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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.

WaftyCrank Sun 28-Apr-13 10:08:46

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.

tabulahrasa Sun 28-Apr-13 10:24:26

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.

WaftyCrank Sun 28-Apr-13 10:29:33

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.

tabulahrasa Sun 28-Apr-13 10:43:07

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

WaftyCrank Sun 28-Apr-13 10:46:58

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 grin

toomuch2young Sun 28-Apr-13 10:54:42

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.

tabulahrasa Sun 28-Apr-13 11:04:06

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.

Branleuse Sun 28-Apr-13 11:28:54


idirdog Sun 28-Apr-13 17:25:46

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.

LittleFeileFooFoo Sun 28-Apr-13 17:30:02

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!

WaftyCrank Sun 28-Apr-13 19:33:45

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?

thestringcheesemassacre Sun 28-Apr-13 19:37:19

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.

toboldlygo Sun 28-Apr-13 19:43:38

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. grin

With a bit of work put in I wouldn't hesitate to say GSD or rottie even for a family with young children.

colditz Sun 28-Apr-13 19:45:44

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!

WaftyCrank Sun 28-Apr-13 19:52:59

Oh she's not big compared to actual big dogs, just big compared to say a JRT grin 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!

colditz Sun 28-Apr-13 19:55:39

Well (prepare for a geeking), a 'feist' is an archaic term for 'small Yappy dog'

Isandri Sun 28-Apr-13 19:58:17

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.

Nps1976 Sun 28-Apr-13 20:14:57

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.

Oreocrumbs Sun 28-Apr-13 20:23:12

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.

tabulahrasa Sun 28-Apr-13 21:25:00

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. hmm (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.

WaftyCrank Sun 28-Apr-13 21:26:54

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.

Scuttlebutter Sun 28-Apr-13 21:57:29

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.

WaftyCrank Sun 28-Apr-13 22:01:32

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.

tropicalfish Sun 28-Apr-13 22:09:24

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

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