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The Best Guard Dog for a First-Time Owner

The role of dogs in human lives is multifaceted. Not only do dogs make excellent companions, but they also possess the ability to guard and protect us, and, in some cases, their presence can be invaluable. If you are considering getting a dog for security reasons, you may want to know what dog breed is the best for a first-time owner.

The best guard gods for first-time owners include are considered “guardian breeds” or “protection dogs” due to their instinct to protect. The top contenders are the German Shepherd, Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler, and the Boxer, although others also make good guard dogs. Potential owners should look for the right balance of fearlessness, loyalty, intelligence, and alertness.

To determine which breed of dog would make the best guard dog for you means first knowing what characteristics make a good guard dog. From there, you can decide the best choice for your circumstances, factoring in other considerations, like whether you have other pets and children. 

What Determines a Good Guard Dog?

The American Kennel Club (AKC) provides a very comprehensive list of guardian dogs, ranging from the Japanese Akita to the Croatian Tornjak (source).

Guardian breeds are defined as being fearless but not frightfully aggressive. Other characteristics may include moderate aggressiveness, intelligence, loyalty, and alertness.

Guard Dog or Protection Dog?

While most people use the terms “guard dog” and “protection dog” interchangeably, there is a distinction between “guard dogs” and “protection dogs” (source). Protection dogs are classified as protectors of people, while guard dogs are the guardians of houses or properties. 

Generally, guard dogs are used by the police and military, while families use protection dogs. Guard dogs are specifically trained for a purpose, while protection dogs have an instinct to defend.

Types of Guard Dogs

While the list of guardian dogs is long, four breeds are widely considered to make the best guard dogs: Rottweilers, German shepherds, boxers, and Doberman pinschers.

We can examine these breeds’ strengths and weaknesses to ascertain which popular guard dogs are best for first-time owners and which may be better for more experienced dog owners.


Rottweilers are an incredibly popular choice for a guard dog. Not only are they alert, but they are powerful and are easy to train. The AKC describes them as confident, loyal, and loving. 

While Rottweilers can appear aloof to strangers, they are considered to be family dogs. Along with the proper training and socialization, they are great with children. 

It’s good for a first-time dog owner to be mindful when choosing a Rottweiler as they are a large breed with tendencies to be overly protective and may snap at strangers. Usually, proper training and socialization are required to avoid any dangerous tendencies.

German Shepherds

German shepherds are also one of the top choices for a guard dog, most noted for their unwavering loyalty and intelligence. They are most often used by the police and military. 

To be a family dog, German Shepherds require extensive training and activity, after which they are considered ideal for first-time owners. 


The next guardian dog in our top four is the Boxer. The AKC recommends the Boxer as a family dog as they are both patient and protective by nature. 

Boxers are considered the goofiest of the four, but this doesn’t mean they aren’t super smart. While Boxers make excellent guard dogs, they are highly energetic and may tend to be destructive without training, which may scare first-time owners away (source).

Doberman Pinscher 

Black and Tan Doberman Pinscher
Image by Pixabay via Pixels

As with rottweilers and German shepherds, Dobermans are considered intelligent, fearless, and loyal dogs. Dobermans are also one of the fastest dogs and would be ideal for owners with larger properties.

However, for many first-time dog owners, Dobermans may not be the right choice. The AKC warns that a less experienced trainer might find them unmanageable without proper training.

While Dobermans are considered to have one of the best temperaments when it comes to guarding, they do need to be trained and closely monitored. 

Dobermans also tend to look more threatening, so people often shy away from them, but they are a wonderful guardian breed, especially for those a little more familiar with dogs.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Guard Dog

Guard dogs often get a bad rap for being “dangerous” and “unpredictable” and thus not suitable for families. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

With their instincts to protect and defend, they make excellent guard dogs. However, it would be best to consider your lifestyle before deciding what breed is best for you and your family.

As a first-time owner, you need to know that a guard dog takes time and work and that getting any one of these dogs is a long-term commitment.


Most guardian breeds require extensive training. If you don’t have time to commit to training the dog, you should factor this into your decision.

Getting a new puppy is always a learning curve. If you are looking for advice on training your new furry friend, you may want to check out this article on just how long it takes a puppy to learn no.

Living Situation

Your living situation will help you determine which breed is best for you. Factors such as your home’s size and whether you have a family are both relevant to your decision.

Some breeds, such as Dobermans and German shepherds, are considered to be family dogs. However, it is not unusual for these guard dogs to bond more strongly with one person in some cases. If you are a single person, then this may suit you better. 

Other dogs like Rottweilers are considered family dogs, but they are also known for protecting homes and property.

Another essential factor to consider is the breed’s size and living space requirements. While Great Danes are intimidatingly huge, they need room to move around.

Great Dane, Portrait, Dog

Image by Martin Tajmr via Pixabay

Most guard dogs are incredibly energetic and muscular. Physical pursuits such as walking, running, and even swimming are all advised. As such, you need to consider how much time you have to walk your dog.

Other factors to consider include whether you live in an apartment that shares public spaces such as hallways. This is important as some breeds will behave aggressively towards strangers. 

Furthermore, if you live on a property where strangers such as utility workers are often present, this also needs to be considered.

Final Thoughts

While guardian dogs have an instinct to protect, they still require a lot of time and energy. For first-time owners, this may pose a challenge but one which is undoubtedly worth it.

Any first-time dog owner must have the time to commit to training and the right living space for their chosen breed. Guard dogs require socialization from a young age as well as time and dedication. But this investment will be returned to you three-fold. 


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