Guard Dog Vs Watchdog – What Is The Difference

Best Guard Dogs German Shepherds

While having alarm systems set up for your home and property is a good initial investment that will secure and protect the area. Some people would rather prefer a well-trained watchdog or guard dog for personal protection. By having both an alarm system and a dog on your property, not only will your dog enhance the security system you already have in place, but they will also offer you a great companion for many years to come.

But, what is the difference between a guard dog and a watchdog? While they are both protection dogs, you may hear these terms interchanged a lot during a conversation and used to describe the same thing, but in reality, they are very different. While it’s important to know the difference between these types of dogs, it all comes down to the type of training you are giving your dog.

Watchdogs vs Guard Dogs, What Is The Difference Between Them?

A watchdog would alert you if they feel that something isn’t normal. They could be a small, medium, or large dog, and while a small toy breed dog would bark and be able to notify you if a stranger knocks on your door and wait for your assistance, they wouldn’t be able to deter and protect your property as much as a larger breed could.

While guard dogs can also alert you, with proper training, they will also attempt to intimidate the threat, whether it’s human or animal, defend their territory, and attack the threat if needed. Continue reading to get a better understanding of the difference between the two.

So, What Is A Watch Dog?

A watchdog will be aware of their surroundings and will alert their owner, by barking loudly, if they notice something out of place, or sense someone they are not familiar with. A good watchdog will be trained to determine if the threat is unusual, only barking at actual threats.

While most dogs will naturally bark at something they see as a threat, you won’t need to have any specialized training for them. You should however train them to only alert you of actual threats and unwanted intruders with positive reinforcement so that over time they will learn to only notify you of precarious situations.

small watchdog dachshund

What Should You Look For In A Watchdog?

Some of the best traits you would want to look for in a watchdog would be for them to be is bold, brave, and be aware of their surroundings. You wouldn’t expect them to attack a threat, but you should expect them to bark and make a lot of noise to make everyone aware of something that just isn’t right to them. While most larger dogs great watchdogs, some great small watchdogs would include the Chihuahua or the Dachshund. While the Shiba Inu, Shetland Sheepdog, and the American Eskimo Dog will be some of the better medium size watchdogs.

What Is A Guard Dog?

A guard dog will be aware of its surroundings and keep an eye out for anything it was trained to see as a threat and protect the property. These dogs will usually be larger in size, do well with obedience training, and are loyal to their owners. They will not be an overly aggressive dog, but more of a protective type. Guard dogs are not for inexperienced owners, as these dogs will need to be properly trained so the dogs are able to determine if the threat is an enemy or a friend, as an untrained or poorly trained guard dog can do some serious damage.

Guard dogs with special training will attempt to scare the threat, human or otherwise, at first by barking or growling at them from a safe distance to intimidate the threat while holding their ground, with the expectation of the threat leaving. If this initial display of intimidation doesn’t work as expected, the guard dog will attack and attempt to neutralize the threat by knocking them down or possibly biting at them if necessary.

What Should You Look For In A Guard Dog?

When looking for a guard dog, the first thing you will want to look for in a dog is a good temperament where they will not be overly aggressive or fearful. You will want an intelligent dog breed with the ability to be obedient and understand if something that is a threat or not. A dog that is confident by nature and will not back down from a threat.

And at the same time, you will want a dog that is loyal and can be affectionate to its owner and family. Some of the more popular guard dogs would be the Akita, Bullmastiff, Doberman Pincher, German Shepherd, Giant Schnauzer, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Rottweiler, and the Tibetan Mastiff. These can make excellent guard dog breeds.


Whether you are looking for a guard dog or watchdog to help prevent intruders from coming into your home or property, you should always do some research before you get one. Look into resources such as the internet, a pet store, or ask your family and friends for their thoughts. You can always check with and ask a dog breeder questions about the type of dog you are looking at. They will usually be very friendly and helpful in determining if the breed they specialize with will be a good match. Be patient and make sure you pick a dog that will be a good match for you and is what you’re looking for.  If you are looking for guard dogs, you will want to seek out an experienced trainer which has made training guard dogs their specialty and has done so for many years.

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