The Best Dog Breeds for Protection Sports
If you are involved in protection sports, such as Schutzhund, French Ring, or Belgian Ring, you need a dog made for it. Not every dog can do well in these types of sports, and many dogs aren't safe to be partaking in. It is important to know if a dog has the necessary traits to do well in these sports.
For instance, smaller dogs such as Miniature Pinschers and other smaller breeds should never be trained for this sport. They will likely be too fearful and lack the confidence to handle confrontational situations. It is also important to note that some breeds should not partake in protection sports because they will hurt their owner or trainer due to their size, strength, etc.
The most important element of any protection sport is that the dog be 100% committed to working with its owner/handler. If the dog has an off day or seems hesitant during a drill, it will automatically fail that exercise. Many protection sport exercises are grueling for both the dog and handler, but they must work together as a team.
What is the Difference Between Guard Dog Training and Protection Training?
The difference between guard dog training and protection sport training is that guard dog trainers use intimidation to stop confrontations, while the protection trainer uses the dog's aggression during confrontations. This means that guard dogs are taught to act aggressive towards strangers but never hurt them, whereas the protection dog's aim is always to hurt someone who attacks their owner.
Regardless of the breed, dogs for this purpose should have a sound temperament and a willingness to work with their owner. They also need strong nerves and the courage to handle confrontations without hesitation.
If you are interested in training your dog to be a protection dog or a guard dog, it is suggested that you take them through a protection sport such as Schutzhund or French Ring. While not all protection dogs need to do these sports, they certainly help and will give you an idea of how your dog might perform in a real-life situation.
What are the Physical Characteristics of Protection Sport Breeds?
The most important physical characteristic a protection breed should have is its conformation. A dog's conformation greatly affects whether or not it will do well in the ring. For instance, an unruly dog with no substance will be harder to control and stay out of trouble, whereas a large, powerful sable shepherd will probably be more successful.
Protection Sport dogs will need the following characteristics to excel in this field:
- Powerful jaws. Dogs with powerful jaws will hold and shake something harder than dogs who do not have this trait.
- Sharp, dark eyes that give off the impression of alertness and intelligence.
- A protective coat and tail that is carried naturally give the impression of defensiveness and readiness to attack if needed.
- A long back will allow your dog to move more easily and give them the ability to run faster than a dog with a short back.
- A protective coat. It could be somewhat oily, thick, or wiry.
- Large, thick paws and pads. Paws should never be small or dainty since these will make it difficult for your dog to move around.
- Thick, powerful muscles in the front of the legs and neck. These are important because they give the dog the ability to hold onto the decoy when in an attack.
- A powerful back end with well-angled hindquarters allows the dog's rear legs to move gracefully and easily.
- Sharp, strong teeth are ideally suited to tearing into the decoy if needed during a confrontation.
While it is unnecessary for all protection dogs to have this exact conformation, they must at least display the appropriate temperament and appearance when in training or when doing protection sports.
The Best Breeds for Protection Sports
While any dog can benefit from assorted levels of protection sport exercises, if you want your dog to run competitive trials, the breed you choose is extremely important. For example, some dogs can excel in Schutzhund but may not do well in French Ring or vice versa.
When looking for a protection breed, there is no better way than visiting a kennel and seeing the dog work. This will give you an idea of their temperament and whether they have what it takes to work with their owner/handler.
Certain breeds excel at protection sports, and these breeds include:
Akita - The Akita is a proud and majestic dog of ancient Japanese lineage. These dogs were bred for adversity, with their signature traits including an intimidating expression on their face; these furry friends are well known for this dignity that they carry around like royalty!
Anatolian Shepherd Dog - The Anatolian Shepherd is a tough-looking animal with a massive frame and intimidating bark! These sheepherders were bred to protect the flock from wolves or other threats (like humans).
Appenzeller Sennenhund - If you're looking for a loyal companion that is squarely built, with an evenly-distributed frame and balanced bodyweight allocation, then the Appenzeller Sennenhund may be just the right fit.
Australian Shepherd - The Australian Shepherd is a tough and lean ranch dog that has been specifically bred for working hard. This intelligent canine is easy to train, with its natural herding abilities making it an excellent protector.
Barbado da Terceira - Medium-sized and adaptable, the Barbado da Terceira is a strong and handsome dog known for its strength, agility, and devotion.
Beauceron - Versatile, incredibly smart, spirited, and imposingly powerful, the Beauceron sports a thick coat and is typically used as a herding and guarding dog.
Belgian Laekenois (pronounced "Lock-in-wah") - Exceptionally agile, lively, and brawny, the Belgian Laekenois is a fan favorite in protection sports circles.
Bergamasco Sheepdog - The Bergamasco is a big and strong dog with an exceptional coat made for harsh weather conditions. These dogs were bred to guard the flock, and are excellent protectors for their families.
