For hundreds of years, humans have employed dogs to alert us to the presence of danger. Dogs are naturally protective, making them well-suited for the role of alerting their "pack" when something is awry. Guard dogs and watch dogs are not the same. A guard dog not only alerts the family to danger, it is large and powerful enough to intimidate and subdue an intruder. A watch dog will not usually attack; instead, they will alert their owners anytime a stranger approaches.
A dog need not be especially large or aggressive to make a good watch dog. A strong bark is all it takes to alert the family to an approaching stranger. Would-be intruders are often deterred just by hearing the bark. Just about any dog that barks when something out of the ordinary is happening can serve as a watch dog. However, there are some breeds that are renowned for their excellent watch dog abilities.
1. Boston Terrier: One of few truly American breeds, the Boston Terrier is compact, yet muscular. They are protective of their home and family while being gentle and friendly at the same time. Boston Terriers have a strong bark that alerts their owner when a stranger approaches.
2. American Eskimo: The American Eskimo is a small to medium sized dog that descended from the German "Spitz" line. They were bred for hundreds of years as watch dogs. The Eskimo forms a close bond with family and has a strong distrust of strangers. They are excellent at watching over people and property.
3. French Bulldog: The French Bulldog is a natural guardian and devoted companion. They do not have the biggest bark, but they always alert their family to approaching strangers or unusual noises.
4. Chihuahua: The Chihuahua may be small, but they pack a huge bark. As if trying to make up for their small size, they bark vigorously and ensure you are aware when someone is approaching your property.
5. Pekingese: The Pekingese's bark rivals that of the Chihuahua. They are a regal toy breed with an incredibly enthusiastic bark. They enjoy being pampered, but take the job of alerting their family to danger very seriously.
6. Miniature Pinscher: Many people assume that the Miniature Pinscher is a descendant of the Doberman Pinscher. To the contrary, the Miniature Pinscher is the older of the two. They are a cross between terrier and greyhound. The Miniature Pinscher is a very inquisitive breed and will always alert their owner when a stranger is nearby.
7. Irish Setter: The Irish Setter is energetic, friendly and beautiful. While larger than some watch dogs, they won't attack an intruder, but they are excellent at alerting you to potential danger.
8. Standard and Miniature Schnauzer: Both of these German breeds make great watch dogs. They are not only protective, but intelligent and reliable as well.
9. Schipperke: Nicknamed Skips, Schipperke (pronounced "skipper-kee") were bred to be hunters, companions and watchdogs. They excel in all three areas.
10. Norwegian Elkhound: The ancestors of these courageous watch dogs served with the Vikings. They are brave, bold and athletic.