Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.

Get Instant Access To

  • 24/7 alerts for pet-related recalls

  • Your own library of articles, blogs, and favorite pet names

  • Tools designed to keep your pets happy and healthy



or Connect with Facebook

By joining petMD, you agree to the Privacy Policy.

Attack Dogs vs. Guard Dogs

You want your dog to keep the scary people away, not scare you. Let history help you choose the right security dog for you

 

 

 

Guard Dogs

 

Guard dogs are not generally trained to attack. Rather, a guard dog's task is to alert its owner of a stranger's presence (i.e., bark, growl, etc.). And contrary to popular belief, a guard dog does not make a good attack dog, or vice versa. Typically, small breeds are used as guard dogs; among them:

 

 

Attack Dogs

 

Attack dogs, conversely, are usually associated with modern police work, but they have played a pivotal role in the history of human-canine relationships. During the height of Roman Empire, attack dogs were used to break the first line of enemy armies, and were feared for their ferociousness. In more recent times, dogs were trained by the military as sentry guards, protecting troops from attack. And as silent scouts, dogs would warn troops to the presence of enemies, diminishing the chances of an ambush. The troops lucky enough to have these attack dogs by their sides were most likely to survive war.

 

During World War II, the U.S. military called for the donation of pet dogs for service. They began with more than thirty breeds and through trial and error, narrowed them down to a handful of breeds that were ideal for military training. These included the:

 

 

Well-trained attack dogs are socialized, loyal, and unerringly obedient. They will not attack unless their owners are facing a threat or have commanded an attack. Some breeds are better than others when it comes to this type of training, since it requires strength, calmness, loyalty, a love of humans, and a highly developed intelligence.

 

Attack dogs are trained to bite on command, as well as stop biting on command. Unfortunately, some dogs are not properly trained and are instead used to fight other dogs, or to inflict fear and brutality on others. Of course, this creates a dog that is capable of attacking unsuspecting people or animals without warning or cause.

 

Getting a dog for protection as a family pet can be a difficult decision. However, the German Shepherd, Belgian Sheepdog, Bulldog, and Collie have been known to be great with children, while dogs such as the Pit Bull are not generally considered safe for families with kids. It is important you research when choosing an "attack" breed, and always check with local laws, which may prohibit certain types of dogs.

 

Contemporary Dogs Recommended for Attack / Protection

 

 

Image: Michael Gil / via Flickr

 

Comments  8

Leave Comment
  • Attack dogs
    08/10/2012 03:17pm

    I disagree with the statement made regarding pit bulls not being good family dogs, while stating that German shepherds, collies are good fam. Pets. Sure genetics plays an important part on a dog's disposition and temperament. However, socialization to a specific demographics ( in this case children) at a dog's early age is equally important To genetics (breed).

    I will trust in a heartbeat a pit bull with a stellar socialization history prior to trusting a Gsd, collie that has not been socialized. I do not have a pit bull as a fam. Member but I do have a fantastic border collie who would be a terrific family pet, so there you have it.

    Thanks for posting the article.

  • Attack dogs
    08/10/2012 03:17pm

    I disagree with the statement made regarding pit bulls not being good family dogs, while stating that German shepherds, collies are good fam. Pets. Sure genetics plays an important part on a dog's disposition and temperament. However, socialization to a specific demographics ( in this case children) at a dog's early age is equally important To genetics (breed).

    I will trust in a heartbeat a pit bull with a stellar socialization history prior to trusting a Gsd, collie that has not been socialized. I do not have a pit bull as a fam. Member but I do have a fantastic border collie who would be a terrific family pet, so there you have it.

    Thanks for posting the article.

  • Attack Dogs
    08/11/2012 06:20am

    I also disagree about Pit Bulls not being good with Children, or Family Pets. I have had 2 Pits both with children and family pets.
    I don't know where you got your information, but, Pits were orginally called the "Nanny Dog" because they were great with children. And, I believe it was in the 2nd WW that a Pit Bull saved at least 1 Platoon and was given a Medal and Retired with full benefits. Perhaps it would be best to do some research and not just get your information from the Media.
    Don't mean to be insulting, but, the Pit I have now is 10&1/2yrs. and she is great with children, adults, other dogs, and with her 2 Feline sisters. My previous Pit was 12yrs old when I had to have her put down with cancer. She was as good as the one I now have.
    Please don't give out such misinformation to the public as it is hard enough for Pit Bulls/types with all of the Media hype. Thank You. ;-)

