Golden Retrievers are the quintessential family dog. Loyal, loving, and intelligent, these dogs are a joy to raise. They're also pretty easy to train. When you look at all of their traits combined, it's not hard to see why they are one of the most popular breeds in the world!
But, are they any good as guard dogs?
This is a question that many potential and current owners have. You see these dogs working to protect humans all the time. Many will train to become guide dogs for the blind or companions for those with disabilities.
When most people think of guard dogs, they picture scary-looking behemoths frothing at the mouth to attack. That's not exactly the reputation of the Golden Retriever. So can they protect your property and family?
Are Golden Retrievers Good Guard Dogs?
Golden Retrievers usually aren't the go-to breed when seeking a guard dog. That said, they are fully capable of guarding your property! They have several traits that make them a good candidate. But, there are also some things you'll need to work on.
These dogs were originally trained to retrieve waterfowl for hunters. So, we know that they're capable of learning. However, their overall friendly disposition is not going to help you in an emergency.
Golden Retrievers will require additional training and some conditioning to become the guard dog you want.
What Makes a Good Guard Dog?
Before we analyze some of the Golden Retriever's traits, let's take a look at what makes a good guard dog.
A guard dog's main jobs are to alert you of any potential threats in the area. They should also do their part to scare off any intruders and protect you in the worst-case scenario.
An ideal guard dog will instantly start barking the moment they feel that something is off. You might not even see or hear any immediate problems.
But remember: Dogs have better hearing and a stronger sense of smell than you do. A good guard dog will alert you to trouble before you even see it yourself. That way, you can take action to stay safe.
Now, let's clear one important thing up. Guard dogs are not the same as attack dogs. Attack dogs are specifically trained to attack and potentially kill on command.
You see these pups working alongside military and law enforcement professionals.There can be some overlap, but it requires additional training. A guard dog is simply meant to alert and intimidate.
Reasons Why A Golden Retriever Makes a Good Guard Dog
Now that we have that out of the way, let's dive a bit deeper into what this breed has to offer in the protection department. Like any other dog, Golden Retrievers are unique. T
hey all have distinct personalities. But, all dogs of this breed share some intrinsic qualities that make them a suitable choice for guard duty.
At the end of the day, Golden Retrievers aim to please. They want to make you and everyone around you happy. As a result, they're one of the most obedient dog breeds in the world.
While all dogs require training, Golden Retrievers are quick to pick things up. Not only that, but once they get the hang of things, they'll do all they can to keep you happy. They're not like Huskies or other dogs with a known rebellious streak. - See the Husky Golden Retriever Mix
If you give a command, Golden Retrievers will listen.
Intelligence and Trainability
Want to know why dogs are so obedient? It's because they're naturally intelligent.
Golden Retrievers have a reputation for being one of the most intelligent dog breeds. They can pick up commands very quickly. These dogs are also good at problem-solving. That's why they're often a recommended breed for new dog owners.
So how does this factor into guarding? Well, guard dogs must be able to distinguish real threats. They need to understand the difference between allies and enemies. With some training, they can do just that.
Size and Build
Golden Retrievers have size on their side! Contrary to popular belief, these dogs aren't large. They're a medium-sized breed.
Adult males will typically get as tall as 32 inches and weigh up to 75 pounds. Females are a bit smaller at 30 inches. But, they still tip the scales at 55 to 71 pounds.
Larger dogs are better for guarding, as their sheer presence is enough to get most intruders to run for the hills! While not large, Golden Retrievers are still very bulky. They're much better at intimidating than a smaller breed.
To put it into perspective, Golden Retrievers are roughly the same size as a Rottweiler. Rotties are one of the most effective guard dogs out there. If they can intimidate at their size, so can Golden Retrievers.
Golden Retrievers are one of the more active dog breeds. Of course, this isn't true with all pups. Some dogs can grow lazy and gain weight just like other breeds.
But with regular exercise, they can stay active for many years. On average, a Golden Retriever needs about an hour of exercise a day to stay fit. This is a huge plus when it comes to guarding.
Guard dogs must be ready to chase away intruders at the drop of a hat. As an active dog, most Goldies will have no problem springing into action when the moment calls for it.
Once a Golden Retriever creates a bond with you, it's over! There's no going back! The dog will be bonded with you for life.
This breed will do anything to keep you safe and happy. While many owners feel like it's their job to protect their dogs, Golden Retrievers think it's the other way around! It's an endearing trait that can come in handy in the face of danger. Before you know it, they'll be by your side.
Potential Traits That Could Get in the Way
As we mentioned earlier, Golden Retrievers can make good guard dogs. But, they have some instincts that could cause troubles in an emergency scenario. If you want your Goldie to truly guard your domain, you must utilize training to overcome the following traits.
I know what you're thinking: Why is this a bad thing? Well, Golden Retrievers don't work to protect just you. They will help anyone they feel needs help.
That's why they are such good guide dogs. These dogs will help out anyone they can.
If an intruder looks like they're in trouble, your dog could go to their aide. That's not what you want in an emergency.
Goldies are naturally lovable to everyone. They are friendly to most. This can be a problem if your a stranger rolls around.
All it would take is a bit of petting from a burglar to sway your dog over. To become an effective guard dog, you must address this natural friendliness and teach your dog to identify intruders.
Quiet and Calm
Finally, the last behavioral trait you will need to work around is their natural quietness. Golden Retrievers aren't huge barkers like other breeds. They stay calm and collected most of the time.
That's the exact opposite of what you want. The whole purpose of having a guard dog is to get alerted of intruders! So, you must train your dog to get over his quiet nature and bark when uninvited guests come along.
Training a Golden Retriever to Guard Your Home
Thanks to their high intelligence levels, Golden Retrievers aren't difficult to train at all. There are two different training methods you need to do. These techniques are all about teaching your dog what he or she needs to do when an intruder comes around.
The techniques can also address some of the negative guarding traits of the breed.
Establishing the Boundary
This training method is easy. The goal is to show your dog what he needs to guard. Your pooch doesn't understand property boundaries. So, you must teach them.
To do this, go on long walks in the morning and evening. Take a path that circles your property. As you walk, be silent. You want to let your dog focus on every detail of his or her surroundings. During this time, your pup is learning where his guarding perimeter is.
After going your morning walk, put your pup on a tether, and let them explore a bit on their own.Repeat this process for several weeks. Eventually, they will learn that this is the area they need to defend.
Now, you want to also incorporate some socialization. You don't want them to bark at every person that comes by. So, they need to get familiar with people in your life.
Take a visit to family and friends. Try visiting dog parks and obedience classes, too! Early socialization is key. Your dog will get familiar with the good visitors, which will raise suspicion for those they don't recognize.
Training your dog to provide some verbal cues is crucial. It's what's going to alert you to potential danger.
Create a noise that alerts your dog. This could be a knocking at the door or some other alarming sound. Command your dog to bark. When they do, provide treats as a reward.
Turn the noise off. If they stop, provide another treat! You can also train them to associate stopping with your presence. It all comes down to how you want your dog to behave.
Repeat this process until your dog starts barking at any suspicious noise that occurs. Don't forget to provide rewards!
Golden Retrievers are fully capable of becoming excellent guard dogs. However, it does go against everything they instinctively know! As a result, proper and consistent training is a must.
If you're still having trouble, consider getting help from a trainer. While they're smart, guard training can be a confusing process. It's best to get help from a professional instead of teaching your dog to get aggressive.
With some help, your dog will be the best little guardian you could ever ask for!