Attack dogs are silent scouts, devoted protectors, and highly intelligent working breeds. They have long played a pivotal role in the history of human and canine interaction. To this day these types of service dogs have a huge part in our protection against dangerous enemies. They train hard, possess unflinching obedience, and are truly an awesome sight to behold in action. Owning and training these dogs is a huge responsibility and not something to take lightly. A well trained attack dog is not something to fear, unless you are on the wrong side of the law or viewed as a viable threat. Instead these dogs should be respected and revered for the service they provide.
Attack Dogs Vs. Guard Dogs
A guard dog and an attack dog are not usually the same thing, but one is often mistaken for the other. For the most part, vigilant guard dogs are not trained to attack. Rather, the main task of a guard dog is to patrol property and alert owners if a stranger or threat is present. These dogs are often vocal and trained to bark or growl at intruders to ward them off. Often these dogs are extremely intimidating, but do not make good attack dogs because their bark is often worse than their bite. Also, guard dogs are often smaller breeds like Shar-Peis, Chihuahuas, and Pugs. Conversely, attack dogs are large and in charge, with both the size and ability to take down a human or beast. These dogs are used for narcotics or explosives detection, patrol, search, and apprehension. They are extraordinary dogs from extraordinary breeds.
Origins of the Best Attack Dogs in the United States
Historically, back in the Roman Empire, attack dogs were used to break through the enemy’s front line during a battle. They were menacing-looking Mastiffs bedecked with spiked collars and full armor. These dog were ferocious, and feared by many. Modern attack dogs are not the viscous beasts of the past. Today the best attack dogs are highly trained animals. Trainers strictly use them to protect troops or owners against attack and aid in law enforcement and apprehension. These dogs are most often associated with modern police, border patrol, or military work. They are patriots and heroes. The best attack dogs are some of the most effective counter measures against explosives, terrorists, and insurgents. Those lucky enough to work with these service dogs know firsthand how properly trained attack dogs diminish the chances of ambush, bring down dangerous threats, and help troops survive war.
Originally the United States military called for the donation of pet dogs to train for service during World War II. Then began the process of trial and error. They trained and worked with a handful of breeds, narrowing them down to some of the best attack dogs and service dogs. Some breeds were ideal for this type of training. These included German Shepherds, Belgian Sheepdogs, and Doberman Pinschers. Contrary to what you might believe, these attack dogs are well socialized, loyal, and devoted companions. They are also unerringly obedient. They bite on command and stop biting on command. They will not attack unless there is a viable threat or have received the command to do so. Attack dogs are not your average pet and require structure and obedience. This type of grueling training requires a breed that is strong, calm, loves humans, is adaptable to different environments, and has highly developed intelligence. The owners should be much the same.
10 Best Attack Dog Breeds
Dogs from these breeds are not born attack dogs. That type of behavior takes training and control. However, some breeds do possess natural characteristics to be fearless and brave in service. These are the top breeds to consider when looking to train an attack dog.
Originally people bred these dogs for cattle protection. They are still relentless protectors with an extreme loyalty to their owners. They were some of the earliest dogs used in both police and military service. Generally Rottweilers weigh between 85 and 130 pounds and have an average lifespan of 8 to 11 years. A well-bred Rottweiler should be calm and confident, with a natural instinct to wait before reacting to new threats and situations. However, these dogs make some of the best attack dogs because they will not hesitate to be ferocious in the defense of their pack or family.
Dogs of this breed are known for their physical strength. They have strong protective instincts and a natural courage. They also have strong familial loyalty, and will do anything to protect loved ones. Generally Bullmastiffs weigh between 100 and 130 pounds with an average lifespan of 8 to 10 years. These dogs will use their bulk and weight to knock people around and pin them until reinforcements arrive. As such, these dogs can be used as both guard and attack dogs. They also make good household pets as they have a docile temperament in a family environment.
These dogs are bold, confident, powerful, and fearless. They are also easily recognized as the service dogs today. These dogs hold positions of respect alongside countless police and military compatriots. In fact, they were the dogs crawling through the wreckage of the World Trade Center after 9/11 looking for survivors and comforting families. These dogs are intelligent. They are quick to learn commands and respond to a structured rewards system. German Shepherds also offer unmatched courage and devotion. It is no wonder they are one of the most recognized and popular breeds worldwide.
