Five Best Personal Protection Dog Breeds

A personal protection dog is one that guards an individual at all times, at home or when out on the road. They are not just guard dogs, but they have to be intelligent enough to know when they need to protect their owner. They also need to know when to stop.

If you are interested in a breed for personal protection, consider purchasing one that has already been professionally trained. If you start out with a puppy or a young dog that has no training, you may end up being disappointed.

Even though the five best breeds on this list are usually suitable for personal protection, do not assume that every dog born among these breeds is going to be able to do the job. Dogs are individuals. Some of them will be great, others will not be suitable. It does not mean they are not good dogs; it does mean that they are all different.

So what are the five dog breeds suited to become personal protection companions?

Doberman Pinscher

There is some controversy about which breed is the “best,” but Dobies are one of the few breeds originally selected to serve as personal protection dogs. They have been around since around 1890. Since then, the tax collector who needed a personal protection dog bred them to be intimidating, to show no fear when it came time to defend their owner, and to only attack when told to do so.

Dobies are not giant. Most are large, and since they are muscular, they appear quite a bit larger than they are. They are usually about 40 kilos (about 90 pounds), black and tan, and have their ears cropped and their tails docked where it is still legal.

Health issues are a concern with most protection dogs, and Dobies are not exempt from this. A bleeding disorder called von Willebrands disease is common—but a test has been available for many years, so if the parents are checked out, this problem may eventually be eliminated. About half of the dogs also inherit a serious heart disease (dilated cardiomyopathy) and fewer have a neck disease called “wobblers,” or cervical vertebral instability (CVI). A few have hip dysplasia and prostatic disease, while the other diseases are much less common.

Dobies live about 11 years, a little longer that Rotties, a little less than a Giant Schnauzer. If you are looking for a protection dog that is strong, smart, and willing to protect, the Doberman Pinscher is a good choice.

Doberman Pinschers were developed for personal protection.
Doberman Pinschers were developed for personal protection. | Source
Doberman Pinschers look alert!
Doberman Pinschers look alert! | Source
Dobermans look alert even at rest.
Dobermans look alert even at rest. | Source

Although this book has a lot of points that can be argued, it is well written, well researched, and the author rates the Doberman, German Shepherd Dog, and Rottweiler among the top ten most intelligent breeds. The breeds were ranked due to the ability to learn new commands and follow orders, and the Doberman was listed as number five because of his trainability.

Cane Corso

This breed is still not as popular as many other breeds on this list, but it has the potential to be an excellent personal protection dog. This is a large Italian breed of about 45 to 50 kilos (about 100 to 110 pounds) with a muscular body, a short muzzle, and a strong bite.

They may actually be a “catch” breed, having been used to hunt game, but since the Roman times they have also been used as a guard and a personal protection dog.

Like the Doberman, the Cane Corso often becomes attached to one person in the household and so falls into the role of protection dog easily. Unlike the Doberman however, they are large and not easy to train. Not everyone can or should attempt to handle one of these.

They do have some health problems, like all big dogs. Hip dysplasia is the most common, they will become obese if you let them, and they can also suffer from bloat, eyelid problems, and demodectic mange.

The average life of a Cane Corso is 10 to 11 years. If a potential owner has experience handling dogs, is willing to socialize and train his Cane Corso, and is in need of a superb personal protection animal, this one can do the job.

A Cane Corso at the beach.
A Cane Corso at the beach. | Source
A Cane Corso out hiking.
A Cane Corso out hiking. | Source


Rottweilers were actually developed by the Romans for herding, but they were later developed to pull carts, drive livestock to market, and then to serve the military, to serve on search and rescue missions, work with the police, and act as guide dogs.

The most important role has been as a watchdog, a guard dog, and as a personal protection dog. They are big (up to about 60 kilos, 130 pounds), intelligent, and easy to train, so they usually dominate schutzhund (personal protection dog) competitions.

Rotties are usually healthy, but they can suffer from hip dysplasia, like almost all large breeds. They are also prone to developing eyelid problems and become obese if fed too much and not exercised.

They usually only live 9 or 10 years. Their fierce appearance, protective attitude, and aloofness with strangers makes this among the best personal protection dogs available. They are not as mobile or quick as the Doberman, however, so I would prefer one of these as a guard and a Doberman or Cane Corso as a personal companion instead.

