How Effective are Dogs for Home Protection?

by | Aug 14, 2018



I know a lot of people who own a gun for “home protection.” That’s one option. Another is having a dog. But how good are dogs for home protection? Here are some answers.

According to law enforcement, burglars like to (1) quickly enter a house, (2) don’t like light and (3) want to avoid creating noise. A dog, even a small one, can interfere with all three of these burglar goals.

watchdogs vs. guard dogs

When it comes to home protection, some dogs are better than others and can be thought of in at least two general categories:

Watchdogs: These are “alarm dogs” meaning that the dog will bark when there is a stranger on the property and alert the homeowner or neighbors. A small breed dog can be an effective alarm dog. Note, however, a dog  which is an incessant barker likely will not alert the neighbors to a break-in while you are away from the house. So, a dog that doesn’t bark all the time – just when there is a stranger – makes a better alarm dog.

Protection/Attack/Guard Dogs:  Technically, there are differences among these three categories of dogs, but are distinct from just having a watchdog as all three types are large dogs with advanced, specialized training. They will bark and snarl on command, and will attack an intruder. Common breeds are Belgian Malinois , Dobermans, German Shepherd Dog, Mastiffs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Rottweiler.

some surveys of criminals

Jack MacLean, author of Secrets of a Superthief, surveyed 300 prison inmates who’d been convicted of burglary or similar crimes. Notably,

  • 65% said that dogs of good size would scare them away while 35% said no dog would scare them away. Note, however, that there is some skepticism of  the 35% who say they wouldn’t be scared away by a dog that they are merely being boastful.
  • As for types of dogs which scare them away most here are the results of the inmate survey:


A survey of former burglars by a UK insurance company found that they are most likely to be put off breaking into a house where there are:

  1. Movement activated security lights
  2. Surveillance cameras on the property
  3. A dog on the property that will bark
  4. An alarm system

These guys are afraid of dogs

SOme advice

Based on my reading of a lot of articles on dogs and home protection, here’s some advice:

  • Having any dog is better than no dog when it comes to home protection
  • A larger dog is better than a smaller dog
  • A darker dog is better than a lighter colored dog
  • A dog that will bark at a stranger is usually better than a dog that doesn’t bark (the exception being trained attack dogs – they don’t necessarily bark at intruders, just attack them)
  • Having a dog breed such as a doberman that is a recognized guard dog breed is better for protection than a typical pet breed such as a retriever. Note that many guard dog breeds also make excellent pets.
  • Having a dog is not a substitute for taking other home protection steps such as having a some obvious cameras and an alarm system.

Dylan the Andorran Retriever is a good watchdog but not much of an attack dog


Many thanks to may daughter Audrey for thinking of this topic and doing most of the research for this IFOD.


  1. I think this IFod was good way are you to get to show a picture of. Dylan. Now, we need to think of an iFodthat will be an excuse to show a picture of my beautiful blond horse.

  2. Very interesting, Audrey. Thank you. And Dylan is adorable!

  3. Great job Audrey!


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