When thinking of a guard dog, one usually has a big, powerful dog in mind.
You picture something like a Rottweiler, Doberman, or a Great Dane, certainly not small guard dogs like a Chihuahua or a Pomeranian.
Some dogs have a natural instinct to protect their home and family and size has nothing to do with that ability.
What makes them excellent guard dogs often has more to do with their nature and personality.
Your dog doesn’t need to be huge to be sufficient protection for your home and family.
A dog with an intimidating personality can be enough to make most intruders think twice about entering your home or property.
Is A Watchdog The Same As A Guard Dog?
Watchdogs and guard dogs are not the same. Watchdogs merely alert their owner to unwanted guests or intruders.
They bark incessantly, making a lot of noise but don’t achieve much else. Intruders are not intimidated by these dogs.
A proper guard dog that can provide real protection is a dog that is big enough to be seen as an actual threat – big and strong enough to overpower an intruder.
Why Do People Buy Small Dogs to Protect Them?
Large dogs require energy and time and in some cases, physical strength to handle.
Many people can’t provide that and prefer to have smaller dogs that are less demanding to care for.
That is why small guard dogs are so popular with the elderly.
Are There Any Small Dogs That Can Act As Effective Guard Dogs?
Small dogs are often only able to bark at possible threats and cannot actually protect their owners. Their protection only stretches to warning of possible dangers.
Are there any small dogs that can offer physical protection against threats? Let’s look at some small dog breeds that can help to secure your home.
What you need in a small guard dog is a certain level of aggression otherwise you’ll only have the service of a yapper, and a yapper is not exactly threatening.
Aggression in a small dog must be properly channeled, though. Having said that, let’s look at a list of the most aggressive, and toughest small dogs.
12 Best Small Guard Dogs To Protect You
1. Bull Terrier
Bull Terriers are excellent guard dogs. They have a muscular frame and loud bark, which can be very intimidating.
They can become very aggressive when they feel threatened or believe their humans are under threat.
This behavior stems from the breed’s origins.
These dogs were originally bred for pit sports. Do you know that these dogs were thrown into a pit filled with rats? Their owners and others would then place bets on how many rats the dog could kill within a certain period.
These horrific experiences led to the prey instinct that the breed is known for. So, this is not your average family lap dog.
The Bull Terrier needs an owner who takes the lead and other family members must also be able to handle the dog.
Bull Terriers are not dogs you can keep in your home as a pleasant pet to keep you company. They are very energetic and their energy should be properly channeled.
Also, they need proper socialization along with obedience training so they learn to show their aggression toward the right targets.
2. Boston Terrier
Boston Terriers are some of the best small dogs for personal protection. They are a small breed but very muscular.
They can be very territorial and protective of humans and property when they perceive any sign of a threat.
The Boston Terrier comes from the bull and terrier lineage and was originally bred as a solution to curb the rat population in factories.
Consequently, Boston Terriers still have a strong prey instinct although they have a much more gentle nature now. So, they tend to go after small pets and other small animals.
So, if you have cats as well, you can expect some trouble between your pets.
Owners are advised to have their Boston Terriers properly socialized to tolerate other small animals.
The same goes for visitors.
These dogs can even go after your guests because they are so protective, so proper socialization at a young age is necessary.
Another aspect that contributes to this dog’s ability to be a good guard dog is the fact that it’s a quiet dog. Unlike other small dogs, the Boston Terrier doesn’t bark at everything, so when yours bark, you know that something is really wrong.
The Beagle has several characteristics that make it a good guard dog. The Beagle is a hunting dog with a strong prey drive and a menacing attitude towards smaller animals.
A 2008 study by animal behavioral scientists at the University of Pennsylvania identified the beagle as the most aggressive breed toward its owners.
The study was published in the Journal of Applied Animal Behavior Science. Beagles resist being trained.
They have a very high prey drive and can be menacing toward small. Beagles are very free-spirited.
They are wonderful family dogs if they are handled with a firm hand – your beagle needs to understand that it’s not the boss of the household.
Beagles are not by nature aggressive, however, they can become confrontational if they think their territory or family is threatened.
Their barking and snarling can scare intruders away because they sound a lot more threatening than they actually are.
4. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Known as Staffies, these dogs have very muscular bodies and powerful jaws. Staffies are very loyal to their owners and can be aggressive towards visitors if not properly socialized from a young age.
These dogs were originally bred to fight bulls and bears, so they can be pretty aggressive and are utterly fearless.
Much of this aggression is no longer present in modern Staffordshire Bull Terriers, though.
However, this is a strong dog and very protective. They can become very aggressive when their territory is threatened.
Best is to socialize them properly from a very young age because they are powerful dogs and definitely capable of taking out a human intruder.
These cute-looking dogs can be extremely aggressive and threatening.
The above-mentioned 2008 study identified the dachshund as the most aggressive breed toward strangers and the second-most aggressive breed toward its owners.
This breed was also found to be amongst the most aggressive toward other dogs.
Reasons for the Aggression and the Peculiar Body Shape
Dachshunds were bred by the Germans to ferret out badgers from their holes and kill them. They were specially bred to have long snouts and long, low bodies to get into the badger holes.
The breeding also saw to it that they developed sharp claws on their forepaws and sharp teeth.
Badgers are tough animals and fierce fighters, capable of fighting much bigger animals then themselves.
In fact, “dachshund” is German for “badger hound”. Dachshunds were bred also for general hunting purposes.
While they may not be used for hunting small deer, badgers, and wild boars these days, Dachshunds have retained their aggression.
