Large Protection Dog

Top 3 Baddest Protective Dogs You’ve Never Met: The Ultimate Guardians

If you’re choosing a dog strictly based on its protective instincts and ability, let us introduce you to the top three biggest and baddest protective breeds!

Actually, there are many good protective breeds and it’s important to do your homework to choose the best one for your particular circumstances and desires. While some may be naturally inclined to protect, others require more dedicated training to develop their protective instincts.

You’ve probably seen the many lists of best protection dogs. There are dozens of these lists online, many showing different breeds in different orders.

In this article we’re going to introduce you to three breeds you may have never heard of, but which are in a different class when it comes to power and fierce protective instincts. These three breeds are:

Cane Corso

Cane Corso Dog

Caucasian Shepherd

Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Anatolian Shepherd

Anatolian Shepherd Dog

We’ll refer to these breeds as the ‘top three’, because when it comes to naturally protective instincts and ability…they are! We purposefully don’t rank them in any kind of order, as we believe they are equal in their protective strengths and abilities.

These are incredible breeds with unique histories. They are naturally – and fiercely – protective and their distinctive dispositions set them apart from the more common protective breeds with which you may be familiar.

If your sole requirement for a dog is the maximum amount of protection, these three breeds should be your top choices. However, this protection comes with other costs, which we’ll explain.

Our goal is to educate you on these top three breeds, so that you can decide if the trade offs for massive protection ability are worth it.

Wait! What? These Aren’t the Ones I See on Most Other Protective Dog Lists. What Gives?

You’re probably thinking of the following four dogs: 

These are the ones most frequently showing up on other “most aggressive” or “most protective” lists. We’ll call these four breeds the ‘common four’, due to their popularity. So why don’t they appear on our list?

Well, let us say right up front that these four breeds are fine examples of strong, loyal and – with proper training – protective breeds. These are the ones most people think of when asked the question of “what are the most aggressive and protective dogs.”

However, the three breeds on our list are a step above in size, strength, and protective instincts. In fact, they don’t even need formal protection training, as they are naturally protective of their owners and family. 

What the top three don’t have is popularity. These breeds are far less common and ones you may have never seen or even heard of.

We’ll compare them to the more common protective breeds so you can see the differences and why we feel the term ‘top three’ is appropriate for these powerful dogs.

Overview of Each Group

First, let’s look at an overview of each of the two groups: the top three and the more common four.

THE TOP THREE: Cane Corso, Caucasian Shepherd, Anatolian Shepherd

These breeds are massive in both size and strength. They are known as ‘guardian breeds’ and have been around for centuries. They demonstrate the most immediate, independent, and intense protective responses based on their ancient roles.

Their protective instincts are natural, and they need no training in this regard. Once they bond with their owners and families, they will automatically and fearlessly protect them against any threat.

However, this comes at the expense of controllability. Their instincts are such that they are wary of strangers, and they require intense socialization and training to prevent them from overreacting.

The Cane Corso, in particular, has been bred for centuries to be a protector, and its instinct to protect runs strong in its blood.

The Anatolian Shepherd (also known as the Kangel) has been bred for thousands of years to protect livestock from predators, both small and large.

The Caucasian Shepherd, also known as the Russian Bear Dog, is a massive dog breed that was originally bred to fight off wolves and bears.

All three are immense in size and strength. They have the strongest bite force of all breeds and have the potential to be extremely dangerous dogs if not properly socialized and trained.

These are the breeds to have if you want to move up from common protection dogs, so long as you’re willing and able to put in the time and effort required to control them. They are not the best choice for most people and really should only be considered if massive personal and/or property protection is your primary need.

THE COMMON FOUR: German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Doberman, Pit Bull

These more common breeds also have strong protective instincts. However, their genetic history involved working in cooperation with humans, unlike the relatively autonomous guardian breeds.

This means that generally speaking, protection training is needed to fully bring out their protective instincts. This is true to a greater or lesser extent depending on the breed. Rottweilers are the most naturally protective of the group, with Pit Bulls being the least.

