Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He also trains dogs, mostly large breeds and those that suffer from aggression problems.
I guess I could have made this another list of dogs I would not own. There is nothing wrong with these dogs, though, if you like to live risky and don’t mind going to bed each night and knowing that tomorrow might be the day you are sued. My life is one of solitude, but, even out in the isolated area in which I live, I will have an occasional visitor.
Sometimes a neighbor will send over one of their kids to surf the internet, once a month the meter reader comes by to read the electricity and monitor my water consumption, and at odd times I have even had a social call. I can count on my dog to bark and alert me, but that is all. I think a watch dog is enough.
Big, Powerful Breeds That Need Space
None of these breeds are definitely going to bite, but they are all powerful, and if they do bite, you are in for some headaches. They are certainly not meant for an apartment. There was a case in San Francisco where a pair of Presa Canarios were kept in an apartment, and of course the owners had to take the dogs out each day on the elevator. One or both of the dogs ended up killing a neighbor. The dogs were not correctly socialized and really needed to be owned by a hermit living alone at the end of a long road.
I've noticed that Cesar Millan never has any of these big dogs in his rehab center. Does that mean that none of them need rehab, or that they are so big and nasty that he does not want to deal with them? Descriptions of almost every one of these dog breeds include warnings about trying to establish dominance. Is that the problem?
Five Big Guard Dogs for Those Who Like Solitude
So what are the five perfect dogs for a solitary life?
- Ovcharka (Caucasian Shepherd)
- Neapolitan Mastiff
- Cane Corso
- Presa Canario
- Fila Brasileiro
1. Ovcharka (Caucasian Shepherd)
These big-boned mountain dogs have the heavy coat and the rugged appearance of a bear. These dogs can be any size, as long as it is big, and males weigh anywhere from 110 pounds and up.
They are in that class of guard dogs that do their jobs but don't always listen. That may be okay in a slacker Maltese, but in a 100+ pounder? The Caucasian Shepherd is well-known as both a territorial and dog-aggressive breed.
If you need a tough livestock guard because you still have wolves and bears running around your property, and you don’t mind whatever else your dog might kill, this is a great choice. (Also, if you are interested, read the comment below from dogsrule3.)
2. Neapolitan Mastiff
The Harry Potter dog is big and has a terrific growl. They have traditionally been used as guard dogs because of their size (males often reach 150 pounds) and fierce appearance, but some dog fanciers complain that they are so overbred that they no longer get around normally.
This is a guard dog, not a watch dog. They are one of the best guard dogs for families, and as part of their job to protect their family, they are more likely to sneak up on a thief than to alert him by barking. They do not care for strangers, so even if your Neapolitan Mastiff is well-socialized, he may end up biting just to protect his property.
If you want a drooling guard to maintain your peace, this is the dog to own.
3. Cane Corso
This Italian breed is a little smaller than its cousin the Neapolitan Mastiff, but it is more athletic and just as strong. They were used to watch cattle and also to hunt wild boar, and the dogs that survived their tasks have a mouth as wide as it is long.
Like all the solitary breeds, this dog needs early socialization, good training, and an owner willing to spend most of his time with his dog. The Cane Corso will do best if it has a job to do and is distracted.
This dog breed hasn’t been outlawed yet, but it really has not been around all that long. It was only introduced to the US in 1987. If you want one to protect you, buy it now, as Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) will probably put this dog on its hit list.
4. Presa Canario
The Presa Canario is a little smaller than some of the other “solitude” breeds, but he has been described as a Pit Bull on steroids; the dog is athletic and moves like a big cat. Males can be up to 160 pounds, but most dogs aren’t that big; they were bred to be shepherds and cannot do their herding jobs when they're too large.
They require early socialization, good obedience training, and a household where they can be in charge of the other canine members. If you can meet all of this dog's requirements, and you need a dog that looks like he can handle anything, a Presa Canario may be right for you.
5. Fila Brasileiro
This is another dog breed that keeps door-to-door salesmen away. They are large, with a big head and a stocky build. One of the breed characteristics that has been selected for, along with the dog's guard abilities, is the Fila's appreciation of solitude. They do not do well in households with a lot of visitors. Like all the guard breeds, they need to be well-socialized, but even that is no guarantee. A Fila does not much care for changes.
