Attack dogs vs. guard dogs

Finding The Best Breed For You

You want your dog to keep the scary people away, not scare you. Let history help you choose the right security dog for you.

German Sheperd

Guard Dogs

Guard dogs are not generally trained to attack. Rather, a guard dog's task is to alert its owner of a stranger's presence (i.e., bark, growl, etc.). And contrary to popular belief, a guard dog does not make a good attack dog, or vice versa. Typically, small breeds are used as guard dogs; among them:

Attack Dogs

Attack dogs, conversely, are usually associated with modern police work, but they have played a pivotal role in the history of human-canine relationships. During the height of Roman Empire, attack dogs were used to break the first line of enemy armies, and were feared for their ferociousness. In more recent times, dogs were trained by the military as sentry guards, protecting troops from attack. And as silent scouts, dogs would warn troops to the presence of enemies, diminishing the chances of an ambush. The troops lucky enough to have these attack dogs by their sides were most likely to survive war.

During World War II, the U.S. military called for the donation of pet dogs for service. They began with more than thirty breeds and through trial and error, narrowed them down to a handful of breeds that were ideal for military training. These included the: 

Well-trained attack dogs are socialized, loyal, and unerringly obedient. They will not attack unless their owners are facing a threat or have commanded an attack. Some breeds are better than others when it comes to this type of training, since it requires strength, calmness, loyalty, a love of humans, and a highly developed intelligence.

Attack dogs are trained to bite on command, as well as stop biting on command. Unfortunately, some dogs are not properly trained and are instead used to fight other dogs, or to inflict fear and brutality on others. Of course, this creates a dog that is capable of attacking unsuspecting people or animals without warning or cause. 

Getting a dog for protection as a family pet can be a difficult decision. However, theGerman Shepherd, Belgian Sheepdog, Bulldog, and Collie have been known to be great with children. It is important you research when choosing an"attack" breed, and always check with local laws, which may prohibit certain types of dogs.

Contemporary dogs that are recommended as attack/protection dogs:


Comments on "Attack dogs vs. guard dogs"

Sharon August 22, 2012 | 1:49 PM

I have had Dobermans for years, fostering rescues and my own. They are the most loyal and protective dogs I’ve met. They need a strong hand in training but they will be wonderful

Veronica Tobin July 20, 2011 | 3:45 PM

I have owned several breeds and just recently I became an owner of a rescue Pit Bull Stafordshire mix. You can say all you want about attack dogs and guard dogs. All dogs are born the same until PEOPLE get their hands on them. My HEMI is the most loving, kissable, hugable, happy go lucky dog you will ever meet. Always remember it is not the BREED it is the OWNERS

Micky February 16, 2010 | 6:54 PM

I am going to guess the writer of this article has not had much experience with protection type sports with dogs. No respectable trainer will ever recommend specific breeds as "Attack/Protection Dogs". The dogs should be part of your family/pack and have sound nerve. Please contact a qualified trainer before giving this kind of suggestion. Regards.

joanne September 04, 2009 | 6:49 PM

I live out in the country with lots of land and a lake that a dog could enjoy swimming in. The problem is that I can't afford to fence it and the house is on a fast moving hwy. I'd like to have a dog if I could find a breed that would be likely to stay up by the house and out of the road . Do you have any recommendations? nothing small eigher.

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