The popular conception or rather misconception of a guard dog is of a ferocious, large dog which is always defending, attacking, or even killing on command. Some may also use the term to refer to dogs which guard homes or are used for personal protection. However, there is the distinction between dogs used for personal protection and the dogs which are trained for guarding the personal property and for patrolling the premises. They commonly fall under three categories: the alarm dog, sentry dog, and attack dogs.
While alarm dogs are trained to bark, the sentry dogs take up the job of patrolling and safeguarding the premises. The attack dogs, on the other hand, are trained to attack, bite, and if necessary, kill. They are used in the Armed Forces and by the police. The concept of guard dogs also encompasses protection dogs which are trained to defend and save a family in a crisis. These guard dogs not only serve the purpose of safeguarding the home and its owners, but are also good with children and families.
Guard Dogs Suitable for Children
Airedale Terrier: Originating from the Aire valley in Yorkshire, England, the Airedale is referred to as the "king of terriers". This medium to large terrier dog breed is characterized by a tan coat and a black body saddle. Bred initially to hunt small game, this terrier dog breed is a wonderful family and guard dog. Although these dogs, with their active playful nature, are excellent for children, adult supervision might be required when there are toddlers or younger kids around. This is because their rough and often excited play can result in a toddler being knocked off his feet.
Black Russian Terrier: Majestic and beautiful, Black Russian Terriers are great guard dogs that are good with kids. They are highly intelligent, brave, and have confident personalities. This large dog breed originated in Russia to incorporate the good qualities of other working dogs. They are known for their self-assured, loyal, and aloof nature. With children and other family members, the innate protective instinct of this dog breed is well manifested. If a child is in danger or approached by someone the dog is not familiar with, the Black Russian Terrier may decide to protect the child. When socialized early, they are extremely friendly with kids and love playing around with them. However, being active they require constant exercise and the loving attention of a family.
Boxer: This medium-sized stocky guard dog was developed in Germany. They are great for family protection and are actually known to possess an uncanny sense of discriminating when it comes to judging the character of people. Broad short skulls, a square muzzle, and strong jaws are some characteristics that mark Boxer dogs. They are available in fawn and brindle colors with white flashes on the underbelly and feet. It is surprising how these energetic, fun loving, often clownish dogs are so patient and stoical with children. They even endure the tail and ear pulling or when the child falls over them with a calmness and understanding that is quite surprising. However, children should be taught not pester it a lot, especially when the dog is sleeping or eating.
Mastiff: Used as sentry dogs in Europe, this dog breed is known to use its huge size and weight for deterring people. Most often referred to as an Old English Mastiff, the primarily role of this breed is to guard property. Even-tempered, calm with no vicious strain, the Mastiff can make for great pets. They are gentle and patient with children they have grown up with. Most of them take it upon themselves to watch the kids and act as their surrogate parent and guardian. So strangers wanting to approach young kids better watch out for the big ferocious "woofs".
Newfoundland: This giant of a dog is known for its tremendous strength and a surprisingly sweet disposition. Developed for hauling out fishing nets and cats, this is a good watch and guard dog. Made famous for its sea rescue feats, this cuddly "bear dog" makes for great pets for families with children. Their gentle, calm disposition and large size make them immune to the roughness of toddlers and younger children. A lot of harassment will only make it move away, but it will keep a steady watch on the children. And should any danger threaten them, like a deep pool or busy highway, then you can be sure that your Newfoundland will be there to nudge it gently toward safety.
For a guard dog, it is essential that proper training is provided, else the result is a dangerous dog which may attack and bite. Discourage any aggressive play and always supervise the dogs when they are with the younger kids. When the dog is old enough, enroll it into a training school.