Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
Medium-Sized Guard Dogs
If you would like a guard dog but cannot manage or do not want one of the larger breeds in your home, these medium-sized dogs are some good choices. They do not have the strength of some of the larger breeds that compete in personal protection competitions (Schutzhund) and are unlikely to be strong enough to knock a full-grown man off of his feet.
However, that is not what guarding a house is all about. A watchdog needs to alert the family to suspicious activity, so any size will do. If he is large enough to have a fierce bark, he should also scare away any intruders. A medium-sized dog can do that. Here are a few of the best.
Medium-Sized Dog Breeds for Family Protection
- Chow Chow
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Standard Schnauzer
- Australian Cattle Dog
1. Shar Pei
If an intruder gets a look at his dog, he probably will not think he has come up against much of a guard. The Shar-Pei has lots of wrinkles and some people consider him too cute to work.
He does guard, though, and does it quite well. In China, the Shar-Pei was the common man's fighting dog, but they were also kept by royalty as palace guard dogs. Most are good watchdogs since they do not bark all of the time.
Very few dogs were imported into the U.S. so they do have some health problems due to inbreeding, and, since they became so popular so fast, over breeding. Some dogs are prone to allergies and skin infections, many have ear problems, and most suffer from entropion, an eyelid disease where the hairs roll in and can eventually make the dog blind without surgery.
The dog's watchdog abilities were not affected by inbreeding and over breeding. They are quiet, good for someone who works all day, but ready to guard their family when called to serve. If you like the way he looks, and are willing to deal with the bristly coat, the Shar-Pei is one of the best dogs on this list.
2. Chow Chow
This dog, despite his appearance, is actually closely related to the wolf, and some of his personality traits reflect that. They are usually calm, like the wolves at the zoo, but when something happens they can have ferocious bursts of energy.
Food coming out? Time to be aggressive and push to the front. Time for a walk? Get up and make sure it happens. Strangers at the door? Time to get to the front and guard the house.
Chows are not easy to train, so they need to be socialized and trained when young to be easier to work with. Most breeders recommend Chow Chows be purchased and trained only by experienced owners. So, although they are good medium-sized guard dogs, they are not the easiest guard dog to work with. If you fit the Chow Chow profile, and you can deal with the hair, they are an awesome dog to choose.
3. Kerry Blue Terrier
This Irish dog is not popular, nor is he easy to get ahold of in most of the world, but he is a good farming and a great medium-sized guard dog. Kerry Blues are also one of the breeds that do not shed much, but since their coats grow continuously they do need regular grooming.
Dogs are usually less than 18 kilos (about 40 pounds) but they are solid enough to act as guards. Puppies are black but become bluer (grey, actually) as they age. They are prone to a few genetic diseases but usually live to about 10.
Breeders like to point out that the dogs have a good sense of humor and are good with kids and a lot of fun for their family. They are not good with other dogs, and require obedience training, but are such good guards that they have even been used as police dogs. That is impressive for a medium-sized dog.
4. Standard Schnauzer
One of the best medium-sized dog breeds for an apartment, the Standard Schnauzer can also be trained as a personal protection dog or used as a guard. They are a lot more energetic than some of the good apartment dogs, but they do not shed much, and if groomed regularly are pretty easy to maintain.
They can be trained fairly easily and are good as guards since they have a fierce bark. Most of them are great with kids, and, although they have a lot of energy, as long as they are walked every day will not become bored and destructive.
Standard Schnauzers are also healthy and do not have as many problems as their miniature and giant varieties. Dogs live to about 13.
5. Australian Cattle Dog
This dog is medium-sized but longer than he is tall, muscular and compact. They usually only weigh about 15–20 kilos (around 30–45 pounds) and a lot of them seem smaller than that—not a dog that most people would think of as a ferocious guard.
However, the Australian Cattle Dog might surprise you. He is one of the most intelligent breeds, quick to learn his guard dog tasks and even quicker to guard his home. In Australia, where he is a common breed, the only dog breed that bites more often is the German Shepherd Dog. In the U.S. they are much less common but are over-represented in the dog bite statistics.
This dog is healthy, and many go their whole life with no problem more severe than an injury. They bond strongly with their owner but do not do as well with strangers and may herd small kids.
Even if you like his looks and think that this is the type of guard dog you are looking for, consider carefully. The Australian Cattle Dog is an active breed and does not do well if confined to an apartment or to a life locked up in the suburbs. If you are thinking about one of these dogs but do not have the activity level to keep him happy, keep looking elsewhere.
