, it’s important to make sure they’re properly trained and socialized from a young age. This is especially important if you have small children in your house. Chow Chows can be great with kids. But, they need to know their boundaries.

  1. Giant Schnauzer

Giant SchnauzerThe Giant Schnauzer is a big enough breed to be intimidating. They can weigh anywhere from 65-90lbs. But, they aren’t so big that they are difficult to control for a smaller person. Giant Schnauzers are intimidating for several reasons. First, most Giant Schnauzers have clipped ears and a clipped tail. This gives them the appearance of always being alert.

Their dark color also adds to their menacing look and can cause them to appear larger than they are.

Finally, the bark of a Giant Schnauzer can be enough to scare away any predator or intruder. If all these intimidation factors don’t work, you still don’t have to worry. Giant Schnauzers have a fierce bite that can cause quite a bit of damage. All these characteristics need to be understood because this breed is extremely protective.

If they aren’t trained properly, Giant Schnauzers can become over-protective. You don’t want this to be the case, because they can start to get aggressive toward anyone they don’t know. This could include friends, family members, etc. It’s important to socialize the breed early and make sure they respond to commands quickly. With the right training, they can be a guard dog that scares away anyone trying to harm you or your family.

  1. Kuvasz

Kuvasz dog breedThe Kuvasz may be one of the lesser-known breeds on our list, but it doesn’t make them any less of a loyal and protective breed. Male Kuvaszs can weigh well over 100lbs, so their size alone can be intimidating to predators. They were originally bred as guardians and hunters, and many of those personality traits still shine through in today’s breeding.

They are fluffy and white with floppy ears that make them adorable family dogs. Their demeanor matches their sweet expression, too. These dogs are generally sweet-natured and extremely loyal to their human companions. They’re not bulky dogs. Instead, they have an athletic and muscular look underneath all that white fur.

While their demeanor may not seem intimidating, they make excellent protectors. Remember, they were bred to protect, so once they are a part of the family, they’ll do whatever it takes to keep everyone safe. To them, guarding your three kids is just the same as guarding a flock of sheep in a field!

They do need to be raised to socialize with other people, especially children, and other animals. They aren’t the kind of dogs that can go untrained, or they may get aggressive and take out extra energy and natural guarding skills on the wrong people. Naturally, they may be a little hesitant around strangers. The more you’re able to socialize the breed, the better.

  1. Shar-Pei

Shar-Pei dog breedThis breed originated in China and has become more popular as a family dog in recent years. Shar-peis can weigh anywhere from 40-55lbs, making them a great medium-sized dog for houses or apartments. They are most commonly known for the wrinkles all over their body – including their face! These distinct wrinkles give them a soft and cuddly look.

But, don’t let the cute wrinkles fool you. Shar-Pei’s are serious protectors. They are a family dog through and through, but if they think someone is threatening their home or family, they will go into protection mode immediately.

They were originally bred as farm dogs and designed to do a variety of jobs. Shar-Pei were made to guard the perimeter of a farm and protect livestock from predators. And they were also bred to kill vermin. These preying instincts are still there, but much milder in today’s breeds. Still, they have a deeply-rooted desire to protect their family (especially kids!). They can be aggressive toward strangers if they aren’t adequately socialized as a puppy.

  1. American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire TerrierIf you’re looking for a loyal and loving dog who will obey practically any command, look no further. The American Staffordshire Terrier (often known as an Amstaff) has a protective nature and always aim to please their owners.

They are loving dogs who also have a lot of confidence. They are known for their bravery and are usually willing to do whatever it takes to protect the people they care about. Unfortunately, these dogs are often used as fighting dogs because they obey commands so well. This has given them a bit of a negative reputation as a family dog.

But, most of the stereotypes surrounding Amstaffs just aren’t true. They are friendly and obedient. With the right training, they are excellent companions that can be extremely well-behaved in almost any situation.

Here are some of the best pet carriers for American Staffordshire Terriers.

  1. Puli

PulisIf you’ve never heard of a Puli, there’s a good chance you’ve at least seen one and would remember their distinct characteristics. Pulis were originally bred in Hungary for herding and guarding livestock. While they only weigh about 25-35lbs, they are small and mighty! They are typically known for their tight curls that almost appear like dreadlocks.

While a Puli may not be able to do a lot of damage to an intruder or predator, they will do everything in their power to protect their family from danger. They make excellent watchdogs because of their suspicious nature. If anything seems dangerous or out of the ordinary, they will bark to alert you right away.

Pulis are loyal companions and are incredibly smart. They do need a lot of attention and exercise. If you have a family that is exceptionally active, a Puli might be an excellent choice for you. If you live in an apartment, this isn’t the right kind of ‘small dog’ for you, unless you go for a lot of walks, runs, etc. They love outdoor activities, thanks to their herding instincts. While a Puli’s bark might be worse than their bite, they are great family dogs that will always keep an eye out for you.

  1. Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian RidgebackThe Rhodesian Ridgeback belongs to the hound group and is identified as a “Renaissance Hound.” They were originally bred for tracking lions, though they were never actually trained or meant to kill lions. Today, they are popular family dogs.

This breed is fast and athletic, and they need an owner who isn’t afraid to take the time to train them properly. They can be quite independent if they don’t have a firm hand to guide them. But, they are also extremely friendly and loyal to their families. They have a natural protective instinct and can be incredibly affectionate.

One thing to note about the Ridgeback is that it rarely barks. When it does bark, you can be sure something is catching its eye that it has deemed suspicious. So, not only are they good guard dogs that will do everything they can to protect you. They are also great watchdogs that can alert you to something strange.

