Two guard dogs sitting behind a private gate

Most popular guard dog breeds

Written by:
May 12, 2022
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Most popular guard dog breeds

Man’s best friend is a truly amazing animal.

Our dogs know so much about us. Not only do they learn to communicate with us without speaking, but dogs also have an uncanny ability to sense our moods. And that’s just as pets: Working dogs can be trained to perform even more incredible tasks, like guiding the blind, detecting bombs, sniffing out illegal drugs, or helping an epileptic person survive a seizure.

Of course, the most common job assigned to dogs—and one they’ve been performing for thousands of years since humans first domesticated them—is as guardians. Whether keeping watch over a flock of sheep or alerting the family to trespassers, dogs perform an invaluable task when it comes to providing security.

In honor of hard-working pups all over the world, Stacker ranked the top 23 breeds for guard dogs and ranked them by popularity on the American Kennel Club. Data is from 2021 and was released in 2022.

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A Belgian Laekenois jumping an obstacle
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#23. Belgian Laekenois

- 2021 overall breed popularity: #194

Belgian Laekenois, which originated in Belgium, aren’t well known and are the rarest of four Belgian herding breeds. This dog breed is known to be loving to its human family but wary of human strangers. Since these dogs were originally bred to protect other animals, they typically don’t act aggressively toward other animals.

A Canaan dog running outside
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#22. Canaan dog

- 2021 breed popularity: #187

The Canaan is the national dog of Israel. The medium-sized breed can be territorial and cautious around strangers and tend to shut down when extreme training methods are implemented. To make training fun for the Canaan breed, give them accolades and keep training sessions short.

A Bergamasco sheepdog sitting outside
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#21. Bergamasco sheepdog

- 2021 breed popularity: #179

Intelligent but serious, the Belgian sheepdog makes an excellent working dog. Belgian sheepdogs served as message carriers and ambulance dogs during World War I; today they often work as search-and-rescue dogs, guide dogs, and therapy dogs. They’re eager to please and very trainable, but have lots of energy and need plenty of regular activity.

A Puli dog outdoors in nature
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#20. Puli

- 2021 breed popularity: #164

The Puli has a thick coat of matted cords to protect it from extreme weather. This was likely helpful in the breed’s native Hungary, where the dogs were used for herding livestock. These loyal, loving dogs are strong-willed, need plenty of activity, and require daily grooming.

Two Briards running in the snow
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#19. Briard

- 2021 breed popularity: #150

This French shepherd dog was traditionally a herder and protector of sheep. The large breed is especially good with children.

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A Tibetan Mastiff standing outside
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#18. Tibetan mastiff

- 2021 breed popularity: #147

Tibetan mastiffs are massive dogs: Adult males can weigh up to 160 pounds. Their fluffy double coat only makes them look even more imposing. Dogs from this breed can be reserved and wary of strangers, but devoted to their families.

A Spanish water dog sitting in front of a house
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#17. Spanish water dog

- 2021 breed popularity: #145

Despite the name, Spanish water dogs aren’t a water-loving breed. These highly active canines are part of the herding group of dog breeds, which protect livestock. They require tons of physical and mental stimulation and are easy to train.

A Black Russian terrier running in the snow
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#16. Black Russian terrier

2021 breed popularity: #127

As its name implies, the black Russian terrier was bred in Russia in the 1940s as a working dog. At 30 inches tall, it’s a smart, courageous, and intelligent large breed and a terrier in name only. Due to their heritage, black Russian terriers thrive in cold weather and enjoy the snow.

A Beauceron standing at attention
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#15. Beauceron

- 2021 breed popularity: #121

Long, lean, and graceful, Beaucerons have an air of poise about them. Their black coats with distinctive reddish-brown markings contribute to their elegant look. Gentle and reserved with their families, Beaucerons are very intelligent and eager to please their humans.

A Boerboel walking outside a house
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#14. Boerboel

2021 breed popularity: #118

Boerboels tend to be confident and may stand as tall as 27 inches. It’s important for these dominant pups to be trained from early on—before they become adults. Novice dog owners beware—these pooches may be a lot to handle.

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A Bouviers des Flandres standing at attention
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#13. Bouviers des Flandres

2021 breed popularity: #101

This herding dog has a long lineage of cart-pulling, cattle droving, and sheep herding. The intelligent and sweet dogs are known for their loyalty. Their average lifespan is 11 years old.

