Skip to main content

5 Best Dog Breeds for Single Women Living Alone

In addition to his veterinary work, Dr. Mark also trains dogs—mostly large breeds and those that suffer from aggression problems.

Rottweilers are loyal and eager to guard and protect—perfect for a single woman living alone.

Rottweilers are loyal and eager to guard and protect—perfect for a single woman living alone.

What are the Best Guard Dogs for Women?

Are you a single woman looking for the best breed of dog to protect you? Do you live alone and want the safety and companionship of a loyal guard dog? You should start by considering some specific breeds. While some thieves avoid any house with a loud dog, they are more likely to be deterred by a large breed with a thundering bark than a shrill-voiced lap dog—no matter how good his intentions.

When choosing your new friend, you need to find a dog with the right blend of personality and temperament. Consider the following breeds:

The Top 5 Dogs for a Single Female

  1. American Pit Bull Terrier
  2. German Shepherd
  3. Doberman Pinscher
  4. Rottweiler
  5. Boxer
Pit Bulls look scary but are usually pretty friendly.

Pit Bulls look scary but are usually pretty friendly.

1. American Pit Bill Terrier

With his muscular body, thick jaws, and a strong neck, the APBT really looks a lot tougher than it acts. However, there have been several famous cases in which an APBT has defended his owner from attack. Any strong dog should have some basic techniques enforced so that his manners will be better. But they are often so friendly that it may not be the best choice for a woman living alone. They are a lot of fun to have around, though.

Pit Bulls are good with kids but not always great with other dogs. They are not big, and although they are muscular they are a lot easier to handle than many big personal protection breeds. APBTs do need to be socialized if expected to be around smaller dogs or other pets around the house.

They are usually fairly healthy, but some lines may have hip dysplasia, thyroid diseases, problems with their knees, mange, and heart disease. They live to about 12 to 14 years.

This breed is often available in animal shelters. So if you are looking for a dog that is already an adult, do some searching.

They sometimes have health problems, but German Shepherds are great guard dogs.

They sometimes have health problems, but German Shepherds are great guard dogs.

2. German Shepherd

The German Shepherd Dog is versatile and a great choice for a woman living alone. These dogs have a deep bark, and although they are one of the most popular pets in the US, they still have a fierce reputation because of their experience with the army and police. Almost all home invaders would avoid a household with one of these serving guard duty.

This large dog (tall and weighing up to about 90 pounds) is often used as a guard or a service dog, as well as a drug and bomb sniffer. Most people are used to seeing the black and tan variety, but they are also available in solid black or white coat and several other colors. They are intelligent, loyal, and, if well socialized, are good with new house visitors.

They do have some serious health issues, and if you are looking for a dog to provide companionship as well as protection, you must be sure that the line you choose from has no problems.

About one-fifth of this breed has hip dysplasia, and it is even worse among some lines that are selected to have a sloping back. They are prone to bloating, ear infections, hemophilia, and some other less common diseases.

German Shepherd Dogs live to be about 10 or 11 years old.

Yes, Dobies can be silly too.

Yes, Dobies can be silly too.

3. Doberman Pinscher

Dobermans were actually developed for use as a personal protection dog, so they are a great choice for a single woman that needs a loyal “one-person” pet. They are one of the most intelligent breeds, are easy to train, and will learn their guard role quite easily.

Like all of the others on this list, they have been accused of being too aggressive. The aggression shown by this breed is usually only for strangers, however, and if properly socialized, then that is unlikely to become a problem.

Dobies are not as big as some of the other protection breeds (only about 26 inches at the withers and about 70 pounds), but they are muscular and athletic, making every kilo count. They are usually black and tan, but there are several colors available as well.

The intense selection process involved in developing the Doberman may be responsible for the breed´s health problems. They suffer from a type of heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy, a musculoskeletal disease called cervical vertebral instability, and hemophilia (otherwise known as Von Willebrands disease). Like most big dogs, they can also develop hip dysplasia, and they usually only live to 10 or 11 years old.

A Rottweiler smile may be deceiving.

A Rottweiler smile may be deceiving.

