There are a lot of different breeds and types to choose between if you wish to own a dog of a guarding breed, and a lot to think about if the breed you’re keen to own has guarding tendencies. These guarding tendencies might seem like an advantage at first, and even potentially factor into your decision to get that type of dog in the first place.
However, guard dog breeds aren’t a good pick for everyone, and you should never get a dog (or choose a dog breed) largely or solely because you want it to guard your home or your family.
Owning a dog that guards comes with a lot of responsibility, and has implications that many prospective owners of guarding breeds like the Doberman pinscher may not even have thought of, particularly if the breed’s guarding tendencies are incidental to you, rather than an integral part of your decision to pick that breed.
With this in mind, this article will tell you five things that you need to be aware of if you want to own a breed that is recognised as having a high level of natural guarding instincts. Read on to learn more.
Most people leave their dogs out in the garden for a few minutes at a time to do their business, and some dogs spend a lot of time playing outside; but if there’s a legitimate approach to your home through this garden, you probably won’t be able to leave your dog loose in it unsupervised.
Your postman and other callers have a right to get to your door safely without being hassled by or worse, attacked by your dog, and this is a legal requirement; “do not enter” and “dog running loose” signs don’t override the law!
You might even need to think about additional factors like putting a cage on the back of your letterbox so the dog couldn’t nip the postman’s fingers from the other side of the door, or that you may not be able to let your dog out into your garden on their own at all.
If your dog will be allowed out into the garden, even under direct supervision, your fencing needs to be up to the task of containing them, and this might well prove expensive. It also has implications for your neighbours, and so their preferences and requirements need to be taken into account too.
Fencing for a guarding type dog needs to be high, deep, strong and without gaps large enough for your dog to get their head out – or a person to get a hand in!
Something that comes as a great shock to many first-time owners of guard dog breeds and breeds in general that have an appearance that makes people look twice is that they sometimes garner a poor reaction from others, through no fault of their own.
If people find your dog’s looks alone off-putting or intimidating, they might cross the road to avoid them, not wish their own dogs to play with them, and be much quicker to judge and vitally, misjudge interactions between your dog and their dog or themselves as threatening or dangerous; like wrestling in play.
Many breeds have a very undeserved reputation as being unpredictable or aggressive, and the Staffordshire bull terrier is one that has been particularly victimised in this way; not helped by the fact that some people genuinely will choose a dog like this to look intimidating or to train for aggression, although this is the exception not the rule.
You may even find that some dog walkers refuse to take dogs of some breeds, which you need to find out before you get a dog if you are relying on using such services.
All dog owners are legally (both criminally and civilly) liable for their dog’s actions; this does not apply just to the owners of guarding breeds. However, the risks are somewhat higher for owners of guarding breeds, as their ability to inflict damage and the potential risk of this happening – such as say, if you left your front door open by mistake and someone entered your garden, and was hurt by your dog – are higher.
It is also important to note that your civil, criminal and financial liability for your own dog does not just apply to public places. If your dog were to bite someone inside of your own home, the legal implications, and your responsibility for their control, are just the same as if this happened on the streets or in the park.
Following on from this, insuring guard dog breeds is often very costly. Part of this comes down to their size, and the fact that veterinary care is scalable by size; but also because most dog insurance policies include third party liability coverage too, and the risks for this are assessed on a breed by breed basis.
The chances of the owner of a dog of a recognised guarding breed making a third party liability claim might be very small, but they are higher than that for most other breeds in terms of potential injuries that might be caused; also, the ability to inflict serious harm and so, implication in every respect of this is greater for guarding breeds than smaller or less protective dogs.
All of this means that the cost of appropriately insuring a guarding breed, particularly in terms of their third party liability coverage, can be prohibitively high.