When considering the addition of an English bulldog to your home, one of the factors that can be important to most individuals and families is, will the dog make a good guard dog? Considering some of the very distinct personality traits that bulldogs are known for, I set out to find out just how well an English bulldog would do as a guard dog.
Do English bulldogs make good guard dogs? English bulldogs can inherently make good guard dogs just based on their personality, strength, and loyalty, though there are some challenges to training an English bulldog to be a guard dog.
While English bulldogs do have a great appearance and physique for being a guard dog, some challenges are unique to English bulldogs that should be considered when adding one to your family to be a guard dog.
Related: Are Bulldogs Good with Kids?
Top Traits to Look for In a Guard Dog
One of the main things to consider when looking for a new guard dog is what type of guard dog you are looking for. Some dogs are meant for the purpose of a general family guard dog versus dogs that are trained for the purpose of guarding specific property. Some of the specific traits expected of a good guard dog are:
- Being able to appropriately distinguish between a threat to you and your family and a non-threat.
- Alerting you and your family when they perceive a threat.
- Ultimately, not hesitate to protect you and your family from real danger if someone enters your home.
When looking for a guard dog for your family, English bulldogs can be a great choice because they inherently have very deep loyalty for their family and their owners, among other personality traits that lend themselves nicely to a family guard dog. English bulldogs make great family pets due to their temperament, which is something where some of the most popular guard dog breeds sometimes struggle.
The most popular breeds for guard dogs when looking for actual attack dogs and property guard dogs tend to be Doberman Pinchers, Rottweilers, Bullmastiffs, German Shepherds, and breeds that marry intimidating appearance, strength, aggression, high intelligence and are most importantly easy to train. The downside to these breeds and training a dog to play off any inherent aggression is that they don’t always make the most family-friendly dog when trained for that purpose.
When looking at using an English bulldog for a family-friendly guard dog, they still have an intimidating appearance, and deep bark that will help as a deterrent for anyone who may wish your family or home harm, and often just that is enough of a deterrent. English bulldogs were originally bred to go head-to-head with bulls, pinning them to the ground, which is where their inherent strength began as a breed.
One of the other benefits of an English bulldog is that they can be an incredibly stubborn dog, and very difficult to move when they set their mind to it. While this can be one of the largest struggles for their owner, it can be a particularly helpful trait when considering how they will interact with someone unwanted in the home.
Differences Between Attack Dogs and Guard Dogs
Often people confuse an attack dog with a guard dog as both have an aggressive connotation to them, but there are some very distinct differences between the two, and often a dog can rarely be trained to be both. Most families, and even most normal dog owners, really don’t have the use, or adequate training set up to have a true attack dog. In the wrong hands, an attack dog can be a risk to itself and others.
Attack dogs are usually the dogs that you seen trained to attack command and are trained to respond to threats with specific, aggressive, behaviors that are meant to stop an intruder or person of danger. The reason that most attack dogs are not trained well as guard dogs is that attack dogs often require their owner’s command to attack and are usually trained in such a way that they are more suited to work with the police force and military.
Guard dogs are inherently trained to protect. They are meant to have an inherent protectiveness over their territory and the family or property that they are protecting. This behavior is like the traits that are bred into shepherd breeds. The shepherd breeds have such instinctive protectiveness over their flock or herd that it is something that happens at a basic level.
Quality guard dogs will often react very similarly to shepherd dogs. A loyal, protective guard dog’s main role is to be protective of their family. While many breeds can be taught to behave as a guard dog, finding the breed that has personality traits that suit you and your family, is often going to lead to the best fit when looking for a guard dog.
Personality Traits of English Bulldogs
One of the qualities that endear English bulldogs to their owners most is that they are a fiercely loyal breed once they bond with their family. This is one of the qualities that lend them most towards being a great family guard dog as they will be equally protective of any member of the family, and of the home itself.
Bulldogs exhibit quite a bit of strength. Their jaws are massively powerful, and they have a known quality for standing their ground, sometimes even begrudgingly so. Allowing them to use this trait to your benefit as a guard dog can be training them to not yield to strangers entering your home until they have been called. To help train this skill, making sure that your bulldog has excellent obedience training from the beginning will be very important.
Bulldogs have a tendency towards a low to moderate aggressive personality. This is one of the reasons that they make a great family pet, as when they have proper training, they can be a lovable family pet while having enough of an inherent fight in them, that they will still behave protectively towards their family and home.
The stubborn streak that bulldogs are known for can help lend itself to their training as a guard dog. This stubborn behavior can be something that helps your pup have the appropriate dominance needed for being a guard dog. As the owner of a bulldog, as long as you are aware of their predisposition, and keep a patient, methodical approach to their training, you will ensure you end up with an intelligent, well-trained dog.
Should I Choose an English Bulldog or a Traditional Guard Dog Breed
Some of the benefits to choosing more traditional guard dog breeds, like those listed previously, is that their breeding standards encourage the behaviors and traits most typically sought after in a guard dog. Breeds like a German Shepherd are often bred to have very keen minds, are highly trainable, and can go as far as being a trained attack dog.
The dominance that can be inherent in most pups of those typical guard dog breeds makes them an easy fit often for choosing an actual guard dog. The question that most families end up asking themselves, is, do you really need a traditional guard dog?
