10 Breeds That Will Keep Your Family SafeThough it may seem impossible for your wiggly, snuggly pup to sound the alarm in the presence of danger or dutifully stand guard on the threshold of your home, some breeds were developed to protect their owners and keep their families safe. We've asked an expert to share the top breeds with a history of protecting their people.
"Not all dogs have read their breed description, and all are socialized as individuals. However, these breeds were all bred to protect their families, and tend to be incredibly loyal," said Steve Dale, CABC and editor of "Decoding Your Dog," with Dr. Debra Horwitz and Dr. John Ciribassi, authored by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.
While these dogs might be just perfect for your home because of their desire to protect your family, it's also important to learn as much as you can about a potential pet's behaviors, temperaments and certain medical conditions before making a commitment to one.
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Developed in the 19th century as fighting and hunting dogs, the Akita tends to offer little obvious cues as to what they are about to do next, Dale said. Known for its loyalty to its people, the most well known Akita, named Hachi-ko, waited for his owner at the train station where he left him for 10 years after the owner's death. When Hachi-ko finally died, Japan held a national day of mourning and a statue was erected at the train station in his honor, which still stands, according to Dale. Helen Keller brought the United State's first Akita into the country in 1937. Like all of the breeds on this list, the Akita is large, powerful and intelligent and will require plenty of training and socialization.
"Without clear direction, [these breeds] may tend to make decisions on their own," Dale said. "The 'intruder' may be welcome to you, but and not to the dog who never received the message."
Learn more about Akitas.
Anatolian ShepherdBred with the ability to make decisions on its own, the Anatolian Shepherd is well suited to guard livestock and property and is still used for that purpose in Turkey. A powerful dog that can weigh between 90 and 140 pounds, Anatolians are surprisingly mobile and very loyal to their families. Because of its guarding instincts, Anatolians can be unwelcoming towards strangers and overprotective of its territory. It will likely do best outside of a city or urban environment.
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Bouvier de Flandres
Developed in Belgium and Northern France, this versatile breed was developed to herd, drive cattle and guard the family and the property where it lived. During World War II, they were also used military working dogs, Dale said. Aside from guard work, they guided medics from helicopters to wounded soldiers.
During the Reagan administration, a Bouvier de Flandres named Lucky became one of the largest dogs to live in the White House, but it was short lived as he was sent to Reagan's home in California and replaced by a more manageable English Toy Spaniel, according to Dale.
Though these breeds have been historically lauded for their safeguarding skills, they can be challenging, particularly in big cities, as those protection instincts may be close to the surface, Dale said.
An ancient breed that dates to the 16th century, the Cane Corso is a descendant from Romanian fighting dogs and has been utilized as a hunting, herding and, always, as a guard dog. This tall, large breed with a majestic appearance and broad shoulders is weary of strangers and keenly alert to its surroundings. Known for its playful streak with its family members, the Cane Corso forms a strong bond with its primary owners and is eager to please but very protective of its people.
Dogo Argentino (Argentinean Mastiff)
Dogo Argentino (Argentinean Mastiff) Known for its deep chest, broad shoulders and striking white color, the foundation of the Argentinian Mastiff includes various fighting dogs as well as the Spanish Mastiff, Great Pyrenees, Great Dane and Boxer, Dale said. Often seen as working dogs-in airports as security dogs or as search and rescue dogs-Argentinian Mastiffs are incredible agile in spite of their large size. Though the breed is devoted and loving to its family, it has a strong prey drive and should be supervised around cats and small dogs.
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Created by Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors who brought Mastiffs, various scent hounds and bloodhounds to Brazil in the 17th century, the Fila Brasileiro was created to track down escaped slaves, Dale said, and later became cattle drivers and protectors of their owner's property.
"This dog considers it a job to protect their family, and they take their work seriously," he said.
Active and energetic, the Fila Brasileiro requires plenty of daily exercise to keep it stimulated and will be happiest when given a job to do.
This giant breed may date back to the 16th century, according to Dale, and was discovered in Hungary in the early 20th century where it was used and remains today as a protector of sheep. With a weatherproof coat that resembles the wool on the sheep they were bred to protect, the Komondor can weigh up to 135 pounds and will require regular grooming to maintain its long corded coat. Enlisted as guard dogs in World War II, many were killed in action and the breed remains rare today. Breeds created to guard sheep will often carry their instincts on to their people in lieu of protecting livestock.
"Just as they would give their lives for the sheep they're raised with as puppies, they would do the same for their human family," Dale said. "Unfortunately, without direction, they can't know who is welcome to the home or not."
A descendant from Russian sheepdogs in the 15th century, the Kuvasz likely gained its popularity in Hungary as a hunting, guard and, most of all, sheep dog and is still used for these purposes today, Dale said. This loyal, gentle breed is dedicated to its family and is fearless when guarding its family and home. Owned mostly as companion animals in the U.S., the Kuvasz requires regular brushing and daily exercise in an enclosed area.
Tibetan MastiffBred to guard entire nomadic villages, this independent breed is revered in China for its beauty. To this day, many Tibetan Mastiffs will walk the perimeters of their family's homes overnight as best canine night watchmen in the business, Dale said. The Tibetan Mastiff has become so popular in China that a Chinese property developer recently paid 12 million yuan, or $1.9 million, for a one-year-old Golden-Haired Mastiff at a luxury pet fair.
"The Chinese say they have the spirit of lions and are groomed to look like big cats," Dale said.
Learn more about the Tibetan Mastiff.
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Tosa Inu (Tosa)
Known as the Japanese fighting dog, the Tosa Inu forms a protective bond with its family members but is distrustful of strangers. Courageous and patient, the Tosa Inu stands between 22 and 24 inches high and weighs nearly 90 pounds. As with all of the breeds on this list, the Tosa requires plenty of socialization from an early age on.
"All dogs require early socialization, but with this group that positive socialization is an absolute urgency," Dale said.
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