An Anatolian shepherd dog guarding a property
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#12. Anatolian shepherd dog

- 2021 breed popularity: #88

The Anatolian shepherd dog, which hails from modern-day Turkey, was bred as a livestock guardian dog to protect sheep, goats, and other animals. These canines are large in size, used to having enough space to roam, and highly independent, preferring to work without human guidance. Anatolian shepherd dogs first came to the U.S. in the 1930s as part of a secret research project for the Department of Agriculture to determine which breed was the best sheepdog.

A Staffordshire bull terrier running with its tongue out
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#11. Staffordshire bull terrier

2021 breed popularity: #75

Staffordshire bull terriers, or Staffies, aren’t particularly tall but what the 40-pound dogs lack in height, they make up for in solid muscle. Staffies’ big, blocky heads hint at their stubborn demeanor. Brave and tenacious, these dogs require lots of activity as they can become destructive when bored.

A Giant schnauzer protecting a home
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#10. Giant schnauzer

2021 breed popularity: #65

The giant schnauzer is just like the standard schnauzer, only much bigger. These dogs are intelligent, alert, and very eager to please; giant schnauzers also have the calm, stable temperament often found in larger breeds. Their strong, muscular build and deep loyalty to their families make giant schnauzers excellent guard dogs.

A bullmastiff sniffing the air
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#9. Bullmastiff

2021 breed popularity: #56

First bred by English gamekeepers for protection against poachers, bullmastiffs have a powerful build and dedication to their work. These dogs are brave, loving, and incredibly loyal: Owners of bullmastiffs know their dogs always have their back.

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An Akita standing outside
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#8. Akita

2021 breed popularity: #52

The Akita of ancient Japanese lineage are intelligent, dominant, and courageous. They tend to be aggressive with other dogs, and fare better in a one-dog household. These canines are highly active, easy to bore, and may not be the best fit for a first-time dog owner but they are fearless and loyal when it comes to their families.

A Chesapeake Bay retriever standing at attention
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#7. Chesapeake Bay retriever

2021 breed popularity: #48

The Chesapeake Bay retriever is known for its waterproof coat and being upbeat and affectionate. They were originally water dogs with the task of hunting and retrieving ducks in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. These dogs are generally drawn to water and can become frustrated if they don’t receive adequate exercise.

A cane corso sitting inside a blue, wooden door
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#6. Cane corso

2021 breed popularity: #21

The cane corso embodies the stereotype of the bodyguard: imposing in stature, serious in demeanor, and just a tad intimidating. This breed’s muscular build and alert intelligence make them ideal guard dogs.

A Doberman pinscher on a leash
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#5. Doberman pinscher

2021 breed popularity: #16

Clever, loyal, and highly trainable, Doberman pinschers often work with the police and the military. The breed’s pointy ears and sharp noses give these dogs an intimidating air, though they’re actually deeply dedicated to the people they love. Dobermans have lots of energy and need plenty of daily activity to keep their muscular physique.

A Boxer dog running through fresh grass
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#4. Boxer

2021 breed popularity: #14

Like human boxers in the ring, these dogs are muscular yet agile, powerful yet graceful. Fun-loving and quick-witted, boxers need lots of physical and mental challenges to be content. They’re also excellent with children and easy to train, making them perfect guard dogs for families.

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An Australian shepherd sticking its head through a fence
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#3. Australian shepherd

2021 breed popularity: #12

Despite the name, Australian shepherds are not from Australia—they’re an American breed. These working dogs are happiest when kept busy and when they have a job to do. Although they are known for needing vast open space to exercise, Australian shepherds do well living in cities as long as they are kept active.

A Rottweiler leaping into action
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#2. Rottweiler

2021 breed popularity: #8

Rottweilers are happiest when they have a “job”—this breed can do all kinds of work, from police canine unit, to therapy dog, to farm herder, to classic family guard dog. Rottweilers have natural protective instincts that keep them reserved with strangers but affectionate to their families. And their imposing stature and distinctive black coat with mahogany markings also give Rottweilers an impressive look.

A German shepherd guarding a door
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#1. German shepherd

2021 breed popularity: #4

Perhaps the quintessential guard dog, German shepherds are known for their solid stature, keen intelligence, and instinctive bravery. This breed has a graceful, elegant gait, but can crank it up a notch and reach high speeds if the need arises. Just make sure to give German shepherds plenty of playtime—like Rottweilers and other working dogs, they crave having a job to do.

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