One thing to consider would be, do you live in an environment with close spaces, like condominiums or apartments? If so, a traditional guard dog may not be a good fit, as they are often highly territorial and will not do well in those close environments as they will be on high alert always.
Another aspect of determining whether you need a traditional guard breed is looking at if you have children in your home. While some guard breeds make amazing family pets, a dog that is trained as an attack dog, or that has more territorial and aggressive does not always fit well with children. Children often can be unpredictable and could inadvertently do something to trigger a more traditional guard dog while not meaning to. This is where a family-oriented breed, like an English bulldog, can be a wonderful choice for a guard dog.
Choosing an English Bulldog Puppy for a Guard Dog
When looking to add a dog to your home to be a guard dog, it is often easiest to start with a puppy as you can be certain of their training and experience from the beginning. There are some traits that you can look for in your puppy that will help make sure you end up with a dog who is inherently more prone to be a good guard dog.
Traits to look for in your puppy:
- You must look for a very alert pup. They should be very attentive when approached by new humans and keep their attention on one thing for more than a passing moment.
- A pup that has more of a dominant personality in the litter, as opposed to one that tends to be more standoffish and shy, would make a better guard dog, as confidence can be a very important quality for your pup.
- Ideally, you would want a pup that tends to be more social than shy, again as a sign that they have more confidence.
- Looking for a high energy bulldog is often less
common, but looking for the most active pup in the litter will help keep you
with a pup who is more motivated and aware of their surroundings.
General Training Tips for an English Bulldog
One of the most challenging things about choosing an English bulldog for a guard dog for your family will be overcoming the unique challenges of training your bulldog in general. As a breed, they can be markedly stubborn when it comes to training, so making sure that you start out your training with your dog with some key steps in mind will help set up you and your dog for success rather than frustration.
Always start training for your bulldog right away. From the very first day at their new home, your bulldog is taking in its surroundings and settling into their habits. One of the most important things to do to help set your pup up for success with training is to keep their training sessions short and productive.
One of the things that can work best for animal training in any setting is to set out a small goal for each session of what you want to teach your pet and define what your plan will be. Have a plan for the expected behavior, what you will do if they don’t perform the expected behavior, and, most importantly what you don’t want to do. Having those steps mapped out in your mind ahead of time can ensure that your training sessions are productive.
Repetition is key when it comes to training bulldogs. Given their tendency to be fairly set in their ways, making sure that you have patience and repeat training sessions as many times as needed, will help ensure that you and your pup end up on the same page. Repeating a training session until you have had success three to four times is the ideal benchmark to make sure that your dog is retaining the training.
How to Train Your Bulldog to Be A Guard Dog
Once you are confident about training your English bulldog, it is important to begin training them as a guard dog from an early age. Given that bulldogs are traditionally a little stubborn, starting of training on the right foot will ensure that your pup doesn’t start with bad habits and that you save yourself future frustrations from the start.
Socialization will be a very important step for training your bulldog. Even for a guard dog, you want to make sure that you socialize your dog at an early age. Being socialized can help build your dog’s confidence, and making sure that they interact with other dogs from an early age will always help ensure that they avoid some of the anxiety that can come from lack of socialization.
One important step for teaching your dog about protecting your home is to help show them the boundaries of your home. Keeping your pup on a harness and walking them around the perimeter of your house and yard will help your dog understand that is their territory as well. If you can repeat this walk with them a couple times a week in their early weeks in your home, it will help solidify their territory in their mind.
Alerting you to danger will be one of the most important behaviors your dog will be able to use, so teaching them early on to bark for specific reasons will be crucial. Encouraging your pet to bark when people arrive at your home, or approach your property, will help your dog learn that is a beneficial behavior. The other piece of training your dog to bark for these reasons is to have them, more importantly, stop barking on command.
Teaching Your Dog to Bark for Intruders
One of the first steps to teaching your dog to bark when it perceives intruders will be to teach your dog a bark command. You can start this training by having your dog restrained on a lead, and moving out of sight from them, as soon as they begin to vocalize or make noise, move back to them and praise them and reward them with a treat. When praising them, choose an easy command that your dog can associate with the behavior.
Linking this command to the praise for barking or making noise will help teach and condition your dog to realize that the command you have chosen is a cue for them to bark. Once this is established, and this may be something that takes a while for you to train with them, you can move onto starting to try and train your dog to bark for other scenarios.
To train for the scenario of an intruder, you will need the help of someone to help you simulate the event of someone approaching your home. Start by having the other person approach your door and knock on the door. As they knock, use the bark command, or if your dog already is barking, praise them for the behavior to show them that is the expected behavior.
Similarly, have your assistant help you with simulating what an intruder would do trying to gain access to your home. Have them move through the brush around your home, have them try to access your home through windows or back doors. As many different scenarios as you can help condition your dog to bark for someone making specific noises, the better job your dog will do of understanding what you expect of them.
As always, if you make sure that you are consistent with your bulldog’s training, you will find more success with getting them to be the guard dog that you are hoping for. Making sure to prioritize their training and starting off with a solid foundation will help both you and your dog avoid any frustrations in the training process.
If you want to learn more about English Bulldogs or other types of Bulldogs, then consider checking out this Bulldog Handbook on Amazon.