Despite their size (they can weigh up to 85lbs), most Ridgebacks love cuddling and will often be content to curl up in your lap!

  1. Collie

CollieThere’s a reason Lassie was so popular! Collies are known for so many different positive characteristics. They are one of the most intelligent dog breeds. These pets are also extremely loyal and mild-mannered. They will rarely show any signs of aggression unless they feel threatened or feel as though their family/pack is in danger.

Collies are friendly and sweet, and great family dogs for those with children. Their intelligence is matched by their strength and athleticism. Collies will bark to let you know something might be wrong, and they will protect you as needed. But, you don’t typically have to worry about them being hesitant or aggressive around strangers.

With the right training and socialization, a collie can be one of the best family dogs there is. Just make sure you have plenty of room for them to run around! They are natural herders, and love being outside. There are different types of Collies to consider. Even the smaller version of a Collie, the Sheltie, has a similar attitude and demeanor. Almost any type of Collie will share these common characteristics.

  1. Miniature Pinscher

Miniature PinchersMiniature Pinchers live up to their name – they look like smaller versions of Doberman Pinschers. In fact, they may only weigh up to 11lbs. So, how can they possibly make good guard dogs? It’s their personality that really sets them apart. They have the same fearless and fiery personality as a Doberman. They also have large, loud, bold barks. It is often teased that they don’t know they aren’t big dogs!

So, a Min Pin may not be able to attack an intruder with as much force as their Doberman counterparts. But, they will try with all their might to protect their family and people they care about. Sometimes, their bark alone is enough to thwart off an intruder.

When they aren’t using their personality to scare away would-be predators, Miniature Pinschers are sweet family dogs. They love to give and receive affection. They are another great option if you live in a smaller house or an apartment, but want to feel protected and safe thanks to your dog.

Should I Get a Puppy or an Older Dog for My Family?

When you’re considering a family dog with protective instincts, it’s important to think about the right age of that dog. Different breeds can mature at different times. Not only that, but many different breeds need to be trained from a young age and adequately socialized. If they aren’t, it can be quite challenging to change their personalities later on. This is especially true for dogs who are naturally protective or even aggressive.

There are pros and cons to adopting a puppy, and there are pros and cons to getting a dog who is already a few years old.

Let’s take a look at some of the main advantages and disadvantages of each:

  • When you get a young dog, there’s a better chance they will bond with you and your family. This is great, especially if you have younger children in the house. Their instinct to protect you will likely become stronger because of this bond.
  • The downside of getting a younger dog is all the training that has to go into raising them. If you’re looking for a loyal and protective dog breed, it could be anywhere from 1-3 years before they start to let their protective instincts kick in. This includes things like barking when they feel threatened or showing aggression when it’s needed.
  • One of the primary advantages of getting a dog that is already a few years old is they can take to training faster. If you’re looking for a dog that will guard your home right away, an older dog might be the better option.
  • The drawback of getting a dog that is a few years old is that it may take them a little longer to form a bond with you and your family. Whether they came from another family, a shelter, or a breeder, it could take them some time to warm up to you. If your goal in getting a dog is for them to be a great family pet, it could take awhile. That isn’t to say they will never bond with you! But, it may take longer if they have a history somewhere else.

Which Breeds Don’t Make Good Guard Dogs?

It’s easy to assume that any large breed of dog will automatically be a good protector. This isn’t always the case.

In fact, some of the largest breeds are often considered gentle giants. They may absolutely adore you and want you to be safe. But, they don’t all have protective instincts and would rather lick an intruder’s face than show any kind of aggression.

There’s a delicate balance between a family dog and a protective dog. You don’t necessarily have to choose one or the other. As you can see from the list here, many dogs can fit into both categories! But, don’t fall for stereotypes based on size alone.

Here are larger breeds that will make great family pets, but won’t be the best guard dogs:

  • Bernard: A St. Bernard is one of the largest dog breeds. If you’ve ever seen the movie ‘Cujo,’ you may have a vision of this breed in your mind as a vicious attack dog. That couldn’t be further from the truth. St. Bernards are extremely friendly and don’t often do well as attack dogs. They are generally clumsy and can be somewhat aloof. But, they do have an intimidating bark, even if they aren’t using it in an aggressive nature.
  • Labrador Retrievers: Labs are one of the most popular family dogs in households across the country. While they are very loyal pets, they have a friendly temperament. They are outgoing, kind, and affectionate. Truthfully, it’s hard to annoy or irritate most labs! So, they’re unlikely to bite or show aggression, even to strangers.
  • Golden Retrievers: These are another favorite breed when it comes to family dogs. They make excellent family companions for adults and kids alike. Goldens are usually quite obedient and intelligent, while still being playful and vibrant. That’s why they’re so good with different types of families. While Golden Retrievers can have protective instincts and will usually bark at something strange, they aren’t great guard dogs. They would much rather play with a stranger and show affection than aggression.

We hope this guide has given you a better idea on some of the most common characteristics of loyal and protective dog breeds. As you can see, dogs of different sizes and temperaments can be a good fit for many types of homes and families.

The crucial thing to remember is that every dog’s personality is different. No matter your dog’s breed or age, it’s always a good idea to make sure they are properly trained. Socialization is key, and it’s always better to do that from a young age if possible. Any dog can be aggressive if they are provoked enough. Sometimes, that can be a serious drawback in a family setting.

It doesn’t matter whether you choose a small dog or one of the largest breeds around. Being aware of your dog’s temperament is necessary at all times when they’re around other people. Dogs should always be under supervision when they’re around strangers or even family members. With the right training, you can keep your family and friends safe at all times. A guard dog can easily be a friendly family pet that everyone adores!