The Best Guard Dog for TEOTWAWKI

There are several attributes a dog needs in order to be a good guard dog.  I’m talking about an all around TEOTWAWKI dog here, not just a guard dog.  This dog should be able to stand guard duty while you’re out, walk the kids down to the stream to get water and make sure they get back safely, help in a hunt, and rip out an intruders throat when they try to break in at night.  They need to be big enough to hold their own in a fight, but not so big they eat the entire cache of food you’ve been storing in the basement.  They have to be intelligent and independent yet respect your authority and that of your family. 

There are several breeds out there that meet this criteria, but my personal belief is that the German Shepherd is the best all around TEOTWAWKI dog.  Let me explain why this is my favorite.

First of all I spent some time looking at lists of “Top Ten Guard Dogs” on the internet and found the GSD (German Shepherd Dog) on every single one of them.  There are different lists, but I found a lot of the same dogs usually floating around in or near the top ten.  Shepherds never placed at number one; however, the other dogs that placed in front of it I ruled out for the following reasons.

The Bullmastiff usually placed high and I’ve got to admit the only downfall with this dog is his size.  The average mastiff weighs in between 110 – 130 lbs.  That’s a lot of dog and he’s going to eat a lot of food.  Other than that this dog is an excellent choice.

The others were a little easier to knock out of the competition.  These were the Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler, Komondor, and the Giant Schnauzer.  There are many others of course, but I lump them into the same category as the others.  These dogs either are too big, too small, or have aggression issues.  For example, the Rottweiler is a fantastic guard dog, but needs someone with a serious alpha dog attitude to be it’s master.  Probably three-quarters of behavioral problems out there are due to the dog thinking it’s the boss and not the other way around and that goes for any dog.  I’m not saying these aren’t all good guard dogs because they are.  Exceptional even, but to have a good dog that will protect and LISTEN to your younger family members is critical and like I noted earlier, some of these dogs need to have a strong master. 


A Komondor – never heard of one, but they’re supposed to be good guard dogs.


I had a GSD named Doc Holliday and he was an excellent guard dog as well as a family member.  He loved my daughter and her friends and would play with them as gently as if they were his own puppies, but if you were a stranger you didn’t want to walk up and try and grab one of the girls.  Not while he was on watch.

S3010002 Doc Holliday – At My Camper

S3010001Me and Doc 

When I was diving for a living I’d leave him on the pontoon boat to guard the gear while I was down and I never had a problem with stuff disappearing!

There are many other types of breeds that make good guard dogs, but having owned a GSD I was quite taken with his intelligence, loyalty to the family, and physical ability, not to mention their noble and handsome appearance.   Some people are put off by them because they have a reputation for biting. 

Like any dog you have to be very careful when picking it out.  Check for physical problems as well as psychological issues like nervousness or over aggressiveness.  Make sure you meet the parents if at all possible.  Any of these breeds are susceptible to problems, but with proper screening you can get an animal that will enjoy a long healthy life and at the same time be very stable and loving to your family.

One last note about owning dogs and I apologize to those of you who have owned or currently own a dog and are successful with it.  The more intelligent breeds – listed as Border Collies, Poodles, German Shepherds (they come in third in intelligence) and others – need exercise and something to keep them busy or else they are liable to become a problem for you.  These are work dogs and they enjoy having a job.  If you get one of these animals and leave it inside twelve hours a day without exercise you’re likely to come home and find a big mess on your hands.  Take the time to exercise and mentally challenge your dog and you will have a happy member of the family.

I’ll leave you with a quote from gopetsamerica.

As protection dogs, quality German Shepherds are regarded highly. Their alertness, loyalty, combined with high intelligence, and a love of children make them a superb choice. According to one of the most famous guard dog trainers, Captain Haggerty, “This is the best all-around guard dog.”