Yes, the fearsome Pit Bull, while a mighty fighter, is not always naturally protective over its owner and family! This is learned behavior for some members of this breed.

As a group, the common four may not be as large physically as the top three, but they are highly intelligent, trainable, and adaptable. This enables them to excel in other roles such as police work, search and rescue, and as therapy dogs.

Overall, the common four are more kid friendly and accepting of other pets.

And yes, they can stop intruders. It’s just that the top three will not just stop an intruder – they will take him down hard.

Differences Between the Two Groups

Now that we have covered an overview of the two groups, let’s directly compare their inherent differences in protective ability and temperament.

Size

Each of the top three breeds are huge:

  • Cane Corso – up to 140 pounds
  • Anatolian Shepherd – up to 145 pounds
  • Caucasian Shepherd – up to 180 pounds

Their massive size means that they most likely won’t just stop an intruder – they will take them down and take them down hard. Their sheer size and power enable them to deter serious threats through strength alone.

Compare this to the four more common protective breeds:

  • Pit Bull – up to 70 pounds
  • German Shepherd – up to 90 pounds
  • Doberman – up to 100 pounds
  • Rottweiler – up to 130 pounds

The one that does come close in size is the Rottweiler, so why isn’t it on the list? The answer is bite force, which we discuss below.

When properly trained, these four common breeds will certainly stop most intruders, although they likely won’t take them down with force, as will the top three.

Power

The top three breeds are pretty much solid muscle. But wait, aren’t the other four common breeds also muscular?

The answer is yes, but for our purposes we measure a dog’s power by their weight and – just as important – their bite force “psi” (which stands for pounds per square inch). This measures how hard each dog can bite. This is where the top three breeds are unequaled.

Here’s the bite force of each one:

  • Cane Corso – 700 psi
  • Caucasian Shepherd – 700 psi
  • Anatolian Shepherd – an incredible 745 psi

To put this in context, a lion has a bite force of 650 psi, which is surpassed by all three of these breeds! And the Anatolian Shepherd, at 745 psi, has the strongest bite force of any dog breed.

To put this further in perspective, a standard house brick can be crushed with 700 psi. That’s right – these breeds can crush a brick with their bite!

Compare this to the bite force of the four common breeds:

  • Pit Bull – 235 psi
  • German Shepherd – 290 psi
  • Doberman – 305 psi
  • Rottweiler – 328 psi

While these breeds are powerfully muscled and strong, their bite force is less than half of the top three breeds. In the case of the Pit Bull, it has the weakest bite force, at about one third of the top three breeds! 

Although many canine experts consider the Pit Bull the best fighting dog pound per pound, they are no match for the size and power of the top three. At 235 psi, the Pit Bull’s bite force is average for a dog its size.

To be sure, bite force doesn’t necessarily translate into fighting ability, although these top three breeds are natural fighters and were bred for it. But with jaws this strong, these breeds are capable of not just inflicting a bite wound, but actually crushing bones.

Combined with their immense size, the top three can be extremely dangerous dogs.

Intelligence and Trainability

Both the top three and the common four are highly intelligent breeds.

The common four are considered eager to please and highly trainable, with German Shepherds and Dobermans being the best in this regard,

The top three, however, can be stubborn, willful, and hard to train. As a result, training should be done by experienced trainers only. Otherwise, these breeds will own you instead of you owning them!

And this is one of the primary reasons why these breeds are not for first time or inexperienced owners. They require early and intensive socialization, as well as early, extensive, and expert training.

Otherwise, their naturally protective instincts may get out of control. You’ll then have a dog that no one can be around except you and your family.

If they’re not trained as puppies they can struggle to differentiate between normal human behavior, sights and sounds, and those that pose a threat, and this can cause them to react aggressively.

We need to say this again: with dogs this big and powerful, it’s absolutely critical for them to be trained and socialized early. If they aren’t, there is very little that can stop them if their protective instincts get triggered.

However, with proper socialization and training, all three can be obedient and affectionate pets.

