The instinct to guard
Dobermans; that's where it all started for me. I had one toy poodle growing up; I was lucky to have the one coming from such a non dog family. But luck was on my side when I met Jake; the one that started it all, a red dobie. Most dogs have a natural desire to guard their people; of course there are dogs with absolutely no guarding instinct as well but the guarding breeds were specifically chosen. These dogs have been selectively bred to bring out the guarding instinct. Guarding breeds have a natural desire to guard their territory, people or property.
Some of the more popular guarding breeds are the Doberman, German Shepherd, Belgian Shepherd, Rottweiller, Dogo Argentino, Giant Schnauzer, Cane Corso and Malinois to name a few. More guarding breeds.
I have often had the guard dog conversation with people. "I want a guard dog." Many folks think they want a guard dog until they have a guard dog. Realizing too late that a guard dog is different than a watch dog. Guard dog breeds have been discerningly bred for years to bring out the natural desire to guard. Just like a Border Collie loves to herd; guard dogs love to guard. And when put in the hands of the average joe; can go very wrong. Of course not all of these guarding breeds have a strong desire to guard. I've met people who wish that their German Shepherd or Rottie would guard just a little. But if they do have that natural desire to guard you must be careful not to fuel it.
A guard dog breed in the hands of an experienced dog person can be wonderful; they know how to best fulfill the needs of these dogs and work with them properly creating healthy happy dogs. But in the hands of someone who either doesn't understand the instincts or wants a dog strictly to give the illusion of "tough guy," it can be dangerous. Guard dog breeds are typically strong willed dominant type personalities. They need strong leaders to follow; and if someone doesn't step up into the leader role, they'll gladly do it.
I have worked with many people who thought they wanted a guard dog. They purchased one of these breeds and were thrilled everytime the dog charged the front door and barked. Before long they had a problem on their hands and they needed help. If you have a dog with strong a desire to guard that is not going to be officially guarding property or territory, if you are not going to be training in the sport of Schutzhund then you need to defuse the guarding instinct. Some of the biggest offenders for guarding behaviors gone wrong are the smallest ones. Tiny pocket pooches are often over the top guarders simply because they have been allowed to or praised for growling and snapping at people.
Many dogs who are not specific guard dog breeds; guard. Guarding can be an out of control behavior for any dog but can be kept in check with leadership. My own dogs have a very strong guarding instinct; so when they alert me to someone's presence I calmly thank them and take over. Having them back away from the door and wait patiently for me to check it out is a step in the right direction. Being alerted is a good thing; having to hold back a dog who thinks that they are in control of a situation, not so much. What most people want is a dog that let's them know someone is around; and that let's that someone know there is a dog in the house. A guard dog is something more than that.
Before purchasing or adopting a breed for guarding purposes; be sure that you understand what you are getting. Guard dogs require a lot of training if they are going to do it correctly. You don't want to just sit back and cheer on a charging dog; that can get you into a heap of trouble.
There are many houses I'd think twice about going into unannounced; and behind the door of these coul be a Labrador, terrier, mix breed or even a standard poodle.