10 Best Guard Dog Breeds for Apartment Life

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For millennia, dogs and humans have been the best of friends, and one of the biggest benefits of that friendship for us has always been security. 

Before alarms, sensors, and laser motion detectors, Man’s Best Friend was the best home security system mankind had. A dog can still be a great way to keep your apartment safe or alert you to danger.

That said, it has to be the right dog. Loveable as they are, Scottie Dogs and Shi-Tzus will hardly strike terror into would-be burglars. 

So, what should you look for in the best guard dog for apartment life?

1. American Bulldog

American Bulldogs

Even the name “Bulldog” is a good indication of what makes this breed such a great choice for those looking for an excellent guard dog. True to their name, this dog breed features the muscular compactness of a bull. They look like the kind of dog that’s built for a fight.

However, that’s frankly not the case. Most bulldogs are incredibly sweet, and while they’re far from cowardly, as we’ll see, fighting isn’t their first instinct. That said, this isn’t necessarily a drawback. 

If you are living in an apartment, you hardly want a dog who will lash out at every stranger it sees.

On the other and, bulldogs are excellent watchdogs. If there’s trouble, they’ll alert you to it immediately. 

While their bark is definitely worse than their bite, these loveable dog breed can make for good low-drama watchdog and guard your apartment that way.

2. American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier

In contrast with American Bulldogs, American Staffordshire Terriers are far more what people traditionally think of when they imagine a “ferocious” guard dog. 

While they’re by no means out of control, it is certainly true that these terriers are far more aggressive and protective than most bulldogs. 

On the one hand, that makes them incredibly effective as guard dogs. On the other hand, that also means you’ll have to spend extra time training and calming them to make sure that they aren’t a danger to your neighbors.

These terriers are well-built, weighing close to 60 pounds at maturity and standing 16 to 19 inches tall. They’re compact balls of tenacity and are certainly one of the most ferocious defenders on this list. 

Just make sure your terrier is well trained and knows how and when it’s okay to unleash their protective potential, and they’re sure to make good guard dogs for apartments.

3. Boxer

Boxer

While they may not have that “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” agility a la Muhammad Ali, these dogs are nevertheless a “knockout” as far as home security is concerned. 

They can weigh in at around 100 pounds, and while that by no means makes them “heavyweight champ” of this list, they’re hardly a “featherweight,” either.

That said, this is another dog whose bark is worse than their bite. While these dogs are highly energetic, they aren’t as aggressive as Staffordshire Terriers or other entries on this list. 

However, as demonstrated with the American Bulldog, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for apartment living, and they are great watchdogs.

All in all, most Boxers are more Rocky Balboa than Rocky Marciano, acting the part of a fighter and displaying lots of heart without being too dangerous. 

4. Bullmastiff

Bullmastiff. A guard dog breed for apartments.

If you’re looking for a guard dog, we suggest being “bullish” on Bullmastiffs. They are some of the best fighters and certainly one of the most active guard dogs on this list. If you are looking for a guard dog who will take the lead in protecting the family every time, it’s hard to do better than a Bullmastiff.

That being said, this can be a double-edged sword. Bullmastiffs have a “pounce first, ask questions later” mentality, and while that’s good raw guard dog material, you’ll nevertheless need to carefully and regularly train them to make sure they don’t become loose cannons. 

That’s especially true in an apartment setting, where they’re bound to be surrounded by strangers.

Be consistent with your training and your Bullmastiff should be a great guard dog breed for apartment life.

5. Bull Terrier

Bull Terrier

The trend of “bull” being an indicator of a dog’s bullish suitableness as a guard dog continues. Bull Terriers have a history of being associated with tough figures, both good and bad. 

The villainous Sykes has a Bull Terrier in Oliver Twist, and George S. Patton kept one by his side as well. 

Their pedigree backs that reputation for toughness up as well, being bred in the 19th century from the now-extinct Old English Bulldog and the English Terrier.

That myth of toughness largely translates into reality. This is another slight, compact, well-built dog that’s very muscular and a bit more on the aggressive side. They certainly aren’t the type of dog that will back down from a fight. 