Naturally Protective Instincts

The top three were bred over many centuries to be guardian dogs. As such, they are naturally protective.

This means that once they bond with their owner and family, they will naturally protect and stand in front of them against all threats. No training is needed – they do this instinctively.

With the common protective breeds, this may or may not happen without training. 

This is not to say that the four common breeds won’t protect you if an intruder breaks into your house while you are there. They may very well do just that.

However, they are not as intensely protective as the top three. Without training they may be confused and even shy away from a confrontation. 

To illustrate this, here is a video (start at 2:10) that simulates an intruder breaking into a home and encountering an untrained German Shepherd, and then again with a trained German Shepherd. The difference in reactions is an eye opener. 

And here’s one showing how an untrained Doberman reacts to an intruder.

Finally, here’s one showing how an untrained Rottweiler reacts to an intruder.

Do these videos mean that these dogs are cowards? No, of course not. It simply means that they were confused and didn’t know how to react.

Also, not all untrained dogs in these more common breeds would react the same way. Many would absolutely attack the intruder. The point here is that, without training, the four common breeds may or may not attack the bad guy. The only way to be sure is to see they are properly trained. 

With the top three breeds, their strong, naturally protective instinct means that, trained or untrained, they will attack anyone or anything that presents a danger to their owner. 

For example, check out this video, which shows how an untrained Cane Corso reacts to an intruder.

And here’s one showing how Caucasian Shepherds react to bad guys. Note how in each instance they don’t just stop the bad guy – they knock him down and then attack. Warning: this video may be disturbing to watch.

And finally, here’s a video showing an actual event where the mighty Anatolian Shepherd kept a bear from its owner. These three breeds do not know the meaning of fear.

You won’t find videos of any of these top three failing to protect their owners because there aren’t any – and we looked hard!

How They React to Strangers and Other Dogs

These top three breeds do not warm easily to strangers or other dogs.

Unless they are well socialized and intensely trained, these breeds are likely to consider all strangers to be threats. This does not necessarily mean they will attack all strangers, but it will be difficult for guests to come over or take walks around the neighborhood.

When they encounter other dogs, the top three breeds probably won’t react unless they feel threatened, but they are particularly mistrustful of dogs of the same sex.

As a result, without socialization and training, you likely won’t be able to take these breeds to the dog park. If an aggressive dog approaches them, it won’t end well (for the other dog, that is!).

However, if they are well socialized and trained early in life, they can become accepting and perhaps even friendly to strangers and other dogs.

The four common breeds can also demonstrate wariness of strangers and other dogs. However, they have a lower level of instinctive aggressiveness that can be further managed with training and socialization.

Immediacy of Response

The top three, with their long history as guardian dogs, tend to have a quicker, more reflexive reaction to perceived threats than the common four. Their natural caution and suspicion of the unfamiliar prompts them to quickly respond to any potential danger and they will take immediate action with no human prompting.

The common four breeds are more likely to look to their owner for guidance or prompting before they react. They are more inclined to do a more deliberative evaluation before deciding to act against a threat. That said, with proper training they too can react immediately and without prompting.

Controllability

The top three are more stubborn, independent, and resistant to control than the common four. Once they detect a threat, they can be difficult to call off or restrain.

On the other hand, the common four were specifically bred to take direction from humans. So, while their defensive drive can be strong, their background and training enable their reactions to potential threats to be controlled.

Discernment

Discernment refers to a dog’s ability to accurately determine whether a situation or person truly poses a threat before reacting.

The top three rely primarily on instinct when making this determination. If something feels wrong, they are likely to respond with little or no hesitation. With dogs this big and powerful, this is why training is so crucial.

The common four tend to show a bit more discernment, especially after training. They can learn to quickly analyze cues about potential threats before deciding on the appropriate response. The downside, of course, is that the threat may be quicker than their response.

Persistence

Persistence is a vital component of the protection instinct. How persistent will a dog continue to confront and defend against a threat until that threat is neutralized.