Here’s a few Youtube vids:

GSD Attack Training – Good training vid.  The “bad guy” better be happy the dog had a muzzle on.  (1:53)

GSD Bites a Reporter – this is an excellent video showing how it’s smart to know a dog before getting too close.  When I started watching this video I could tell from the dog’s body language that the reporter was stepping over his boundaries.  The cop should have known better too.  Good explanation at the end of why the dog did what he did. (2:58)

Military Guard Dog – showing his love for the camera.  Wouldn’t you rather have this working for you instead of against you?  (:20)

Breed All About It – (3:00) excellent Animal Planet video about the GSD breed.  I love the quote at the end, “The German Shepherd may not be the best biting dog, it may not be the best tracking dog, it may not be the best obedience dog, but there is no dog that will do all three better than the German Shepherd will on average.” – Mike Holbrook

K-9 vs Criminal – I’m not sure what kind of dog this was, but I’m including it because you can see how an average size dog can take on a huge man and conquer him.  There’s some violence in this one.  (:58)

Dogs 101 German Shepherd – Another excellent video about the breed.  Police training, Rin Tin Tin, good and bad points (do they shed?  Oh my yes, they sure do) and more in this vid.  (5:05)

On the lighter side – If you have any doubts about how vicious one of these dogs can be watch this terrible twosome attack a black lab.  (1:05)  :-)

 I LOVE German Shepherds.  Can you tell?

 What’s your favorite TEOTWAWKI dog?

 Jarhead Survivor

17 comments… add one
  • Jerry November 30, 2010, 8:30 am

    I agree 100%. I love German Shepherds and have had 3 of them over the years. We now have a puppy that’s half GSD and half Rott.

    Check out what a top notch GSD that is highly trained in attack, guard, food refusal, escort, etc can cost – 50K-75K and up – one article I read said some go for….get this, up to 200K.

  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. November 30, 2010, 8:46 am

    I lost my 14 year old dog this summer, he had a long good run. Great dog, especially for watching our city lot. Didn’t bark unless he thought it needed my attention. He was a mutt, an Australian Shepard / Chow mix. About 50 pounds, very smart, very quick. Well tempered with my two kids, we miss him.

    His replacement hasn’t proven nearly as smart, but I partially attribute the new neighbors dogs, who are BAD influences – bark at every shadow – cat – bird that crosses their line of vision. She does seem to be wising up though.

    Good post – thanks Jarhead.

  • Jarhead Survivor November 30, 2010, 10:01 am

    @Jerry – those are some pretty incredible prices for a dog! But then again, the amount of time that goes into training them has to be insane. GSDs rule!

    @j.r. guerra – sorry to hear about your dog j.r. I was crushed when I lost Doc.

    Mutt’s can be some of the best dogs, but it’s hard to try and reproduce them which is why a standard breed is good. My next favorite dog of all time was a mutt that was part chow and part golden retriever. Fantastic dog and pretty to boot.

  • Jennie November 30, 2010, 11:01 am

    Hey Jarhead,
    I don’t know if you saw it or not, but I had a question back on the 2nd winter campout post. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  • Jarhead Survivor November 30, 2010, 11:27 am

    Hi Jennie,

    I did not see your question until just now and I left an answer under that post. Thanks for reading!

    -Jarhead Survivor

  • Presager Buddy November 30, 2010, 4:49 pm

    I have to agree with you that the German Sheppard would be my choice as well. I’ve always wanted one. I’m just not home enough to have a dog. It’s not fair to them, as much as I would love to have one, to leave them alone all day. German Sheppards also make excellent “seeing eye dogs”.

  • 3rdMan November 30, 2010, 8:21 pm

    Have a German Shepherd. He is 6 years old. Great dog he is always at my side when I’m home. He is very loyal.

    Those prices are a little out there. LE dog take approx 6 months to train not including the continues in service training the officer must do. They are bite trained, handler protection trained, and usually trained drug detection or bomb detection but never both. The point is they only run around 10000 fully trained and that is with them coming from Germany.
    My personal German Shepherd cost 3000 and come from a German line and not an American line. There is a difference!

  • 3rdMan November 30, 2010, 8:25 pm

    Justed add this at end. It look like the statement was directed at Jerry but it was not. Sorry if it appeared that way. Relized it might look like that only after I already posted.

    “My personal German Shepherd cost 3000 and come from a German line and not an American line. There is a difference!”

  • Cliffystones November 30, 2010, 8:37 pm

    When I was a kid (the late 1960s), my dad’s best friend had a German Shepard. “Farrell” was so smart we taught him to play Hide-and-seek with us kids! And he was a coy one, he would let the meter readers in, and then block their way out until someone in the house came out and called him off. Some despicable a-hole poisoned him, but our friend never could prove who it was, though he had his suspicions.

    If you are not at home much, but you still want “noisemakers”, I highly recommend Pomeranians. They have been stereotyped in the media as “fru-fru” dogs, but they do well when left alone and don’t need a lot of outdoor activity. My wife and I brought home 2 from the same litter in 1995. Once we got them potty trained, “George” and “Gracie” became loyal members of the family. And they would put up one hell of a fuss when strangers showed up. They never dug holes or tore up furniture, clothes etc. They spent their mornings and early afternoons chasing squirrels out of the backyard.