4. Rottweiler

Rotties are a great family watchdog and make great companions for any single woman as well. They do well in Schutzhund (personal protection dog) competitions and are loyal and eager to guard their owner.

They are big—up to about 130 pounds—so if you are very small, you may need to consider another dog. If you choose this breed as a companion, take the size into consideration. Because of their size, they'll need good socialization during the critical period.

Rottweiler health problems are typical for a big dog—in other words, hip dysplasia. They also are prone to obesity if not exercised enough (which is usually every day).

A Boxer, acting sweet but on the job.

A Boxer, acting sweet but on the job.

5. Boxer

Whether you choose to believe that this dog earned his name from using his front paws or was just named after a similar breed, the Boxer is a great dog. They are playful and the ultimate companion for a person living alone. They are also affectionate, good with other pets like cats, great barkers, and make good watchdogs.

According to Stanley Coren's ratings, they are not very intelligent. However, anyone who has ever worked with this breed using positive reinforcement methods will surely disagree. They are stocky but usually only weigh about 60 pounds. Their short hair can be fawn or brindle, and they can usually be identified because of their famous blunt face and underbite.

Boxers do have some health problems. They are prone to cancer and die quite young, usually at only 9 or 10 years old. Their conformation (the brachycephalic head, wider than it is long) makes heat and humidity difficult for them. They also have heart problems, several types of eye diseases and are prone to bloat and hip dysplasia, like most large dogs.

If you are a single woman living alone and are looking for a great companion with a fierce bark, though, a Boxer is hard to beat.

The Boxer is one of the best dogs with cats.

The Boxer is one of the best dogs with cats.

What About Mutts or Crossbred Dogs?

Crossbred dogs can also be a great source of protection. If you are looking for a loyal pet to help with your personal protection, ask about a crossbred Rottie, Boxer, or German Shepherd Dog at your local shelter. There are usually plenty available since the small ones tend to go quickly, and the large dogs are often euthanized for lack of a home.

None of these dogs I list here are good breeds for someone who works outside of the house all day. They need exercise and engagement. If you have a demanding job that doesn't afford you much time at home and still want a dog for protection, you need to decide what is most important.

If you are living alone, make your choice soon and find a dog to share your life with. It is not always easy, but you will be glad you did.

More on Choosing a Dog

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Is it possible to have a Rottweiler and a German Shepherd living together and get along?

Answer: Yes, there is no reason that the two breeds will not get along. Not all dogs like all other dogs, so if you are introducing a new dog to your household you have to be cautious, but not because of the breed. If you would like to read more info on this subject here is an article at

Question: Is it possible to have a male Goldendoodle and a male Doberman living together as pets in the same house?

Answer: Sure, there is no reason why not. Some dogs never get along, so before getting a new dog, you need to be prepared for this. Take a minute to read this before bringing your dog home.

Question: I live in an apartment that does not allow big dogs. What kind of dog can I get as a single woman?

Answer: If you live in an apartment with weight restrictions my first choice would be to look for a bull terrier. They are mellow dogs, but they do look like guards. Be sure to look at the parents before you buy the dog, since some of them can be quite large, perhaps over the weight that you are allowed. Another good choice is the Standard Schnauzer. They are best for a very active person, so if you get out a lot, they will love to go for walks or runs. They tend to bark a lot when they hear anything unusual, so it might not be the best choice if you have neighbors that complain a lot. If you want to look at the medium sized dogs that I recommend for an apartment, I have an article at

© 2013 Mark dos Anjos DVM


Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 10, 2020:

Charlotte, any of the dog breeds on this list are great choices. I think the Doberman is a great dog, but many families prefer the Rottweiler because they are such good watchdogs. (Dobies are much better as personal protection animals.)

Charlotte on February 09, 2020:

What is the best breed to have with you major of the time for a companion and emotional support and that is good and protective to you and your family?

