Can a good guard dog ever make a good family pet?

(64 Posts)
WaftyCrank Sun 28-Apr-13 09:35:03

We're looking at getting a 2nd dog to join our husky as some company.
We were discussing different breeds as DH would love another husky however I'd quite like to research other breeds first.
However we started talking about dogs that make good guard dogs and I wondered if it was possible to get a breed that is good for guarding or protecting and yet them be a good family pet and good with children.

I know a dog is only as good as it's owner but I also know some dogs have characteristics that are hard to train.

I'm not saying we're going to rush out and buy one of these dogs, our new dog is good way off, will be thoroughly researched and checked to make sure it's suitable, I'm genuinely just interested.

Booboostoo Sun 28-Apr-13 22:32:49

GSDs are wonderful family dogs as long as you get a pup from a line bred for temperament and responsible breeders will health screen the parents for the usual problems (dysplasia, hemophilia and now there is a test for degenerative myelopathy). They tend to be loyal and know when they need to step up. Our old GSD licked everyone to death but the one time we needed him when we were being cornered in a field by a group of bullocks, he was out there protecting us instinctively.

However, if depends what you want from your dog. If you want a dog that alerts you to noises you can't beat a Spitz type. They are bred for this and will go nicely with the Husky! However be careful what you wish for as the frequent barking can be quite annoying!

riverboat Sun 28-Apr-13 23:13:43

Our lab will hear and bark from inside the house whenever anyone opens our (squeaky) gate. If he's on high alert, he'll sometimes bark when a car pulls up outside - this is usually when he knows DP is due home from work though, so is excited barking rather than warning barking.

That said, we got broken into one day while he was there in the garden (we were out), and none of the neighbours reported hearing any noise at all! He didnt seem to have a scratch on him, it was a bit mysterious.

WaftyCrank Mon 29-Apr-13 07:41:25

Oh no tropical, nothing like that. We certainly wouldn't let a dog bark whilst always in the garden.

Like I said, we just want one to alert us that someone is in the house but was question was can Dobermans, Rottweilers and the like ever make good family pets?

That's the problem I can see with a GSD, booboo as we'd like to get a rescue and know they can suffer with a few health problems.

That is mysterious riverboat, do you think maybe they had treats for him or something?

tabulahrasa Mon 29-Apr-13 13:04:37

I can tell you about Rottweilers, mine is a puppy still really, but I did a lot of research and he's fairly typical from what I've read. (give or take individual differences in intelligence and personality obviously).

He's massively trainable, I can teach him a new command in about 20 minutes, but he has absolutely no common sense whatsoever and often does things like walk into walls because he's just not paying attention.

He's also massively stubborn and pigheaded, so stopping him doing something he wants to do is much much harder than teaching him to do something.

He's huge and clumsy, so they're sometimes not reccomended for small children - he adores children, they're the most exciting people ever, but it's very easy for him to knock them over just trying to say hello.

He's very affectionate with people he knows and can be a bit clingy with me - they don't do well being left alone a lot and as adults can be a bit aloof with strangers.

They also get bored easily, so lots of training is good for them - I did have vague plans about agility, but he has elbow dysplasia.

He was really really bitey as a tiny puppy and he's still chewing everything he finds.

They also are prone to same sex aggression as adults - so lots of socialisation is important, but mine is well into his teenage stage and no issues with other dogs yet (well except trying to play with dogs that are way too small because he's no idea that he's huge).

He's very full on with everything he does, so masses of enthusiasm and energy, but again, he's a puppy, lol.

There's nothing about them that makes them inherently unsuitable as family pets, they're not really couch potato dogs, but then neither are huskies, lol.

mistlethrush Mon 29-Apr-13 13:18:50

I had a rescue medium-sized dog (about Husky bitch sized) that was a fabulous guard dog when we had taught her to bark when someone came to the door (surprised the postman when we 'woofed' until she got the idea). She had a lovely deep bark, and would act the slathering hound as you held her to answer the door, but she was very friendly and wonderful with children. Previous colliexs were also very good - although the post got shredded and they could recognise the postman and his van wherever they saw him which was a bit of a disadvantage.

foolonthehill Mon 29-Apr-13 13:27:40

Giant/ Standard schnauzers would be another option

GibberTheMonkey Mon 29-Apr-13 13:29:32

I have a gsdx who looks very gs and is tall for the breed.
She may have her bad habits as a rescue (bolter) and it may be annoying when she barks at the postman but she's a soft as butter with children and a brilliant warning dog. I doubt anyone seeing her would risk breaking in.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Mon 29-Apr-13 13:42:19

I have a question ( sorry for hijack op)

My golden retriever is as soft as butter. He is almost 3 and i could count on both hands the number of barks he has ever done. I have never once see him appear to 'warn' me of something he's wary of although i know when he has noticed something as his head and ears perk up and he'll listen for a while. Last week my friend tried to get into my house by the back door instead of the front(usual) and was making a bit if a racket trying to get the door open but Ddog just lay there on the kitchen floor with his ears perked even though he couldnt see who it was or what was going on.

Do you think he would alert me if there was real intruder he didnt recognise or would he just lie there and let them on in?

foolonthehill Mon 29-Apr-13 13:49:51

like my springer he would probably let them in...if you are like me and have people coming and going as the norm, then they accept this...they don't distinguish between friend and foe until something tells them "this is not normal"

i couldn't have my dog warning us...she would be barking all day and half the night (nightmare)...so i have an alarm instead when I remember to turn it on

My dog would bring intruders a present and then help them nick the tv. He only barks at cats and shadows on the ceiling. Oh, and chickens.

