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Best Guard Dog For First Time Owner

Best Guard Dog For First Time Owner

All dogs are generally loyal animals with natural protective tendencies. However, good guard dogs have to be much more than protective. Sometimes first-time dog owners might have a difficult time with breeds that need more nuanced handling.

If you’re getting a dog for the first time and you want that dog to be a household pet that can protect you should the need arise, you first need to understand what to look for in a good guard dog. This article will discuss the best guard dogs for first-time owners to help you select the best breed for your family.

Best Guard Dog For First Time Owner

  • Bullmastiff
  • Great Dane
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Shepherd
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Border Collie
  • Boxer
  • Black Russian Terrier
  • Saint Bernard

What Makes a Good Guard Dog for First-Time Owners?

A good guard dog should be able to balance guarding responsibilities with family life. In terms of physical characteristics, they should have the size and build that could intimidate potential threats and also take them on if necessary.

For guarding, they must be naturally protective, confident, and courageous. However, these traits must be balanced with their respect for leadership. They should also be wary of strangers but not immediately aggressive.

Guard dogs for first-time dog owners should have superior intelligence and an eagerness to please that makes them relatively easy to train. They should also be loyal and able to form strong bonds with the humans they are expected to protect.

Since these dogs will primarily be household companions, they must be able to switch off and relax. It also helps if they are affectionate towards their family members.

Lastly, they should be good with children and able to share their home with other animals.

Best Guard Dogs for First-Time Owners

As a first-time owner, you need to be careful with selecting a companion guard dog. Here are several breeds you should consider based on their physical, intellectual, and emotional characteristics:


The bullmastiff is a working dog that is best known for its massive body. These dogs grow up to 27 inches tall, but it is their heavy bone structure and dense muscular makeup that make them truly gargantuan dogs that weigh up to 130 pounds.

Combined with its size and imposing presence is a protective instinct that keeps them vigilant to potential threats. They are cautious of strangers but are open to their presence. Bullmastiffs also have an eagerness to please which makes them highly trainable dogs.

bullmastiff lying in grass

Although Bullmastiffs might look intimidating to strangers, you’ll enjoy the fact that they are incredibly sweet and generous with affection.

They’re also easy to groom thanks to their smooth, short coat. However, they are energetic dogs that love long daily walks and thrive best when mentally stimulated.

Bullmastiff Description (AKC)
Height (in.)25 - 2724 – 26
Weight (lbs.)110 - 130100 - 120
Openness to Strangers⭑⭑⭑⭒⭒
Watchdog / Protective Nature⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑
Trainability Level⭑⭑⭑⭑⭒
Affectionate With Family⭑⭑⭑⭑⭒

Great Dane

The Great Dane is one of the world’s tallest and heaviest dog breeds. They grow up to 32 inches tall and can weigh as much as 175.

They are greatly loved around the world but especially in the United States where they’re consistently ranked among the top 15 most popular dog breeds.

Despite its forbidding appearance, Great Danes are even-tempered and friendly. They are especially affectionate with family and easily able to adapt to life with other dogs and children.

Their playfulness enables them to welcome guests but they don’t let their guard down completely as they will become protective of you in the presence of suspicious strangers.

Great Danes are typical working dogs. They need plenty of training not only to be well behaved but also for mental stimulation.

They’re also very energetic and will require long daily walks or several shorter ones throughout the day. As for grooming, their short coats only require occasional baths and weekly brushing.

Great Dane Description (AKC)
Height (in.)30 - 3228 – 30
Weight (lbs.)140 - 175110 - 140
Openness to Strangers⭑⭑⭑⭒⭒
Watchdog / Protective Nature⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑
Trainability Level⭑⭑⭑⭒⭒
Affectionate With Family⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

Doberman Pinscher

Dobermans are AKC’s 18th most popular dog breed. They are also considered one of the best guard dogs for first-time owners as well as for experienced handlers.

Not only are they highly protective of their loved ones but also incredibly easy to train. This is because they have a strong work ethic and are among the world’s top 5 most intelligent working dogs.

Perhaps the Doberman’s greatest flaw as a guard dog is that they can be too friendly to strangers. On the positive side, this could be an excellent trait if you often entertain at home. These dogs are also very affectionate and relate remarkably well with young children.

As for care, the Doberman’s short coat needs very little maintenance. They do, however, require plenty of opportunities to exercise, as they are very energetic.

Ideally, they would have access to a large fenced-in area where they can run independently in between their daily walks.

Doberman Pinscher Description (AKC)
Height (in.)26 - 2824 - 26
Weight (lbs.)75 – 10060 - 90
Openness to Strangers⭑⭑⭑⭑⭒
Watchdog / Protective Nature⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑
Trainability Level⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑
Affectionate With Family⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is among the AKC’s top 3 most popular breeds undoubtedly because they are excellent both as household pets and working dogs.

They are also ranked among the top 3 most intelligent dog breeds, which make them remarkably easy to train. All this makes the GSD a good choice for first-time dog owners.

GSDs are wary of unfamiliar people and aloof to guests. However, they are very affectionate to their humans and are delightful companions to young children.

They can switch off and relax but are always alert to changes in their environment. They are watchful, defensive of their home, and protective of their family.

German Shepherds are generally even-tempered but could develop bad behaviors when they don’t get enough mental stimulation and physical exercise.

Ideally, they would get daily walks, enough space for independent play, and a job to do to hone their working abilities.