Rottweilers are powerful.
Rottweilers are powerful. | Source
Rottweilers are alert protection dogs.
Rottweilers are alert protection dogs. | Source

Giant Schnauzer

This German dog breed is a frequent competitor in the Schutzhund competitions for several reasons. He is big (60 to 70 cm, or 25 to 27 inches at the shoulders), but not as heavy as the Rottweiler, so a little easier to handle for a smaller person.

They are also intelligent, like all the protection breeds, and pick up new commands easily. Many of these also have clipped ears and docked tails, making them look more alert, and successful ones are also solid black, a color that many assume is fiercer.

Giant Schnauzers have some of the same health problems common to big breeds, like hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. They are also prone to some skin problems, and since they drool, and their beards get dirty, they have to be kept clean.

These dogs live about 12 years. During that life, they make an excellent personal protection dog in that they are strong, yet able to be controlled.

Giant Schnauzers are alert protection dogs.
Giant Schnauzers are alert protection dogs. | Source
Giant Schnauzers are not as large as some other protection breeds, but they are solidly built.
Giant Schnauzers are not as large as some other protection breeds, but they are solidly built. | Source

German Shepherd Dog

One of the most popular personal protection and guard dogs is the German Shepherd Dog (GSD). They are one of the most common breeds and are intelligent, easy to train, and large and powerful enough to do the job.

If a GSD is socialized and trained, excessive aggression is not a problem. When these were first developed, they were also healthy, but they have been bred carelessly and in large numbers and now have several health problems.

Besides the temperament problems, some have floppy ears and about a fifth of them develop hip dysplasia. They are also prone to bloat. Later on, a lot of these may develop arthritis because of their conformation.

GSDs live about 10 or 11 years. If you purchase one from a working line, he will be healthy and fit to be a guide dog, search and rescue animal, guard dog, or the personal protection dog you are looking for. Unfortunately, not all of the German Shepherds for sale out there will meet your needs.

The US Army uses several breeds, but the German Shepherd Dog is the most popular.
The US Army uses several breeds, but the German Shepherd Dog is the most popular. | Source
German Shepherd Dogs are good protection dogs.
German Shepherd Dogs are good protection dogs. | Source

A lot of other big dogs will serve as personal protection even without training.

  • The Belgian Malinois is also frequently seen in Schutzhund competitions, as well as the Dutch Shepherd.
  • Many of the dogs best suited to guard work (like the Neapolitan Mastiff) are not meant to walk around all day. So, although they may be great guards, they should not be used for personal protection work.

If you are not able to obtain a trained dog, read what you can about how to train one for personal protection and try to find a local Shutzhund club where you can work with experienced trainers and dogs. DVDs and videos available on the Internet can give you an idea of what is involved in the training before you start.

Buy the best dog you can—even if you select a puppy that is of the correct breed, not all dogs from even these breeds grow up to become a protection one All have the potential, but not all have the correct personality. (That does not mean that there is anything wrong with the dog. Sometimes he is just not the type to confront things head on.)

If you need to train a young dog or puppy, it is certainly possible. Read how to train a dog for personal protection and attend Schutzhund training in your area.

A personal protection dog is out there waiting to guard you. Go out and find him.

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Comments 26 comments

Makayla walker 3 months ago

I have a dochson pittbull goat beagle and a very protective cat

(saide, bruiser, smokey, Wendy, and gidget)

Dobie Lady 4 months ago

Highland terrier a doberman will take a bullet for you. I have been owned by 3 of the 5 all very loyal

Cane Corso owner 4 months ago

You should consider changing the cane Corso "protection" video. That was nothing but a bunch of irresponsible handlers who couldn't even command to retrieve. All they are doing is instigating the dog and making them react. They are a wonderful breed and people like that give them a bad reputation. It was sad to watch that. Ended up here through Pinterest by just looking at pictures. Once here I expected to see police type protection video. Instead it was some low life that wants to look cool. On a positive note, thank you for the information on the different breeds. I always enjoy reading and learning more about different dog breeds.

Cassandra0513 9 months ago

I had a rottie/dob mix for 15 yrs, he was by far the best in loyalty and just plain presence of any dog I have ever owned. He could learn commands in 10 minutes and never forgot them. It was the saddest day of my life to have to put him down.

I now have a boxer/bulldog?maybe pitt mix, he is loyal beyond belief (especially being a rescue dog). He took to protecting my 9 year old daughter from day one. His only issues are separation anxiety and he tends to be thrown into submission by loud male voices, but he becomes a beast with men in those du-rag head gear things, almost went through the windshield 3 weeks after I got him. I am speculating he was abused by someone like this before I got him. I do believe that if push came to shove he would take care of business.

