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10 Best Guard Dogs for First Time Owner (my first was a Rottie)

Are you looking for a guard dog but have no experience with guard dogs (or even dogs in general)?

There’s nothing wrong with being inexperienced and it doesn’t mean you should give up on your vision of owning a guard dog.

My first dog was a Rottweiler and she’s perfectly trained. Maybe your lifestyle meets this breed’s needs, or maybe not.

First of all, ask yourself why you want to own one.

Is it for protection of your house and/or children?

If so, you should be aware that a lot of training, socialization, and exercise needs to go into these kinds of dogs.

To be upfront, no dog breed on this planet will put up with being alone all day and then being the supreme guardian around strangers without any training.

We don’t want to train a dog to be aggressive either, so it’s a balancing act.

Besides evaluating your free time, financial situation, and willingness to learn, you should also decide on what size, coat type, temperament, and exercise needs you’d like to see in your dog.

This will help you narrow down which breed would work best for you.

1. Doberman

Many of the best guard dog breeds for first-time owners are quite popular choices in general.

The Doberman is one of them as this breed intrigues veterans as well as newbies.

Why? Well, not only because these breeds have been bred to be attentive, loyal, and protective.

There’s just more research on breeds like the Doberman, you’ll get better consults from dog trainers who’ve had this breed before, and there are forums or other places to talk to other dog owners.

Black and tan Doberman lying in the autumn grass with an imposing appearance and stare.

While looking imposing to strangers, the Doberman is easier to handle when compared to breeds like the Rottweiler which can easily weigh 20-30 pounds (10-14kg) more than their counterpart.

Don’t ask me why these dogs are known to be imposing as it’s a really slender dog in reality.

I’m guessing the Doberman has this reputation solely due to them being used a lot in movies & TV as well as having a cropped tail and ears which is forbidden by law in Europe where they originate.

2. Beauceron

Another black and tan contender, the Beauceron is not as common as other breeds on this list but still a good guard dog.

Beauceron mid-air during a jump outdoors.

The Beauceron needs plenty of exercise but luckily, they’re relatively easy to train.

These dashing companions are quite sensitive and pretty reserved with strangers.

A firm but fair leader is the key to success when training the Beauceron to be your first guard dog.

3. Boxer

Boxers are fun, loving, and sometimes pretty silly dogs.

Boxer retrieving a blue ball, showing that despite being alert and good guard dogs, Boxers are fun dogs for first time owners.
Photo by otsphoto on Shutterstock

However, they’re quite athletic and their bark can scare off any potential intruders.

Check this growth chart to see how fast Boxers really grow up and yet they never get too big to handle for most people.

When out and about with the family, these dogs are not hyper-alert most of the time and can easily relax.

Once frightening situations arise, a confident and well-bred Boxer is always there to stand his ground.

The Boxer is a good guard dog breed for first-time dog owners since it’s consistently among the top 10 most popular dogs in the US.

4. Appenzeller Sennenhund

This dog resembles the Bernese Mountain Dog but instead of being quite gentle, they can be fierce barkers and very good at alerting.

Appenzeller Sennenhund retrieving ball.
Photo by nikolansfoto on Shutterstock

Make sure you know how to train your dog to bark (or rather, how to be quiet) and get ready for plenty of exercise.

The Appenzeller Sennenhund can accompany you on the bike, long hikes in the mountain, or just relax with you and have a good game of tug of war in the garden.

5. German Shepherd

The German Shepherd. You probably knew this breed would surface in a list for first-time guard dog owners.

German Shepherd stands outdoors.
Photo by Yuriy Bogdanov on Unsplash

Sadly, I personally see more and more German Shepherds with extremely sloped backs or other health issues.

When bred well, the German Shepherd is a super confident and loving family dog. It’s one of the favorite breeds for families around the world.

However, they can be pretty high-strung so not the ideal option for everybody.

Be prepared for lots of training as well as being able to select a well-tempered dog that fits your lifestyle.

GSDs come in a wide range when it comes to temperament so training plus socialization, as always, is your way to success.

6. Giant Schnauzer

You may not find this breed particularly imposing (despite the “big black dog syndrome”) but they’re good guardians of property.

Giant Schnauzer as guard dog for fresh dog owners willing to learn.
Photo by Csanad Kiss on Shutterstock

The Giant Schnauzer’s size alone might be intimidating for strangers.

These tough working dogs were originally bred in Bavarian Alps around the 1850s to drive cattle from farm to market as well as guard dogs.

Once railroads extinguished their working purpose, they graduated to the European police/military.

Nowadays, they’ve been replaced by other breeds but still have guardian instincts.

7. Staffordshire Bullterrier

History has a dark side when it comes to this breed.

Luckily, responsible breeders nowadays focus on sweet-natured Staffies with many owners describing them as real clowns.

These dogs are not as tall as other Pitbull-type dog breeds, but they still have the massive head of a Bulldog and the spirit of a Terrier.

Everybody who knows this breed knows not to mess with them.

