When it comes to a Golden Retriever, “guard dog” is probably not the first word that springs to mind. These dogs are well known to be lovely family dogs and are also popular for use as therapy dogs or service dogs.
These lovable bundles of fluff are typically easy to train and love pleasing their owners, which makes them great pets. They are fiercely loyal, large in size, and adore their humans – so are they useful as guard dogs?
In this article, BarksInThePark will look at what makes a great guard dog, which traits a Golden Retriever has, whether they are useful as a guard dog, and how you can train your Golden to be your protector.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Makes For An Effective Guard Dog?
- 2 Golden Retriever Temperament
- 3 Guard Dog Qualities That A Golden Retriever Possesses
- 4 Golden Retriever Qualities That Do Not Suit Guard Dogs
- 5 The Answer: Are Golden Retrievers Good Guard Dogs?
- 6 How Do Golden Retrievers Protect Their Owners?
- 7 How To Train Your Golden Retriever To Be A Good Guard Dog
- 8 FAQs
- 9 Final Thoughts
What Makes For An Effective Guard Dog?
Good guard dogs are supposed to be able to chase away intruders and notify their owners when a suspicious stranger is near. Dog breeds that act as protection dogs need certain inherent qualities to step into this role.
Here are some of the best qualities of brilliant guard dogs:
- The dog should be large so that it is intimidating to strangers.
- The dog must be athletic and fit. A protection dog must be able to move fast.
- These dogs must have no fear and plenty of courage. They should not hesitate to attack when a threat arises.
- They must be loyal and willing to stay close to their owners.
- They should not be motivated by food or treats to trust a stranger.
- These dogs must be intelligent and alert to constantly notice and assess threats.
- They must have protective instincts. These include rushing to their owner’s aid when there is a threat and barking or growling at the dangerous situation.
- A great guard dog is an obedient dog. They must immediately listen to their owner’s commands.
You may think that Goldens are big and loyal, but they were bred for hunting, not for attacking. Let’s investigate the temperament of the Golden Retriever breed to assess whether they will be able to act as a protection dog.
Golden Retriever Temperament
Most people agree that a Golden Retriever is the perfect family dog. But why is that?
The main traits of these dogs are that they are incredibly easy to please, they are calm, they are good with children due to their gentle nature, and they love almost all people and other breeds.
Your Golden Retriever loves a good cuddle. They may be large dogs, but they will go out of their way to climb onto a lap and snuggle with their human families.
This need for and love of affection makes them good companions. They have an incredibly strong bond with everyone in their family, which means that on occasion, they may actually step in as protection dogs when a big threat is present.
This protection is seen when the dog barks or growls when a stranger approaches. It is, however, quite rare for a Golden to do this as they view all people as friends.
Guard Dog Qualities That A Golden Retriever Possesses
It is clear from their temperament that a Golden Retriever might not be the go-to choice for an attack dog. That does not mean they don’t have any properties that can transform them into guard dogs.
Here are six reasons why a Golden Retriever makes a good guard dog.
They may look big with all that fluff, but Goldens are actually not such large dogs. They are medium to large in size, at around 21 to 24 inches at the shoulder.
This makes them seem like smaller dogs when compared to the stature of the 32-inch Great Dane! But they are by no means small.
Your Golden Retriever is actually the same size as a very famous protection dog: the Rottweiler!
Every owner would expect their dog to show some degree of loyalty, but Golden Retrievers are unique because they cannot help but form a tight, warm connection with their owners. Their most sought-after trait is this fierce loyalty.
Once you connect with your Golden Retriever, the bond will never be broken. This trait is also something that most good guard dogs have. This is because loyal dogs will want to protect their owners when they are threatened or in danger.
Have some protective instincts
Goldens are not loud, barky dogs. When they perceive a threat, they may let out a few warning barks or a deep growl.
They also have the instinct to stand between their owners and whatever they might suspect to be a source of danger.
You may have to take your puppy to obedience classes, but Goldens are naturally very obedient dogs. They love getting trained as it is time spent with their favorite humans.
Obedience is also a key trait of a good guard dog.
Golden Retrievers have consistently proven themselves as the most obedient dogs. This breed was the first dog to claim the American Kennel Club Obedience Championship Title. Between 2010 – 2019, Golden Retrievers claimed this title six out of 10 times!
Lots of energy
Attack dogs typically have a lot of energy as they need to spring into action instantly. A dog that spends all his time relaxing on the couch will not make the best guard dog.
Since Golden Retrievers were bred to retrieve game and fowl during hunts, they have plenty of energy to keep up!