Marie on May 14, 2019:

My family had a boxer during most of my childhood and she was easily the sweetest, most intelligent dog I've ever known. She could read my face and emotions like a book, and I could tell her to do things by pointing and she'd often obey even if she'd never been "trained" to do the thing I was asking. One time we were hiking and she barreled ahead down a fork in the road. I yelled her name and, when she turned around, I pointed down the other fork. No more commands were needed, she immediately barreled back down the trail and up the right path. She also loved cats and was a saint with children. One time she got attacked by another dog when I was walking her through a park. She was a shaking mess, bleeding on her face and leaning against me and looking pretty shell-shocked, but when a little girl came toddling up to pat her on the head my sweet girl didn't snap. She closed her eyes and stuck her head toward the kid to get a few more strokes. She was great with cats, too.

That said, she was a rubbish guard dog. Didn't bark, loved everyone who ever came through the door, and was scared of everything up to and including water (she refused to swim and was scared of rain lol). Her appearance sometimes put people off, which was enough to make me feel safe going on walks around our slightly rough neighborhood alone with her, but it just wasn't in her nature to be mean to anyone.

Rather be right than cool on March 11, 2019:

I have worked with dogs for 15 years. People, single women included, should pick dogs based on personality type, energy needs, grooming requirements, etc. Breed tendencies can be a way to help determine that, but even observing a mixed breed dogs behavior prior to adoption can be a much better way to chose a dog rather than suggesting all single women need to feel protected by large breed dogs that can end up emotional nightmares if not fulfilled properly, especially GSDs.

Anon on August 04, 2018:

Ive always had Great Pyrenees and I think they make amazing guard dogs. Mine is about 95 lbs but looks a lot heavier with all his hair. When he stands on his hind legs he can put his paws over my shoulders and smell my face (he likes to greet me at the door like this) I am 5'8" so he's a very large dog. He's such a sweetheart and a true couch dog but he has proven his worth as a loyal protector. He has terrorized anyone who stops by that I don't know. (Like a handyman etc) But if a friend that he has never met arrives, he will go back to being a giant baby as soon as I let him know its okay and we're safe. There have been instances where that friend got a little loud and broad with their hand gestures and my dog took it as a threat. He barked in my friends face and growled a bunch. I find that extremely comforting that he is always looking out for me. Honestly the only downside to having a Great Pyrenees in my eyes is that they shed during the warmer months. A lot.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on May 08, 2018:

Kash, thanks for your comments. I did mention that Dobies are smaller than some othe r protection dog breeds (Rotties, Cane Corsos) but I am not sure why you said "I keep mentioning" it. What I did mention was that Dobies are muscular and athletic, so that every kilo counts.

kash on May 08, 2018:

I own two Dobermanns in South Africa, I find it odd that you keep mentioning that they are small. Dobermanns in standard are no smaller then a GSD (in fact in standard dobes are actually bigger then in standard GSDS) and are bigger then Belgian Malinois. A working dog can not afford to be massive as it restricts its movements and its ability. Yes 90% of the Dobermanns here are of European lineage and tend to have more bone and jaw then the american bred dogs but still. You have a 35kg dog fly at you and trust me you will fall over. A pitbull is smaller then a dobe yet that is never mentioned. A European dobie should weigh between 35-45kgs they are not heavy but they are strong. My 2 year old male (russian lines mostly) is 71cm at the shoulder and a fit 36kg. Trust me he can pull me right over if he wants too and i'm not tiny. The FCI standard says ideal male height 71cm and weight 40kg. Females 67cm and 35kg. This is not a small dog, perhaps we are used to seeing oversized useless dogs that have no stamina or ability. Also unlike the Mali or the GSD they have a tight fitting coat and look leaner. One of the reasons Malis are now preferred over GSDS is because structurally they are smaller and more sound and have far more speed and stamina then the oversized structurally poor GSDs. A FCI rottie is not particularly heavy either with 45-50kg being normal range.

dixie dragon on October 18, 2017:

Lindsay - a boxer has few restrictions and they are the court jester of dogs - but another good choice is a giant schnauzer - fiercely loyal, quite until provoked, easy to train - I'd suggest a professional trainer for any dog you get to use for protection.

