Do English Bulldogs Make Good Guard Dogs?

Do English Bulldogs Make Good Guard Dogs?

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Having a guard dog for your protection or the protection of your property can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. Choosing the right breed of dog for the job is just as important as understanding why you want a guard dog. English Bulldogs are quick to come to mind when thinking about guard dogs because they have a muscular body and intimidating presence. 

You might be wondering, do English Bulldogs make great guard dogs? 

English Bulldogs, while they share traits with other popular guard dog breeds, aren’t the best breed to be a guard dog because they can be so friendly. Additionally, these dogs have low stamina and aren’t natural working dogs. However, they are trainable and it’s possible for them to adapt to a guard dog mentality.  

To better understand why English Bulldogs aren’t the optimal choice for a guard dog, you’ll learn about the different types of protection dogs, traits that make English Bulldogs good candidates for guard dogs, and traits that make them less ideal for guard dogs. 

Protection Dogs: Are Watch Dogs, Guard Dogs, and Attack Dogs the Same?

Believe it or not, there are different types of protection dogs. Protection dogs are generally categorized into one of three categories: watch dogs, guard dogs, and attack dogs. Each of these types of protection dogs has a distinctive role and defining characteristics.

First, let’s understand what purpose a guard dog serves. Then let’s look at the other types of protection dogs and how they are different from guard dogs so that we can determine if an English Bulldog would be a good fit.  

What are Guard Dogs?

The AKC defines guard dogs as dogs that “have a natural instinct to protect their home and family.” Breeds that make good guard dogs will instinctively understand when there is danger lurking and know what to do in order to subdue the threat. While English Bulldogs are generally protective of their owners, they don’t always instinctively know or have the desire to stop a threat. Smothering an intruder with kisses doesn’t count.

The English Bulldog doesn’t appear on the AKC’s list of “Best Guard Dogs,” but that just might mean that an English Bulldog may be a better watch dog than a guard dog.

What Are Watch Dogs and How Are They Different from Guard Dogs?

The term watch dog and guard dog are used interchangeably a lot, but there is one key difference. A watch dog’s purpose is to alert to potential dangers, whereas the guard dog will not only alert, but take action and protect, too.

Since English Bulldogs are protective over their home and owners, they make great watch dogs. Owners of English Bulldogs are quick to know when someone is at the door or there is an unfamiliar dog in the area.

They generally don’t take that next step up to guard dog status because they don’t go out of their way to stop a threat unless they’ve been specifically trained to do so. Bulldogs are notorious for allowing strangers to turn into friends pretty quickly. Befriending strangers quickly isn’t a good guard dog characteristic, and it certainly isn’t a good attack dog characteristic. 

What Are Attack Dogs and How Are They Different from Guard Dogs?

Attack dogs, like watchdogs and guard dogs, are protection dogs; however, they take protection to the next level. Attack dogs, sometimes known as personal protection dogs, are highly trained to protect from a variety of threats and usually have some form of “bite work” training. While most trained attack dogs are larger breed dogs, such as Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds, it’s not impossible to train an English Bulldog to be an attack dog. Check out this video of an English Bulldog practicing protection bite work. 

There is no doubt that there is a need for each of these types of protection dogs. The desired level of protection that you want your English Bulldog to be able to provide you with will depend a lot on their level of training and their natural abilities. Keep reading to see which English Bulldog traits make them a great guard dog, and which traits leave them lacking in the guard dog department.   

English Bulldog Traits That Are Also Great Guard Dog Traits

English Bulldogs are known for their bold personalities and broad chests. Some of their personality traits make them good candidates to be a guard dog, or a great watchdog. For the most part, English Bulldogs are undeniably protective, loyal, and strong. Their personalities are also calm-natured, which is desirable when looking for a reliable guard dog. It helps that they appear a little frightening, too.   

English Bulldogs are Protective, Not Fearful 

English Bulldogs are naturally protective of their families, it’s in their DNA. English Bulldogs were originally bred for bull-baiting, a blood sport that was widely in demand from the 1200’s until it’s banning in 1835. When the sport was banned, there was no need for the English Bulldog breed the way it was.

