Whether you live alone and want to feel safer or you just need a bit of extra security for your family, the right dog can be a great way to feel protected.

It’s all about finding a breed that looks the part and has a protective instinct. Although I love my chihuahua, she would hardly make an intruder run away scared!

If you’re looking for a watchdog that will alert you when there’s trouble, smaller dogs like a Shih Tzu, French Bulldog, or Yorkshire Terrier can be great choices.

Due to their small size, they’re excellent for apartment living, but they won’t make a great guard dog.

The best guard dogs are generally large or medium dogs who can look intimidating (even if they’re really friendly).

Of course, you’ll want them to fit in with your lifestyle and be good family pets.

You’ll also need a breed that is suited to apartment life.

Many dogs can thrive living in an apartment as long as their needs are met.

With proper training, there are plenty of amazing breeds that can make great guard dogs. Let’s take a look!

What Are The Best Dog Breeds for Apartments?

1. German Shepherd

German Shepherd

Often used as police dogs, German Shepherds are intelligent, strong, and agile. The breed is courageous and naturally protective.

With the right training, German Shepherds are fantastic at protection work. They can also be very affectionate with their family and make wonderful pets.

Keep in mind that they are large dogs and while they can settle in well to apartment life, they are very high energy.

If you’re considering this breed, you’ll need to give them plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

It’s recommended that they get at least 2 hours of exercise and playtime each day.

If you live in a particularly small apartment, they’ll need even more time outside to ensure they’re happy and don’t get frustrated, so be ready to stay active!

2. Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinscher

Just the sight of this large breed dog is enough to make a burglar think again!

Originally bred as guard dogs, Doberman Pinschers are fearless, powerful, and intelligent.

They’re used all over the world as protection dogs. They’re even used by the police and the military! At home, they can be very gentle and loving with their owners.

Dobermans are extremely high-energy and need around 2 hours or more of exercise each day, so they’re best to suited to active owners.

They need long daily walks as well as a lot of mental stimulation.

They do well when they’re being worked or participating in canine sports. The breed can live happily in an apartment but will do best when they have an outdoor space to run around in.

3. Chow Chow

Chow Chow

Despite their fluffy, teddy bear appearance, Chow Chows are incredibly loyal and protective of their human family.

They have large heads and muscular, strong shoulders and chests.

Chow Chows were bred as guard dogs in China, so they’re perfect for the job!

Since they can be quite wary of strangers, early training is crucial to make sure they’re only protective when you need them to be.

Since they’re medium-sized dogs, they’re an ideal choice for an apartment setting.

The American Kennel Club states that they’re adaptable, easy to live with, and ideal for city dwellers.

They aren’t particularly high-energy pets, needing only 45 minutes to an hour of exercise each day. However, they are high maintenance when it comes to grooming!

Their thick coats shed a lot and need regular brushing.

4. Shar Pei

Shar Pei

Like the Chow Chow, Shar Peis were originally bred in China to be guard dogs.

Their job was to guard livestock and keep them safe, so they’re a perfect choice.

They’re loving and devoted to their humans while being wary of strangers.

Their wide head, powerful body, and serious expression are likely to deter any unwanted attention!

When it comes to training, the breed can be stubborn and independent so they’re best suited to experienced owners who can be firm during training.

Once they’re properly trained, they make wonderful companions.

Their medium, compact size makes them suitable for apartment dwellers.

They don’t require much exercise, although they enjoy daily walks and plenty of interaction with their owner.

5. Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback

With their distinctive stripe of fur growing in a reverse direction down their back, this breed is unique and beautiful to look at.

Originally used to track lions in South Africa, they’re athletic, strong, and courageous!

This large breed dog is independent with a high prey drive, so they’re best suited to experienced dog owners who can give them appropriate training.

When properly trained, they’re excellent guard dogs and make loving family members.

They bond strongly with their family and are naturally wary of strangers.

They can adapt well to living in an apartment as long as they’re given a minimum of an hour of exercise a day as well as activities to get their mind working.

6. Giant Schnauzer 

Giant Schnauzer 

Giant Schnauzers are large, muscular dogs that look quite stern and serious.

It’s their natural instinct to be protective so they can make good guard dogs.

They’re incredibly loyal and affectionate dogs, making them wonderful family members.

However, they can be quite willful so you must train them well early on.

The breed is well suited to apartment life as long as you meet their exercise needs.

Giant Schnauzers are high-energy dogs who need lots of playtime and mental stimulation as well as daily walks.

If you love to go hiking, running, or cycling, this dog will be a great exercise buddy!

7. Dogue de Bordeaux 

Dogue de Bordeaux 

With their huge, wide heads and stocky frames, these dogs are undeniably impressive to look at.

It’s easy to see how any intruder would be intimidated by the sight of them, and that’s before they let out their deep bark!

Combine all of this with their natural protective instinct and the Dogue de Bordeaux makes an ideal guard dog.

These large, heavy dogs can be stubborn so they’re best for experienced owners who can train them well from the get-go.

They need a moderate amount of exercise consisting of daily walks and some playtime.

The breed tends to love swimming so if you have water near your apartment, this could be the best guard dog for you!

8. American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terriers are known to be courageous, protective dogs that are loyal to their owners.

Their broad heads and powerful bodies give them that perfect ‘tough’ appearance for a guard dog.

Don’t worry though, they’re sweethearts really, and make excellent family pets.

They’re gentle, playful, and love to cuddle up on the couch with their humans.

This breed is easy to train so you can teach them to be the best guard dog for your needs!

When it comes to exercise, they’re an active breed so will suit you best if you like to get out and explore.

They need a minimum of an hour of exercise each day, but ideally more.

They love playtime with their favorite humans and excel when it comes to canine sports.

9. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Similar to the American Staffordshire Terrier but smaller and lighter, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are great apartment dogs and companions.

They are imposing and ‘tough’ to look at even with their smaller size.

They have a fairly deep growl and bark which will ward off unwanted visitors.

The breed is also incredibly loving and bonds strongly with their owners, who they will do their best to protect.

However, despite their reputation, they’re actually very gentle and sweet-natured!

They probably make a better watchdog than a guard dog, although their appearance and bark alone can act as a deterrent.

Staffies (as they’re affectionately known) love to be active and will enjoy at least 2 short walks a day as well as playtime.

They love anything that involves spending time with their owner and are relatively easy to train.

You could even train them to bark on command to add to their guard dog duties!

Their medium size means they will make a good apartment dog as long as their exercise needs are met.

10. Great Dane

Great Dane

If you’re looking for a dog who looks and sounds intimidating but is really a gentle giant, the Great Dane is a perfect choice!

These giant dogs are loving, loyal, and a pleasure to be around.

Their deep bark and huge size are enough to scare any intruder away!

However, taking on a giant breed is a big responsibility. Due to their size alone, they will be better suited to larger apartments with some outdoor space.

They need around 1 to 2 hours of exercise and mental stimulation per day, although many owners are surprised just how happy they are to snooze on the sofa.

With the right owner and enough space to be comfortable, Great Danes can live happily in an apartment.

In fact, there’s a beautiful Great Dane who lives in our apartment block and he is healthy, happy, and very well-loved!

11. Bernese Mountain Dog 

Bernese Mountain Dog 

If you prefer a dog with a gentle nature whose size alone will put off intruders, a Bernese Mountain Dog could be the one for you.

These dogs are large and powerful, originally bred to pull carts!

They’re imposing to look at and have a deep, loud bark. At home, they are gentle and very affectionate with their families.

This breed needs a lot of exercise, ideally a minimum of an hour a day.

They can do well in apartments, but due to their size alone, they’re best suited to larger apartments rather than small spaces.

If you have a garden or outdoor area, they will thrive.

If you’re considering this breed, you’ll need to be ready for regular brushing and a fair amount of shedding due to their thick double coat.

12. English Bulldog

English Bulldogs make an excellent choice for apartment life!

These medium-sized dogs don’t need much exercise, just a couple of short daily walks.

They’re quite happy to snuggle up on the couch and love getting attention from their owners.

While they enjoy a garden, they don’t need one to live happily so if your apartment building doesn’t have an outdoor space, you can still own a Bulldog!

Originally bred for bullbaiting, these dogs are brave and powerful.

Despite being fairly low to the ground, they’re full of muscle and are incredibly strong!

They’re loyal to their owners and can be quite protective, but it’s worth noting that they’re also pretty friendly with strangers.

With the right training, this breed can make a good watchdog and guard dog. Before you take on an English Bulldog, do plenty of research as they have a range of potential health issues you’ll want to take into account.

13. American Bulldog 

American Bulldog 

Bred to guard farm animals and even to help hunt, the American Bulldog is a strong, agile dog.

Their natural instinct is to protect and guard, with many descriptions of the breed calling them ‘fearless’.

Their muscular body and wide head make them truly look the part of a guard dog. An intruder would think again at the sight of them!

Early training is key for American Bulldogs with firm boundaries set in place.

The breed is known to be intelligent so training is fairly straightforward.

At home, they are very affectionate and full of energy. They have high exercise needs and will need daily walks or runs.

They can live happily in an apartment (ideally with a garden) as long as they are given plenty of mental stimulation as well as exercise.

14. Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier

If you have limited space, a Boston Terrier might be the best choice for you.

Despite being the smallest breed on our list, they’re naturally protective and particularly loyal to their families.

They make excellent watchdogs and will alert you to danger.

Boston Terriers don’t bark a lot but when they do, it’s surprisingly deep and intimidating for a small dog!

As a family pet, they’re fun-loving and affectionate.

They love to play and can be quite silly at times, making them lots of fun to be around.

This small breed doesn’t need lots of exercise – a couple of short walks a day should be plenty.

15. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are well known for their friendly, gentle natures so might not be an immediate choice for a guard dog.

Yet they’re fiercely loyal and become deeply attached to their owners, so will do their best to protect you!

Even though they tend to be friendly towards strangers, they are highly trainable and eager to please so you can adjust their behavior to suit your needs.

Although they’re cute, they are a large breed of dog and have deep barks when they sense danger, which can deter an intruder.

The breed is high energy and needs between 1.5 and 2 hours of exercise per day.

If you live an active lifestyle, this breed is a great choice.

They’ll do well in an apartment as long as their exercise needs are met and you keep them entertained.

It’s worth keeping in mind that their thick coat is fairly high maintenance so you’ll need to be ok with a lot of brushing!

Why It’s Important To Have a Guard Dog For Your Apartment

Having a guard dog can give you peace of mind and increase your safety when you’re living in an apartment.

Choosing the right breed is key, as well as proper training of course.

You need to choose a dog that will fit in with your lifestyle and personality, as well as a breed that has protective instincts.

You need to be able to meet your dog’s needs too, to ensure you can both live together happily!

It’s also worth noting that you should check the rules on pets for your apartment building before you bring a new family member home.


  • PDSA, (2023), German Shepherd.
  • Hill’s Pet Nutrition, (2023), Doberman At a Glance.
  • PetPlan, (2023), Chow Chow.
  • The American Kennel Club, (2022), Chow Chow.
  • Hill’s Pet Nutrition, (2023), Shar Pei Dog at a Glance.
  • The Kennel Club, (2023), Rhodesian Ridgeback.
  • The American Kennel Club, (2022), Dogue de Bordeaux.
  • The American Kennel Club, (2022), American Bulldog.