You’ll need to train your Bull Terrier to make sure they know friend from foe. If you do, however, he can make an excellent guard dog for apartment life.

6. Chow Chow

Chow Chow

Whether they’re lovers or fighters, most of the other dogs on this list at least look the part of a guard dog. The Chow Chow is different. 

Can these little orange puffballs really guard your apartment? Well, this is definitely a case of looks being deceiving, because Chow Chows are more tenacious than they might appear at first.

A lot of that has to do with their breeding and background. Like Shih-Tzus, these little dogs were first bred in China. Where Shih-Tzus were bred as lapdogs for the Ming dynasty, however, Chow Chows were bred to be hunting dogs, that tenacity has survived to the modern day. 

Being small in stature, but big on toughness, Chow Chows are ideally suited to be apartment guard dogs. 

Add to that their low maintenance nature, and these are easily among the most surprising, yet effective, apartment guard dog breeds on our list.

7. Dogue de Bordeaux

Dogue de Bordeaux

Having already discussed American and English Mastiffs and Bulldogs, it’s time to take a look at France’s offering to the world of guard dogs. 

Like their American and English varieties, these French mastiffs are on the bigger side and can weigh in at around 150 pounds when fully grown. The Dogue de Bordeaux is notable for its large head and jaws. Unlike English bullmastiffs, which are taller, French mastiffs tend to be on the more compactly muscular side.

One thing to keep in mind – this is a dog that drools, so be aware of that, lest you wake up to some nasty surprises in your apartment décor.

Even so, their loyal nature, smaller size, and powerful build make them excellent guard dogs for apartment living. Like a fine wine from the region, a Dogue de Bordeaux only gets better with age.

8. Great Dane

Great Dane

If you know anything about Great Danes, you probably know that they’re absolutely massive and incredibly sweet and affectionate. Both of these descriptions are entirely accurate and show why they make for such marvelous guard dogs. 

On the one hand, their imposing size makes them a perfect choice for guarding your home. They stand several feet tall and can weigh as much as 220 pounds. 

Having a Great Dane is like having your own doggy bouncer or bodyguard – nobody’s getting past them unless you say it’s okay.

On the other hand, their bark can be far worse than their bite. While they can defend their owner when necessary, on the whole they’re very relaxed, friendly, and absolutely adorable dogs.

These two factors combined make them one of the best guard dog breeds for apartment life.

9. Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback

This is another guard dog breed that can trace its ancestry back to a hunting past. Originally bred by the English to hunt lions in what was then Rhodesia, these dogs are sleek and highly muscular. What’s more, their hunting dog background gives them a strong dominance streak. 

Where Great Danes are highly social and affable dogs, a Rhodesian Ridgeback will be much faster to try and establish dominance, especially among other dogs of its sex.

That said, like Great Danes, Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be sweet lapdogs and quite loveable. Even better from a guard dog standpoint, these are dogs that are selective about their barking. If you’ve trained them well, when your Rhodesian Ridgeback barks, you can trust them that it’s something which demands your immediate attention. 

Taken together, these factors make Rhodesian Ridgebacks great apartment guard dog options.

10. Shar Pei

Shar Pei

Last, but not least, we come to another guard dog that hails from China. Like Chow Chows, Shar Peis were hunting dogs once upon a time, and that has translated into their being great modern day guard dogs. 

However, as with many other types of dogs with that background, they’re also dogs that you’ll need to train to control their naturally protective and aggressive instincts.

On the flip side, their smaller size makes them a great choice for apartment living. In addition, these aren’t dogs that shed very much, so you’ll be free of that nuisance as well. 

These dogs are some of the more “serious” ones on this list. Where Great Danes and Bulldogs are quite affable and sweet, Shar Peis are a bit more independent. 

Nevertheless, underneath that gruff exterior, they can be quite kind and loyal, and are thus well suited to their guard dog role.

Final Thoughts

Even among this top 10, there’s lots of variety in terms of what makes for a good guard dog breed for apartment life.Some are naturally aggressive and tenacious. Others are more lovers than fighters with a bark worse than their bite.

However, if properly trained, they can all make for great apartment guard dogs.