German Shepherd Description (AKC)
Height (in.)24 - 2622 – 24
Weight (lbs.)65 - 9050 - 70
Openness to Strangers⭑⭑⭑⭒⭒
Watchdog / Protective Nature⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑
Trainability Level⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑
Affectionate With Family⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a hound with a dignified stance and athletic body. It is a lovable companion that’s incredibly affectionate with family and remarkably good kids. They are also loyal and excellent watchdogs.

Rhodesian ridgeback in the sand

Compared to other guard dogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks have less energy to burn but would still need daily exercise. They love to run, take long walks, and play with their humans. They also need plenty of mental stimulation, so regular training sessions and brain games are crucial.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a smooth and short coat that needs very little maintenance. They need to be bathed only occasionally but brushing should be done weekly to reduce shedding and keep the coat healthy.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Description (AKC)
Height (in.)25 - 2724 – 26
Weight (lbs.)8570
Openness to Strangers⭑⭑⭑⭒⭒
Watchdog / Protective Nature⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑
Trainability Level⭑⭑⭑⭑⭒
Affectionate With Family⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

Border Collie

Compared to other breeds that are ideal for guarding, the Border Collie has a much smaller frame. They grow up to 22 inches and weigh 55 pounds, at most. Their protective instincts aren’t as strong as other guarding breeds especially since they’re so playful and sociable, even to strangers.

Nevertheless, Border Collies are excellent guard dogs, especially for first-time dog owners. This is because of their remarkable adaptability and superior trainability.

Not only are they intensely eager to please but they are also considered the world’s smartest dog breed. So, they can learn to do practically any job any flaws they may have are easily corrected.

At home, Border Collies are lovable companions. They are excellent dogs for active owners, especially since they need vigorous exercise every single day.

Additionally, they thrive best when they have a job to do and use their natural abilities for something productive.

Border Collie Description (AKC)
Height (in.)19 - 2218 – 21
Weight (lbs.)30 - 55
Openness to Strangers⭑⭑⭑⭑⭒
Watchdog / Protective Nature⭑⭑⭑⭒⭒
Trainability Level⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑
Affectionate With Family⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑


Boxers are generally known as fun-loving, goofy dogs. They’re sweet, affectionate, and very good with children.

They’re also playful and friendly, even to strangers. However, they’re also vigilant and their strong protective instincts kick in if they sense a potential threat.

The Boxer breed is highly trainable but they need plenty of opportunities to expend their energy so that they can focus on training. Additional mental stimulation through lessons, puzzle toys, and brain games will also help keep them well-behaved.

As for grooming, these dogs need very little maintenance thanks to their short coats. Occasional baths and once-a-week brushing should be enough to keep their skin and coat healthy.

Boxer Description (AKC)
Height (in.)23 - 2521.5 – 23.5
Weight (lbs.)65 – 8050 - 65
Openness to Strangers⭑⭑⭑⭑⭒
Watchdog / Protective Nature⭑⭑⭑⭑⭒
Trainability Level⭑⭑⭑⭑⭒
Affectionate With Family⭑⭑⭑⭑⭒

Black Russian Terrier

The Black Russian Terrier is not a common choice for a pet but is actually an ideal option for first-time dog owners looking for a protector they can rely on at home. These dogs are extremely vigilant of their surroundings and very cautious of all strangers.

Black Russian Terriers are quite aloof, even to their family. Although they aren’t as affectionate as other breeds tend to be, they have a calm demeanor that makes them excellent household companions.

They’re remarkably well behaved as long as they get their daily exercise and mental stimulation.

Comparatively, Black Russian Terriers are high-maintenance dogs. They are double-coated with medium to long curly outer hair. This requires frequent brushing and possibly regular trips to a professional groomer.

Black Russian Terrier Description (AKC)
Height (in.)27 – 3026 – 29
Weight (lbs.)80 - 130
Openness to Strangers⭑⭑⭒⭒⭒
Watchdog / Protective Nature⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑
Trainability Level⭑⭑⭑⭑⭒
Affectionate With Family⭑⭑⭑⭒⭒

Saint Bernard

The Saint Bernard is known as a giant ball of fluff. Thanks to Hollywood, we know they’re very affectionate and charming dogs that are playful and remarkably good with kids. What most people don’t realize is that these zestful and fun-loving dogs actually have exceptional guarding instincts.

Saint Bernards are excellent watchdogs as they are very vigilant and can immediately sense changes in their surroundings.

Even so, they’re happy to lounge around at home as long as they get a moderate amount of exercise daily. Typically, a 30-minute play session or a long steady-paced walk is enough to burn off their excess energy.

Although these dogs have medium to long fur that grows quite dense, keeping them groomed isn’t difficult and wouldn’t normally require a professional. They need occasional baths and weekly brushing.

Twice a year, they will blow their undercoats and will require daily brushing. Other than that, their grooming needs are typical of any large breed.

Saint Bernard Description (AKC)
Height (in.)28 – 3026 – 28
Weight (lbs.)140 – 180120 - 140
Openness to Strangers⭑⭑⭑⭒⭒
Watchdog / Protective Nature⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑
Trainability Level⭑⭑⭑⭒⭒
Affectionate With Family⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

Final Thoughts

Choosing from breeds that are known to be good guard dogs as well as suitable for first-time dog owners will give you the best chance of success. However, you should also consider that every dog’s personality is different.

No matter your breed preference, spend some time with individual dogs to observe their behaviors and quirks to determine whether they would be compatible with you. Only then can you ensure that you’re making the right choice in selecting a companion dog that will double as your protector.

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