JMillerWolfe on May 09, 2016:

I live alone with an Airedale Terrier. She is just the right size for me and she is very friendly to my friends. For the most part, the people who come into my home become her friends. But she has a way of seeing through people and I have found that she can actually "tell" me if I might be in any kind of danger. It is interesting that when she does this, those people have always quickly left the house.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 14, 2016:

Lindsey, find out if the place you are living in will allow a Boxer. If not, maybe a smaller dog like a Bull Terrier? I think a larger, fierce looking dog has more ability to turn away the "bad element", but I understand that some places will not allow them.

Thanks for that comment; I will put together a list of smaller dogs that might work.

Lindsey on March 11, 2016:

I love all of these dog breeds, but many apartment complexes have restrictions against pitbulls, rottweilers, german sheperds, and dobermans because of their bad rep. Do you have any recommendations for dogs that look less threatening but still have your back in a pinch?

Namida the wolf on June 15, 2015:

+ Jann Solo get a boxer-Pitt mix

jp on November 20, 2014:

I have to pit bulls that are in side dogs my wife and to kids are at home at night by there self I work nights and I would not dear someone to come thro my door that they don't know they are very loving dogs and have never tried to hurt my kids or other dogs but let some one come up that they don't know and go after one of the kids the dogs would go after them I love my pit bulls and would not tread them for any thing

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on May 10, 2013:

Thanks, vibesites. They both look really good, but then again, they all look really good!!! Nice extra benefit.

vibesites from United States on May 07, 2013:

Thanks for your wonderful hub. I'm a single woman and wonder what kind of dog I should choose to protect me and my household whenever I'm out. Now your hub makes me to decide clearly -- I want a German Shepherd (it looks good, besides) or a Rottweiler. Thanks again. Up and useful.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on April 13, 2013:

Thanks, ACS. They sound really great.

ACS on April 13, 2013:

Dobermanns really rule if you´re looking for a Dog who will protect you at all costs and all times.. They WILL be a pain in the ass growing up and they need LOTS of exercise and training not to go restless. And a restless Dobermann is not a nice thing at all..

It is, however VERY important to get one from a known Kennel with good breeding lines. You should also make sure you get a Dobermann from a German/European breed if you want a real watch/guard Dog. The American breed of Dobermann is too small and most of their natural instinct to guard and protect are lost in the breeding..

I read your measurements on the Dobermann and for Europe they´re not quite right as our Dobermanns tend to be much larger!

I have a 4yr old male from top German lines and he is almost 30" and 115lbs(or: 77cm and 53kg). This is about as large as they come..

The European Dobermann surely is second to none when it comes to guarding your house/family or protecting their owner!

The nicest, most loyal dog ever imho.

(If you´re not breaking in or messing with their family that is..)

Judy Specht from California on April 11, 2013:

LOL few actually take them seriously, though the little male dog would die for his family.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on April 11, 2013:

Thanks for coming by. Sorry I didn´t put Min Pins on this list!

Judy Specht from California on April 11, 2013:

I learn the best stuff from you about dogs. Thanks

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 02, 2013:

Lots of great choices here!

Jann Solo from HOUSTON, TEXAS on February 02, 2013:

I've been wondering what kind of dog I should have to protect me, this was a good read you put what I needed to know all in one article, thank you sir! I'm liking the boxer though I'm used to pit bulls.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 29, 2013:

Nettlemere-thanks for reading. Bob sounds like a real "guardian angel"!!!

Did you check out my hub on dogs for writers? I put a link in there for your home page. Take a look when you have a moment.

carolynkaye from USA on January 29, 2013:

@DrMark - Thanks for the suggestion. I like Boxers, though I've never had one. Whatever kind of dog I get, I'll probably get a young pup so he/she gets used to being around cats from the beginning. I agree dogs are all individuals. I used to have an Akita that was nothing like the typical Akita personality. She was a sweet teddy bear that even was gentle with my pet birds.

@hisandhers - Thanks for your comments. I like Shepherd mixes as well. I think they're usually a little calmer and more laid back than purebreds, at least from what I've seen.

hisandhers from Toronto, Ontario, Canada on January 29, 2013:

@ carolynkaye I have a mixed breed German Shepherd/Collie and not only was she amazing when I was living alone, she absolutely adores cats. Cats just do not always adore her! I can't say for sure whether this is standard across shepherd mixes but I have spoken to others who have adopted from her litter and we have all found our dogs to be gentle and kind with other animals and children, but their cautious nature makes them wary of strangers and situations they dislike and their bark can be quite intimidating. Good luck with your search!

