Can a good guard dog ever make a good family pet?(64 Posts)
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.
Oh and I don't mean a dog trained to be a guard dog by owners, just one that is known to be a good guard dog by breed.
Depends what you mean by a good guard dog...guarding breeds don't naturally guard or protect necessarily, they're still trained to.
If you're after something that will attack people even though it's been raised as a family pet, then that isn't a dog I'd be keen to own.
If you mean just a dog that would alert you about an intruder - loads of breeds will do that.
Yes just one to alert us, not to attack. Our husky is a typical husky, quite happy to go off with anyone with treats and doesn't really give a stuff about us. (We love her really!)
I'd like a dog to bark if someone came in at night, to be alert to noises at night rather than lick them to death.
Terriers tend to be good at that, whether you want them to or not, lol
Bigger dogs that ate quite vocal? Off the top of my head Weimaraners and German shepherds tend to be quite noisy.
Akita's are traditionally guard dogs, the ones I know would definitely let you know someone was about while still being good with friends and family.
They're all a bit high maintenance though, though if you have a husky that might not be a shock to the system, lol
We've been researching GSDs. How good are they as family dogs?
Yes our husky is somewhat high maintenance!
I do like terriers but are most of them on the smaller side? We'd like one a similar size or a little smaller than ours. My DSis has a JRT cross and it's tiny, ours likes to sit on her
An Airedale terrier would be one for you to research. Very bold and clever dogs and large as well.
They are alert and good watch dogs. They make good family pets but can be wary with strangers. They need very good socialising from a young age. They are generally healthier than German shepherds who are prone to many things, from hip and elbow dysplasia to anal furunculosis and cancer.
I was just about to say Airedale's are big terriers, but yes a lot of them are small.
German shepherds need a lot of training and exercise - but yes with someone to put in the time, they're fantastic family dogs. Massively clever, and loyal. You'd need to be so careful about finding a breeder though as there a lot of badly bred ones with inherited health issues.
If you want a dog that will bark when people approach your property I would say a good family pet would make a good guard dog.
However with changes to the Dog Law in this country you need to be very very very very (did I say very!) careful about getting a dog to guard your property.
In my humble opinion if you can raise a Husky to be moderately obedient, you can manage most breeds!
All the working breed dogs i know alert when someone comes, as do most hound dogs. Scent hounds are incredibly friendly with kids, but like Huskys love to run!
Thanks for the replies, lots to think about before we decide.
I hadn't thought about the changes idirdog, thank you for reminding me.
What I want really is a dog that will bark to alert us and looks the part if that makes sense. Although husky does look fairly big I suppose.
Can big dogs like Dobermans, Rottweilers, Bull Mastiffs and Great Danes ever make a good family pet with young children?
We had a GSD (unfortunately died at 7 due to bloat) but I can say he was a wonderful family dog. Loved the children, who loved him in return. And all of our friends and family. And he was an excellent guard dog/family protector.
We had someone once try our side door and he went ballistic and frightened them off.
A husky should never be a 'big' dog - the breed standard calls for a refined sprinting dog of moderate height. Lots of poor examples cropping up in the last few years that are getting bigger, chunkier and with heavier coat. But yes, very unlikely to get one that will bark at the door, they don't give a damn about intruders.
With a bit of work put in I wouldn't hesitate to say GSD or rottie even for a family with young children.
It's a shame it has to look the part, because Jack Russells make one hell of a fuss if someone comes in the house!
Oh she's not big compared to actual big dogs, just big compared to say a JRT and no she doesn't care in the slightest.
I wouldn't mind a smaller dog but DH likes the bigger ones. My DSis has a JRT/Chihuahua cross and she's a lot feistier than our big lump!
Well (prepare for a geeking), a 'feist' is an archaic term for 'small Yappy dog'
I have a black lab crossed with a Gordon setter and he barks when anyone walks up the drive or rings the door bell. He's lovely and cuddly and likes to think he is a lap dog. He's very gentle and wonderful with children.
My parents had an English setter when I was growing up and she was the same.
