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.

D0oinMeCleanin Mon 06-May-13 10:02:56

I grew up with a doberman. I've never met a friendlier dog. Children from the street would call for her and ask if she was allowed out to play. However she would've made a rubbish guard dog. She'd more like to cuddle an intruder to death than anything else.

Our Akita would and did guard our property, however he wouldn't have done it by growling or barking, he would have went straight in for the kill. Akitas are naturally protective over their family, but don't tend to give warnings and need an experienced owner because of this, you need to train and raise them very carefully. In the right hands they are amazingly loving dogs, but you do need to be aware of their tendency to be skeptical of strangers and socialise them well.

In my experience terriers are the best guard dogs in terms of alerting you to potential intruders, however mind tends to alert us to relatively common things such as carrier bags caught in nearby tree branches or the owl in the local park. Getting him to make noise is not a problem, it's getting him to shut up that is the problem.

Montybojangles Mon 06-May-13 09:23:47

Montys lab barks like a loon if she so much as hears anyone walking up the path (and she sounds terrifying, like the hounds of the Baskervilles). Excellent deterrent (but would likely just bring a toy to anyone brave enough to break in after hearing her)

Labs are known for barking? Maggie dog is totally silent. If someone is coming to the door, he will stand there and wag his tail but has never once barked at someone coming to the door! He did have a habit of barking at people when they were sitting round unproductively as he saw it but now he's been trained out of that he never makes a sound!

HotPanda Sat 04-May-13 09:02:45

My Dalmatian will alert bark, but is quiet at all other times.
Our front door is always unlocked, and friends/family just walk in. As soon as that door opens he will bark up a storm and rush to the door. Once he sees he knows who it is then he will greet nicely and expect a fuss in return.
We do wonder what would happen if he didn't know them, but don't know anyone willing to try an experiment!

He also alert barks when;
He is woken from sleeping by a sudden noise
When someone is a the front door but not yet rung the bell or knocked
If someone stands still and stares at him for longer than 10 seconds
If a carrier bag blows around in the wind grin

He was also under attack once from a GSD and was desperately trying to get away. He was losing so DH waded in. GSD turned his attention to DH and spottydog was in immediate attack mode to defend DH even though he was getting his ass whooped seconds earlier.

Might work well with your husky? Need similar amounts of exercise.

BookieMonster Sat 04-May-13 05:03:11

It sounds as though you want a dog that is known for alarm barking rather than a guard dog. This is what labs do, as well as being the soppiest dogs on the planet. Neither of our labs will go outside in the rain grin but they always investigate a sound that is out of the ordinary and will bark if they hear someone walking the house at night in a way they don't know. If I come in from a rare night out wearing clacking heels, they give a growl and bark.

34DD Sat 04-May-13 04:46:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

digerd Mon 29-Apr-13 20:15:08

I have known only one Doberman and he was lovely and gentle with family and visitors. They are not a heavy breed, but elegant and slender with an easy coat to care for.

He was very attached to his family.

CharlieMumma Mon 29-Apr-13 18:23:50

German shepherds are good family dogs and also alert to strangers. Female tend to protect their people and males their land but in general they are a protective breed and could also keep up with an active husky on walks/playtime etc. plus they are lovely with the children in the house grin

Varya Mon 29-Apr-13 18:23:05

My Dobie is very gentle with the family and loves affection but, every time he goes in the garden he inspects every inch to ensure there is nothing amiss. If people come to the house or pass our door he barks and is always alert, looking out in case some miscreant puts a foot on our land! Brilliant pet and guard dog. Had five of them and all are similarly great.

colditz Mon 29-Apr-13 18:16:03

My little dog is so reactive that she 'huffs' at people coming back into the room from going to the toilet. She's deeply suspicious of noises, but actually a very friendly little dog!

WaftyCrank Mon 29-Apr-13 18:12:04

No, I don't think I worded my OP very well, I just wanted to know if dogs that people see as guard dogs make good family pets after a discussion with DH.

I would like a dog a bit more alert than husky but it's not something we'll be looking for the dog to do in particular when we choose our next dog. A good family pet is more important.

Booboostoo Mon 29-Apr-13 17:57:52

I think the OP really wants a guard dog though, I think she wants a dog that barks when uninvited people come into the house (sorry if that's not the case and I am putting words into your mouth OP!!!). That is a specific behaviour that can be trained in most dogs but it would take a bit of time, skill and persistence.

I think there is a difference between:
- dogs that are reactive to sound and likely to bark often. That is a breed characteristic. If you want to limit the barking to very specific situations it might be better to start with a dog that does not as a breed bark and teach it to bark on the rare occassions where it is needed, than a dog that is naturally barky and try to keep it quiet most of the time.

- dogs that are naturally territorial. Some breeds are more territorial than others and some individual dogs are more territorial than others, but IMO that is not a good trait in a family dog. As has been mentioned before in the thread the dog may not be able to distinguish between welcome and unwelcome visitors.

- dogs that are naturally easier to train as protection dogs. Such dogs need to have a low bite inhibition and high trainability. They also need a very skilled handler and trainer and IMO are rarely if ever suitable dogs for a family even in retirement.

OP for what you want I think it might be easier to get a nice family dog and a house alarm!

finickypinickity Mon 29-Apr-13 16:50:03

Lol at you lot concentrating on the park bench issues. I must train new pup to be suspicious of them if its the new MN measurement of a good doggrin

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Mon 29-Apr-13 16:41:58

he's right to be wary of new benches tbh. i stood on mine to clean the living room window and the slats broke and i went right through. i think i've i'd been pre warned i'd have brought a step ladder out. grin

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...

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.

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

Oops the link is here

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

FS! grin i meant! hmm

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

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

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