For some people, dogs are not only companions but are also used to protect their owners as well as property.
Guard dogs are not the same as watch dogs, and if not properly socialized and trained, can be a far cry from the average family-loving pet. A watch dog is typically a member of a breed that barks when strangers approach. These dogs will alert their owners to danger and threaten the stranger but really don't have the size or strength to follow through with their verbal threats.
Guard dogs, on the hand, are strong, large and imposing; their natural protective traits are honed to protect property or people. If provoked, some of these dogs have the ability to cause serious damage by attacking. Most others will do what they can to protect their family and possessions but do not typically attack.
Despite their natural protective instincts, these dogs can be gentle and loving family members, if socialized and trained early in life.
To see which breeds make good watch dogs, read the story Top Watch Dogs
Breeds that are known for natural guard dog abilities include:Akita
. One of the national dogs of Japan, the akita is a dignified and courageous dog. Originally used to hunt bear and guard property, the akita was also used in dog fighting. Today, the akita is more a family pet and is a natural protector.Neapolitan mastiff
. This large wrinkly faced dog is extremely strong and quite imposing. With his broad solid head, just one look from this dog can scare off any potential wrong-doer.Staffordshire terriers
. Often confused with the pit bull, the Staffordshire terrier is a powerful and intimidating dog, when he wants to be. When it is just him and his family, he is a loving and easy going breed.Bouvier des Flandres
. The Bouvier originated in Belgium and was originally used to drive cattle and pull carts. A natural guardian, this dog is good with children and has the size and strength to keep them safe.Bullmastiff
. With a relatively recent history, the bullmastiff was a revered companion to the British gamekeeper. The large size and imposing appearance of this dog scared off many a potential poacher. Still considered an excellent guardian, the bullmastiff is a giant dog that can easily weigh over 120 pounds.