Make no mistake, they are not cute little dogs. These dogs are headstrong and suddenly turn aggressive, even toward their owners.
Dachshunds need to know that you are the leader of the pack, otherwise, they will take on the role, exhibit their willful nature and show no obedience. Proper training is paramount.
Dachshunds are on the list of the Top Ten Most Aggressive Dog Breeds. So, if you live in an apartment and want a guard dog, a Dachshund is the perfect choice.
6. Jack Russell
Originally bred to hunt foxes and rats, the Jack Russell is one of the best small guard dogs.
This is an intelligent dog who will take on the Alpha role if you don’t step in and show that you are the leader of the pack. If you let this happen, it will be very difficult to control this dog.
These dogs must get enough exercise and stimulation otherwise they become neurotic. If your Jack Russel is not mentally and physically stimulated it can become bored and dangerous.
This is why the Jack Russell Terrier is not recommended for first-time dog owners – they are a handful to handle.
The fact that these dogs or dominant and don’t easily accept not being in a leadership position, they won’t stand any stranger threatening their territory or position. Intruders beware.
They start barking loudly and develop a very aggressive attitude that is enough to scare off people with ill intentions. In addition, they have fearlessness, a strong prey drive, intelligence and determination on their side.
The Puli is a deceptive dog, looking much larger than it actually is due to its mop of a coat. This Hungarian breed was developed to herd other animals, so it’s intelligent and knows how to take the lead.
Independent and bossy by nature, the Puli makes an excellent guard dog. Its strong guarding instinct comes from having to protect herds on farms.
He will show the same loyalty to you, the family, your property, and any other animals on your property, which he will protect with a loud bark and aggressive stance.
The Puli originates from Hungary, where they are known for being excellent at guarding their owners and their owners’ property.
Remember to let your Puli have plenty of exercise as these dogs have loads of energy.
8. Chow Chow
These are medium-sized dogs are on the small side of medium. They appear on the list of the most aggressive dog breeds, with many recorded bites originating from altercations with a Chow Chow.
The Chow Chow is an attractive and solidly built dog closely related to the wolf.
The breed is known for having an aggressive temperament, which stems from days as a working dog, hunting, herding, and guarding.
Even as a family dog, while they are fiercely loyal, they also remain fiercely independent.
Proper socialization is extremely important for these dogs because they don’t like strangers near their owners.
They are extremely loyal to their owners and will be aggressive toward anyone approaching their owner, so they must be properly socialized from an early age. They need ongoing training.
A Chow Chow will react instantly and aggressively to anything it perceives as a threat. They tend to become extremely protective when they get older, so you need to keep a watchful eye on your dog.
If a Chow Chow is trained properly, it can be an excellent guard dog.
9. Shiba Inu
The Shiba Inu is an ancient Japanese dog that has made its mark in the rest of the world. These dogs are tough and agile.
As small as they are, they are very effective guard dogs being very alert, spirited, and bold.
They are loyal to their owners, but they don’t like strangers and can be quite aggressive towards them.
Having been bred to hunt wild boar and birds, these dogs are nimble and can outmaneuver intruders with ease.
An added trait that can be quite scary for intruders is the Shiba Inu’s distinctive “Shiba Scream”, which sounds quite threatening. Intruders should also beware that these dogs can do a lot of damage should they bite because they have strong jaws.
If you want your home and the humans in it to be safe, consider getting a female dog as they are more aggressive than males.
10. Lhasa Apso
The Lhasa Apso looks both cute and regal. They were bred to protect the temples and monasteries in the mountains of Tibet.
They look far too cute to be taken seriously as guard dogs, but apparently, they are competent at guarding.
Their distinctive look is due to a long-hair coat that sweeps the floor, a necessary garb for the icy mountain surrounds that they come from.
Since coming down from the mountains, the Lhasa Apso has become a favorite family pet, acting as an effective guard dog, attacking anything that threatens its family or your property.
This is one of those small breeds that don’t realize they are small and will attack large dogs and humans.
These dogs need training and early socialization and must know who is the boss.
This dog can show its aggressive nature suddenly, barking very loudly. It is known to show aggression towards children who are too loud or moving about fast.
11. Miniature Schnauzer
This distinctive-looking dog has a great personality. It is smart, affectionate and fiercely loyal to its family or pack. This dog gets along with everyone, but don’t be fooled.
This dog was bred to be a rat hunter, which implies the presence of many traits that make it a good guard dog.
The Miniature Schnauzer is fearless, has a lot of energy, and is strong and persistent.
Schnauzers are convinced that they are large dogs and will take on much bigger dogs without hesitation.
That also means it will take on any intruder that threatens you, your family or your property. His bark is very loud and he is strong enough to take down a human intruder.
These dogs need a firm hand and proper training to become great guard dogs.
12. Cocker Spaniel
The Cocker Spaniel is one of the best-looking dog breeds and they are extremely popular. Their popularity soared when the movie Lady And The Tramp was released.
The subsequent demand for these dogs led to overbreeding which resulted in so-called “rage syndrome” that these dogs suffer from.
This condition develops aggression in dogs, which they display toward just about anyone, oftentimes without any provocation whatsoever.
Even dogs who don’t have the syndrome can become aggressive. People who want Cocker Spaniels as pets are advised to only buy their dog from a reputable breeder.
There have been cases of dogs that were constantly overcome with aggression, so training and early socialization is extremely important.
Dogs that are not socialized properly early in life can become too aggressive and difficult to control.
A well-socialized Cocker Spaniel will be a good family companion and an effective guard dog.