  • Wrong on APBT
    12/20/2014 05:05pm

    First of all, the APBT makes an outstanding family dog. It is the original American working dog, and earned the nickname 'Nanny Dog'. Frankly, they are hard to beat as a family companion. They are extremely good with children. To say they are not recommended as family pets is non-sense. I have owned four over the last 20 years, two of which are still with me today. My daughter grew up with our APBT, and there was never any incidence of aggression. Not to mention my friends who also raised their kids with APBT, which are numerous. Beyond my families ownership, we also spent a few years fostering pits and pit mix dogs. We had 0 issues with aggression, fostering over a dozen of these misunderstood dogs.

    Recommending them as an attack dog further displays ignorance of the breed. They are a poor choice if 'attack/protection' is your philosophy of ownership. They are more likely to lick the hand of the man robbing you, than to bite. However, they do make good alert dogs/noise makers.

    Please educate yourself, then update this article.

  • 09/16/2015 01:36pm

    Actually, most of the pitbulls I've known-with individual exceptions-rarely barked. So I wouldn't recommend them as noisemakers. My own pitbull is an interesting example. In the shelter, he barked non-stop. A high pitched nervous barking. As soon as I took him home, he stopped. Now it's quite rare for him to bark

  • Seriously?
    09/16/2015 01:49pm

    Is it really the case that German Shepherds are necessarily good with kids? A small boy, the relative of one of my classmates, was playing peacefully, disturbing no one. His aunt's German Shepherd woke up and-with no provocation-ran over and attacked the little boy.
    They are also the breed responsible for the most deaths in Germany.
    Not that German Shepherds, or any breed, are necessarily bad dogs. But some breeds take more skillful ownership than others.

    Also, it's very very irresponsible to say that any type of dog can be trusted to always be gentle with children. Especially bad to make that statement based on breed alone. And no child can be trusted to always be good with dogs, or to always act safely around dogs.

    Also, most pitbulls are lousy guard dogs and lousy attack dogs. Why?Because most pitbulls are very friendly towards all human beings (not always to other dogs!). They are, however, one of the breeds that require skillful ownership. Like the German Shepherd and many others. A complex and powerful breed owned by an incompetent owner, may become dangerous to the wrong people. But don't get me wrong, pitbulls are naturally friendly and affectionate to humans.

    My words are based on experience gained from volunteering in an animal shelter, and owning a pitbull (sweet dog, but a lot of work. Three hours of exercise a day. A lot of work.)

  • Attack Dogs
    07/19/2016 06:55pm

    The fact that you think that pit bulls are not good for families with children (or at the least, SUITABLE for families with children) is very sickening. First off, do your research, you know, that thing where you go on the Internet and educate yourselves about the topic you will be informing others about. Because, the last thing you want is to be displaying false information about your topic but, you displayed the false information already, so that is not an option. Additionally, Pit bulls are not a breed, they are a group of breeds put together. So, what you are saying is that all the dog breeds that were put together to form the "pit bull" are not suitable for families with small children, which is a downright, horrid lie.

    Plus, would you trust a German shepherd dog that has been left in a backyard for its whole life, with little to none human and dog interaction with a 3 year old child. I think you wouldn't. That can result in serious, life threatening injury or death if you were thinking in your right mind. So, a "pit bull" that has been properly trained, socialized and loved will be way, I mean WAY, more trusting.

    And I know, genetics is highly important when you talk about temperament in a dog, especially with children, but proper socialization is equally important.

    Do your research before you start talking complete lies in your article. Maybe this site will help: www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/reviews/americanpitbulterriers.html
    "Pit bulls" not a good dog for families with children. Puffffff.

  • Your making a Wrong Words
    08/12/2016 02:12pm

    while dogs such as the Pit Bull are not generally considered safe for families with kids.


    are you kidding me ? I don't want to be rude but that message is discriminating pit bulls.

    your giving people a wrong information Sir/Ma'am.How can you say that Pit Bull are not generally considered safe for families with kids.I have two Pit bulls and they bout adorable,friendly,nice,sweet,caring the most fantastic dog I know so pls don't say that pit bulls is not generally considered safe for families specially with kids.


    HEADS UP- There is no a Bad dog but a bad owner, It will depend to the owner on how they raise there dog.



    thank you.


    CURTIS.


Around the Web

MORE FROM PETMD.COM