According to PetMD, “Bulldog enthusiasts rescued the breed from what appeared certain extinction…replacing its ferociousness with a gentle and docile disposition.” 

Over time breeders worked to turn the bull-fighting English Bulldog into the family-friendly dog you know and love today. The breed kept its courageousness that when combined with a gentle disposition, brought in a protective nature.  Even with the adjustments to their personality through breeding adjustments over a period of time, English Bulldogs have held onto some of the fearlessness that they once possessed when they were courageously fighting bulls. 

If there are two characteristics that are wanted in a guard dog, protective and fearless have to be among the top two, which the English Bulldog clearly possesses. Two more characteristics that both guard dogs and English Bulldogs have are loyalty and dependability.  

Loyal and Dependable 

Any family with children, especially young ones, and an English Bulldog can attest that these dogs are both loyal and dependable. The ASPCA recognizes that this breed will form a quick and lasting bond with children and its family. It also notes that the breed is relaxed enough that it can be trusted to be gentle with children. 

The final personality trait that English Bulldogs have that guard dogs need to possess is a calm temperament. 

Calm Temperament

Having a calm temperament may not seem like a good guard dog characteristic at first, but it is. This is because you don’t want a nervous or anxious guard dog trying to protect you, your family, or your home. A calm dog, like an English Bulldog, is able to make better judgments about events going on around them and is less likely to lash out in fear or anger.

Dogs with a calm temperament make better guard dogs because they are able to stay relaxed and maintain a level of confidence

Protective, loyal, confident, and calm are all descriptors of the personalities that English Bulldogs and guard dogs share. What about the physical characteristics that they share with guard dogs? Let’s start with a Bulldog’s strength. 

Strength 

The amount of adjectives used to describe the strength of an English Bulldog is almost endless, and strength is something you’d definitely want to look for in a guard dog. No one wants a scrawny, miniature, or dainty guard dog. You want a guard dog that has the same strength descriptors that are also used to describe English Bulldogs, such as being muscular and having incredibly strong jaws

English Bulldogs don’t just look strong, they are strong. They are so strong in fact that it is believed that they are pound-for-pound one of the strongest dog breeds in the world. The bite of an English Bulldog is one of the most powerful dog bites, too.

The Keating Law Firm estimates that of the top 20 most powerful dog bites, the English Bulldog ranks 19th, just ahead of the very popular guard dog breed Belgian Malinois (which is ranked in 20th place). It is estimated that the PSI measurement, or pounds per square inch, in terms of the force of an English Bulldog’s bite is 210 PSI. Ouch!

If the known body and bite strength aren’t enough to ward off potential danger, just looking at an English Bulldog may be frightening enough to scare some ill intentioned people away.  

Menacing Looks

Guard dogs and watch dogs don’t just have to rely on their brute strength and instinctive personalities to ward off impending doom or danger. Some dogs, like the English Bulldog, are able to strike fear into people simply with their menacing looks.

It almost doesn’t matter how many cute wrinkles a Bulldog has because their teeth showing underbite, broad chest, massive head and muscular body can seem to hide all of that cuteness when a stranger, dog or human, approaches them. 

This attribute alone may be the top reason why English Bulldogs would make a great watch dog. Without having to do anything they would be able to scare away would-be attackers, intruders, or evildoers. 

Just because English Bulldogs share some personality traits and physical characteristics with great guard dogs doesn’t mean they’re up for the challenge of being a great guard dog. Take a look at the following traits that make Bulldogs less than ideal guard dogs. 

English Bulldog Traits That Make Them Less Than Ideal Guard Dogs

Guard dogs need to have a few characteristics that simply don’t come naturally to English Bulldogs. Afterall, who wants a cute, wrinkly guard dog with a reputation for spending their days sleeping, slobbering, and snoring?

Aside from their reputation for sleep, slobber, and snores, the following features might make you think twice about having an English Bulldog for a guard dog. 

Not a Typical Guard Dog Breed

Many guard dogs come from a breed that are task or job driven. Examples of dogs that are task or job driven include guardian dogs such as shepherds and retrievers. These dogs help to keep precious livestock alive by protecting the animals it looks after from harmful predators.

