Are German Shepherds Good Guard Dogs? Everything You Need To Know
Camille Bataille
Author: Camille Bataille
Camille, a dedicated veterinary professional, has a profound commitment to providing expert care, especially for German Shepherds.
Published date: August 3, 2021
Updated date: May 25, 2023
This article was reviewed and fact checked If you have found any errors, please contact us!

Are German Shepherds Good Guard Dogs? Everything You Need To Know

German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds around the world, and it is no wonder why!

They are loving, loyal, beautiful and make for a fierce furry companion. But do they make good guard dogs?

Humans have had protection and guard dogs for centuries.

Dogs can serve as powerful, impressive and aggressive protectors of their owners, which is perfect for those who want to defend themselves or guard their homes.

It is for these reasons that some dog breeds are more suited for being K9 dogs or police dogs as they can ward off criminals and protect their human police partners from harm’s way. 

These types of protective dogs are typically Belgian Malinois, Bloodhounds, Boxers, and Bull Mastiffs, so what about German Shepherds? Do German Shepherds make good guard dogs?

That is what this guide is here to tell you! 

German Shepherds make exceptional guard dogs, and are the perfect breed for personal protection dogs as they are very loyal, protective, highly intelligent and trainable.

In addition, German Shepherds are naturally very athletic, strong and active animals, which would ward off unwanted visitors or attackers if needed. 

Due to their outgoing nature and high intelligence, German Shepherds do need a lot of training and mental stimulation.

Therefore, it is paramount that a German Shepherd has early training, socialization and a confident or experienced owner to take the lead. 

Some people confuse German Shepherds with similar breeds like the Belgian Malinois or the Husky, and so let’s take a closer look at the German Shepherd as a dog, why they were bred, and the history of the breed, to see whether they are cut out to be guard dogs!


What exactly is a German Shepherd?

A German Shepherd is a working breed of dog, and one of the most popular breeds in America. They are also known as the Alsatian in some locations.

The German Shepherd is a very intelligent dog, and is considered a working dog. 

This means that it was initially bred for a specific reason and role.

Much like the Golden Retriever or Labrador Retriever was bred to retrieve game and animals from a hunt,  the German Shepherd was bred to herd animals and sheep.  

You can identify a German Shepherd by its mixture of soft browns, dark browns, beige and black coat, pointed ears and shaggy fur. Although, some can be short-haired, and can even be born black. 

German Shepherds are large dogs, usually tan and black and can live for about 10-14 years.

To understand whether these types of dogs are perfect for personal protection and as guard dogs, let’s dive into the history of this shaggy-haired canine companion. 

The History of German Shepherds And Why They Were Bred

As previously mentioned, most dog breeds were initially bred for a specific purpose, role or job.

For instance, you can have Hounds, Terriers, Working, Herding, Sporting and Non-Sporting dogs, along with Toy dogs and companion dogs. 

This means that some breeds were made for a purpose. The German Shepherd has actually not been around that long in comparison to other breeds.

Despite its regal look and wolf-like features, the German Shepherd dates back to about 1899.

As the name suggests, the German Shepherd is a herding dog, initially bred to herd and look after sheep or other livestock. 

Although the modern German Shepherd may be way down the line from its herding ancestors, the initial and original desired characteristics in this breed will have been passed on.

This means that even after centuries of breeding, certain traits and behaviors are deeply embedded into the nature and genetics of the German Shepherd. 

Even years after dogs were domesticated and bred, the modern dog still exhibits traits of its ancestors by playing with sticks, carrying its toys around or showing signs of aggression towards other dogs. 

As such, German Shepherds are still herding, working dogs at heart. They have so much energy, are very agile, and remain close and loyal to their owners.

As herding dogs, the German Shepherd would work very closely with its owner, building up a close bond and becoming very loyal to them after spending hours working with them each day.

The German Shepherd would not only herd the sheep and livestock, but would also fiercely guard and protect the flock if needed.

As a result, the German Shepherd breed would need to be loyal, trainable, obedient, protective, strong and intelligent in order to suit its role of shepherd and protector. 

As times changed, and there was less of a demand for herding and agricultural work, the German Shepherds adapted into becoming police dogs, as many of their obedient behaviors made it the perfect role for them too.

Since then, they are seen more as guard dogs and personal protection dogs than herding animals. 


What Is The Definition Of A Guard Dog?

Guard dogs, by definition are working dogs that are typically naturally intelligent, easily trained and protective of their owners.

This means that they are willing and able to perform specific protective roles and tasks that they have been trained to do, in order to guard and protect the home or their owners. 

On the other hand, personal protective dogs are generally family pets who are very loyal, willing and capable of defending themselves, or their owners and family members from danger.

The main difference between a personal protection dog and a guard dog is that a personal protection dog is a family pet, who is capable of protecting its owners, whereas a guard dog is specifically trained to protect and guard, with a range of actions to attack, defend or guard certain people, homes or family members.  

As either type of dog would need to have similar characteristics, a good personal protection dog would also make a good guard dog, and so the two often go hand in hand.

Due to their longing for obedience, and willingness to learn and be trained, German Shepherds can make excellent guard or personal protection dogs. 

Types Of Guard Dogs

It may surprise you to find that there are various different types of guard dogs. For instance, you can have Alarm Guard Dogs.

These dogs will be trained to bark in an intimidating way that will ward off potential intruders or threats, whilst also alerting you and everyone around you that there is a threat imminent. 

Alarm Dogs are usually trained for this purpose only, and will therefore not be trained to take the situation any further and attack.

