are Golden Retrievers good guard dogs

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Golden Retrievers are one of the most beloved family dogs across the world owing to their friendly personality and gentle demeanor toward their caregivers.

But, are Golden Retrievers good guard dogs? Many people may wonder if these double-coated canines can protect their homes from an attack.

While Golden Retrievers may not be the first-choice guard dogs for most homes, they can still be trained to serve as protectors of homes and property depending on several factors. 

Keep reading this blog to explore the instinctive traits of Goldens that can make them decent guard dogs.

Watch out for our practical tips that you can use to train your Goldie to defend you or protect your homestead.

Understanding The Difference Between a Watchdog and A Guard Dog

The terms ‘watchdog’ and ‘guard dogs’ have often been mixed up and used interchangeably. Both dog types usually work to protect their owners and properties although in slightly distinctive ways.

The primary function of a watchdog is to alert their owners of an intruder by barking out loudly without necessarily attacking the person. The worst they can do is bite the intruder if they get close enough.

A guard dog, on the other hand, will attack an intruder to prevent them from getting into their owners’ property. Guard dogs may either bark while attacking or move to the intruder silently.

Guard dogs would normally put their lives at risk in defending their handlers from a stranger or during a break-in attack.

What Characteristics to Look for In a Guard Dog?

When looking for a dog breed to serve you as a guard dog, there are certain characteristics that you need to prioritize.

The following are some of the important traits that will make certain dogs serve well in protecting their owner by squaring out with an invader.

1. Physical strength

Dogs with a muscular build and impressive physical strength are better equipped to confront an intruder while defending your home from invasion.

A well-build canine has the power and agility to physically restrain a stranger or wade an attack if necessary.

2. Dog Size

A medium-sized or large dog is more likely to intimidate and threaten a trespasser than a smaller canine. Good guard dogs should have a sizeable body that can go after a human or other animals to restrain them from coming into your property.

3. High levels of concentration

A protective dog should have attention to detail with high levels of focus. This makes them alert at all times and ready to pounce on any unwanted guest in your homestead.

are Golden Retrievers good guard dogs
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Training a dog with high levels of concentration is also easier and fun to do. Such dogs will pick up cues from the smallest details and respond progressively in training.

4. Loyalty

A good guard dog should always be loyal to their owners and family. This devoutness gives such dogs a sense of responsibility over their handlers’ lives and property.

Loyal dogs can be more than willing to put their lives at risk to ensure that their owners are comfortable and happy.

5. Eagerness to work

Professional guard dogs have a constant excitement to work at any given moment. Their energy level and internal prey drive make them willing to get into messy situations just to protect their caregivers and property.

Will Golden Retrievers Protect Their Owners Instinctively?

Golden Retrievers are widely considered friendly family pets who offer the perfect companionship to their owners.

What most people may fail to appreciate is that these dogs can also protect their owners by keeping unwanted guests away.

Golden Retrievers have an instinctive resource-guarding personality which makes them have a sense of responsibility in keeping their human families safe.

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These long-furred canines also have a strong prey drive that stems from their inherent genes to recover gunned-down game and birds from the waters.

You can harness these innate characteristics of Golden Retrievers and train them to become protective of your loved ones and property.

Training these dogs is much easier because they are intelligent, obedient, and eager to please their owners.

Can Golden Retrievers Be Guard Dogs?

Golden Retrievers are not considered to be excellent guard dogs due to their playful nature and gentle interactions with humans.

Goldens have an innocent look on their face which may not naturally scare a stranger from getting into a property.

However, they have a set of desirable characteristics that can be utilized to make them decent guard dogs at home.

By taking advantage of their innate energy and prey drive, you can confidently train your Golden Retriever to protect your loved ones and property.

How To Train a Golden Retriever to Be a Guard Dog

You can train your Golden Retriever to protect your home or specific property by training them on how to respond while in perceived danger.

1. Start with the basics

Before advancing your Golden Retriever to be a personal security dog you need to first teach them how to respond to basic commands.

Make sure that your dog can accurately respond when asked to ‘sit and stay’, come‘, or ‘go’. When they become more responsive to basic commands, you can then proceed with the training.

2. Teach your dog to bark on command

After you’re done with the fundamental dog training, you should now proceed to teach your Goldie to bark on order.

You can encourage your dog to get loud by encouraging them to ‘speak out’. This could be anything that normally lets your dog bark like picking up a leash or running with them around the yard.

As soon as your Goldie barks, make sure to mark the action and offer them a high-value reward. You can mark the barking with a verbal cue such as the word ‘bark’ or you can also use a clicker to mark the behavior.

After your Golden Retriever has made two or three barks on command, you should then command them to sit and stay. This will ensure that the dog will rely on your guidance even when in protective mode.

Do this repeatedly until the dog learns to bark on order. You can also introduce a hand signal to make the experience more engaging.

