Dog Breeds – Working and Guard Dogs

by Jonni

Mastiff, Rottweiler, St. Bernard, English Bulldog, Staffordshire Terrier (Pit Bull)

Working and guard dogs include the mastiff, the Rottweiler and the St. Bernard, among others. The bulldog and the pit bull belong to this group as well. Naturally, many of the dogs in this grouping are known for their aggressive or assertive natures, but there are many variations in temperament among and within the breeds. They do tend to be large, and solidly built.

These are the dogs that were originally bred to fight alongside foot soldiers in hand-to-hand combat, or to guard castles or flocks. Pit bulls and bulldogs were bred to fight other animals. Some of the individuals in all these breeds can be wimps or pussy-cats – but certainly not all of them. If you have small children, the mastiff and his cousins may be too much dog.

On the other hand, these are the breeds that often get called “matt dogs” – because they spend so much of the day sleeping. Just remember that when these giants aren’t sleeping they could knock over a small horse.

Some members of this group, such as the Rottweilers and pit bulls, seem to be the dogs you are most likely to see tied up to a very thick chain in someone’s back yard (or worse, front yard!). The physical power and natural aggression of these animals appeals to people who associate testosterone with power. It seems that drug dealers are almost required by their secret code to have a large guard dog somewhere on the premises, even if it’s tied up so far away from the house that it couldn’t possibly guard anything. Pit bulls are still, I’m sorry to say, bred for the pit, and in large numbers.

If you don’t fall into the drug-dealer/dog fighter category of human being, you will want to note that most law enforcement officials say that the best dog to have around for deterrence is a smaller dog that is kept inside the house and which is willing to bark at the sound of an intruder. The burglar will know the yapper’s master is calling 911, and move on to a quieter neighborhood.

A large dog with the massive build and the assertive nature required of a true professional guard dog has no need to bark. Barking is a way for a submissive dog to call his pack-mates or humans to his rescue. A true guard dog would think that scaring off the intruder before he got on the dog’s side of the fence would take all the fun out of it. Unfortunately, he may not be able to discriminate between a serial killer and the neighbor’s kids who climb the fence to pet the nice doggie. And remember – even injured burglars have the right to sue.

That said, there are breeds and individuals among the working and guard dog group that can be wonderful companions. The mastiffs are known for mellow, a well-trained Rottweiler with the right temperament can be a loyal, intelligent partner for a family, and there are non-aggressive pit bulls that love everyone, including other canines. But it’s no exageration to say that many pit bulls are a lawsuit waiting to happen. And St. Bernards, once beloved for their warm and loving spirits, were over-bred in the recent past and can now be aggressive biters. If you are considering a dog from this grouping, be sure to take extra care and have him tested for temperament and mental soundness before you take him home.

One mix to avoid unless you have deep pockets for the lawsuit – a pit bull / Shar Pei mix. No matter how cute he is, this mutt can be a disaster waiting to happen. (Just my opinion, of course).