When you look at the Boerboel, your first instinct might be to think it is actually a mastiff. You’d be right. This large and muscular dog is also known as the South African mastiff. Thanks to the country where it was developed. In Afrikaans, Boerboel literally translates into ‘Farm Dog.’ So as you can imagine, this breed was generally used to guard homesteads and any animals a farmer might have on their property. Now, you know how they say not to judge a book by its cover? In the case of this breed, it may look slow and dumb, but the truth is actually very different. You see, the Boerboel is actually quite energetic and smart. It’s also the kind of dog that will stay close to whatever it needs to protect, including its owner. Years of breeding may have made this dog more appropriate for domestication, but don’t let that fool you either. The Boerboel is known for its extreme loyalty to the family and will give its life, without a second thought, in order to defend one of its ‘Pack’ members. Given it can weigh over 170 LBS, that’s one fight we would not want to be a part of.
Originating in Turkey, the Kangal is another mastiff-type dog breed. Known for getting up to 180 LBS in weight and three feet in height, this is one sizable pooch. In fact, that size has been put to good use over many generations thanks to the guard dog role the Kangal has been handed. Most people consider this a type of working and herding dog. It’s probably more appropriate to call the Kangal a guardian breed. When it comes to protecting livestock or even humans, this dog will stand up to anything – and we do mean anything. In Turkey, it’s well recorded that this large breed has stood up to everything from jackals and wolves to bears. Eventually used in Africa, the Kangal adapted quickly and successfully protects farms and livestock from hunting cats like cheetahs and lions. If it’s raised with no livestock to protect, the Kangal will see itself as the guardian of its human family. In this role it will defend its family members and territory with the same instincts the breed uses against larger predators like bears and lions.
3. Dogue De Bordeaux
Oh look, yet another mastiff Breed. We’re sensing a bit of a theme here – though with good cause. The Dogue De Bordeaux is also known as the French or Bordeaux Mastiff. This breed is extremely thick and heavy, weighing in at around 150 LBS and looking more than capable of knocking you down in an instant. Considered one of the oldest French Breeds, this large dog found its place in society pulling carts, guarding livestock and even being used to protect the castles of the French nobility. In fact, much of its early history led to this Breed’s reputation as an ideal hunter, Guardian and fighter. While today you may find one of these dogs lounging in full couch potato mode, don’t be fooled. The Dogue De Bordeaux still has all those traits and instincts from generations past. It is an incredibly patient guard dog, willing to stand silently while it watches and assesses the area. If it’s property or family comes under threat, it will not think twice about going into full protection mode which we imagine can’t be good for any intruder.
4. Fila Brasileiro
As you can probably guess, this dog was developed and originally bred in Brazil. As a result, it is often referred to as the Brazilian Mastiff. The Fila Brasileiro is believed to have been developed when Europeans brought their dogs to the New World. There has been strong speculation that this breed has parts of hound and Bulldog in it, which actually explains some of its traits. You see, this dog is known for being a great guard dog whether it’s guarding an Estate or group of livestock. Likely driven by the hound in it, the Brasileiro will roam around, often tracking and following sense it feels might be related to intruders or predators. That’s where the Mastiff in it takes over. Growing as big as three feet tall and weighing over 100 LBS, this breed isn’t likely to attack a threat. No, if it confronts a predator or unfortunate burglar, the dog will attempt to fix the prey in place. We imagine this is done by either staring into your soul or, as Mastiffs are known to do, by pinning you to the ground with its sheer weight and power.
5. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Heavy, strong and developed in the Swiss Alps, the greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a perfect fit for this list. On the one hand, this big breed is social and calm and loves to be part of the family. Just don’t let that fool you too much. The Swissy might be great around the family. But they are most happy when they have a job or task to perform. These include herding, carrying loads of goods and guarding their territory. In fact, the greater Swiss Mountain Dog may not look it, but they are extremely alert and make excellent watch dogs. Where the guard dogs factor comes in is when someone or something comes onto their turf. This breed will generally not back down and will stand its ground against anything it perceives as a threat. If its bark isn’t intimidating to any intruders, then we imagine the sight of this dog is. You see, the Swissy can easily get up to 150 LBS in size, which we imagine would make any intruder think twice before advancing any further. It’s quiz time. If you’re a dog owner, then you know your pooch has learned certain words and phrases. While some dogs know a lot and others don’t seem that smart, how many words does the average dog learn over its lifetime? Think about that!
