Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40

These are the best breeds to get if you're looking for

These are the best breeds to get if you’re looking for protection.

Rebecca Schönbrodt-Rühl, Public Domain, via Pixabay

Looking for Protection? Here Are the Five Best Shepherd Breeds

Dogs used as shepherds are intelligent and quick to learn new commands. Most
of these dogs are also protective of their flock, and since they will become
companions, they will transfer that caring to their human “flock.”

There are many good dogs available, but here are the best five shepherd breeds
also used for protection:

  1. Bouvier des Flandres
  2. Briard
  3. Giant Schnauzer
  4. Belgian Shepherd
  5. Rottweiler

1. Bouvier des Flandres

Like a lot of the dog breeds that were historically shepherds, the Bouvier des
Flandres does really well in personal protection (Schutzhund) competitions.
This Flemish dog can still run sheep, though, or cattle if you got ’em.
Bouviers were probably created by crossing local farm dogs with Irish
Wolfhounds. They are strong, rugged, and have that farm dog tendency to work
all day and guard all night.

Physical Traits and Health

These dogs do not shed much, so they need to be groomed every few months.
Bouviers live about 11 or 12 years, and they are big (about 35–55 kilos, or
80–120 pounds). Like most big dogs, they are prone to hip dysplasia, and they
also develop some diseases and issues with their eyes.

Temperament and Care Requirements

Bouviers need to be socialized and obedience trained, but like most shepherds,
they learn easily, do great with kids, get along with other dogs and horses,
and make good guard dogs.

Former US president Ronald Reagan had a Bouvier, but after the dog tried to
herd him to the helicopter by biting him on the seat of the pants, the Bouvier
was moved to the Reagan’s ranch in California. Reagan found out that Bouviers
are not for everybody!

If you can handle the long hair—and are willing to spend some time with your
Bouvier des Flandres so that you do not get nipped in the pants—he will make
an excellent protection dog and a great pet.

The Bouvier des Flandres—a good shepherd and a great protection

The Bouvier des Flandres—a good shepherd and a great protection

A Bouvier puppy.

Bouviers do not shed much, but they do need to be

The Bouvier des Flandres—a good shepherd and a great protection dog.

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2. Briard

The French have also developed a shepherd that has been used by the military
and in guard and protection work. Since some of these dogs were also used as
livestock guard dogs, there are really two sizes (the shepherds and the
guards). Both sizes are able to do whatever is needed to protect the flock.

Physical Traits and Health

The Briard is a big dog (about 25–40 kilos, or 55–90 pounds), sometimes black
or gray but also fawn, with a long coat and double dewclaws on the back legs.
A Briard usually lives about 11 or 12 years. They are healthy, but some dogs
will have hip dysplasia and are prone to bloat. The eyes should be checked for
retinal atrophy (PRA), since this disease is sometimes seen in this breed.

Temperament and Care Requirements

Although this dog is a shepherd and learns quickly, he needs good
socialization and obedience training. They do well at herding and tracking
competitions, and they are very good at Schutzhund trials (the competitions
for dogs working in personal protection).

Briards can be nippy and bite at the ankles of people in their household when
trying to move them from room to room. If they are taught not to do that,
however, they will treat the family as their flock and make a great watchdog
and family guard.

The Briard herded and guarded sheep.

The Briard herded and guarded sheep.

A Briard looks good in the country or in the city.

The Briard herded and guarded sheep.

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3. Giant Schnauzer

The Germans also recognized the good qualities of the Bouvier and crossed it
with the Standard Schnauzer to develop the Giant Schnauzer. They were
originally shepherds and used to drive livestock to market, but the breed
eventually developed into a dog used mostly by the military and the police—and
by private owners looking for a protection dog.

Physical Traits and Health

The Giant Schnauzer has a thick coat that does not shed much and a long beard
usually crusty with slobber. These dogs are tall and usually black.

Giant Schnauzers live about 12 years. They are prone to hip dysplasia and
bloat. Some of them have eye problems like cataracts and glaucoma, and some
dogs are prone to develop liver or skin cancer.

Temperament and Care Requirements

They are intelligent, like all shepherd breeds, and become bored easily (also
like all the shepherds). If they are trained, given something to do, and
socialized with the family, they make great protection dogs.

Instead of driving cattle, the Giant Schnauzer now provides protection for
his family.

Instead of driving cattle, the Giant Schnauzer now provides protection for
his family.

Giant Schnauzers are great for personal

Instead of driving cattle, the Giant Schnauzer now provides protection for his

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4. Belgian Shepherd

Several countries in Europe have developed good shepherds that work as
protection dogs. The shepherd from Belgium is one of the best and is often
used in areas that used to be served only by the German Shepherd.

In some countries, all the Belgian dogs who herded sheep are considered one
breed. In the US and Australia, the varieties are considered separate breeds,
and the Groenendael type is called the Belgian Shepherd. All of them look
about like the German Shepherd, but their coats are different and they don’t
have that breed’s low-slung rear end.

Physical Traits and Health

Belgian Shepherds live about 13 or 14 years, which is longer than most other
large breeds. They are also not prone to as many health problems as some of
the purebred shepherd breeds, but epilepsy is more common. They sometimes have
hip dysplasia, but it is not very common, and most concerns seem to be

Temperament and Care Requirements

These dogs are prone to boredom and excessive shyness, excessive aggression,
and in some cases become obese. They are as intelligent as most shepherd
breeds and also very active; a Belgian Shepherd needs plenty of walks and
mental stimulation to keep from becoming bored and even destructive. Provide
him with a job, however, and this is one of the best shepherd breeds out

This is the Groenendael variety of Belgian

This is the Groenendael variety of Belgian

A Belgian Shepherd.

