Born to protect
Dogs have been protecting their humans at least since the days of Plato and Aristotle. Our needs for security, companionship, and loyalty haven’t changed much since then, making dogs a popular choice for protection of our loved ones and our property. Watchdogs will bark or otherwise alert their people to perceived intruders but usually won’t attack. Guard dogs have a protective instinct for their families, honed over hundreds of years, says Gina DiNardo, executive secretary at the American Kennel Club, and they will bite or otherwise defend against threats. The best guard dog breeds have an intimidating size and appearance, and also display intelligence, fearlessness, and loyalty, DiNardo says, while the best owners will begin training when their dog is still a puppy. Here are some great examples of protective pooches.
The “king of terriers,” the Airedale is friendly and exuberant – sometimes seeming to have no “off” switch, according to VetStreet.com. But Airedales are great with kids, and quick learners to boot, making them wonderful guard dogs. During World War I, the breed earned a reputation for bravery and focus, thanks to their role as sentries and couriers, notes the BBC. If they sense a threat, Airedales will bark relentlessly, and will put their powerful jaws to use if necessary, but are ready to love on anyone the family accepts. Airedales don’t like being alone, though, and if bored can resort to chewing and digging. They also can be aggressive toward other animals, and even play a little too rough with their family, unless trained otherwise. With their bearded chin and folded-down ears, Airedales have won the Westminster Dog Show four times, but the last time was in 1933.
This stocky, curly-tailed Japanese mountain dog is revered in its native country as a symbol of good health and long life, according to the AKC. Akitas are fiercely protective by nature and, in the Middle Ages guarded the Japanese emperor and his family. Helen Keller was gifted an Akita during a trip to Japan in 1937, making her the first American to have one. Akitas are very social animals, and can be playful and silly. Typically, they bark only when there’s a really good reason. Akitas can be aggressive with other dogs, and need to be socialised early on to interact appropriately with them as well as with people.