Security Dog Types: Protection Dogs, Guard Dogs, And Watch Dogs

Dogs have many applications in the security sector. Three of the main ones are for protection, guarding, and watching and alerting their handler to the presence of intruders. All three serve unique purposes, and while they do have a degree of interchangeability, should not be confused with each other. Given this, it is also important to consider which breeds are most suited to each role.

Protection dogs are our first and primary speciality. In fact, they are what our company has been named after! A protection dog will be intelligent, obedient, protective, of balanced temperament, and above all controlled by its handler. The protection dog and handler will form a highly effective team, with the former primarily relying on the latter’s instructions. As such, trainability is an extremely significant factor in selecting which breeds are most appropriate for work as protection dogs.

To this end, the Malinois Belgian Shepherd Dog makes a highly effective protection dog. Combining intelligence, high work drive, trainability, athleticism, and a protective nature, the Malinois is often used by military and law enforcement entities for a variety of tasks, including protection. A Malinois should be more than capable of protecting its handler and family, but its high work and prey drives make it of questionable suitability for family environments. To this end, its German Shepherd Dog cousins may actually make even better candidates for the role of a protection dog.

The German Shepherd Dog shares most of Malinois’ attributes, but tends to be of a calmer disposition, making them more suitable for family environments where children will be present. Selective breeding has also resulted in many German Shepherd Dogs being friendlier and more affectionate than Malinois. Their outstanding obedience makes them easy to control if properly trained, making them the strongest candidate for the role of a protection dog in a family environment. Other strong candidates combining good amounts of obedience, affection, and protectiveness are the Dobermann Pinscher, Giant Schnauzer, and Cane Corso.

A guard dog is different from a protection dog in that it tends to be responsible for protecting a site rather than people, and will act off its volition rather than the commands of a handler. Guard dogs are often less discriminating than protection dogs, and will behave in an aggressive manner to any unknown individuals, even if their handler has not instructed them to do so.

Breeds commonly used for regular guarding tend to be characterised by extreme loyalty to their handler and family, and strong territorial instincts. Classic examples of guard dog breeds are members of the Molosser (mastiff) family, and include the American Bulldog, Boerboel, Bullmastiff, Rottweiler, English Mastiff, and Dogue de Bordeaux. Guard dogs are often more sedentary than active, and prone to obesity. Wary of strangers, they may be suitable for family environments, but their tendency to act on their own initiative could easily become problematic in a home with regular guests and visitors.

Watch dogs primarily exist to alert their owners to the presence of intruders, rather than directly protect against them. Unfortunately, they are often unable to differentiate between regular guests, and those who may wish to break into and burgle a home. As they are not intended to apprehend or restrain an intruder the way a protection or guard dog would, watch dogs do not necessarily need to possess such strong protective or territorial instincts. In fact, some of the best watch dogs may from breeds generally associated with being a family companion, such as a Labrador! While a Labrador would almost never attack an intruder, they would certainly be able to let their owner know that someone (almost always a potential friend in their minds) was approaching with plenty of barking. Small, but extremely alert breeds are also often encountered as watch dogs, with common examples being various terriers, as well as the famously vocal Chihuahua.