This is the Groenendael variety of Belgian Shepherd.

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5. Rottweiler

This dog is known for a lot of things, but the Rottweiler was originally a
shepherd. Rotties have been used since Roman times to herd cattle. Later, the
dog was used by the military, and then police. More recently, the breed was
recruited to act both in search and rescue and as guide dogs.

Physical Traits and Health

Rottweilers live about 9 or 10 years. Some are prone to hip dysplasia, and
like all big dogs, they can develop bloat. Some of them may have eyelid
problems, and all Rotties will become obese and develop other health problems
if not given enough exercise.

Temperament and Care Requirements

The Rottweiler is best known as a family watchdog, a guard dog, and an
excellent companion for someone searching for a personal protection dog. They
are amazing shepherds—they can use their weight to throw body blocks and
overpower the sheep—but their real area of expertise is as a guard.

Rottweilers were shepherds, but now they are mostly used for

Rottweilers were shepherds, but now they are mostly used for

The Rottweiler is the best family watch dog.

Rottweilers were shepherds, but now they are mostly used for protection.

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Where to Buy a Shepherd

If you’re looking for one of these shepherd dog breeds, here’s some tips on
where you can find them.

Check Your Local Shelter

Be sure to check with your local animal shelter first. Sometimes a purebred
shepherd is dropped off when an owner is forced to move, sometimes a dog ends
up a stray, and there are always a lot of good mixed breed shepherds that end
up in shelters.

Look Online

You can also check Petfinder.com and find out if any dogs are available close
to you. Look on the internet to find any rescue organizations that work with
the breed you are looking for.

Don’t Support Puppy Mills

Do not buy a puppy from a pet shop or through an internet puppy site. You will
be supporting a puppy mill and are unlikely to end up with a shepherd that can
learn quickly, follow your commands, and protect you and your family.


CarolMcE on October 18, 2018:

ad advanced Obedience and herding titles. Several Champions. One was trained
through Utility Obedience when I had a stroke and he became my Service Dog
overnight. One thing! Grooming is a nightmare! unless you have $100 plus to
have a salon do it. If you show, paying a handler is expensive. I have no
grooming talent.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 28, 2017:

No, I have not worked with the Russian breeds. I have been told in many ways
they are similar to the Giant Schnauzer.

Clay on March 28, 2017:

I like the Bouvier but looking at BRT for family companion. Any experience
with BRT?

Mlove on October 08, 2016:

Bouviers aren’t for everybody- they are loyal to a fault but like most dogs
have their own personality- my dog is a one person dog- she will allow people
to pet her but the only person she cares about being around is me- does
anything I ask her but won’t even respond when my girlfriend ask her if she
wants to go for a walk- wont even take a treat from her- but won her heart
when she was home alone- man came to the door an tried to force his way in(
never trained as guard dog) he made it into the kitchen but soon regretted it
– was met with a 85 lb bouvier- she came unglued – I wasn’t there but she said
he ran out the door faster than he came in- now my girlfriend thinks the bear
can do no wrong

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on April 27, 2013:

Yes, you are probably right on the name but there is also a huge difference in
the search engine results using those two words. I am not sure if those who
search for “shepherd” just want to read about GSDs, but I thought Briards,
Belgians, and Bouviers were more interesting since they don’t get much

I saw an interesting article on those dogs we hardly ever see anymore:
Scotties, Irish Setters, and some others.

Thanks for leaving such an interesting comment!

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on April 27, 2013:

I liked reading about dog breeds that were quite popular till 1980s and one
could see them often on the streets of a US or Canadian city. Now, except for
Rotties, it is almost impossible that one would run into a Bouvier, Briard,
Giant Schnauzer, or Belgian Shepherd. Everyone seems to go for Golden or
Labrador retrievers or one of those hypoallergenic cross-breeds.

Come to think of it, the very popular red dog – the Irish Setter – that used
to be often seen till 1990s is conspicuous by its absence.

I personally think that 4 Belgian shepherd breeds (Groenendael, Laekenois,
Tervuren, and Malinois) should have been more popular.

Thanks for sharing a hub on dog breeds that need to be seen on our streets
more often. However, I would have preferred the hub titled ‘Five Best Large
Herding Dog Breeds For Protection’.

GAGANPREET SINGH BHATIA from Kanpur, India on April 26, 2013:

Very nice hub with lot of useful info.

Voted up & shared.

Gail Louise Stevenson from Mason City on April 25, 2013:

Great hub! All of the dogs look and sound like they’re pretty awesome. The
pictures are really great. Great information, too!

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on April 25, 2013:

Thanks for posting and commenting, Peggy. The GSD is definitely the most
popular shepherd out there, so I really enjoyed pointing out some of these
less popular (can I say famous?) shepherd dogs.

Most of them look like too much work for me, though! Can you imagine how much
time you need every day just to brush out your Briard?

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 25, 2013:

My parents favorite breed of dog was the German shepherd. It was interesting
reading about these other dog breeds. Voted up, interesting and will post to
my board about dogs on Pinterest.

Chris Achilleos on April 25, 2013:

Such an interesting and informative hub! Thanks for sharing!

Voted up and interesting!

Chris Achilleos

Jim Laughlin from Connecticut on April 25, 2013:

Good hub! Some seem like they would be great with kids and keeping an eye on