In the UK and several other countries, this dog is already among those affected by Breed Specific Legislation. It is illegal to guard your property with one of these dogs if you live in one of those areas. If you don’t, and you need a dog strong enough to herd your cattle and powerful enough to run down a jaguar, this is the dog for you!
My Experience With These Breeds
I expect lots of negative comments. The only dog on this list that I have never worked with is the Caucasian Shepherd, though, and I have several neighbors that own the other breeds. The Filas on one side of my house are territorial but meek when they escape; the older Fila female who lives on the other side of my house is like any dominant female and always in control, no matter where she is.
None of these dogs should be taken on by a novice dog handler, and if you are looking for a good watch dog for your family, the Rottweiler is much easier to work with and an excellent choice.
But are you ready for a little solitude? If you like to be alone, just buy one of these dogs, and I can assure you that few visitors will come knocking on your door.
Will on February 16, 2019:
Own a male Fila and female Caucasian (family is in politics in rural 3rd world). Caucasian, if socialised well, we accept those you accept. Loves young children and goes off your senses. However, very territorial if you are not around.
Fila is a whole new ball game. Nothing is allowed within 5 metres of it, its land or its family. Love those who live in the house, hates everyone else.
Caucasian is happy for a quick bit of affection then walks away to work. Fila is always by your side. Fila loves the heat of the day, Caucasian works at night.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 10, 2017:
Eu--the dog in the picture is a Fila. Are you here in Brasil? You must know that all dogs that are Fila do not look exatcly the same.
eu on November 10, 2017:
This dog in the pic is not a fila. Well not a pure fila (so not a fila). His head and ears are wrong.
Dogsrule3 on December 04, 2016:
I had a Caucasian female. I was surprised how much of a "mother" she was to all the baby farm animals and Grandchildren. She would sleep out with the horses or cows. She loved a good scratching and any attention she could get. She greeted all guests with a happy face. A real sweet heart. Slept most of the day and up guarding at night. But nothing messed with her. She accepted other dogs but she was the boss. I have heard that the males are more of a hand full.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 02, 2016:
Thanks for that comment Gail. If everyone put as much thought into getting a dog like a Cane there would not be any problems.
Gail on November 01, 2016:
We have a cane corso mix and he is a great dog. I don't consider him a "children's dog" ... which is fine, because we don't have any children in the household. True, I do not think the neighborhood children need to come in the backyard with him as he is a good sized dog, is territorial, and does not generally trust strangers. He is a very good watch dog and a wonderful addition to our family. We have no small children and do not have backyard BQs as a rule. However, good training, discipline, love and attention makes a big difference in how a dog will act and react. I have noticed that many people seem to get a puppy because the puppy is "cute" (not thinking about the type of temperament and breed that would best suit their family and their living situation) and then not take the time to pay attention to him/her and/or take time to train. So, don't blame the dog. Blame the owner! We have a half acre and the back is fenced in (actually has double fencing) and has cattle panel installed on the bottom of the entire perimeter of the outer fence so NO dog can dig in or out of the yard and the gates have locks on them so people cannot just venture into our yard. We also posted signs letting everyone know that we have dogs on the premises. (If they trespass by climbing the fence ... whose fault is that)? We also have spent time training Harley and he is a part of our family. He came to our house from a shelter and was immediately taught to socialize with our dog of many years. (She is nine now and Harley is three now). He likes the neighbors and he and one of the neighborhood dogs actually run up and down opposite sides of the fence playing. If an owner VALUES the dog (no matter what breed), loves the dog, and trains the dog properly and knows and understands the instincts of the dog ... there should be no problem.
Dargo84 on January 06, 2016:
Well, I'm a few years late to this party but I agree with your comments. There are too many stupid people who think all dog breeds are generally the same and don't do ANY research prior to choosing a dog. Thus over 30% of all dogs in American shelters are pitbulls and pittie mixes. The dogs on the page should NOT be owned unless they really know what the hell they are doing. Anyway.
I have personally met a Caucasian Ovtcharka and it was the only time in my 50 years I thought, "This dog could easily kill me." I couldn't believe how big he was. As long as his owner was around he was a sweetheart and loved a good scratchin. But they are not to be trifled with. She told me of the numerous times her CO chased off both bears and wolves (she lived in the mountains of Colorado with some alpacas). He was fearless. I have been a life-long chow-chow owner and until I can retire back at the family farm, I wouldn't think of owning one of these dogs.