Some people looking for a good medium-sized guard dog will also choose the Staffordshire Terrier, which is a little smaller than the American Pit Bull Terrier. He is a good dog, but if you rent some leases will not allow this dog, if you own some insurance companies will not cover this breed, and since most of his aggression is dog-to-dog, and he is not really the best choice for guarding the home. Things change, however, and since some dogs are being selected to be more aggressive they might make better guard dogs in the near future.
Just a final word here about finding a new guard dog: Since personalities differ from dog to dog, do not assume just because you have a member of one of these breeds that you will have a good guard dog. You might do your best and still end up with an aggressive Whippet or a shy Chow.
Do not buy your new puppy from a pet shop or internet puppy warehouse. The dog is from a puppy mill and is more likely to grow up with behavioral problems.
If you choose to adopt an adult dog, you can find the breed rescues in your area by entering what you want and where you are into your search engine. Petfinder.com is another site that can help you find the dog you are looking for in shelters outside your immediate area. Good luck with finding a medium-sized guard dog that meets your needs.
More About Guard Dogs
- How to Manage Barking by Training Your Dog to Bark on Command
This article will give you instructions on how to teach your dog to bark on command, which is the best way to train him to stop barking excessively. Find out why teaching a dog when to bark also teaches him when to stop.
- How to Train a Dog for Personal Protection (5 Tips)
A personal protection dog is trained to guard you at all times. Not all dogs are suited for this job, and not all dogs should even be asked to do this job. Find out if personal protection training is right for your dog, and how to go about it.
- How to Train a Dog to Guard Your House
Do you need a dog to protect your property? Training a dog to guard the house is easy. This article will explain the process and discuss the benefits and some of the problems.
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: How could I make my dog aware of strangers, but also friendly to other people?
Answer: You really need to decide if you want the dog as primarily a guard or as a friend to your friends. Some guard dogs (in fact most) will be fine with your friends and family, but you do need to be aware that if you train your dog to be a guard and he does bite someone you are going to have more legal difficulties.
© 2014 Dr Mark
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on May 01, 2020:
Anna, what did you write down here? Where?
Anna on April 29, 2020:
Can you tell me whether there is a dog breed that matches what I wrote down here?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 01, 2019:
Dee, I think Standard Schnauzers, Kerry Blues, and some Airedales are good choices.
Dee Johnson on October 28, 2019:
What is a good medium sized guard dog for a senior citizen?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 24, 2018:
Irene, you need to be very cautious because of your daughter. How old is she?A Boerboel or a Neopolitan Mastiff both make good family guard dogs, but be aware that if your daughter has friends over there is a chance that the dog can get worked up seeing the kids playing and might even bite.
Irene on August 23, 2018:
Hi I am looking for a guard dog I have a American Staffordshire she is very sweet and licks anyone who comes in the house looking for a companion however a dog that is cautious of people my daughter's dad is getting out of prison soon and need a dog just in case he finds where we are can you please recommend a breed? I am in need of a more aggressive dog Thank You
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 21, 2014:
Hi Bob! I was wondering where you have been lately. I am always entertained by your comments, despite the fact that some of them are too witty for my thick skull.
As long as a dog does not bark too much, most of them make good watchdogs. I think the breeds that bark all the time are worthless, since the owners just learn to ignore them. A good guard dog, though, has to really do something to defend his territory, which I think the Shar Pei is so different than so many more mellow breeds. Mr. Wrinkles sounds like an exception.
Thanks for reading--and it is good to see you back.
Bob Bamberg on March 21, 2014:
This is an interesting and valuable hub. I especially like the fact that you encourage adoption from a shelter or rescue group. The Shar Pei pics bring back fond memories of Mr. Wrinkles, a dog that would accompany his owner to my store a few times a month. As soon as one of the staff acknowledged him, he'd sit, without a command. He knew a treat was coming.
Is it safe to say that most any dog that barks when someone is outside can be a good guard dog because they serve as a deterrent? I think most burglars, upon hearing a dog, will seek happier hunting grounds. But, some dogs can be distracted by food, so a burglar may try that to gain entry safely. Voted up, useful and interesting.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 19, 2014:
Hi Pamela thanks for reading.
Chows are like Basset Hounds--many of them are large medium, and are too big to really be a medium sized dog. I have seen a lot of them about the size of a Siberian Husky, but they can get up there, 75 pounds or so---I really know what you mean. And, with all that hair, they look even bigger!
Pamela N Red from Oklahoma on March 19, 2014:
Chows are really big at least all of the ones I've seen.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 19, 2014:
Sometimes that size just not matter, does it? Thanks for taking the time to leave a message. It is always great to hear from you!
Eiddwen from Wales on March 19, 2014:
Another great hub on Man's best friend Dr Mark. We had a min Schnauzer 'Pepper' along with our Doberman Major and she was the boss in all respects.