German Shepherds make good Alarm Dogs as they have very good hearing, and very deep, threatening and scary, loud barks that would scare away robbers or intruders in the night easily. 

On the other hand, you can have Attack Dogs. Now, these dogs will be very highly trained so that they can attack on demand (not at will).

These dogs will typically always be looking to their owner for instruction, and able to attack at the click of a finger or on command, and will stop as soon as instructed. 

Attack Dogs are usually trained professionally for police or military service, and should not be owned as personal pets as they can be dangerous.

You would need to be an experienced dog handler to keep one of these types of dogs.

As very intelligent dogs, and ones that can be trained to a very high standard, German Shepherds also make good attack dogs

You can also have Sentry Guard Dogs. These types of guard dogs are usually owned in order to look after a home or large property such as a farm, warehouse or private land.

This is because they will roam, take laps and watch out for any potential threats. 

These dogs may bark to alert you of intruders, or to ward them off, and can also attack or defend the property when faced with a threat or danger. 


Why German Shepherds Make Good Protection Dogs

German Shepherds have a lot of natural traits and characteristics that make them the perfect breed for guard dogs. For instance, they are very very loyal creatures.

This is largely due to the fact that they were bred as herders, and would work closely and long hours with one person.

Therefore, they are prone to bonding and becoming attached to their owners, loving them wholeheartedly and with great loyalty and devotion.

In addition, German Shepherds were bred to protect the flock, and they will continue to do so with their families and owners.

German Shepherds are fierce and faithful creatures, and will put themselves on the line if it means protecting the ones they love. 

They are also very strong, athletic and active dogs, with good physical strength.

This means that they make very good guard dogs as they are able to defend you and themselves, but also attack intruders and threatening characters. 

They also look very intimidating, and many people are aware of the breed, how to identify them and that they are frequently kept as protection dogs.

As a large dog with a very commanding bark, fast movements and large, bared teeth, they are able to ward off threats with ease. 

One of the most useful traits that German Shepherds possess is their ability to learn. These dogs are so intelligent, and love having a schedule, tasks, and tricks to learn.

They thrive off obedience training, and are willing to please you as best as they can. 

This is why they make such good guard dogs as you can train them to bark, alert you and act on command, but also stop on command.

This is perfect for attack dogs, who will need to engage when triggered, and cease when told to. 

It is therefore not advisable to have an untrained guard dog, as they may bite an intruder, but not let go when you ask them to.

You have to be able to call them off and calm them down on command, or you could get yourself and your dog in some hot water. 

German Shepherds are exceptional guard dogs as they are very loyal, eager to please, and willing to be trained.

However, they will need to be trained by a professional, and by a dog handler who is used to training a working guard dog. 


How To Train A German Shepherd To Be A Guard Dog

In order to have a well rounded and trained guard dog, your German Shepherd will need to be properly socialized, well mannered, manageable, and happy.

You will have to expose your German Shepherd to a range of people, situations and other animals in order to train them properly.

This means having your dog properly adjusted to people of different sizes, stature, race, gender, along with dogs, cats, and other stimuli.

This will ensure that you are able to control and command your dog under a range of conditions and circumstances without fail.

You also have to keep up with regular training, along with a lot of exercise and quality time with your dog.

German Shepherds need a lot of attention and mental stimulation, so will need to be well exercised, and have lots of toys and things to play with.

Due to their active and intelligent nature, without a lot of stimulation, they can be prone to destructive or naughty behavior. 

As the owner, you also have to be trained and prepared to care for your guard dog.

You will need to be assertive, strong and confident in handling your dog, able to command them and communicate with them with ease.

You will have to be the Alpha in your home if you want to keep a guard or protection dog. 


To summarize, German Shepherds are a wonderful breed. They are highly intelligent dogs, and can excel at pretty much anything they do.

Whether it is training them for tricks, agility, or as guide and assistance dogs, German Shepherds are an exceptional choice.

They can do work for the disabled and handicapped, or become police and military dogs. 

They can even be used as drug detection dogs, or search and rescue dogs due to their obedience, agility and ability to learn.

Most importantly, these dogs are the perfect companions, and will love and protect you with all of their heart.


1. Do German Shepherds make good guard dogs?

Answer: Yes, German Shepherds make excellent guard dogs due to their loyalty, protective nature, high intelligence, and trainability. They are also naturally strong and athletic, making them able to ward off unwanted visitors or attackers if needed.

2. What is the history of the German Shepherd breed?

Answer: The German Shepherd breed originated in 1899 and was initially bred to herd and protect sheep and livestock. Over time, they have adapted to become police dogs and guard dogs due to their loyalty, obedience, and protective nature.

3. Can German Shepherds be trained as attack dogs?

Answer: Yes, German Shepherds can be trained as attack dogs as they are highly intelligent and willing to learn. However, it is important to note that attack dogs should only be trained by professionals and experienced handlers as they can be dangerous.

4. What types of guard dogs are there?

Answer: There are various types of guard dogs, including alarm guard dogs, attack dogs, and sentry guard dogs. Alarm guard dogs will bark to intimidate potential intruders or threats, while attack dogs are highly trained to attack on command. Sentry guard dogs are trained to watch over a property and will bark to alert their owners of any potential threats.

5. How do I train my German Shepherd to be a guard dog?

Answer: Proper socialization, regular training, and a lot of exercise and mental stimulation are key in training a German Shepherd to be a guard dog. It is important to expose your dog to a range of people, situations, and other animals in order to train them properly. Additionally, owners must be assertive and confident in handling their dogs to establish themselves as the Alpha in the home.

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