Overall the bulldog is smaller in stature, but as the name suggests, was originally bred to work with bulls. These dogs are very muscular, sturdily built, and extremely powerful. Though compact, the American Bulldogs are higher on the leg and more agile than their English counterparts. Some of these dogs can even leap up to six feet in the air. Usually American Bulldogs weigh between 70 to 120 pounds with an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. You can see why they would be highly sought after as the best attack dogs. Not only are they physically built, but also brave, loyal, and determined creatures—but not at all hostile. If trained up properly and socialized while young, American Bulldogs make both strong attack dogs and loyal companions. Just make sure they know their place in the ranks and get enough daily exercise.
These dogs have proven to be some of the most outstanding service dogs used in the military. They have focused aggressive behavior, heightened sense of smell, and a thriving desire to work for a reward. They are intense, intelligent, and champion companions. Generally Malinois weigh between 40 and 80 pounds with an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years. At first glance you might even mistake them as a German Shepherd. But these mid-sized Belgian shepherds have significant physical differences and a temperament all their own. These are very sensitive dogs. Though expected to obey with precision, they do not respond well to harsh training methods. They are quick learners, and very eager to do whatever their owners ask of them as long as you keep a balanced reward system intact.
Much like the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois, this cattle herding breed is highly intelligent, energetic, and athletic. These dogs are often thought to be the most elegant of the four Belgian sheepdog breeds. Generally these smaller dogs weigh between 40 and 70 pounds with an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years. These are beautiful, mid-sized dogs with a long, fawn to russet mahogany coat superimposed on black. They also tout the formidable black mask around their eyes and muzzle. These highly active dogs excel at tracking, which makes them ideal for police retrieval. However, much like all good attack dogs, Belgian Tervuarens can get unruly and unpredictable when they do not have a job to do.
The last of the four Belgian sheepdogs, these are solid-colored with a long black coat and imposing presence. Though originally bred to herd sheep, these dogs quickly graduated to police work because of their versatility. These dogs are alert, devoted, and highly protective animals. They also possess high intelligence and are easy to train. These dogs usually weigh between 60 and 75 pounds with an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years. Like many service and attack dogs, Groenendaels have high energy. This is not a breed that likes simply lazing around the house. These dogs are hard wired to chase and will always protect their “children.”
Another of the herding dogs, this one of Dutch origin. The shepherds and farmers who used these dogs were looking for a highly adaptable breed with few demands. These dogs are enthusiastic workers. They excel not only as protection and attack dogs, but also in agility and obedience competitions. One thing about these dogs is they grow attached to their territory. Unwanted visitors will be stopped. Dutch Shepherds usually weigh between 50 and 70 pounds with an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. The short haired variety is often preferred for service animals. This is mostly because the coat is easy to maintain and makes animals of the breed a little more versatile. These are also reliant dogs that can withstand fatigue and harsh conditions. The main reasons they make such good attack dogs are because they are obedient, sober, and extremely loyal.
This is another well-known service breed used both by police and military for decades. Originally Louis Dobermann, a tax collector and town dogcatcher, created a unique breed to use as both loyal companion and protector. Down the line German breeders continued Dobermann’s work and developed a “super dog.” They bred only the bravest, smartest, quickest, and toughest of the bunch. As a result Dobermans are incredibly fast and can reach an intruder or escapee in a short amount of time. Dobies generally weigh between 60 and 80 pounds with an average lifespan of 10 to 13 years. They are very strong, muscular, and the fifth-smartest dog breed in the world. They make such good attack dogs because they are vigilant and fearless. They are also loyal to a fault and have sound temperaments when fostered by responsible breeders and trained early.
Yes, even the friendly Labrador Retriever can make an excellent service or attack dog given the right amount of training. These dogs are well known for their ability to retrieve game caught or hunted by their owners. They are highly intelligent creatures with a keen sense of smell and a high level of obedience. General Labradors weigh between 55 and 80 pounds with an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years. Owners can train these dogs to passively or aggressively indicate, depending on the substance or situation. However, these dogs do have a more docile nature compared to other service breeds. As such they are hardworking, good-natured animals that work well as family pets and loyal companions.