Are Golden Retrievers Good Guard Dogs?
The short answer to this question is “yes”, golden retrievers can make good guard dogs.
However, as you shall find, they are not your ideal guard dog. Therefore, if you have other dog breeds(Rottweiler, Doberman, GSD) that are known to be more efficient as guard dogs, then by all means go for them.
This post shall try to have an in-depth look into this question as well as other related information. Plus, you will learn how you can train your golden retriever and ensure he becomes effective as a guard dog.
Table of Contents
Are Guard Dogs Same As Attack Dogs?
Even before determining the suitability of your golden retriever as guard dog, it is imperative that you understand the difference between a guard dog and an attack dog.
Indeed, many pet owners have often used these terms interchangeably when they mean different things altogether.
A guard dog refers to a dog that is trained so that it can alert its owner of any impending danger. This could range from a stranger in the compound to an intruder, among other dangerous animals such as serpents.
As soon as it spots anything that it considers strange and dangerous, a guard dog should respond by barking, growling or any other vocalizations that signal danger.
On the other hand, attack dogs are trained to perform all the functions of a guard dog but instead of responding by growling or barking, the dog will go ahead to attack the stranger.
Evidently, attack dogs are more aggressive and respond better to attack commands as opposed to guard dogs. As soon as they detect potential intruders or threats, attack dogs immediately spring into action.
This is why they are commonly used by law-enforcement officers such as the police and security guards. However, it is important to remember that attack dogs will not always attack; most actually wait for an attack command by their handlers.
They can spot a stranger but only bark to try and warn them of advancing further, as well as warn their owners of a possible threat. However, as long as the stranger is in sight, attack dogs are always poised to turn aggressive.
Careful training is important for both attack and guard dogs, especially for attack dogs since they can respond impulsively and harm an intruder.
Therefore, many pet owners will do just fine with a guard dog as opposed to an attack dog.
As we have already mentioned, golden retrievers make for great guard dogs, only that they may require heightened training to have them hone their skills for this role. But just what qualities are required in a guard dog?
Qualities To Look For In A Guard Dog
First and foremost, it is important to remember that a great guard dog is not one that reacts out of pure aggression, fear or anxiety.
Instead, the dog should only be territorial or protective of the owner and the owner’s property (which includes all members of the household, other pets and generally, the compound).
While it exhibits all these traits, the dog should also demonstrate profound loyalty and obedience to its owner.
Another thing you might want to look out for in a good guard dog is confidence. You do not need a dog that will be easy to frighten.
Confidence enables the dog to carefully discern the intruder and establish whether or not they could pose a serious threat to their owners.
Confidence will also spur the dog’s curiously, enabling it investigate any new person. It takes months of training and socialization to make a dog easy with people.
Assertiveness is yet another great trait of a good guard dog. Assertiveness is a means through which the dog broadcasts its power over its territory.
Assertive dogs do not just bark to send a warning to strangers, they will also maintain their position even in the face of imminent threat from the intruder. If it really comes down to it, they will advance and try to scare away the stranger.
Sociability and trainability are also some major traits to look out for in a guard dog. Your golden retriever needs to be well-socialized for him to instinctively recognize a suspicious intruder.
Apart from being sociable, the dog should also be fairly easy to train. There are specific commands that can only be learnt through months of training.
And since the main purpose of your dog is to have them guard you, you will want them to understand all the commands that pertain to guarding.
Interestingly, size plays a very insignificant role when choosing a guard dog. You will find smaller breeds just as effective as larger ones. Having looked at these traits, do golden retrievers make for good guard dogs?
Can Golden Retrievers Be Trained As Guard Dogs?
Even before we get to the training part, it is important to understand if there are qualities in a golden retriever that could qualify it as a great guard dog.
First and foremost, golden retrievers are known to be very loyal. This is why they are some of the dog breeds that are easier to bond with.
Their loyalty to their owners is so strong that even if the dog had to be separated from its owner, it would strive hard to reunite with them.
Golden retrievers have also been known to stand up to intruders whenever their owner’s life is threatened. Regardless of their age or size, golden retrievers will put up a good fight to ensure they see off the threat.
For example, a story is told of a golden retriever named Yogi who fought hard to save the life of Paul Horton, his owner.
Paul suffered an accident that left him unable to perform some of the basic functions. Thankfully, Yogi was always around to supply its owner’s needs.
As a matter of fact, there are times when the dog was so loyal that he found it hard to leave the owner’s side. But it was also wise enough to know that failing to fetch whatever Paul wanted would only see his owner suffering even more.
Sadly, Paul still ended up paralyzed, but his golden retriever was instrumental in preventing his early death. It is this kind of loyalty that makes golden retrievers fierce defenders of their owners.
You can find more on the story here.
The name “retriever’” is derived from “retrieve”. Originally, these dogs were bred and trained for hunting in Scotland.
Their main aim was to retrieve a bird from the bushes or thickets after their owners had successfully down the bird.
Evidently, they did not take an active role in hunting, which is to say they are not very aggressive dogs. However, they demonstrated total obedience to their owners, and were remarkably lauded for their ability to master commands fast.
Intelligence is a key consideration when looking for a guard dog, and golden retrievers have confirmed that when it comes to intelligence, they are a cut above most other dog breeds.
Their intelligence comes in handy in various ways. For starters, golden retrievers are fairly easier to train since they master commands very fast.
They are also intelligent enough to know that obedience to their owners is part and parcel of their roles as guard dogs. So all you need is to shout a short command and the dog will respond appropriately.
Retrievers have been known to weave their way around complicated city labyrinths and major crowds, occasionally reuniting with their owners after shortly getting disconnected.
Thanks to their sharp intelligence, a retriever will easily discern a situation and determine how to respond. Highly-socialized retrievers hardly forget faces. They especially have a sharp memory to not forget those situations that gave them the fright.
When used as guard dogs for the blind, these dogs are smart enough to know the shortest, most convenient and safest routes around.
They take fairly shorter durations to get acquainted with their surroundings, and will easily mark dangerous spots in their neighborhood.
Their smartness, coupled with their unparalleled love for their owners, has seen golden retrievers being increasingly recommended for people with epileptic seizures. Retrievers can detect when a seizure is imminent and react appropriately.
As we mentioned earlier, being a successful guard dog has very little to do with size.
However, their relatively larger size makes them quite intimidating to strangers and intruders.
Golden retrievers complement their intelligence, obedience and loyalty with a large body size that easily scares away intruders.
When everything else is considered, a large dog is more likely to stop an intruder right in their tracks than a smaller one, and this is where size aspect comes in.
So, can you train a golden retriever to be a guard dog? Yes you can, but there is a caveat, as discussed in the next session.
But Why Are Retrievers Not Your Ideal Guard Dog?
First, golden retrievers have a sharp instinct to protect. This should sound good to anyone looking for a guard dog, only that it doesn’t.
Due to their deep instinct to protect, your golden retriever will try to keep by your side at all times; and that is regardless of whether there is an oncoming car, a serpent slithering into your house or any other threat.
Also, retrievers are relatively quiet dogs. Again, you do not need a dog that barks at virtually anything. However, an overly quiet dog may not make a great guard dog. Instead of barking off a burglar, the dog may simply choose to not sound any alarm.
So, Are Golden Retrievers Good Guard Dogs?
It all depends on how you train the dog.
With proper training combined with ample socialization, your golden retriever can come out as one of the best guard dogs you could ever have. However, you are better off with other breeds for a guard dog.
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