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The Best Watchdogs

Benjamin and Lynette Hart wrote a brilliant little book called The Perfect Puppy: How to Choose Your Dog by Its Behavior (1988). Unfortunately, the work is currently out of print.

The Harts interviewed 48 veterinarians and 48 obedience judges and asked each of them to rank-order 56 of the most popular dog breeds along 13 characteristics. Then, they compiled the results to make it possible to compare each of the 56 breeds, one to another, in some important ways. Fortunately, watchdog barking was one of the variables about which the Harts polled the experts. The term "watchdog barking" refers to the dog's tendency to bark at the things that you want a watchdog to bark at, like intruders and vandals. So we need to draw a distinction here between watchdog barking, which is a good thing up to a point, and inappropriate or excessive barking, which is definitely an undesirable trait.

It should be noted that, for all breeds, males and females make equally good watchdogs.

The Best Breeds for Watchdog Work -- Taken from The Perfect Puppy
#1 Rating: The poorest watchdogs
Located here at the top of the chart are the breeds
that are the least likely to bark at things
they should be barking at. As you work your way
down the chart, each successive group is that much better
at sounding the alarm at appropriate times.
Basset Hound
Norwegian Elkhound
#2 Rating Brittany Spaniel
Siberian Husky
Afghan Hound
Alaskan Malamute
#3 Rating Golden Retriever
German Shorthaired Pointer
Old English Sheepdog
Bichon Frise
Cocker Spaniel
#4 Rating Labrador Retriever
Great Dane
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
#5 Rating
Middling Watchdog Barkers
Australian Shepherd
Chow Chow
Irish Setter
#6 Rating English Springer Spaniel
#7 Rating Lhasa Apso
Shetland Sheepdog
Welsh Corgi
Toy Poodle
#8 Rating Boston Terrier
Shih Tzu
Miniature Poodle
Silky Terrier
Fox Terrier
#9 Rating Yorkshire Terrier
Cairn Terrier
Airedale Terrier
Standard Poodle
#10 Rating: The best watchdogs
Located here at the bottom of the chart are
the breeds that are the most likely to sound
the alarm appropriately.
German Shepherd
Doberman Pinscher
Scottish Terrier
West Highland White Terrier
Miniature Schnauzer

Click here for instructions on how to train a first-rate watchdog.

The Dog Science Network also sponsors a course in dog training, featuring a free workshop in canine
, as well as an advanced course in obedience training, street safety, and watchdog work.

This page is part of Section Six:
the More Information section of