When training protection dogs for a living, I often come across dog owners who want to train their dogs to protect them. In most cases, dogs can be trained for very basic protective work, but in the vast majority of cases your dogs just aren’t capable. There are only a handful of dog breeds that can excel at protection training.
The following is a list of breeds that are often trained for personal protection. The list is not exhaustive, but includes the following:
– German shepherd
– Belgian shepherd malinois
– Doberman pinscher
– American Bulldog
– Giant Schnauzer
– Bouvier de Flandres
– Airedale Terrier
– Presa Canario
There are many other breeds that can stand out in this field, but not many. For many of my clients, this is difficult to understand. Why not your dog? Why not your race? Your dog is intelligent, active, barks at strangers who approach the house, etc. Those are all things that would lend themselves to a dog that is being trained for protection, right?
The answer lies in what it takes to train a dog for protection. Yes, it has to do with intelligence. Yes, it has to do with athletic ability. But what it really boils down to is units.
Protection dogs often stand out because they have a much higher prey drive and defense drive than average. The prey drive is the dog’s desire to chase and grab an object. It is the impulse that is used to train a dog to bite and capture its ‘prey’, the bad guy. The defense drive is a dog’s desire to protect himself and his owners. While most dogs will bark at strangers, very few dogs have a strong enough defense drive to do anything about it if someone is intent on doing harm.
Aside from extreme urges, the protection dog needs to have an incredibly strong nervous system to be able to handle the rigors of protection work. The nervous system is something that rarely happens by accident, high-level breeders around the world reproduce for this characteristic.
Those who wish to train their dogs for protection work would do well to seek out a professional who can accurately measure their dog’s prey drive, defense drive, and nervous system.