Read more about the Pitbull-type breeds and their differences.

Staffordshire Bullterrier as best guard dog for first time dog owners.
Photo by Anastasiia Cherniavskaia on Shutterstock

If raised properly with kids, they can have a real sweet spot for children.

However, they tend to be easily overstimulated and need the right guidance from puppyhood.

A rescue Staffie might be difficult to rely on when it comes to guarding work as many Pittie-type dogs have been massively neglected and bred poorly.

8. Black Russian Terrier

With up to 140 pounds (64 kg) and 30 inches (76 cm) these dogs can reach a humungous size.

If you’re a first-time guard dog owner, the Black Russian Terrier might be worth a look if you put in the time for identifying a reputable breeder.

Black Russian Terrier as possible guard dog choice.

The naturally aloof Black Russian Terrier might give off Poodle meets Schnauzer vibes but they’re a heavy-boned dog bred for guarding and protecting.

9. Akita

I know, these fluffballs don’t exactly look intimidating. But trust me, this dog breed can be fierce.

Stemming from ancient Japan, this breed is mostly used as a family protector on his home turf.

Four Akita puppies looking incredibly cute on the doorstep but they grow up to be good guardians for new owners.

Their double coat means that you probably have to brush them daily and be ready for a lot of fur around the house.

A healthy diet can help with preventing excessive shedding, but there’s no way around it if you go with this breed.

Make sure you read about the needs of such an ancient dog breed since they might not be the easiest dog to raise on this list.

10. Boston Terrier

Are you a first-time guard dog owner looking for a smaller guard dog?

The Boston Terrier might be right for you.

Black and white Boston Terrier as small guard dog on the bed for first-time owners.
Photo from Unsplash

Nope, this is not the dog if you’re looking for real “protection”, but they do fend off strangers lurking around the house.

These dogs can have a fierce bark and a strong personality that allows them to approach dangers confidently and sometimes that’s enough.

Luckily, Boston Terriers have a pretty good lifespan if they’re selected carefully (look out for respiratory and anatomical issues) and properly taken care of.

Check this article to be amazed by the range of Boston Terrier colors.

Which Guard Dog is Best for First Time Owners?

Let’s expand on how you can find the perfect guard dog for you personally as a first-time owner from the ten breeds listed above.

Looking for a stable and trainable dog companion? Go with the Doberman or the German Shepherd.

Looking for something extraordinary? The Beauceron, Giant Schnauzer, or Black Russian Terrier might be your top choice.

Looking for a medium-large dog that is easier to handle and yet a fun companion? The Boxer, Appenzeller Sennenhund, and Staffordshire Terrier just called.

However, be aware that every guard dog will only be as good as the knowledge you accumulate beforehand, even as a first-time owner.

  • Every guard dog needs socialization, training, and exercise
  • Don’t encourage overly protective behavior as it can backfire
  • Never attempt to start protection training at home without supervision
  • Avoid relying on your dog for protection (it’s good to deter strangers, but rarely the ultimate safety mechanism)
  • Evaluate whether or not you have the time, money, and knowledge to raise a big powerful dog

You can certainly learn a lot of stuff but the reason why I haven’t listed the Rottweiler despite me personally getting one as my first dog is that I was willing to learn before getting my pup.

A lot.

If you do your research, most breeds have the potential to be your first dog (apart from rescues with extreme behavior issues perhaps).

But nearly all of us will make mistakes and some mistakes can be pretty detrimental with these big boys and gals.

Having a guard dog as your first dog is no joke, so please do your research and follow the guidelines for a healthy and confident guardian.

Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.

About Danielle

Equipped with 5+ years of expertise as a Rottweiler owner, I partner with licensed veterinarians and trainers to share research-backed and actionable advice for you and your furry friend.


Thursday 30th of September 2021

My first 'guard' Dog was the breed I had been obsessing over & loving from afar for 24yrs - the Dobie!! Her name was Diavalo & She was a gorgeous, Red Dobie whose litter name was 'Grumpy' & I knew I wanted a female so, that eliminated half the litter(for me); when I heard one of the females actually, growling - at 8weeks old - I asked, "who is that?" I was told, "we call Her Grumpy!" After spending some time w/all the females - I said, "it's going to be Grumpy!" & immediately, started calling Her Diavalo - I am Sicilian, living in the Italian part of the city then, & of course She was a shiny, Red Doberman - Diavalo!! I trained Her to be super protective of me or She pkd up on exactly, what I needed as the signals flowed thru the leash rt down to Her & what a team we were! I learned all about unquestionable trust, love & the biggest broken heart I wld ever have when at 6yrs old my Diavalo was diagnosed w/Lymphosarcoma, 3mos of Chemo, 1mo of remission, 3more mos of Chemo then, euthanasia, & a burial w/Her mom & dad. Ever since I've had one Dobie & one Rottie & 2of my Rotties I trained to be my Service Dogs. These breeds never let u down on anything. And, it all began w/Diavalo 34yrs, ago...