A dog’s devotion to his family is beyond question. When our family loves us, we will do anything for them. That said, not all dogs are guard dogs. Some of us naturally have more protective instincts than others… not to mention a fiercer bark, sharper fangs and the strength (or tenacity) to rip a man’s arm off at the shoulder.

Let’s face it; your toy poodle can bark all he wants at an intruder, but it won’t do much to deter him. And even I admit I wouldn’t be much help to Dave when push came to shove (sorry, Dave!). But these guys? Oh yeah… we’d want them protecting our turf. And they’re awesome pets to boot!

10. Doberman Pinscher

Doberman

The doberman benefits as much from his reputation as his bite. These elegant dogs have earned notoriety as vicious attack dogs, which means anyone who sees a doberman in your yard will probably think 10 times before trying anything. In truth, dobies are loyal, lovable and extremely intelligent. If you think they don’t know the difference between a stranger and a family member, watch this doberman handle the youngest member of her family.

Photo by ERAL / CC BY

9. Chow Chow

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You wouldn’t think this giant furball that kinda makes me think of an Ewok with fangs would be a top-notch guard dog, right? But did you know that these majestic creatures were once used to guard royal residences in China? Bred for home protection, they remain alert, watchful pets who are also extremely affectionate and ridiculously cute, especially when they’re puppies. Like this guy.

Photo by Charlie Qiu / CC BY

8. Bullmastiff

bullmastiff

The name alone is enough to inspire a little fear, right? And physically, these dogs live up to it. Muscular, imposing and powerful, they’re intimidating enough to stop any would-be intruder. But the mastiff also has a very gentle disposition when it comes to his or her family. And they bring the added bonus of not barking too much (when you’re that big, it’s like the whole speak softly and carry a big stick thing). Oh, and they’re usually not this lazy.

Photo by J Sainio / CC BY

7. Kuvasz

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When your name means “armed guard of the nobility” (in Turkish), you kinda belong on this list. But the Kuvasz is also a big, cuddly and huggable pet that’s all about family love and affection. This dog will be devoted to you and protective against any unwanted attention. That combination works in any language.

Photo by Sandra Carmen Maschke / CC BY

6. Rhodesian Ridgeback

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How bad is this dog? Bad enough to hunt lions! At least, that’s what this strong, agile South African dog was bred for. It’s also good enough to protect families, take care of the kids and curl up on the couch and do its best to pretend to be a lapdog. Just remember, though, that these are active dogs. Like, really active.

Photo by Ruben Edelman / CC BY

5. Akita

akita

A Japanese dog that’s been designated a national monument in its homeland, the Akita is a beautiful dog has natural instincts to guard the home. They’re smart dogs and very loyal to their owners, but they require a firm hand and training.

Photo by Toshihiro Gamo / CC BY

4. Rottweiler

rottweiler

Like the doberman, these guys can get by on reputation alone. But they’ve got the muscles and the bite to back up their bark. They’re fearless protectors and very sweet to their families. And if you have any doubts about how effective they can be, watch this video.

Photo by Roel Wijnants / CC BY

3. Boxer

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Athletic, powerful dogs with strong guardian instincts, boxers make for fantastic pets and are known for their love of kids (exhibit A right here). Gentle with their families, they make natural and effective watchdogs.

Photo by Nic Adler / CC BY

2. Staffordshire Terrier

staffordshireterrier

This stocky, powerful dog was bred to face off against bulls and bears. But it’s much happier being part of the family. It’s a fearless protector who otherwise makes for a loving and doting house pet.

Photo by Justina Davies / CC BY

1. German Shepherd

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The über guard dog for the police and the military, the German Shepherd’s brains, strength and protective instincts make it the ideal protector for your family. All you have to do is watch them in action to know that these dogs will take care of you and your loved ones.

Photo by Damian Synnott / CC BY