The top three have been molded over centuries to never give in and never give up. They will stand their ground until death. These dogs do not know the meaning of the word retreat and can literally be the difference between life and death for those they protect.

The common four also show persistence, but their background and training leans towards control and temporary retreat if needed. The exception is the Rottweiler, which shows a level of persistence more like the top three.

Athleticism and Speed

This is where the nod goes to the common four. They exhibit greater speed, agility, and athleticism than heavier guardian breeds such as the top three.

The common four were bred to move and work energetically for hours at a time. The top three have slower, more deliberate movements, which are more fitting for their roles as formidable posted sentries. They are tanks, whereas the common four are Jeeps.

The Cane Corso is sort of an exception, being the most athletic of the top three.

Intimidation Appearance

There’s no contest here – the top three have the most intimidating appearance. Their massive size, aloof temperaments, and natural suspiciousness make for an imposing presence that will deter most intruders.

With the common four, Rottweilers and Pit Bulls are the most intimidating, though they lack the shock value that comes from the sheer size of the top three.

The Bottom Line

The top three have extraordinarily strong natural guarding instincts deeply encoded in their DNA from many generations of selective breeding. While these breeds are not for everyone, particularly novice owners, if your number one requirement is for unrelenting and fearless protection, these are the best breeds.

The common four, generally speaking, need to be taught and developed through training. They can be fine protection dogs, as well as more socially inclined and accepted.

Unlike the top three, if protection is not the main thing you’re seeking, these breeds can make wonderful companion dogs that will need only moderate training.

Let’s Meet Each of the Top Three Breeds 

Cane Corso

Cane Corso

Background

The name Cane Corso roughly translates from the Latin as ‘bodyguard dog’, a fitting name for such a hyper-protective breed. By the way, the correct way to pronounce the name is “Kah Nay Core so”.

They originated in Italy and were bred as hunters and guard dogs. They were widely used to protect homesteads and track big game. Their lineage goes back to ancient Roman times, so their guardian instincts have developed over more than two thousand years.

This is a powerful guardian dog that is strong enough to subdue cattle and other large animals. They guarded property, livestock, homes, and hunted wild boar. Cane Corsos will not back down from anyone or anything that they see as a threat.

With their large heads and rippling muscles, Cane Corsos have an intimidating appearance that by itself is enough to ward off intruders.

Their protective instinct comes primarily from their loyalty to their family and alertness to suspicious activities.

Characteristics

Cane Corsos are intelligent, versatile, eager to please, and intensely loyal to their humans. However, they are also willful and assertive and can end up as the alpha with an inexperienced owner. Their independent nature requires consistent training and socialization from an early age, to prevent excessive guarding behavior.

Fortunately, they are the easiest to train of the top three breeds, which can take their naturally protective abilities to an entirely new level.

They are naturally suspicious of strangers and constantly on guard when approached or threatened. Yet, although they are fiercely protective, they adore their family and as a result will willingly give their lives to protect them.

Of the top three breeds, they are the best with children, although small children are not a good idea with any dogs this big and strong. Also, they tend to dislike dogs of the same sex and it’s best to keep them away from cats and other small pets.

That said, with early socialization and extensive professional training, Cane Corsos can learn to be friendly to other dogs and people. The key is to do this while they are puppies. Since they are affectionate dogs, they respond to love and rewards, not harsh corrections, or training methods.

Finally, of the three top breeds, Cane Corsos require the most exercise, which means they are best in a house with a fenced-in yard. A very strong fenced-in yard! An electric fence will not stop a dog this strong when they see a bird or squirrel to chase.

If these high-energy dogs don’t get enough exercise, they will keep themselves busy by finding things to destroy. And with a bite force of 700 psi, there’s not much they can’t destroy!

Caucasian Shepherd

Caucasian Shepherd Standing in Field

Background

Caucasian Shepherds are also known as the Caucasian Ovcharka and the Russian Mountain Dog. They originated in the Caucasus Mountains region, which is on the border between Russia and Georgia. They are also known as Russian prison dogs because in years past they were used to guard prisoners in Russian jails, as well as patrol the East Berlin wall.

