Are Golden Retrievers Good Guard Dogs?

Golden retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S. due to their intelligence and good looks. If you’ve owned or been around a golden retriever some time in your life, you must be aware of their sweet disposition and friendly nature.

Most people adopt golden retrievers intending to have them as their pet-companions as well as guard dogs. But, are Golden Retrievers good guard dogs?

People assume that all dogs that may instinctively bark at strangers and display an unmatched loyalty to their owners are good at guarding properties against intruders. Still, these aren’t the only qualities that are required in an ideal guard dog.

Since golden retrievers have friendly personalities, they may not seem like innately good guard dogs to you. However, you may be surprised to find that with the right training, these dogs can become formidable guard dogs in just under a few months.

They possess certain instinctual traits that you’ll have to train out of them before you can trust them with the duties of a guard dog.

In this blog post, you’ll learn all about the qualities of an ideal guard dog and how golden retrievers may have just what it takes to guard you and your home against intruders.

What Are the Qualities of an Ideal Guard Dog?

If you know a thing or two about guard dogs, you must know they’re meant to scare away strangers, especially those with ill intentions. They’re also supposed to alert their owners whenever they sense danger.

Let’s take a look at some qualities that make excellent guard dogs:

  • Guard dogs should be large, as larger dogs can easily instill fear in unwelcome strangers.
  • They should have a sense of fearlessness that enables them to attack someone that’s causing harm to their owner or trespassing on the property.
  • They should have an athletic build that allows them to move with ease as soon as they recognize imminent danger.
  • They should be loyal to their owners and not get easily lured by treats and toys by strangers.
  • They should be highly intelligent, alert, and watchful so they can immediately sense and judge real danger and go into defense mode.
  • They must be exceptionally obedient to their owner and follow their command to attack in case of real danger or stay away from when they’ve misjudged the situation.
  • They should also exhibit protective behaviors like jumping between their owner and the source of danger and start barking or growling at the sight of unwelcome strangers who mean to cause harm.

What Traits Qualify Golden Retrievers as Good Guard Dogs?

Look for the following traits in a Golden Retriever when choosing this breed as a guard dog.

They Are Loyal

Most dogs are expected to show loyalty to their owners, but golden retrievers are especially capable of creating a strong bond with their owners. Once you’ve established this bond, you’ll no longer have to worry about getting betrayed by your dog.

Golden retrievers are all about loyalty, as they’ll make sure to be on your side through thick and thin. This trait makes them particularly capable of becoming a great guard dog. According to Rover, they’ve been listed as one of the most loyal dogs based on their history and temperament.

Loyal dogs are known to be naturally protective of their owners and always have their back as they simply can’t bear to see them in pain or danger.

They Are Intelligent

If you’ve trained a dog before, you know that intelligent dogs are relatively easier to train. Since golden retrievers are known to be highly intelligent, it usually takes them less than five repetitions to learn and understand new commands.  Once they’re trained, there’s a 95% probability that they’ll obey learned commands the first time they’re made.

Due to their high intelligence, they can also learn from their past experiences and can distinguish an ill-intended stranger from a friendly visitor. This means you don’t have to worry about your golden retriever showing their aggression to a stranger that has no intention of harm.

If they’ve had enough socialization when they were younger, they won’t struggle with differentiating between the good and the bad people.

They Are Exceptionally Active

Golden retrievers are exceptionally active and high-energy dogs that will always be ready to defend you against an attacker. They’re known to have a lot of energy and endurance because they were originally bred to retrieve small game by Scottish elites.

They were used to engaging in strenuous activities to obey their masters and spent long periods outside, which is why they’re perfectly capable of keeping up with you on a jog or a hike in the mountains.

Since golden retrievers are a large and sporty breed, they love to exercise. You can’t expect them to adjust to a sedentary lifestyle as they require at least an hour of exercise every day. This will keep them both mentally and physically stimulated and will give them the energy and stamina they need to chase after an ill-intentioned intruder.

They Are Obedient

Golden retrievers are usually obedient to their owners and thrive on pleasing them. This quality makes them especially easier to manage and train. To train your golden retriever to become a guard dog, it’s advisable to train them from an early age so they can learn to respond to your commands appropriately.

Golden retrievers have also been found to be the most superior breeds in agility and obedience. According to canine history, which is why it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that no other dog breed is involved in more obedience championships than golden retrievers.

You can even let them wander freely in a park where there’s no one they can disturb as their innate loyalty and obedience will allow them to find their way back to you without any difficulty. Younger golden retrievers, on the other hand, should be kept in check as they may not be as obedient as their older counterparts and need to be trained first.

They Are Attentive towards Their Owners

Since these dogs are known over the globe to be people-pleasers, it’s incredibly easy to train them to be attentive towards their owners and their commands. This quality makes them ideal for training to be various types of service dogs.

These enthusiastic and attentive dogs will stop at nothing to please their owners and create a strong bond with them. If you’re looking for a faithful pet-companion, golden retrievers should be your first choice as they’ll stay close to you and make sure no harm comes to you.

They Are Great Hunting Dogs

All you need to do is take one look at a golden retriever in the flesh to be able to tell that they’re exceptionally good at hunting. Since they have enthusiastic personalities and are driven by curiosity, all they want is for you to give them the go-ahead so they can pounce on something.

They’re mighty and have a balanced gait that gives them an edge when they’re out in the wild. Their hindquarters are muscular and broad and help enhance their agility immensely. Hunting dogs like golden retrievers make perfect guard dogs as they’re highly active and watchful of their surroundings.