As mentioned earlier, English Bulldogs were originally bred for entertainment purposes as ferocious bull-baiters, but when bull-baiting was outlawed their breeding was adjusted so the dogs were more family friendly. 

The adjustment to the breed’s personality throughout the years that followed the banishment of bull-baiting took away the ferociousness that would have made the breed a great attack dog or good guard dog. It also took away the dog’s drive to work. Present day English Bulldogs are not working dogs and they are content that way, too. They are also content dogs overall, maybe too content.    

Friendliness

When you get past the fact that the English Bulldog is not a working dog breed you may wonder why they aren’t good guard dogs since they are a bully breed. The name “bully” sounds like it has to be good at being a guard dog, right? Well, just like a calm temperament and protective demeanor mean that it shares characteristics with dogs who are good guard dogs, an English Bulldog’s friendliness takes away from the likelihood that it would be a truly good fit as a guard dog. 

Earlier you read that an English Bulldog’s biting power is really strong, which sounds like it would be a good thing for a guard dog and even better for an attack dog, but have you ever heard the saying “the bark is worse than the bite?” You could say that this idiom holds very true for the English Bulldog.

These dogs are much more likely to scare someone by barking at them and the likelihood that they will bite is low.  Although, being a good guard dog candidate might just come down to a dog’s attitude and nature over its sheer strength, so let’s keep looking at the Bulldog’s personality. 

Stubbornness

Not only are English Bulldogs very friendly, but they have a stubborn side to them, too. Stubbornness is not a trait that is wanted in guard dogs. This is because you want a guard dog to assess a situation and make a quick decision followed by a definitive action based on its training. An English Bulldog would rather sit and contemplate the actions that it might take while also possibly waiting for a little external motivation, or treat.

Bulldogs can have the stubbornness of a toddler which isn’t conducive to guard dog work. Just check out this stubborn English Bulldog who refuses to listen.

Stamina

Don’t let an English Bulldog’s stubbornness get confused with its stamina. While it can choose to be stubborn for a very long time, that stubbornness usually doesn’t cause the dog to use up a lot of energy. Unfortunately, to make a great guard dog, English Bulldogs would need a lot more stamina. 

English Bulldogs are typically slower moving dogs that run out of energy quickly. A good guard dog needs to be able to stay vigilant and expend energy when necessary. Bulldogs don’t have the long term stamina needed to do either of those things successfully.

That brings up a great question. If English Bulldogs could be trained to be a successful guard dog, would they really make a good one, or are they too lazy?

Are English Bulldogs too Lazy to be Guard Dogs?

No, English Bulldogs are not too lazy to be guard dogs or watch dogs. Contrary to popular belief, English Bulldogs are not inherently lazy dogs. They may appear to be lazy because they enjoy their naps, snore really loud, and have that stubborn side we just talked about. When following a good routine English Bulldogs can be very active dogs – for short periods of time that is. 

Just like how it is possible for an English Bulldog to be trained to be more active, they can be trained to be a good guard dog, too. 

Can You Train an English Bulldog to be a Guard Dog?

English Bulldogs are relatively easy to train because they are fairly driven dogs that are highly food motivated. The type of training needed for an English Bulldog to be a guard dog would go beyond the typical obedience skills that most non-protection pets learn. A trainer would be beneficial because a true guard dog has to know more commands than sit, stay, and heel. 

This means that you could train an English Bulldog to be a guard dog if you really wanted to take the time and make the effort. Remember that training a dog takes practice on both the dog and owners part even after the training foundation has been taught. Owners who want their English Bulldog to be a good guard dog will have to practice vigilance and reinforce their dog’s good behaviors.    

Final Verdict: Should I Choose an English Bulldog For My Guard Dog?

There is no doubt that English Bulldogs make great family pets. If you want a guard dog that is also a great family pet an English Bulldog could be a good fit for you. Just keep in mind that you have to be willing to put in the time and effort to get your Bulldog trained, then you will have to keep it motivated to perform that guard dog work. That’s a lot of work and there’s no guarantee that your Bulldog will be successful. 

If time and energy is something that you don’t have much of, you may want to adjust your expectations. Use your English Bulldog as a watch dog instead of a guard dog. Alternatively, you could look into other dog breeds who are more in line with the characteristics and traits of a good guard dog.