I have 2 GSD's, a 2yr old daughter and a 9 month old daughter. The dogs love the girls and the girls love them back. I disagree about them being noisy, our neighbours didn't even know we had them when we first moved in as we use the back gate when we walk them. However, the male does go mad if someone comes anywhere near the house but once introduced, is best of friends with them. And they don't all need lots of exercise, mine get plenty but are just as happy curled up on their beds (though I do know others who climb the walls if they've not been walked by 8am!).
The male is all bark and no bite (in real danger I think he'd hide behind me though his bark and teeth should be enough to put anyone off), my bitch never barks and is so chilled out and friendly to everyone, but I just get the impression that if I was in trouble, she'd be the one to protect me.
Like someone earlier said, if you've trained a husky, a GSD will be no problem. Of course we take the usual precautions with access between the dogs and the girls, much as I trust them, they always have the potential to turn if for example they were to get hurt by the girls stepping on them or something.
Our Labs do a good impression of hell hounds when required!
Very steady good pets, fit enough to handle husky size walks. Would slobber someone to death in an instant.
I did have a horrible situation years ago - a man tried to force his way into the house, I'd put the dogs in the kitchen before I opened the door(routine then because that house opened onto a road).
They went ballistic, not just making a noise they really meant business. They could hear me shouting and us wrestling the front door and I remember being stood there not sure whether to worry more about the bloke trying to force my door in, or whether my dogs would break through the kitchen door and maul him. I won in the end and got the door shut, thankfully.
Before then I would have said they would be too laid back to see off an intruder (apart from the noise), but I think they may well have attacked him had they been loose.
If I wasn't home they would probably have shown them where the family silver was in return for a stroke.
Equally I could argue if the dogs had been with me when I opened the door he wouldn't have tried that.
Those dogs are gone now, I had them their whole lives and that was the only time they were ever aggressive. They were steady, friendly and sociable dogs, never a hint of any more of that aggressivness shown again.
My current set would probably boot me out the door for a bit of peace and quiet though.
I've got a Rottweiler...He's rubbish at letting you know people are about though, which is why I didn't suggest them, lol. They're not massively barky as a rule.
Mine hides when he gets a fright, you know terrifying things like the wind rustling bushes. (to be fair, he's only 9 months old) They can be trained to be security dogs quite well, but they wouldn't necessarily let you know that they'd seen somebody off - which is not ideal in a home environment.
That's interesting Colditz and she's the smallest, feistiest dog I know!
Thanks for replying. We've spent the afternoon researching and I think we're being drawn to GSDs and Labs. Will be a few months before we're ready to add dog number 2 though.
idirdog has a very good point. I've been closely involved with the recent Welsh Govt consultation - potentially under the proposed new arrangements dog owners could be facing up to two years in jail if their dog bites a burglar or trespasser, or even chases a cat (as it is a "protected species" under the AWA) in its own garden. The proposals for the English changes are equally bonkers - we could be seeing a whole new crop of criminalised dogs and owners in the near future.
That's interesting Scuttle. We certainly won't be training the dog to bark at strangers and certainly not to attack. We were just discussing breeds and I was curious as to whether the breeds people think of as guard dogs could make a good family pet too or if they were more suited to a couple or being on a farm etc.
We will buy whichever dog suits the family and husky.
my neighbour has a puggle(male) and it is the barking dog from hell. As soon as it goes in the garden it barks very loudly and aggessively sounding much bigger than it actually is. As I spend a lot of time gardening, it follows me as I walk to and from the shed and when I stop to do some planting,weeding or pruning, it hurls itself against the fence barking. Is this what you want?
my neighbour doesnt bother to control it. My last conversation I had with her went along the lines of
J- can you do something about your dog as it is behaving very agressively.
her response - this is normal!! she said
please think of your poor neighbours before you get a guarddog
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
Giant/ Standard schnauzers would be another option
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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'
A ladder provoked the most barking in one go. 3 barks. He was, for once, in a mood other than indifferent
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 DD 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 world
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 for
oh i have a rain refuser too. it's great!! [great]
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.
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.
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 relief
Does that make me a bad person
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
'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...
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.
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 dog
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!
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
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 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.
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
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.
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!
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)
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.
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