These high-energy dogs need at least an hour of exercise every day, as well as plenty of mental stimulation. These traits mean they have the potential to be great attack dogs if properly trained.
An intelligent dog is a trainable dog. Smart dogs are able to quickly learn new commands and also obey the commands when training is done.
Of all the other dogs out there, a Golden Retriever ranks fourth in intelligence, behind the Border Collie, Poodle, and German Shepherd. And seeing that German Shepherds are great guard dogs, you can expect the Golden’s intelligence to give him the same guarding abilities.
The intelligence of Golden Retrievers enables them to differentiate between a family friend and an intruder. It is highly unlikely that your Golden will be aggressive towards an innocent bystander.
This ability to tell the “good” people from the “bad” can be further enhanced by proper socialization when your Golden is still a pup.
Golden Retriever Qualities That Do Not Suit Guard Dogs
With great intelligence, trainability, high energy, and the right size, it might seem obvious that Golden Retrievers are good guard dogs. Unfortunately, these lovable pups have some personality traits that are also not that well suited to protection dogs.
Golden Retrievers are one of the most friendly dog breeds out there. Sure, some have the ability to perceive intruders as a threat to your home, but most Golden Retrievers will simply believe that an ill-intentioned stranger is a new playmate.
Their “love everybody” mentality combined with their quiet nature means they will probably not do very well in alerting their owners of any kind of danger.
You can fix this issue by training your dog to be a guardian (more on training later in this article), but then the issue may arise where they bark at everyone who approaches you or your home.
They want to protect everyone
As we mentioned earlier, Goldens do have some protective instincts, but since they love everyone, they tend to also want to protect everyone.
Unlike other dog breeds, don’t be surprised if your Golden picks the side of the strange intruder!
Golden Retrievers are incredibly compassionate dogs. They are great with babies and children, and they also want to play with all other dogs. This means that if an angry dog is running towards you or your child, your Golden Retriever may decide to try to engage in play with the dog. Not exactly the kind of protection you want!
The Answer: Are Golden Retrievers Good Guard Dogs?
Based on the above information, Golden Retrievers are not naturally good guard dogs. This is because they are some of the friendliest dogs out there.
They do have some protection instincts, which means with some proper training, your Golden Retriever could be a guard dog. You will first have to train out their natural companionship traits before training your Golden to protect your home and family.
So if you are wondering, “will my Golden Retriever protect me?”the answer really depends on how you train your Golden to take up guard dog duties and unlearn some natural caring behaviors.
How can my Golden Retriever be a good protection dog?
As we can see from the list of traits above, Golden Retrievers have what it takes to be good protection dogs. This family dog is intelligent like the German Shepherd, is the same size as the Rottie, and can be trained as a protective dog.
Golden Retrievers are loyal to their humans and have a loud bark that can deter intruders.
Like other attack dogs, Golden Retrievers are also very obedient and willing to please.
All of these traits are seen in dog breeds that are commonly used as guard dogs. This means with proper training and the right skills, Goldens can be transformed into attack dogs. It will just take a little bit of effort and time!
How Do Golden Retrievers Protect Their Owners?
It is pretty clear that Golden Retrievers are not natural guardians or protection dogs, but they are still able to defend their owners in certain situations.
They may not be overtly aggressive and intimidating, but their loyalty means they will go out of their way to protect their families.
The most common protection method a Golden exhibits is baring its teeth and barking. Your dog may also jump between you and the threat.
Golden Retrievers are not loud dogs, but they will bark to scare away danger. Unfortunately, sometimes this “danger” is the garbage truck or the delivery guy.
Your Golden Retriever may also show its potential as a protective dog by using its size to its advantage. They are medium-sized dogs with deep barks and plenty of hair. When they suspect a threat, they may lift their tail, raise the hairs on their back, and loudly bark. This is almost guaranteed to scare off any intruder!
In extreme situations, your Golden Retriever may run towards the threat while growling and showing its teeth. They do not show this behavior often, only when they feel threatened and need to protect themselves.
It really does take a lot for Golden Retrievers to really become aggressive or assertive. They may only behave in such a manner when they are incredibly stressed or nervous about a foreign situation.
There are plenty of stories out there of Golden Retrievers stepping in to save their owners. Whether they are protecting a child or taking on a snake, they will always put their owners first. This makes them good protection dogs, especially with some training.
How To Train Your Golden Retriever To Be A Good Guard Dog
With the right training, Golden Retrievers can be transformed into excellent guard dogs.
Here are several methods that can be utilized by dog owners to transform their Golden Retrievers into effective guard dogs.
