One of the most cherished features of “man’s best friend” is a dog’s ability to alert and protect his owner by instinct. While there are larger dog breeds known for their suspicious and, if necessary, aggressive behavior toward strangers, there are small dog breeds who are equally as passionate about fulfilling the job of “guard dog.” They play a role of alerting their owner to possible strangers by barking, even though they can’t intimidate strangers like a larger dog can. In fact, these small breeds are distinguished as “watchdogs” rather than “guard dogs.” The best small guard dogs for apartments and condos give you added protection along with adaptability.
About half of the top-rated small guard dogs appear on the list of most kid-friendly small dog breeds, and half do not. While kid-friendly small dogs tend to be bred primarily as companion dogs, there are some small dog breeds originally bred as sporting or hunting dogs who are also compatible with kids and other pets. Let’s look at both groups and see how they differ.
Best Small Breed Guard Dogs
One of the most highly ranked protective small guard dogs is the Bull Terrier. They were originally sporting dogs and they still have the prey instinct. For this reason they are not as compatible with smaller pets and while they are devoted to their owners, they have trouble distinguishing friends from strangers.
Also high on the small guard dog list is the adorable, yet powerful, Chihuahua. As tiny as this dog is, he is aggressive by nature. He may be better described as an “alert” dog, and he proudly fulfills his role. He is so devoted that he is less compatible with other pets and sometimes family members, and for these reasons we don’t see the Chihuahua among the top kid-friendly small dog breeds.
The Jack Russell Terrier packs a mighty punch! While also recommended as a top contender for a small guard dog, you will want to make sure there is plenty of activity for this breed. The Jack Russell is a working dog, and needs to defer to an alpha human or he will be unruly and bossy. Your training will be rewarded if you need a devoted and alert protector.
If you like beauty and brawn combined, the Lhasa Apso breed is your answer. This gorgeous and intelligent small dog breed is also independent and protective. They have been known to nip, and for that reason they are not generally the ideal kid-friendly small dog breed. Don’t leave them for an extended time as they suffer separation anxiety.
Best Small Guard Dogs for Families with Small Children
The beagle is ranked the most popular small dog breed in the U.S. by the American Kennel Club because it is family-friendly and low-maintenance. This breed is a hunter by nature, and once they are properly trained, they direct that instinct toward protecting their owner and family. Their lovely bark makes them seem bigger than life!
The Boston Terrier is also a family favorite, but also ranked one of the top ten small guard dogs for apartments and condos because of its protective nature. This breed is also a hunter by nature rather than a companion dog, so other pets need to be introduced to this breed at a young age.
One of the most surprising kid-friendly small dogs to make the small guard dog list is the Cocker Spaniel. This little sweetheart has a jealous streak, and can go into what is called a “rage syndrome”. He needs to be coaxed down to a quieter, calmer level when excited. Introduce them early to the family and other pets.
The most intelligent small guard dog is the Poodle, and it is also a favorite among the kid-friendly small dog breeds. This breed has hunting instincts and is devoted to its owners and families. The Poodle needs lots of exercise and mental stimulation, as well as consistent grooming.
Small Guard Dogs that Don’t Shed
Among the top ranked small guard dog breeds already mentioned, the breed that doesn’t shed at all is the Poodle, making this breed an all-around winner. Other minimally shedding small breeds that can provide protection by barking are the Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier and Miniature Schnauzer. You will need to spend some extra time grooming these more hypoallergenic small breeds, but the added bonus is that these breeds are kid-friendly as well with proper training.
The Basenji is also recommended as a small-to-medium guard dog breed, and its short hair makes it suitable for those with allergies. This breed is also good with energetic kids and likes the company of other dogs. Make sure to exercise the Basenji every day!
Small Medium Guard Dogs
If you have a bit more room, or have an area close by for dog exercising or walking, there are more guard dog breeds in addition to the Basenji to choose from in the more medium range, from 20 to 40 pounds. Here are two of them:
The Shiba-Inu is a beautiful compact version of the Akita, a well-known larger guard dog breed. This breed considers itself part of the family, and can be a good companion for active kids. It is, however, quite protective and can be aggressive; it is best not to have small pets with this breed. The Shiba-Inu is energetic but adaptable to any kind of activity.
In the same way that a Miniature Schnauzer is suited for a small apartment as a small guard dog, the Standard Schnauzer is a great medium-breed guard dog. This breed requires regular grooming and daily exercise, but his size gives him a more impressive bark and makes him heartier than smaller breeds.