Olivia 11 months ago

The cane corsos' were nervous as hell. Especially the second on out the gate he came out lunging towards the first guy he saw. Irresponsible handlers.

Loyalfox 12 months ago

We've had a Standard Poodle for about 2 years now, and he has been good at guarding the property and chasing off animals.

Candace yoakum 12 months ago

Love the pit bullies they are sweet and very loving. Sadly we are not allowed to have one in the apartment complex where we live. My son has the Ultimate Breeder Kennal club" they just had there nationals on Oct. 3rd 2015 "U B. K.C" SHOW

Sandy 13 months ago

I have a white miniature schnauzer. (Rescue) I didn't know anything about the breed at the time. Great energy, alert, needs exercise, playful and protective.

She is quite the serious "patrol dog". NOTHING gets by her . . AND THAT BARK!

Vtirishchk 14 months ago

I have a GSD mix, A Rottie and an American Bulldog. The shepherd is by far the best security and protection dog. The ABD is a distant second and the Rottie loves everyone so much that I doubt he would ever come to my aid even though we have a very strong bond.

Cassava 17 months ago

I can't believe the Belgian Malinois did not make this list.

Melissa Orourke profile image

Melissa Orourke 20 months ago from Roatán, Islas De La Bahia, Honduras


DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 20 months ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

Thanks for that comment, Melissa. I have a Pitbull and, even though the breed did not make the list for personal protection, she is a great guard dog. No one wants to come in my yard and mess with my geese, guinea fowl, and other animals. She wont change a tire either though!!! (Does that mean I am really a bad trainer?)

Melissa Orourke profile image

Melissa Orourke 20 months ago from Roatán, Islas De La Bahia, Honduras

Thank you or your informative article! We are proud "pawrents" of a German Shepherd, Luna. She is part of the family and has a mind of her own, LOL.

Highland Terrier, we live in Honduras. Luna is great protection! People will think twice, before trying to enter our house! I feel much safer with her. She also loves the car, and if I ever got a flat tire, or broke down at night, she's who I'd want with me! Besides, someone to change the tire!

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 2 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

Thanks for that comment on Boerboels, Luke. I have them listed as one of the best family guard dogs because of those reasons you put down in your comment!

Luke 2 years ago

I have a Boerboel, he handles the property and family extremely well, haven't met anything that scares him yet, his our first Boerboel, we always had working GSD before him, they was excellent also but a lot of nervous bloodlines out there unfortunately, defiantly would put the Boerboel as

Number 1. There fit and healthy and mine hikes for 4 hours no problem

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 2 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

Well, they are cute dogs, OhMe....

OhMe profile image

OhMe 2 years ago from Pendleton, SC

We have a spoiled bulldog and I have often wondered if he would protect us.

lilcupcake profile image

lilcupcake 2 years ago

I must say I'm actually interested in the giant Schnauzer. I've never heard of a giant one before. With a slimmer build, it good be more small home friendly and easier to have around small children when it comes to accidental bumps. i also like how it doesn't look extremely intimidating. Doesn't scare the guests, and tricks the intruders. lol

michelle duvall 2 years ago

Highland terrier, you know people don't need dogs to stop bullets, however perps typically steer clear of dogs all together, even having a gun, knowing dogs aren't afraid of bullets.

Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

I think my next pair of dogs will have to be Dobermans! Thanks for the advice.

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, lesliebyars. Two Rotties--you must have a lot of fun around your house!

lesliebyars profile image

lesliebyars 3 years ago from Alabama

Great Hub my friend. I have two Rottweilers and they know everything going on at every second it is simply astonishing to see.

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

A woman was raped recently walking along the beach, and although people here do not have guns, they do carry knives. One of my clients always walks at night on the beach with her dogs, and no one would consider messing with her. I think working dogs have a place in this world, as guards, personal protection animals, livestock guard dogs, and working at mundane jobs like sniffing for bombs or drugs.

Thanks for the comment and vote!

Highland Terrier profile image

Highland Terrier 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Why on earth do people need personal protection dogs, its ludicous. If your in that much danger its an armoured truck you need, after all theres not a lot a dog can do about a bullet coming your way.

As always interesting and informative voted up. Thank you.

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

Min Pins are awesome! They definitely have the heart to do the job.

tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 3 years ago from California

My grand dogs are min pins and they protect very much like the full size dobermans. Very interesting hub.

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    Dr Mark is a veterinarian in Brazil. He also trains dogs, mostly large breeds and dogs suffering from aggression problems.

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