There’s no getting away from the fact that dogs are cute. Even the gruffest of people would be hard pressed not to elicit a coo in the presence of a fluffy young puppy, and the pleas to provide a good home to a sad-eyed hound that feature in adverts by the Dogs Trust would melt even the blackest of hearts. Even the most repulsive of dogs can find a place in our affections – when presented with even the world’s ugliest dog, the lizard-brained, primordial instinct to burn it with fire is overruled by the urge to scratch it behind the ear and give it a treat.
However, it’s important to remember that dogs aren’t just here to tug at our heart strings and impair rational thought. Many dogs earn their keep by working; in fact, it’s a necessity to give your dog something to do to fulfil his natural instincts and prevent boredom setting in. One instinct that all dogs possess is to act as a guardian to their owner, but even so some are better than others. Let’s take a look at which breeds make a fine guard dog, but bear in mind the difference between a pet that will bark at the postman, and a slavering hell-hound trained to go for the throat on sight. That’s an attack dog, and Dream Dogs recommends that such animals are best left to professionals who can get away with setting them on people, such as the police.
Bit of an obvious pick, this. This breed makes a great family companion, and their protective instincts make for a great guard dog. They do not usually bark without good reason and their size – they can grow to around 27 inches (69 cm) and weigh 110 lb (50 kg) – can deter even the most determined of intruders. They learn quickly but are strong willed and so require a lot of discipline. Even so, if they’re good enough to protect the Antichrist in the Omen movies, they should be good enough for your 52” LCD TV.
Being the attack dog of choice for moviemakers everywhere fuels the Doberman’s fearsome reputation, but in real life they’re affectionate, loving pets. They’re a favourite with military and police forces due to their intelligence, obedience and trainability rather than a predilection for ripping out windpipes, and pretty much like the Rottweiler, the mere sight of one should send an interloper packing. Unless you’re unlucky enough to have Cesar Millan burgling your house, that is (although we don’t believe Cesar engages in such activities, so you should be ok).
This cross-breed can grow as tall as a Rottweiler, but can weigh as much as 10 kg more. They tend to protect their owner by refusing to let a stranger past them, and will go so far as to knock someone down and stand above them, Muhammad Ali style. Bull Mastiffs are fiercely loyal and wary of strangers, so early socialisation is crucial to check any aggression towards innocent parties.
German shepherds (or Alsatians if we’re talking circa WWI) are actually quite gentle, especially around children, but don’t let this fool you. Combining high intelligence with notable ferocity, they can be trained to attack and release on demand. With courage to spare, they’re highly affectionate towards their owners, but can experience separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. It’s no coincidence that the police use German shepherds to catch burglars, they’re good at it!
The Puli may look like a docile, well used mop head, but the opposite is true. Originally bred to herd sheep in Hungary, they’re not an overly aggressive breed but are highly intelligent and have a sensible, suspicious nature which makes for an excellent watch dog. Weighing in at 28 – 33 lbs, they’re also a great choice if you don’t want a pet as big as Bull Mastiff or one that eats more than Homer Simpson at an ‘all you can eat’ buffet.