    George passed away a couple of years ago from prostate cancer. Gracie is still alive and surprisingly active for a 15 year old dog. When she growls I tell my wife that she sounds like pigeon on steroids :).

  • Shotzeedog November 30, 2010, 9:48 pm

    Our 15 1/2 year old Shotzeedog was a GSD and she was very intelligent , quiet, loyal AND very well trained. We missed her so much after she died that we adopted a rescued GSD that is about 3 to 5 years old. She is not like our old shotzeedog but is very close and we think that we will have a very good dog in her.

  • Jarhead Survivor December 1, 2010, 7:56 am

    Thanks for the comments everybody. Glad to see I’m not the only guy out there that thinks highly of German Shepherds! My dog Doc was a complete clown when it was family members, but let someone knock on the door and he would bark so deep you could (literally) feel it in the floorboards.

  • robert December 1, 2010, 12:03 pm

    I’ve had shephards, dobies, but a few years ago I got an old time mountain fiest. He has got to be the best survival dog I have ever seen. Only weighs about 22lbs. but whoops the neighbors rott every time it gets loose. Loves to hunt squirrels and rabbits. Fantastic guard dog, really protects my girlfriend. Doesn’t eat much at all. If you every wondered where the word fiesty came from that’s it.

  • dancenbear December 1, 2010, 7:50 pm

    nothing against shepherds their great dogs but it surprised me not to see any pit bulls mentioned i have owned pits most my life and i can tell you the breed is way misunderstood in my opinion when it comes to brains ,loyalty ,strength, agility,and the sheer intimidation aspect of having one on your property is unrivaled . and when socialized properly temperament is a non issue , and hands down no dog is as loyal to its family as a pit bull hence their nickname (the nanny dog)

  • 3rdman December 1, 2010, 9:16 pm


    Had a pit bull but he died about 8 years back. Raised him from a puppy, still think about him and miss him. I think he was every bit as smart as my GSD if not smarter. They have heck of a bite at 2000 psi compared to the German Shepherd of 700 psi. This is why when they lock onto someone you can not get them off. Yes they are misunderstood dogs only because of some shit bag owners out there. Mine was very loyal and loving dog to everyone in the family including my kids.

    • dancenbear December 1, 2010, 10:43 pm

      mine have pet rabbits & ferrets they play with and love my friends & family but if you come near my fence and they dont know you there is no more playing i didnt have to teach them that they just do it but if you walk in with me they are likely to lick you to death nothing against other breeds because i love all dogs (well most dogs that are not ankle biters)but i will never own anything but a pit again! another good thing about pits is they are short haired and those of you that have shepherds know the problems you can have with shedding

  • Jarhead Survivor December 2, 2010, 8:16 am

    @Dancenbear & 3rdman – Honestly, I’ve never had much exposure to pitbulls other than the horror stories you hear on the news and didn’t really consider them for this post, althought they were mentioned in several of the articles I reviewed when I was researching this. One of the reasons I didn’t mention them was because of the length of this post. If I were to include all the possible guard dogs out there and wrote a few words about each I could easily write a 3000 word post!

    The other reason I didn’t mention it was simply because of my ignorance of the breed. You aren’t the first to say that pits are great dogs and I believe you. And you are so right about GSDs shedding! My daughter alternated between calling Doc a German Shredder because of the way he barked and growled when someone knocked on the door and a German Shedder because of the clumps of hair he left around the house.

    Thanks for the comments.

    -Jarhead Survivor

  • Jukando December 12, 2010, 9:21 am

    I grew up with German Sheppard’s and I owned one Rottie as an adult, and I have had the same experience with them as I did German Sheppard’s… People were amazed when my small daughter (3, parent nearby)would be seen walking our rottie down the street and the rottie healing next to her and listening to her. Our rottie was smart, loyal; family oriented, and could be fierce if and when an outsider made my wife nervous, it happened only twice. She did not need to attack the outsider knew better than try anything, for our rottie was alert and let them know it was either going to be her or them and they backed down. She was great with Kids and their parents, every one that knew us were amazed, because of all the negative press Rotties had back then. Well anyways she died at 11 years old of cancer in my arms, and she was the best dog I ever owned.


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