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Which Canines Make the Best Watchdogs


As Fidose of Reality readers and dog lovers, we know that canines can be highly territorial. They will instinctively protect their home and family by growling and barking when they pick up on unusual activity, which is why humans have enlisted their help as watch and guard dogs for thousands of years.  What canines make the best watchdogs?

Way back in Ancient Rome the poet Virgil talked about breeds such as Laconians and Molossians, dogs which helped to protect livestock and property. Writing in the Georgics, his multi-volume poem believed to have been published in 29 B.C., Virgil said that: “Never, with them on guard, need you fear for your stalls a midnight thief, or onslaught of wolves, or Iberian brigands at your back” [i]

One of the oldest recognised breeds of dog is the Lhasa Apso, which originated in Malaysia more than 4000 years ago. It is a highly effective watchdog and often helped to protect the homes of nobles, as well as Buddhist monasteries and temples, in Tibet around 800 years ago. The Lhasa Apso was such an effective watchdog that it earned the nickname the ‘Bark Lion Sentinel’. [i]

More recently the Schipperke from Belgium, a dog which originated in the early 16th century, has developed a reputation as a formidable barker and vigilant watchdog. A Belgian author writing in 1882 described the Schipperke as: “An indefatigable watchdog…as soon as he observes anything amiss he warns his master by his piercing barks.” [i]There are a number of other breeds that make excellent watchdogs. Terriers, Poodles, and Spaniels tend to bark vigorously when they detect unusual activity – clearly an essential quality in a watchdog.[ii]

Watchdogs do not need to be large and strong, or even courageous, because their primary role is to draw attention to trespassers. They are not required to tackle an intruder, and so do not need to be physically aggressive or intimidating.


Aggression and the ability to intimidate are essential qualities in a guard dog. Guard dogs are expected to be able to scare a trespasser away, and even engage (bite) an intruder if they refuse to withdraw from a property.

Breeds which are physically large and aggressive, as well as courageous, strong, and tenacious, make excellent guard dogs – this includes large short coated mastiff and bull type dogs such as the Bullmastiff, the Rottweiler, the German Shepherd and the Doberman Pinscher, as well as large thick coated livestock guardians such as the Komondor.[iii]

Powerful guard dogs are often deployed alongside vigilant watchdogs, because their qualities complement each other and combine to create a formidable canine security system. The watchdog serves as an alarm, barking when an intruder is detected and alerting the strong and aggressive guard dog, who then repels the trespasser.


Before buying a dog with the intention of using it as a guard dog, it is of course important to remember that such dogs can be very dangerous. If a guard dog is allowed to run free and it attacks someone, the owner can be held criminally responsible. Guard dogs need specialized training and handling, and responsible ownership of such potentially dangerous canines is essential.

This article was written by dog lover Brit Peacock, on behalf of home security experts The Safe Shop.


[1] ‘Dogs in Ancient Greece and Rome’:

[1] ‘Bark Lion Sentinel Dog: Lhasa Apso’:

[1] ‘Schipperkes’:

[1] ‘Best Watchdogs’:

[1] ‘Best Guard Dog Breeds’:

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