6. Tibetan Mastiff
Originally developed and bred by nomadic tribes living around Tibet, Nepal and India, the Tibetan Mastiff is a large working dog with a specialization in protection. From herds and flocks, to villages and palaces, if you needed a guard dog then the Tibetan Mastiff was for you. And we’re not talking about thieves and burglars here either. No, this breed would regularly take on wolves, leopards, bears and tigers. Regularly release at night to act as a roaming sentry, this dog excels at nocturnal guard duties. In fact, its Guardian instincts are so strong that owners are advised to have a good fence around their property to ensure the Tibetan doesn’t take its guard duties beyond its own property. Weighing up to 160 LBS, we can think of few things more terrifying than meeting one of these ‘Lion Dogs’ in the pitch dark.
Mother nature sure does have a strange way of developing certain breeds of animals. After all, looking at this type of dog it appears it’s better suited for mopping a wet floor than guarding anything. Don’t laugh. The Komondor is a proven guard dog that will actually be the one mopping the floor with anything it deems a threat. This dog originated in Hungary and was bred as a sheep Guardian. It may look friendly and dopey but this funny-looking breed is actually extra intelligent and fiercely loyal when it comes to guarding flock and family. In fact, this trait was proven time and time again when Komondors successfully guarded their flocks against wolves, bears and even humans. Growing to around 100 LBS, the Komondor’s breeding means it is also highly independent. This means it doesn’t need to be commanded to guard it just instinctively knows what to do when it comes to protection. Anyone who tries to harm the flock or any pack member under watch of a Komondor can expect a lot of barking, followed up with a fearless defense.
8. Great Pyrenees
If you don’t know a lot about dogs, you might think this next breed was some type of really big golden retriever. Not so much. That’s said, if you’re looking for a dog that will instinctively protect anything and everything within a set perimeter, then the Great Pyrenees is for you. Developed in Europe, this breed is a natural livestock Guardian. Rather than herding animals, the Great Pyrenees will patrol a perimeter around its charges while it looks, smells and listens for anything which could harm the animals. In fact, owners often state that if they own more than one of these dogs they will patrol different areas, as if they are working together. This instinct is found throughout the breed. As a family dog, it will consider anything within the perimeter of its property to be under its protection, including its human ‘pack.’ Unlike a mastiff which can run up and pin a threat, the Great Pyrenees first line of defense is often a loud and intimidating bark. Disregard that first warning and predators and trespassers will then have to deal with a 130 LBS, dog which was bred to stand up to the likes of bears.
9. Perro De Presa Canario
This breed is also known as the canary dog – but don’t let that fool you. Any dog that was bred to drive cattle and hogs definitely has the foundation to be a big guard dog. The Perro De Presa Canario is just that. Throw in an incredibly strong prey Drive and territorial characteristic and you potentially have a guard dog no one wants to mess with. We say potentially because so much depends on how this breed of dog is raised and trained. You see, experts all agree that with the canary, the human must ensure they achieve pack leader status. If not, the dog can actually be dangerous and even harm other people who pose no threat. That’s said, as a guardian dog, the Presa Canario is naturally inclined to keep guard over its home and human ‘Pack.’ Thick, muscular and weighing 100 LBS or more, there is ample historical evidence to show how protective this dog can get when strangers and threats approach. For that reason, it deserves a mention in any list of large guard breeds.
10. Caucasian Shepherd
There are a lot of dogs that people think are big. There are just as many photoshopped images that are used to trick people into thinking certain dogs are bigger than they really are. Then there’s this breed 100% Photoshop free. If a Caucasian shepherd was charging at you, we could forgive you for mistaking it for a small bear. These things are huge and if you’re not familiar with dogs, they can be pretty scary. Weighing in at upwards of 220 LBS, this breed originated in southern Russia and the countries in the Caucasus Mountains region. For generations this powerful dog has been used to protect livestock from wolves and bears. In the home, its protective instincts are so strong that trainers urge strangers to be introduced one at a time by another respected ‘Pack’ member. Think of it as getting a valid security clearance. All of this combined with its massive size and proven ability is why many people consider the Caucasian shepherd to be the ultimate large guard dog. Just don’t run out and grab one for yourself, because these guys need a lot of space and a yard with good fencing. So, how many words does the average dog learn over its lifetime? The answer is “250.” From ‘Sit’ to ‘Fetch,’ the average dog is said to have the intelligence equivalent to a Two year old child when it comes to key words, phrases and even gestures.