I've posted a video I found taken during the 1930's Soviet-era. It is from a village that used some of the C.O.s to protect their sheep from wolves.
TRIGGER WARNING: wolves graphically kill a few sheep. CO's graphically kill the wolves.
Clarissa09 on July 24, 2015:
I own a cane corso and hes actually very cuddly and lovable. To everyone and everything. Very even tempered with minimal training. Hes very intelligent and a quick learner. Great with my 7 month old, 2 year old, 6 year old, and 10 year old daughters. He lives with two cats. Hes 1 year old. Pure bred. Oh and all the dogs at the breeder were just as friendly. And they arent new they are ancient. Almosr wen extinct but was brought back in the 80s. I think chihuahuas are more vicious than ANY of these dogs and i hate the stigma against them because they are large breeds.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 27, 2014:
Thanks for that comment, Omar, I did not realize you were in the hallway of that apartment building when the dogs got loose from the owner. No, they were not chained; the dogs lived in an apartment.
Omar on December 27, 2014:
You moron you should do your research before claiming that the two presa canarios attacked a female neighbor by using the elevator . The owners were going to start a dog fighting ring and they decided to use presa canarios. Any experienced or knowledgeable dog owner would l.kw that chaining a dog up up would cause them to be overly aggressive. And that's what they've done. They chained up their whole life . So they broke loose and killed the neihbor.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 25, 2012:
I like several of them, but as you point out, they just are not right for me.
Nettlemere from Burnley, Lancashire, UK on September 25, 2012:
Definitely not breeds to select on a whim and not the breeds for me either. But it was nice to see the dogs in the bottom video who clearly got a lot of the right sort of attention from their owner.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 05, 2012:
Thanks. Cane Corsos are actually pretty decent dogs, and I train some really nice ones, but I would not really want to have one running around my front yard (I have a small fence and have too many kids popping by to use my computer.).
Rachel Koski Nielsen from from PA, now homesteading in MN on September 05, 2012:
Great hub. I haven't had any personal experience with any of these dogs as far as I know, but my father does have a dog that we adopted from the shelter that looks like some kind of a pit bull/Staffordshire terrier and, now that I see one, maybe Cane Corso too. The dog is stripey and has a white chest blaze like that, anyway. We named him "Cujo" - should tell you about his temperament with strangers! I thought this was a great hub. Voted up etc.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 16, 2012:
Thanks for the comment. I laughed out loud reading your alternative title! Yesterday I started training a Cane Corso that fit none of the stereotypes, but, as you mentioned, a lot of it has to do with his owners. I still have not met a Caucasian Shepherd, though, so I have to reserve my judgement on that one.
LyttleTwoTwo from Canada on August 16, 2012:
I am not going to be negative in my comments. I can appreciate the warning you give 'newbie' dog owners. But I think you did a disservice to each of these breeds by only mentioning (or focusing) on their negative aspects. I have owned a number of 'hard to handle dogs' and quite frankly it boiled down to the owner and how the dog was taught. Every breed of animal has its faults and risks, and if owners would educate themselves before bringing animals home, we would have a lot less 'solitaire', 'dangerous', 'ferocious' branded breeds. Risks are only risks so long as you ignore them. Education and training of the animals and proper training to pet owners, would go so very far in preventing attacks and negative labels.
Personally this article should have been called, breeds of dogs that are to smart for the stupid pet owner. It's owners that create these problems, not the dogs.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 07, 2012:
Thanks for the comments. tillsontitan, someone wants them, but, as much as I love dogs, I admit they are not for me.
Mary Craig from New York on August 07, 2012:
An introduction into some strange breeds. I can't imagine anyone wanting one of these dogs, especially after reading your hub. Job well done.
Voted up, useful, and interesting.
wetnosedogs from Alabama on August 07, 2012:
I am not going to give you a negative comment. They all look like courageous creatures. I didn't realize the mastiff was sneaky! I always thought this would be a great dog to have(oh I know, not know, not with the 3 I have). Well, guess I can admire, but most likely the mastiff is really not for me.
India Arnold from Northern, California on August 07, 2012:
If you are not an experienced dog handler, you should heed Dr. Mark's advice here! I have had interaction with two Presa Canario dogs, and both were very intimidating moments, and I am pretty darn dog savvy-- having over 40 years of k9 experience. But, this breed had me looking for an escape route, and pronto! Good advice for those looking for a life of solitude, DrMark1961! Voting up, sir.