T Nation

Dog Lovers


I'm thinking of getting a dog. I've mostly had working dogs in the past but they're too highly strung and time demanding for my current needs. So I'm thinking of getting a guard dog for my property. I'm leaning towards a Tibetan Mastiff. Also considering other breeds - maybe a Rottweiler. Any thoughts or just dog talk in general?

Edit: I've also had some experience with "primitive" breeds - specifically the Dingo. Although the Tibetan Mastiff is not a pariah or "primitive" breed as such, it is one of the oldest domesticated breeds on earth and has a similar temperament to primitive breeds.

I particularly like the calm, reserved and aloof nature of the primitive breeds. I remember reading about an experiment with primitive breeds that says a lot about their nature. They placed food out of their reach - the domestic dogs would try to get it; give up and look to the person expectantly to get the food for them. The primitive breeds would just keep trying to get it without looking to the person for help.


What breeds have you owned?
Are you simply looking for estate protection, some time companion, or what?


Australian Cattle Dogs, Rhodesian Ridgeback/Mastiff cross, Kelpie, German Shepherd...

Guard dog; companion - low/medium exercise requirement, quiet/easy going temperament.



I like toy breeds. I make no apology for this


less that 15lbs = barking rodent, not a dog.


even if it has a cute little schmooshy face?


Seems lie the Mastiff/Rhodesian would have been nearly catatonic for activity,,,

I would think the Livestock Guardians would be too serious and long haired (other than the Anatolian Shepherd) for your climate. The only Anatolian I have knowledge of was very tall, skinny build, and basically guarded his and the neighbors acreage including killing 2 other dogs and several coyotes coming too near to owners' ducks and geese over several year period.

Rottweilers I have known (4) were very aggressive and extremely strong.

Maybe a Bull mastiff, Great Dane, American Bulldog (not confused with a pitbull). Not sure what access you have there.
Can't speak to the Asian breeds like Akita or Shar Pei.


Just to give you a somewhat different idea, certain small dog breeds make excellent watch (not guard) dogs and are much easier to care for day-to-day than a big-ass guard dog. My family had a West Highland White Terrier growing up, and it never barked unless it was telling you something very specific. It had its own "vocabulary" of barks. Different barks for animals in the yard, cars pulling up, someone at the door, needing to be let out and hey why don't you give me some water/food.

It was very, very reliable in its various alert barks. It barely shed. It didn't stink up the house. You did not need an excavator to clean up its shit. It did not eat $10 of food per day. And it was a great companion. I really liked our Westie.


Of course, a Westie will only alert if somethings up. An 18 pound terrier is not a dangerous or intimidating animal, at least not to a human.


It's interesting that OP mentioned the Tibetan mastiff. They actually used to pair those with Tibetan spaniels; the little ones would watch and bark an alert, and the big ones would do the actual guard business.

From wiki:
"The little dogs would sit on the monastery walls, keeping watch over the countryside. Their keen eyesight and ability to see great distances made them excellent watchdogs. They would alarm bark to alert the monks and the Tibetan Mastiffs below."

Thought that was pretty cool.


That is a neat factoid, and it makes good sense.

I like all dogs, but I'm definitely partial to smaller breeds, mostly for logistical reasons.

If I'm not home, my stuff is just stuff and it is all insured. I'm not keeping any irreplaceable family heirlooms laying around and my Renoir is on loan to the museum, so the most likely targets for burglars is all crap I can just go out and buy again if I need to.

For threat management, a reliable (that is important) bark suffices for my purposes. If I am home, I just need to be alerted. I have other equipment that works better than a dog to handle unwelcome guests.

While having a large, intimidating dog certainly has its advantages, I personally do not care to care for one. Of course, knowing what I know now, I'd say that having a small "watch" dog for alerting, a large "guard" dog for masticating and maintaining a vast stockpile of weaponry for ventilating is probably the best course of action.


Another fun factoid. I read a study once on sounds that elicit the greatest fear response, the bark of a large sounding dog was number two. Number one? Shotgun racking.


Surprisingly not.

I live in a relatively cold climate - it can get a bit warm in the summer but rarely hot.

My family actually had a Great Dane when I was young. Not really guard dogs and they're not very intelligent either. I do like Great Danes but they're not really suitable for my requirements. An Anatolian is worth considering though.


Yeah I was actually considering some kind of terrier. But we get a lot of deadly snakes around here - particularly Eastern Browns - and a dog with ratting instinct is likely to go after them and get bitten.


I wonder if you could train a dog to ignore snakes. Probably, but the ratting instinct is quite deep.

Our Westie went after anything that moved in the yard, snakes (which happened to be non-poisonous) included.

I'm inferring from your mention of eastern brown snakes that you live in a country where your home protection options may be quite limited.

In that case, I'd definitely like having a big, intimidating dog roaming around my property.


Yes, in terms of rifles semi-autos are extremely difficult to get here. You need to be involved in primary production and prove that you have vermin problems that harm your business. But I'm not really concerned about heavily armed bandits. My concern is junkies robbing my house when I'm out.


Grew up with two English Sheepdogs and a Neopolitan Mastiff, and have spent significant time with damn near any breed you can think of (mean that literally). I've had Pits since '05, and I doubt I'll ever buy another dog. Their loyalty, intellect, character, spirit, silliness and temperament are unmatched. Have 3 (including the male I got in '05) and love and trust them more than anyone not named "mom".


I know pitbulls have a bad name and pitbull owners are always trying to defend them as "trustworthy" but I believe they're making a fundamental error about the nature of dogs. I'll give an example with another breed to show what I mean:

Owner posts "cute" video of dog "playing" with baby. In actuality, the dog in this video is attempting to "herd" the baby. Herding is a modification of the hunting instinct. It's predatory behaviour. Although the "kill" instinct has been bred out of working dogs, the dog will often "escalate" by snapping at the baby if it perceives that the baby is not obeying.

Terriers still have the "kill" instinct and need to be watched around children no matter how friendly and loyal they may appear to be.




They can be a pain in the ass at times, but Jesus H. Christ they love to have fun.