I own a Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff) named Zeus. If you are unfamiliar with the breed, think 100-pounds of muscle in the form of what many think looks like a giant Pitbull.
People constantly cross the street, pick up their small children, and shoo their dogs away when we are walking by. I know this is because people are afraid of Zeus, they assume he is aggressive and would harm them. If only they knew how well behaved he is and that he will not attack at any given moment.
When most people think of a typical guard dog breed, like the Cane Corso, they envision a large beast that can take down a grown man. Granted, Zeus can certainly do this, but would it surprise you to know that he doesn’t have one aggressive bone in his body?
You would assume if you have a dog who will attack an intruder, that they would need to be aggressive. However, this mindset is completely incorrect. Good guard dogs should not have any aggressive tendencies. If you are selecting a dog or specific breed to act as your guard dog, they should have the following characteristics:
1. Even Temperament
A guard dog should have an even temperament. You do not want a dog guarding you who is constantly on high alert or who is fearful of new situations. Your guard dog should be calm and content.
2. Instinctively Territorial
Dogs who are territorial are constantly aware of their surroundings. They love to stare out the window or circle the yard. To guard well, your dog needs to be alert to what is going on around them.
3. Instinctively Protective and/or Loyal
A good guard dog should be loyal to you and have a drive to protect you. Your dog should be alert to your whereabouts and should always seek your permission.
4. Properly Socialized
Probably the most important on the list – a dog that will make a good guardian needs to be properly socialized. Socialization will allow your dog to maintain calm in new situations, as well as can decipher when something isn’t quite right.
This one seems like a no brainer, but many people don’t work on basic commands and hold their dogs accountable to them. If your dog isn’t trained, why would they listen to you during a crisis?
6. Intimidating Appearance
While many common breeds used for guard dogs are larger in size and look menacing, likely they are not ferocious (similarly to my Cane Corso). But the intimidating appearance certainly helps scare off any potential threats!
If you have a guard dog who shows aggressive tendencies realize that you could be finding yourself in some bad situations. You may not be able to have control of a situation if your guard dog is aggressive, and this could lead to the wrong person or animal getting attacked and you getting hurt.
Having my dog Zeus around makes me feel safe. I trust that if a threating situation arose, he would protect me. But if he was aggressive and uncontrollable, I admit he would be quite terrifying.
If you currently have a guard dog who is showing aggressive tendencies, contact a professional dog trainer for assistance.
Alexa Ball is creator and main author of Dog-Mom.com, a pet blog dedicated to providing resources to amateur dog owners. After bringing home her dog Zeus in 2014, Alexa didn’t quite know what she had gotten herself into. Now she shares her stories and knowledge so novice dog owners can get the help they need. Disclaimer: Alexa is not a professional dog trainer, behaviorist or veterinarian.