Bernese Mountain Dog - The Bernese is a powerfully built dog with an affectionate temperament. These canine companions were bred to assist the Swiss farmers with their everyday tasks.
Black Russian Terrier - The Black Russian is a powerfully large, stocky breed with dark features that can intimidate most people. These dogs have been bred for protecting their owners and homes from threats.
Boerboel - Fierce and wise, the Boerboel is a true guardian for its family and home. This breed loves to work and is an excellent protector for active families that involve their canine companions in sports like protection sports.
Bouvier des Flandres - Athletic, agile, and tough as nails, the Bouvier des Ardennes is a dog bred with hard labor in mind. These dogs have been specifically designed for work with their burly, barrel-chested frames and thick, tousled coats.
Boxer - If you want a protection sport dog that is full of life and enthusiasm, then look no further than the Boxer. This is an active breed that loves to work, is highly affectionate, and needs a lot of attention and activity in order to thrive.
Briard - Fiercely loyal and loving with a gentle, yet protective, soul, the Briard is an excellent, playful family companion with a protective nature that will reassure you of your safety and security at all times.
Bullmastiff - If you're looking for a dog that can handle just about anything, the Bullmastiff is your go-to. They are fearless at work and as docile around their owner's family home life--a perfect mix of these two personality types.
Canaan Dog - The national dog of Israel, the Canaan Dog is one of AKC's oldest breeds. They are highly intelligent, agile, hard-working--and quite mischievous...just make sure you stay on their good side!
Cane Corso - The Cane Corso is a large dog that was bred with the sole intention of protecting its family. This Italian farm dog has strong muzzle strength and impressive endurance levels.
Catahoula Leopard Dog - The Catahoula is a multi-talented dog with a powerful physique and a brave, loyal temperament. They are athletic, hardy, and fast. This breed lives for working and will do just about anything to please its owner.
Caucasian Shepherd Dog - The Caucasian Ovtcharka is a large, muscular working dog that should be handled with care. These dogs are tough, self-reliant, and highly protective.
Central Asian Shepherd Dog - A nomad at heart, these dogs are very confident, level-headed, tranquil, and above all else, independent. They have a strong sense of purpose that will impress you.
Doberman Pinscher - Dapper and decisive, the Doberman is a highly intelligent, athletic dog that can be very playful. These dogs were bred to work hard and will make excellent protection sports companions.
Estrela Mountain Dog - The Estrela Mountain Dog is a family-orientated breed with lots of spunk. These dogs are highly intelligent, agile, and affectionate, yet also very hardworking.
German Shepherd Dog - An all-purpose dog that is excellent in all areas, the German Shepherd is fast, agile, and highly intelligent. They are also very family-orientated and love to work with their owner.
Giant Schnauzer - A favorite with police forces all over, the Giant Schnauzer is a powerful breed with an even-tempered and intelligent nature. They were bred as farm companions and watchdogs for their owners.
Hovawart - With a medium-temperament, this is an adept working dog bred to be self-sufficient and watchful at all times. A true protector who is very loyal, the Hovawart will put its life on the line for you without hesitation.
Perro de Presa Canario - This large breed has a very subtle appearance, but despite its size, the Presa Canario is an even-tempered dog with a responsible nature.
Puli - Unmistakenly athletic and agile, the Puli is a Hungarian sheepdog that thrives on working. These dogs are also very affectionate to their owners--they can be aloof with strangers though.
Romanian Mioritic Shepherd Dog - A large, powerful working breed from Romania and the Carpathian Mountains, the Mioritic is a wonderful family dog that thrives on being in the middle of everything.
Rottweiler - Hardy, muscular, with a lineage that branched off from mastiffs, the Rottweiler is used to working hard and expects its owner to do the same. These dogs are expected to handle difficult situations with a level head and will take charge if their owners cannot.
Spanish Water Dog - Packed full of energy, the Spanish Water Dog is a faithful, hard-working breed that thrives on activity. They do best in a sporting or herding home where they can burn off their boundless energy levels.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier - The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a courageous, bold dog that never gives up. With a medium- to high-level energy level, this breed is great for active homes and sports like protection sports.
Thai Ridgeback - Amazing jumpers, the Thai Ridgeback is a hardy breed that needs regular exercise to keep it in optimal physical shape. They have an even temperament and are very loyal to their owners.
Tibetan Mastiff - The ever-vigilant Tibetan Mastiff is a very courageous breed that will protect its owner to the death. These dogs are powerful and athletic, yet also seem to enjoy relaxing with their families in between projects.
Tornjak - With an enduring spirit, the Tornjak is an instinctive, loyal dog that is quite obedient and courageous. It's also known as one of the best protection dogs around.
Tosa Inu - The Tosa Inu is a Japanese fighting dog that can weigh upwards of 200 pounds! Despite its large build, the Tosa was bred for agility and speed. They make great companions for active people, but they can take charge if that's not their owner's style.