Watch this video on some facts about Golden Retrievers.

How to Train a Golden Retriever to Become a Guard Dog?

An interesting fact about golden retrievers is that they’re one of the most famous dog breeds that are trained to be guide dogs for blind people. They’re the perfect furry companions for people who need physical assistance. They can also be trained as alarms for people who are likely to have seizures.

Since they possess many similar traits as dogs that are bred to guard homes, like loyalty, obedience, and intelligence, you may be wondering how you can train your golden retriever to perform exceptionally well as guard dogs. 

Owning a dog that will serve as both a faithful companion and a guard dog has many perks. A dog that’s meant to protect your family and personal property from intruders will also have an outlet to channel all their extra energy into doing something productive.

It can be a challenge to train a golden retriever as they’re naturally friendly, but all you need to do is to spend some time and energy to reap the benefits later on. Training your dog can also be a great bonding experience and may allow your dog to grow even more loyal to you than before.  

The most important thing you need to understand when you’re training a golden retriever is that time is of the essence. You must start training them young, so they’re easier for you to manage as they grow in size and strength.

Puppies are a lot easier to mold as they’re quick learners, and you’ll be able to see the results within a month or two. Older golden retrievers, on the other hand, can take up to six months to get trained properly, and you may need to get in touch with a professional trainer to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Here are three note-worthy methods you can use to train your golden retriever to be a guard dog:

Day One Method

The day one method involves a few simple steps. Start by calling out to your dog every time someone’s at the door. You can try whispering, pointing, or doing something that will put them on edge. This will instill in them the ability to sense when a stranger approaches them.  

With time, they’ll learn the behavior you expect from them every time you wave at them when someone’s at your door. Once they start manifesting the expected behavior, you need to reward them. It’s also important to make sure they’re able to handle their aggression in the right way.

Verbal Cue Method

The primary goal of the verbal cue method is to teach your golden retriever to bark or growl until they’re met with a response to their bark or the object that’s causing them to bark disappears.

Here’s a step-by-step guide that you need to follow for this training method:

  • Have your golden retriever hear suspicious noises, but make sure he can’t pinpoint where the sounds are coming from. These can be sounds of banging or anything that resembles the sound of an intruder breaking into your home.
  • Command your dog to growl and keep growling until you’ve commanded him to stop. Start the sounds again and repeat the commands until your dog learns that he’s expected to bark every time he hears that noise.
  • Make sure to give rewards to your dog when he starts barking on his own as soon as he hears the noise and when he stops after the noise dies down.
  • You can use the ‘stop’ command when you make your appearance known to him to teach him that he can stop barking when you respond to his call.

Here’s another method you can try while keeping the same training goal in mind:

  • Instead of using sounds, you can use people that he wouldn’t recognize and get them to approach a place or object you’re teaching your dog to guard.
  • Point your finger at the stranger to draw attention to them and command your golden retriever to bark.
  • When he barks, silently instruct the person to move away. Make sure your dog understands that he has to keep barking until the stranger has left.

Repeat these methods a couple of times every week, and don’t forget to reward him every time he responds with the expected behavior. With time, he’ll be able to develop a habit of barking at strangers when they approach.

Marking the Boundary Method

This method is meant to teach your dog to recognize the boundaries he needs to protect. If your golden retriever stays inside your house, you must make sure he understands that guarding the outside of your house isn’t his responsibility.

Here are some steps you can follow:

  • Take your dog out for a walk and stay silent the whole time.
  • Once you’re home, tether your dog with a long leash that gives him enough room to explore your property.
  • Command your dog to bark whenever a stranger or an animal tries to come close to the perimeter. Make sure he understands that he only needs to alert you with his growl and doesn’t have to resort to aggression right away.
  • Get people your dog recognizes to come close to the perimeter as well to teach your dog that he isn’t supposed to growl at people he’s familiar with.
  • Reward him with a treat when he growls at a stranger and deny the reward if he starts showing signs of aggression toward the stranger.
  • Take your golden retriever for another walk in the evening and remain silent to instill the message that it isn’t part of his guarding duties to protect the area that’s outside the perimeters.
  • Repeat these steps daily for a while week to make sure that your dog has learned the behavior.

Watch this video on how to train a dog to become a guard dog

What Are the Cons of Having a Protective Golden Retriever?

Before deciding whether you want your golden retriever to be a guard dog or not, you should get to know this breed a little bit better. Let’s take a look at three cons of training your golden retriever to guard you and your property.

Their Protective Instinct

Since golden retrievers are born with a protective instinct, they won’t wish to cause harm to any human, even if the other person is posing a serious threat to their owner. You can teach your dog to attack a stranger who intends to harm you, but it may take some time for them to learn this behavior as this goes against their instincts.

Their Undying Affection

Golden retrievers are famous for their undying affection. They’re gentle creatures that are bred to love humans. Their affectionate nature can get in their way of becoming good guard dogs as they may not be able to sense if a human has harmful intentions.

Their Silent Nature

Golden retrievers are surprisingly silent when they’re compared to other dog breeds of their size. They’re less likely to bark, which is why it can be difficult to train them to act as natural alarms.

Final Thoughts on Are Golden Retrievers Good Guard Dogs

You’ll need to extremely consistent and patient when you’re training your golden retriever to become a capable guard dog as some of these responsibilities go against his instincts and tendencies.

However, you shouldn’t forget that golden retrievers aren’t just friendly; they’re also highly intelligent, active, and obedient and can make excellent guard dogs if you use the right training methods and take advantage of their strengths.