1/ Max Pixel
Almost all dog lovers would agree - man’s best friend is a truly amazing animal. Our dogs know so much about us: Not only do they learn to communicate with us without speaking, but dogs also have an uncanny ability to sense our moods. And that’s just as pets: working dogs can be trained to perform even more incredible tasks, like guiding the blind, detecting bombs, sniffing out illegal drugs, or helping an epileptic person survive a seizure.
And that’s not even considering the most common job assigned to dogs—one they’ve been performing for thousands of years. Since humans first domesticated dogs, they’ve served as our guardians. Whether they’re keeping watch over a flock of sheep or alerting the family to trespassers, dogs perform an invaluable task when it comes to providing security. In honor of hard-working pups all over the world, Stacker ranked the top 33 breeds for guard dogs by aggregating expert and owner reviews of breeds and then ranking them by popularity on the American Kennel Club. Fair warning: you might feel an undeniable urge to adopt a new furry friend after reading this article. Who’s a good boy?
Also check out: The Most Popular House Friendly Dog Breeds
2/ Wikimedia Commons
2016 breed popularity: #177
These muscular Hungarian guard dogs are known for their most distinctive feature: the long, dense cords of fur that give them a mop-like appearance. Though Komondor puppies are born with fluffy, shaggy white coats, their fur starts to mat and form dreadlock-style cords after about eight months. Bred to guard sheep, these intelligent dogs have natural protective instincts and will defend their family by jumping toward anything they perceive as threats.
2016 breed popularity: #165
Rugged and muscular, these shaggy white dogs can seem foreboding at first. Get to know a Kuvasz, though, and you’ll find that this breed is sweet, patient, and fiercely loyal. Kuvaszok (yes, that’s the proper way to refer to multiples of these dogs) make excellent family pets.
4/ Anita Ritenour // Flickr
2016 breed popularity: #159
Like the Komondor, the Puli has a thick coat of matted cords to protect him from extreme weather. This was likely helpful in the breed’s native Hungary, where Puli were traditionally herding dogs. These loyal, loving dogs are very strong-willed, need plenty of activity, and require daily grooming.
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2016 breed popularity: #140
Long, lean and graceful, Beaucerons have an air of poise about them. Their black coats with distinctive reddish-brown markings contribute to their elegant look. Gentle and reserved with their families, Beaucerons are very intelligent and eager to please their humans.
6/ Lori Branham//Flickr
2016 breed popularity: #135
Tibetan Mastiffs are massive dogs: adult males can weigh up to 160 pounds. Their fluffy double coat only makes them look even more imposing. Dogs from this breed can be reserved, aloof and wary of strangers, but devoted to their families.
7/ Max Pixel
2016 breed popularity: #131
Also known as the South African Mastiff, Boerboels have a distinctive block-shaped head and dark coloring around the mouth. Boerboels were bred as farm dogs in the 17th-century in South Africa, where they guarded livestock from predators and helped their owners track wounded game. Today, the calm, stable dogs make excellent guard dogs—they’re particularly sweet with kids.
2016 breed popularity: #129
Intelligent but serious, the Belgian Sheepdog makes an excellent working dog. Belgian Sheepdogs served as message carriers and ambulance dogs during World War I; today they often work as search and rescue dogs, guide dogs, and therapy dogs. They’re eager to please and very trainable, but have lots of energy and need plenty of regular activity.
9/ Seongbin Im // Wikimedia Commons
2016 breed popularity: #119
As its name implies, the shaggy Black Russian Terrier was bred in Russia in the 1940s as a working dog. At 30 inches tall, it’s a smart, courageous and intelligent large breed and a terrier in name only. Due to their heritage, Black Russian Terriers thrive in cold weather and enjoy the snow.
10/ Wikimedia Commons
2016 breed popularity: #112
With its powerful neck, substantial body and energetic personality, the Schipperke makes an ideal ratter or watchdog—albeit a small one. This Belgian breed stands no taller than 13 inches. Schipperkes are high-energy dogs, with a very curious and sometimes mischievous personality.
