Dogs are well known for their loyalty and companionship, and most are treated as members of our families. However, this was not always the case; dogs were originally kept as guardians of livestock and property, treated more as workers than family members.
Dogs that are considered to be successful guard dogs are usually big in stature to intimidate anyone who may be considering harming their property or companions. Canines who have been trained a guard dogs require special handling as they can be aggressive; couple that with their size and one can see why they require a trained handler.
The Doberman Pinscher is one breed that makes a great guard dog. They can be very intimidating to look at, particularly when their ears have been docked or cropped, a practice banned in most European countries. In the United States both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Humane Association opposes the practice of cropping or docking unless medically necessary. The breed originated in the late 1800’s in Germany, and is considered very intelligent.
For those with allergies who desire a guard dog, the Argentine Mastiff may be the dog for you. This massive dog can grow up to be 120 pounds of solid muscle, and they were originally bred to hunt boars. They are extremely loyal and intelligent, and have been used as military combat dogs. Since they tend to shed very little they make an excellent guard or pet for those with allergies.
There are a couple of dogs in the terrier group that work well as guard dogs and shed very little as well. The Kerry Blue Terrier and the Airedale Terrier are both larger dogs with little shedding. The Kerry Blue Terrier is native to Ireland and is extremely energetic, which means they need to be kept busy to keep out of trouble. The Kerry Blue requires a knowledgeable trainer as they are very aggressive towards people and other pets. The Airedale Terrier is a breed that originated in Britain for hunting and is a bit friendlier than the Kerry Blue, although they need a firm hand as well.
Dogs that are trained as guards may sometimes be used in law enforcement and by the military. One use that has increased considerably in the last few years is detection or sniffer dogs. These dogs are trained to sniff out bombs, human remains, endangered animals, drugs, guns, currency, and even bed bugs just to name a few. One way these dogs are trained is to take their favorite toy, hide an item inside of the toy (such as currency) and then play with the dog so they become accustomed to the scent. The dog learns that the scent is what they get rewarded for finding. Bloodhounds have such a keen sense of smell that the results can actually be entered into evidence in a court of law.
There are several breeds that law enforcement have deemed best for their particular jobs; Labs, German Shepherds, Beagles and Bloodhounds are best for finding cadavers, Bloodhounds, Coonhounds, Golden Retrievers and Australian Shepherds are best at tracking, and a wide variety of dogs are good for sniffing out illegal substances.