Marking the boundary
This method is commonly used by pet owners who do not have a fenced property and need to train their dogs where the boundary of the property lies.
Marking the boundary can be used to help your Golden Retriever understand where the boundaries of the property are that it must protect. For example, if your Golden lives in the house and the backyard, you need the dog to understand that the front yard and the world beyond the house do not need guarding.
Here is the method behind this training:
- Take your Golden Retriever out of your property for a walk. Do not speak to them at all during the walk.
- Once home, tie a long leash to your dog. The leash needs to be long enough to allow your Golden Retriever to explore the whole property that it needs to protect.
- Teach your dog to growl or alert you with a bark if a strange dog or human approaches the boundaries of the property. You need to make your dog understand that it should not be aggressive but simply notify you through barking.
- Ask friends and family to come to visit so that you can also train your Golden not to bark at familiar faces.
- Each time your dog barks at a stranger approaching the boundary, award it with a treat. If the dog is aggressive, withhold the treat.
- After a day of training, take your dog for a walk again without saying anything. By behind silent, you are reaffirming that the area beyond the property boundaries does not need protection.
- Repeat this training process every single day until the dog understands which boundaries must be protected.
Bark on command
The aim of this type of training is to teach your Golden Retriever to bark until the threat he is barking at response or goes away.
Here is the training method:
- Make some noises without alerting the dog where the noises are originating from. These noises should represent someone trying to enter the home. Mimic banging on a gate or door or scratching at a window.
- Command the dog to bark at the noise. Stop making the noise, and then command the dog to stop barking.
- Repeat this process until your Golden Retriever learns that they need to bark when there are suspicious noises.
- When your dog barks at the noise, reward them with a treat or toy. Also, reward them when they stop barking when the noise stops.
- For even more thorough training, combine the “stop barking” command with your appearance. That way, your dog will learn that it needs to stop barking at the threat once it has successfully gotten your attention.
Training to resist natural impulses
Golden Retrievers love people, and they also love food. This combination means they will love any stranger that offers them a snack.
You need to do proper training with your Golden to make them wary of strangers and to only accept food offered by the family.
Guard dog training
All dog breeds need basic obedience training. This includes recall, as well as doing basic tricks like sitting, staying, and lying down.
Apart from this, you also want to train your Golden Retriever to understand basic guard dog commands.
This includes going for help when needed, defending the children in the family, and acting aggressively toward intruders.
Training to differentiate between good and bad people
Yes, you want your dog to be able to protect your family. But you do not want your dog to lunge at everyone approaching your home.
It is up to a responsible dog owner to help their dog understand who is a good person (i.e. family and friends) and who poses a threat. This also comes down to obedience training and understanding commands.
You need to be able to tell your dog “no” or “quiet” if it is barking at a friendly face approaching your house. If you start obedience training early, your eager-to-please Golden Retriever will quickly pick up on these necessary skills.
Do Golden Retrievers easily get aggressive?
Golden Retrievers are not naturally aggressive dogs. With some training, they may show aggression towards intruders. Other reasons they may become aggressive are if they have been abused in the past or if they are scared or in pain.
Will a Golden Retriever bite?
Golden Retrievers are not aggressive by nature, which means they are unlikely to bite spontaneously. They are more likely to growl and bark. In some instances, a Golden may bite to defend himself from an extremely stressful situation or when in pain.
Can a Golden Retriever be trained to be a protection dog?
Yes! Golden Retrievers have some qualities that make them good guard dogs. With the right training, you can turn your lovable pup into a protection dog. They will be able to alert you of danger without becoming too aggressive.
What is the difference between a guard dog and a watchdog?
A guard dog is a dog that lives on the owner’s property and keeps an eye out for strangers. They will bark and alert the owner if an intruder, and may also attack an intruder. Guard dogs will neutralize a treat. Watchdogs, on the other hand, simply act as alarms and will not attack.
Golden Retrievers are the top picks when it comes to dogs for families. They are kind, loving, loyal, and incredibly gentle (not to mention cute!).
The close connections they form with their families means that they will naturally want to protect their people from any harm. This skill does not come naturally to all Golden Retrievers, meaning they are simply not the best guard dogs out there.
Although you can train them to become protection dogs or attack dogs, they might simply just be too cuddly to do much harm.
Golden Retrievers are amazing companions and family pets. If you are not willing to put in the time to train your fluffy Retriever to become a fierce protector, you may be better off with another dog breed.
A German Shepherd, Rottweiler, or Doberman will make a much better protection dog than a Golden Retriever ever will!
If this guide has helped you out, why not check our post on why your Golden Retriever is always panting next?