2016 breed popularity: #99
The droopy skin around Neapolitan Mastiffs faces can look a little comical, but we couldn’t ridicule these gentle giants if we wanted to. Sweet and protective of their loved ones, Neapolitan Mastiffs act calm but wary with strangers. Like many larger breeds, these dogs have a shorter lifespan: just 7 to 9 years.
12/ Tierpfotografien//Wikimedia Commons
2016 breed popularity: #95
This large breed looks even larger thanks to its enormous black and brown coat. Leonbergers might look formidable, but they’re actually extremely sweet, patient, family-oriented dogs. Puppies can be a bit rambunctious, but adult Leonbergers settle down into a more dignified, calm personality.
13/ Max Pixel
2016 breed popularity: #85
Don’t get on the Standard Schnauzer’s bad side: though smaller than many of the other guard dogs on the list, this breed can be fearless, willful and very protective of their humans. Standard Schnauzers truly become part of the family and interact well with children, but the breed needs lots of activity and attention to stay in good physical and mental health.
2016 breed popularity: #84
These dogs live to protect the flock, whether that’s literal livestock or members of their family. Anatolian Shepherds are calm, loyal and watchful, though they can become territorial when they feel their loved ones are being threatened. Their large, rugged bodies and incredible endurance likely helped Anatolian Shepherds during their days on the farm.
2016 breed popularity: #83
Tufts of hair fall into this rough-coated dog’s eyes, but the rest of his well-muscled body stands at attention. Bouviers des Flandres are always ready for anything, a quality that traces back to their history working on French farms. Their loving temperaments, keen intelligence, and strong-willed personalities also make these dogs excellent protectors.
2016 breed popularity: #82
Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or Staffies, aren’t particularly tall dogs, but they’re up to 40 pounds of rock-solid muscle. Their big, blocky heads hint at their stubborn demeanor. Brave and tenacious, Staffies require lots of activity, as they can become destructive when bored.
17/ Mischivo//Wikimedia Commons
2016 breed popularity: #79
The Giant Schnauzer is just like the Standard Schnauzer, only much bigger. These dogs are intelligent, alert, and very eager to please; Giant Schnauzers also have the calm, stable temperament often found in larger breeds. Their strong, muscular build and deep loyalty to their families make Giant Schnauzers excellent guard dogs.
18/ Llima Orosa//Flickr
2016 breed popularity: #74
One of the few ancient dog breeds still in existence, the regal Chow Chow originated in China. They are believed to be the models for the stone guardians outside Buddhist temples, and still work as guard dogs today. Smart, serious and dignified, Chow Chows will gladly watch over your family.
19/ HeartSpoon//Wikimedia Commons
2016 breed popularity: #67
Majestic and massive, the Great Pyrenees is one of the largest breeds you’ll ever encounter. These dogs’ gorgeous fluffy white coat gives them a regal appearance that’s only enhanced by the sense of calm and patience they exude. However, when threatened, the Great Pyrenees will quickly spring into action to protect their loved ones.
2016 breed popularity: #63
Fans of Turner and Hooch will recognize this breed: the caramel-colored short-haired mastiff with wrinkled jowls played Tom Hanks’ canine companion. These patient, slow-moving dogs are true sweethearts, but aren’t very active—they don’t need more than a quick walk or two around the neighborhood.
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2016 breed popularity: #61
Dog lovers who meet Shar-Peis on the street shouldn’t approach them right away: though extremely loving toward their families, these dogs can be standoffish and wary of strangers. Like the Chow Chow, the Shar-Pei has an unusual blue-black tongue, although it’s probably better known for its unique wrinkly face and loose skin.