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 29, 2013:

Hi Carolynkaye I don't have a cat at the moment (I am allergic and there are no Siberians for sale where I live) but if I did one of the few guard dogs I would consider is the Boxer. They really are super-affectionate with other pets around your house.

I have also seen Rotties do well. Some Pit Bulls will ignore cats but personally I have not seen one that is very affectionate with cats, just accepting. Not sure about GSDs as the ones I have been around were not cat friendly. Remember though that dogs are individuals, so if you start out with any breed as a puppy he will probably do okay with your cats.

Still, a Boxer is really hard to beat! (I know, I am repeating myself!!!)

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 29, 2013:

Theophanes, I read something about the development of the white Doberman that was pretty sad. There was only one born, of course, and they inbred for several generations to develop that color. Imagine all the problems with that strain? I would prefer a black and tan any day.

Nettlemere from Burnley, Lancashire, UK on January 29, 2013:

A German shepherd cross is my choice (no surprise there!), although for terrifying callers to the door Bob the terrier gets top prize - no-one will get past him uninvited!

carolynkaye from USA on January 29, 2013:

Great Hub! I'd love to get a Pit Bull, Rottweiler or Shepherd, but it's probably a bad idea since I have two cats. Any suggestions for a breed that's protective but cat-friendly? I was also thinking about a Black Lab.

Theophanes Avery from New England on January 29, 2013:

Dobermans used to have a lot of issues - because in the 70's (I think it was the 70's?) the top show stud was siring hundreds of litters but he himself had a hooorrible temperament and passed it on to a lot of the pups. I don't think such bad behavior would be accepted in the show ring today. I think the breed did recover really well. I've been around a lot of dobermans, only one of which was not trustworthy and she was an albino so who knows how inbred she was!

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 28, 2013:

Thanks for sharing, Midget. Always great to see you leaving a comment!

Laura, I have met quite a few Dobermans that were real sweethearts. I think they had a bad reputation at one time, which the Pit Bull has now gained, and who knows what breed will be chosen next? One study I read on Dobies said that they were one of the breeds least likely to bite their owners, but very protective if not socialized extensively during the critical period.

Laura Tykarski from Pittsburgh PA on January 28, 2013:

I really liked this article. My friend (single) has a Pit Bull who is as you describe a couch potato unless he feels she is in danger. Chance is very non-aggressive but a good-barker and I don't believe anyone would fare well if they tried to break into my friend's house. I was surprise about the Doberman being on the list as I have heard they can be temperamental and fear biters? When I attended Vet Tech school we were told that Chows and Doberman's were hard to handle and were unpredictable? Once in the field I never worked with one to form my own opinion.

Michelle Liew from Singapore on January 28, 2013:

I'd suggest these any day for single ladies - appropriately aggressive when trained, and fiercely loyal. Thumbs up and sharing!

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 28, 2013:

I love that comment Georgie! My Pit Bull cross is also as smart as a box of rocks, so it must be her mixed heritage (she is 1/4 Boxer), which is part of the sweet side of her horrible (just joking) personality.

Georgie Lowery from North Florida on January 28, 2013:

The best dog I ever had was a boxer. She was sweet, loyal and a good guard dog - but she was also as smart as a box of rocks. I swear, I almost had a mental breakdown trying to potty train her. With that said, when I go looking for a pet again, it will probably be a boxer.

Great Hub!

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 28, 2013:

Thanks Theophanes. It is funny how such a mild mannered dog will dislike a few individuals-and like you said, those type that would be dumb enough to threaten you. The PB certainly looks the part of a guard dog.

Theophanes Avery from New England on January 28, 2013:

I have a pit bull for that very reason. Granted she was sort of dumped on me, I chose to keep her because she kept away a few unseemly individuals she didn't trust around me. Otherwise she's been a great people-friendly dog, just don't threaten me and you'll get along fine with her!