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DateLine Sunday, 19 August 2007

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Dogs that provide security services

When you bring a puppy home, what do you want it to be? It could play the role of a friend who will chase


Dobermann

 away your loneliness, or it could be your watchdog or guard dog. However, when buying a dog, you will have to be specific about why you need one, because the breeds might differ according to their uses. Today, we look at the best breeds to be used as a watchdog or a guard dog.

A guard dog, watchdog or sentry dog is a dog employed to guard against, or watch for, unwanted or unexpected animals or people. Both guard dogs and watchdogs bark to alert their owners of the presence of a trespasser. The barking is also an attempt at scaring away the stranger.

The watchdog's function ends here, while a guard dog might be trained to restrain or attack the stranger. For example, livestock guardian dogs are often large enough and strong enough to attack and drive away predators. Occasionally, guard dogs are trained to attack human strangers, though this practice might be illegal. Some breeds are excellent watchdogs, but not good as guard dogs, as they bark loudly to alert their masters of strangers, but are not given to attacking behaviour.

Many of the now well-known guardian breeds such as Rottweilers started as multi-purpose dogs, but developed over many years into guardian breeds. Some breeds, such as the Rhodesian ridgeback, were originally bred for hunting, but their large frightening look and territorial instincts have helped them evolve into guard dogs in today's society.


Great Dane


Rhodesian  Ridgeback

Others like Dobermanns were specifically designed as guards. Many of these breeds have a greater amount of molossoid or mastiff DNA. This is confirmed by a DNA study done on 414 pure breed dogs. The study suggests that in the distant past, after the 14 ancient breeds broke off, a group of mastiff style dogs were developed.

The German Shepherd also has characteristics of the mastiffs group, which includes the Great Dane.

Molasses is a name for a group comprising several breeds of large, solidly built dogs, probably all descended from the same rootstock. The name derives from Molossia, modern day Albania. Molasses are sometimes called 'mastiffs'.

The St. Bernard is also somewhat different from the mastiffs and is not in the molossoid group. Great


Rottweiler

Danes are odd because they are not in the molossoid group and traditionally behaved as though they should be.

The monks of Saint Bernard Pass used the original Saint Bernard for alpine rescue. A storm killed off many of the dogs used for breeding. The Saint Bernard had to be bred with larger dogs like mastiffs that gave it the large size and the guard dog instinct we associate with the Saint Bernard today.

Perhaps, the best way to find a guard dog is to look at the history of the breed. Dogs like mastiffs have been used in the guard role for centuries.

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