FiveHoursSleep Mon 29-Apr-13 14:00:02

We have a lurcher ( saluki / greyhound) and a GSD/rough collie/ St Bernard cross who will both alert us if there is someone at the door.
If it's a friend or delivery person, they both go back to the sofa but if it's someone they don't know or aren't sure about, they stand by and watch.
They do bark at odd squirrel/ pigeon /fox in the garden but mostly they mooch around and only bark at the neighbours if they are up on ladders, cutting the hedge or whatever!

Jaskla Mon 29-Apr-13 14:03:00

Our labradoodle would spend all day patrolling the garden and barking at neighbours/people walking by if we let him.

Someone once told me poodles were renowned for being good watchdogs so I always though it was the poodle in him - after reading some of the replies here though I guess labs are the same.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Mon 29-Apr-13 14:11:01

Glad to know itsnot just him then. Its ok though because i have 7 year old who seems to alert me to the fact that i'm in his room ( to check him at night). He sits up and tells me ' its only mummy' hmm

A ladder provoked the most barking in one go. 3 barks. He was, for once, in a mood other than indifferent grin

finickypinickity Mon 29-Apr-13 14:39:12

I had a lovely GSD who was great at warning of any dangers with her deep threatening bark but she was really a big softie and great with the kids. The only downside was she needed so much exercise and agility classes because she was such a clever hound who needed stimulating. ExP got custody of her in the split whilst i got DDconfused He walked her for miles everyday so i couldnt argue my case as she was more his buddy than family pet.

Now we have a black lab who is very similar, he can tell someone is approaching the house and barks his warning before they have stopped outside the door! He frightens the shit out of me when i'm engrossed in Eastenders and he does his short sharp bark to drag me back into the real worldgrin

The added bonus is that he doesnt need the same level of stimulation as the GSD and point blank refuses to leave the house when it rains. What more can a dog owner ask forwink

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Mon 29-Apr-13 14:54:38

oh i have a rain refuser too. it's great!! [great]

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Mon 29-Apr-13 14:55:20

FS! grin i meant! hmm

Booboostoo Mon 29-Apr-13 15:21:01

I think it might be difficult to find a dog that will bark only when someone is actually in your house and at no other times...not impossible mind you, but very difficult and that includes all the training you have to do to get to that stage!

Some breeds are naturally reactive to noises and will bark at most new noises or noises they associate with someone coming to the house. If that is what you want a Spitz type will bark its little heart out but they can get a bit too much.

GSDs suffer from as many health problems as most other breeds really and less than some breeds. If you go down the rescue route, whatever the breed, it is unlikely you will get a dog bred from health screened parents, although dogs end up in rescue for all sorts of reasons and you never know.

SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Mon 29-Apr-13 15:55:56

We have a rottie x collie. He's an excellent family dog, but absolutely no use as a guard dog. Someone once forced the garden gate, came into the garden and stole my bike - he didn't make a sound. Saying that, I think he react differently if someone actually came into the house.

On the other hand we used to have a boxer who was also great with children (and old people), he seemed to know his own strength and would make a big effort to be gentle. But he was also extremely loyal. He did bark when people came to the door, and although he never had to 'defend' our house, he once chased away a burglar who was trying to break into our NDN.

finickypinickity Mon 29-Apr-13 16:00:00

Wow, another rain refuser WTF. I thought we had the only one!

I would lie and say it frustrates me but sadly i stand at my kitchen window watching all the other doggie owners trudging along with wellies on, hoods up, head down in all winds and weather and breathe a grateful sigh of reliefgrin

Does that make me a bad personblushgrin

tabulahrasa Mon 29-Apr-13 16:12:20

Like I said - mine will quite often not notice visitors have come in until they're in the kitchen and then he wants to lean on them and lick them, even if he's never met them before.

He will however alert you to the fact that the wind is rustling a bush in the garden or that there is a suspicious new bench in the park, lol.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Mon 29-Apr-13 16:20:03

no not at all!! if he wont go out what can you do? you're hardly going to just go and do the walk by yourself! grin

mine wont even go out to pee or poo in the rain. i've seen him hold it from 6pm one evening til the next morning even though i knew he needed to go, i tried to pull him out into the garden to go before i went to bed and he stuck firm so i left him (i wasn't going to hoik all 50kg of him across the garden!) and he went in the morning when it had stopped raining. he doesn't mind the snow though.

i love the new bench alert dog! grin

RedwingWinter Mon 29-Apr-13 16:27:59

As a belated aside for Colditz, feist is still used in the US and means a small hunting dog. I only know because a rescue feist was the first dog to take part in an fMRI study of canine neuroscience [http://www.companionanimalpsychology.com/2012/10/canine-neuroscience.html here].

Personally I'm not sure that guard dogs necessarily make good family pets. In my eyes, a good family pet is friendly to all the visitors that come to the house, including children, and so it's better without strong guarding tendencies (how does it know which visiting strangers to accept?). Alert-barking can also get annoying, especially if you are sitting quietly relaxed and the dog makes you jump out of your skin. I would prioritize friendliness over guarding behaviour, but of course it depends what you want.

RedwingWinter Mon 29-Apr-13 16:28:32

Oops the link is here

Nuttyfilly Mon 29-Apr-13 16:28:55

Hi i own 2 dobermans and they are fantastic family pets, and will let you no if someone is about or up to no good, they are very gentle with my 2 boys. And they are very loyal to.

tabulahrasa Mon 29-Apr-13 16:37:08

'I would prioritize friendliness over guarding behaviour, but of course it depends what you want.'

I would too - that wasn't why we got a Rottie at all. Good job too really because he'd be completely useless, lol.

OK he may get a bit more selective when he's properly grown up, but he's well used to all the normal hustle and bustle of family life so I can't see it suddenly becoming an issue. Normal puppy socialisation and training is really all that's needed.

Unless a bench comes in I suppose...

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