This is a natural and serious guardian breed. They were used for many centuries to protect property and guard livestock from large predators such as wolves, bears, and coyotes.

They come from a very unforgiving environment and culture, which means they developed incredibly strong protective natures. They require no training to fiercely protect their territory and their family, and their immense size and strength can quickly take down any potential threat.

They have a dense double coat, which protects them from harsh weather and further enhances their already powerful and intimidating presence.

At up to 180 pounds (or more!) they are the largest of the top three breeds and one of the most dangerous and dominant dog breeds in the world.

Their strength, intelligence, and dedication have made Caucasian Shepherds a popular choice for police, working dogs, and guard dogs in Europe and Russia. In the United States, not so much because their intimidating size and appearance are considered too intense.

Characteristics

Despite its massive size and intimidating appearance, the Caucasian Shepherd is gentle and affectionate towards its owner and family. However, its natural protective nature means that it may be difficult to bring people into your home.

Since their natural protectiveness is among the strongest of any breed, it means they require extensive training and socialization to control it appropriately in a family setting.

Caucasian Shepherds are naturally aggressive to and suspicious of strangers. Considering that they are absolutely fearless, it’s critical to properly socialize and train them. Otherwise, they may show fierce and uncontrollable reactions to perceived threats.

That said, they are very loving and gentle with their owners and families. Even more, they will include every creature who belongs to the family, such as cats, dogs, etc, to be under their protection.

They bond strongly with children in the family, but their size and strength make them best for older children. And be aware, having other children over can be a problem, as they can interpret rough play as a threat.

The key to living with Caucasian Shepherds is early and intense socialization and training. When done properly, they can be very good with both strangers and other dogs.

But these are ferocious guard dogs and even when properly trained will only welcome others into the home if you give them permission. Even with people they know, if they walk in the door without someone in the family escorting them in, it will probably not end well.

And speaking of training, these are stubborn and independent dogs. Training them is a difficult challenge and must be done by a very experienced dog owner or a professional trainer. They require strong boundaries, and you must establish yourself as the leader and deserving of their respect. If you don’t or can’t, they can be uncontrollable.

As a result, these are not the dogs for first-time owners. Professional trainers will tell you they are not suitable for 99% of people looking for a dog.

But if you have serious security concerns or live in a rural area where dangerous wildlife is a threat, and you’re willing and able to train them properly, Caucasian Shepherds can be a great choice.

Here’s a short, five-minute video that gives a good overview of this breed.

Anatolian Shepherd

Background

Anatolian Shepherds are an ancient breed that originated in the remote and rugged Anatolia regions of Turkey. They were bred to protect sheep and goats from large predators such as wolves, bears, and jackals.

Known for their intelligence and loyalty, their protective instincts are natural. As is true of the other top three breeds, the intimidating circumstances and environment in which they were bred resulted in the development of their intense protective nature.

They are one of the biggest and baddest guard dogs. Their protective instincts are so inbred and strong that the AKC recommends that “under no circumstances should an Anatolian receive protection or guard dog training.” To do so may result in this large and powerful dog becoming so protective that it is dangerous.

With centuries of self-reliance breeding, they prefer to act on their own when they sense a threat, rather than looking to a human for guidance.

Like the Caucasian Shepherd, their thick coat provides them with protection against harsh weather conditions, as well as adds to the already intimidating size they present.

Characteristics

While loving and loyal to their families, Anatolian Shepherds are naturally suspicious of strangers and can be quite standoffish. Combined with their naturally protective instinct, they are one of the biggest and baddest guard dogs.

And, also like the Caucasian Shepherd, their protection bubble includes smaller dogs in the household and even the family cat!

As guardians, they are highly protective of their family and territory, making them one of the bravest and most loyal dog breeds.

Anatolians are intelligent and able to think independently. At the same time, they have a streak of stubbornness which makes them challenging to train, with behaviors that can be difficult to control.

As with the other top three dogs, early and extensive socialization and training are essential for an Anatolian. