Dogs have guarded humans throughout history. The relationship between canines and humans evolved when people began leaving out food for wild dogs. In return, those dogs were protective toward the humans providing food.

This relationship of perfect harmony continues today, with many pet parents choosing dog breeds that can protect them as well as acting as loyal companions.

Now, when you imagine a guard dog, maybe a hulking, slobbering beast springs to mind. While large breeds undeniably make highly effective guard dogs, not everyone wants a supersized canine at home.

Fortunately, physical size is not the only determining factor when choosing a dog that’s capable of protecting you and your family. Many smaller breeds can serve very well in this capacity.

Although a smaller breed may lack the intimidating appearance of a large guard dog, they can still get the job done when they need to. As you’ll see from the ten medium breeds we showcase today, smaller canines can work well as protective dogs for those unable or unwilling to care for a larger dog.

Can Small and Medium Dog Breeds Make Effective Guard Dogs?

While the terms guard dog and watch dog are sometimes used interchangeably, these are not the same.

A guard dog has the ability to intervene and overtake a human if they need to protect their families. For this reason, the most popular guard dogs tend to be large breeds with powerful jaws and the ability to stand down any threats or intruders.

You can also find a cross-section of medium-sized dog breeds that cope just as well in this area. They have the power required to confront an intruder and the tenacity to back it up.

Small breeds, on the other hand, do not make the best choice for a guard dog. The diminutive size of these dogs means they do not offer a viable deterrent to intruders. Having said that, many small breeds are capable of becoming efficient watch dogs.

Unlike guard dogs, watch dogs will simply alert you of any incoming dangers. The most powerful asset of a watch dog is his bark rather than his bite.

Top 10 Medium Breeds That Protect Your Home

In no particular order, here are ten awesome and unique medium breeds that make wonderful pets and outstanding guard dogs.

  1. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  2. Thai Ridgeback
  3. Puli
  4. Shar Pei
  5. Appenzeller Sennenhund
  6. Chow Chow
  7. Bergamasco Shepherd
  8. Spanish Waterdog
  9. Kerry Blue Terrier
  10. Australian Cattle Dog

1) Staffordshire Bull Terrier


Staffordshire bull terriers, often known as Staffies, are a breed that falls under the umbrella term pitbulls. Despite the checkered reputation of pits, they are surprisingly lovable dogs, and they also make first class guard dogs.

SBTs are extremely loyal to their families. Resultantly, they tend to be naturally wary of any strangers. They also react responsively to anyone who shows ill-will toward their families.

These dogs have the physical prowess to stand down and overpower a human – after all, this breed was developed to hunt bears. With bodies like bullets of muscle and super-powerful jaws, Staffordshire bull terriers are also highly trainable and very gentle, working well within a family setting.

2) Thai Ridgeback


An intriguing and unusual dog that hails from Thailand, the Thai ridgeback is at the larger end of the medium breed spectrum. These dogs stand up to 24 inches tall.

Innately athletic, these dogs have high energy levels and require plenty of vigorous exercise to thrive. Their lean bodies are designed for running and they are amazingly agile dogs.

With muscular bodies, oversized snouts, and pointy triangular ears, Thai ridgebacks have a commanding physical presence. First bred to be guard dogs, ridgebacks are typically reserved around strangers, an attitude that serves them well in a guard dog capacity.

3) Puli


Pulis have thick dreadlocks covering them from head to tail. While at first glance this breed might not strike you as the best option for guard duties, there is a very powerful frame beneath that scruffy coat.

Standing just 17 inches tall, the puli is an agile dog and runs quickly. The breed was developed for herding duties.

Homebodies who are suspicious of strangers, the puli is a fantastic medium-sized guard dog that makes an arresting statement thanks to those funky dreadlocks.

4) Shar Pei


Informally known as wrinkle dogs, shar peis were kept by Chinese civilians as fighting dogs and by royalty as guard dogs.

These dogs do not tend to bark frequently. As such, they can work well as watch dogs, alerting you to anything out of the ordinary on your property.

Shar peis are hard to find in the United States. This breed also tends to suffer from health complications due to over-breeding. Shar peis can be affected by:

  • Skin infections.
  • Allergies.
  • Ear problems.
  • Entropion (eyelid disease).

Despite over-breeding and inbreeding, the watchdog and guard dog abilities of this breed remain undiluted.

5) Appenzeller Sennenhund


Appenzeller sennenhunds have cute tricolored coats and playful natures, so they might not appear like the most obvious choice for guarding duties.

While this breed makes a great choice if you’re looking for a standard house pet, they also have innate characteristics that allow them to do more than simply lounge around the house.

It is the fearless nature of Appenzeller sennenhunds that renders them highly suitable guard dogs. They will confront any intruder or obstacle without hesitation. These dogs also have a fiercely loyal streak and they will never be won over by a stranger attempting to bribe them with a few treats.

6) Chow Chow


The chow chow is a cute breed that is related to the wolf. Some characteristics of this breed illustrate this close relationship.

Just like wolves, chow chows tend to be calm when resting. At the first hint of a threat, though, this breed snaps into action with a ferocious burst of energy.

You should note that chows are not the most straightforward of dogs to train. To get the best from this breed, train and socialize them from a young age. You should buy a chow only from an experienced owner.

This breed makes for a great guard dog, but they are not the easiest of dogs to train. If you are a first-time dog owner, you might want to consider some of the less demanding breeds we highlight above and below.

7) Bergamasco Shepherd


Bergamasco sheepdogs may have fluffy coats that look adorable, but these dogs are far from goofy.

Dedicated working dogs who are also intensely loyal to their families, Bergamasco sheepdogs were originally developed as mountain herders. These dogs love to work and they are capable of running long distances with consummate ease.

Pack animals who are wary and distrustful of strangers, this breed is a great choice for a companion dog and guard dog combined. Although generally exhibiting a laid-back attitude, this type of sheepdog will become aggressive on demand.

8) Spanish Waterdog


The Spanish waterdog is another medium-sized breed with a comical appearance but a heart and nature that renders them ideal for guarding duties.

This breed is named for their ability to retrieve waterfowl. Additionally, Spanish waterdogs also work well in a herding capacity.

The instinctive behaviors of this dog help them to thrive in a guarding or protective capacity. They will detect sounds and movements from a great distance, alerting you in advance to any incoming threat. If the threat materializes, waterdogs will stand them down.

If you are thinking of bringing a Spanish water dog home, he’ll work all day and still be hankering after more exercise. Make sure you can satisfy these energy levels.

9) Kerry Blue Terrier


Kerry blue terrier originate from Ireland. While this breed can be challenging to acquire elsewhere in the world, they deserve their place on this shortlist for their medium size and their protective instincts.

It is worth pointing out that while Kerry blue terriers don’t shed excessively, their coats continuously grow, meaning you’ll need to invest plenty of time and effort into grooming.

Weighing no more than 40 pounds, these terriers have plenty of strength and solidity to compensate for their lightweight nature.

Puppies start out colored black but become bluer as they get older. Most Kerry blue terriers live to the age of 10. Many develop genetic diseases before this age.

These terriers are fun-filled dogs who love to be part of a family. They also interact well with kids. They are not great with other dogs, though, and they will also require plenty of early obedience training to prevent problems later down the line.

10) Australian Cattle Dog


Australian cattle dogs are medium-sized with strange proportions. These dogs are longer than they are tall, compact, and packed with muscle. Weighing from 30 to 50 pounds, this breed might not be the first that springs to mind when you imagine a ferocious guard dog.

You might be pleasantly surprised all round if you bring one of these dogs home, though. Smart and easily trainable, he will easily learn his guard dog duties and he will love performing them.

In its native country, the only breed that bites more frequently is the German shepherd. The Australian cattle dog is not as popular in the United States but still features heavily in biting dog statistics.

Healthy and long-living, these dogs will bond powerfully with their owners, but they are likely to remain disdainful of strangers. If you have small kids in the house, they may start trying to herd them.

There is no doubt that this breed is highly capable of guarding and protecting people and property. What you need to carefully consider is whether this breed makes the right choice for you and your family. If you live in an apartment or you are unable to fulfill the exercise demands of these dogs, consider some of the other options we present today.


We hope today’s guide has showed you that you don’t need a huge beast if you’re looking to protect your home and your family.

All of the medium breeds we highlight today will work well in a guard dog capacity. If you want a small breed, these can serve as effective watch dogs, but they may come up lacking in the event of a confrontation with an intruder.

Take a moment to bookmark GO Boxer Rescue before you head off today and be sure to pop back soon. We’ll be updating our content daily throughout the forthcoming holiday season with more informative guides on all aspects of dog ownership, so don’t miss out!

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