The next step you would want to do is to order your dog to bark when a stranger comes into your house. This will excite the dog to be cautious about unwanted guests and they will pick the behavior to always alert you of intruders.

3. Boundary-training

You should familiarize your Golden Retriever with what they are expected to protect. Let the dog interact with all family members to create an unbreakable social bond.

You should also take your lovely pup on frequent walks in public places to help them socialize with the surroundings to learn the difference between strangers and intruders.

Your Golden Retriever should view the pedestrians as normal strangers and not necessarily become violent to anyone they do not know.

Back at home, you need to train your dog on the difference between kind and unsafe visitors. This will help your dog differentiate between your regular visitors and trespassers.

Train your dog on where to be territorial and how to behave when different types of strangers come into your home.

You wouldn’t want your Goldie to go all teeth out on a kind delivery guy who brought your package from the store.

Your dog should be able to listen to you even in the presence of perceived strangers. They should be able to sit, stay, and be calm on command.

4. Teach your dog to defend you

Once your Golden Retriever knows their home territory, you should train them on how to protect you from a stranger.

For this training, you should look for a person who is unfamiliar with the dog and let them dress in dog attack suits for their protection.

Put your Golden on a leash and let the stranger approach your direction with the dog. Once your Goldie perceives the unfamiliar face, you can instruct them to bark on command while focusing on the stranger.

golden retriever on leash
Image credit: Dzmitry Dudov from Unsplash

Once the dog barks at the perceived stranger, the person needs to act terrified and run for their safety.

This will give the upcoming guard dog more confidence and drive to ward off strangers from your homestead.

Make sure to reward your Golden by giving them highly valuable treats such as shredded chicken to show your appreciation and to encourage them to pick up the behavior.

5. Test the dog again

You can repeat the procedure above by encouraging your dog to attack the stranger’s protected arms.

You can do this by loosening their leash and giving the cue ‘get him’ to encourage your Goldie to stage an attack.

If your Golden Retriever does not go after the stranger, the person should move closer to the canine and offer their arm to threaten the dog to fight back.

6. Teach your dog to stop!

Golden Retrievers are eager to please their owners and as a result, they may continue wading a serious attack on the stranger when things get tough.

You should teach your Goldie to retreat and stop the attack on the stranger especially since you still need their friendly demeanor.

If your dog is not willing to be controlled when in violent situations, then they may not be fit for further use as guard dogs.

7. Try a professional dog trainer

You can work with a professional canine trainer to train your Golden Retriever to become protective of your family and assets.

A professional guard dog trainer will take your dog through the proven process to make them protective and alert to their caregivers and family.

A Few Things to Consider When Training A Golden Retriever as a Guard Dog

Training your Golden Retriever to be a property or home guard requires commitment and dedication from both you and your furry companion.

By following our practical guidelines outlined above, you can effectively train your Golden to be a reliable protector.

Since Goldens are calm, loyal to their owners, and obedient to instructions, they are therefore ideal for training as home protectors.

You should also be aware that training your dog to be protective may alter their friendly demeanor. You need to be more careful when taking them out for walks since they could confront other dogs and become violent to people.

Why Golden Retrievers Are Better Watchdogs Than Guard Dogs

When working as protectors of family and property, Golden Retrievers will surely do better as watchdogs than guard dogs.

This is because Goldens are highly intelligent pets who will be on alert to bark when they perceive an intruder in your home.

They may not have the internal vigor and drive to ward off an attack on the said person, but you can be sure that they will sound an alarm to scare them off and notify you.

A golden retriever sitting on a chair
Image credit: David Moynihan from Unsplash

Some well-trained Golden Retrievers may want to square it out with a stranger but most of them will be forced to stop the attack if the stranger replies.

The other reason that makes Goldens a less preferable guard dog is their friendly personality which strangers can take advantage of.

They are also not naturally aggressive; hence they may prefer to growl and bark at a stranger rather than start a conflict.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will a Golden Retriever attack an intruder?

Golden Retrievers will not naturally wade an attack on an intruder but they can be trained to do so.

You can harness the inherent traits that can make this dog breed to be a good protector for your family and property.

2. Do golden retrievers ever get aggressive?

Golden Retrievers are NOT inherently aggressive but they can be provoked into anger under several circumstances.

They may show their aggressive behavior by barking, growling, or snarling when they have been threatened or intimidated.

You can train your dog to be social with others and take them for frequent walks to reduce their chances of becoming aggressive on purpose.


Golden Retrievers may not come into mind when thinking of the best guard dogs to protect your loved ones and property.

Goldens are rather friendly and gentle in their interactions with humans which may water down their favorable characteristics to serve as diligent security dogs.

They however have a set of inherently good traits that can be harnessed to make them decent guard dogs for your protection.

You will need to train them starting from the basic commands and proceeding to teach them how to handle strangers and intruders in your personal spaces.

Written By

Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.

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