22/ Lilly M//Wikimedia Commons
2016 breed popularity: #57
You’ll probably recognize this white, short-haired dog with markings around the face from Target commercials (or for earlier generations, as Spuds MacKenzie). Bull Terriers are sweet, friendly, and super playful. They also need plenty of activity to keep them happy and prevent bad behavior.
23/ Srinayan Puppula//Flickr
2016 breed popularity: #55
The largest terrier breed, Airedales have a wiry tan coat with dark markings that almost give them the appearance of a teddy bear. Their expressive eyes and smiling faces make Airedales look happy, and they usually are: these loyal, friendly, and intelligent dogs are high-spirited and very active.
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2016 breed popularity: #48
First bred by English gamekeepers for protection against poachers, Bullmastiffs have a powerful build and dedication to their work. These dogs are brave, loving and incredibly loyal—owners of Bullmastiffs know that their dogs always have their back.
2016 breed popularity: #47
Belgian Malinois look similar in appearance to German Shepherds, but usually have fawn or mahogany coats instead of the shepherd’s black and brown markings. These hard-working dogs are members of the American Kennel Club’s herding group, and are typically smart, confident, dedicated, and steadfast.
26/ Biser Yanev//Wikimedia Commons
2016 breed popularity: #46
This Japanese working breed is perhaps best known in the true story of Hachiko, an Akita who waited for his master who had died at the train station every day for nine years. The tale tells you everything you need to know about this fiercely loyal, courageous breed.
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2016 breed popularity: #42
This breed’s name belies its signature characteristic: a noticeable ridge running down the reddish-brown dog’s back. Since they were originally bred to hunt lions, you know these dogs are brave. They’re also dignified, calm and affectionate with their family—and especially with children.
28/ Public Domain Pictures
2016 breed popularity: #40
Cane Corso embody the stereotype of the bodyguard: imposing in stature, serious in demeanor, and just a tad intimidating. This breed’s muscular build and alert intelligence make them ideal guard dogs.
29/ Lilly M//Wikimedia Commons
2016 breed popularity: #27
This Swiss breed originally worked on the farm, pulling carts to and from the market. The Bernese Mountain Dog’s long coat makes him well-suited for cold weather, while his jovial, good-natured personality means he loves to play outdoors. Calm and sweet, Bernese Mountain Dogs are great for families with children.
30/ Pato Garza//Flickr
2016 breed popularity: #15
Clever, loyal, and highly trainable, Doberman Pinschers often work with the police and the military. The breed’s pointy ears and sharp noses give these dogs an intimidating air, though they’re actually deeply dedicated to the people they love. Dobermans have lots of energy and need plenty of daily activity to keep their muscular physique.
2016 breed popularity: #10
Like human boxers in the ring, these dogs are muscular yet agile, powerful yet graceful. Fun-loving and quick-witted, Boxers need lots of physical and mental challenges to be content. They’re also excellent with children and easy to train, making them perfect guard dogs for families.
32/ Dr. Manfred Herrmann//Wikimedia Commons
2016 breed popularity: #8
Rottweilers are happiest when they have a “job”—this breed can do all kinds of work, from police canine unit, to therapy dog, to farm herder, to classic family guard dog. Rottweilers have natural protective instincts that keep them reserved with strangers but affectionate to their families. And their imposing stature and distinctive black coat with mahogany markings also give Rottweilers an impressive look.
33/ Public Domain Pictures
2016 breed popularity: #4
While Bulldogs might not win any agility competitions, this stocky yet muscular dog was first bred as a farm dog and later used in the violent sport of bull-baiting. Bulldogs are naturally happy animals, with a smiling, wrinkly face and sweet demeanor. However, they can be extremely courageous in the face of danger.
2016 breed popularity: #2
Perhaps the quintessential guard dog, German Shepherds are known for their solid stature, keen intelligence, and instinctive bravery. This breed has a graceful, elegant gait, but can crank it up a notch and reach high speeds if the need arises. Just make sure to give German Shepherds plenty of playtime—like Rottweilers and other working dogs, they crave having a job to do.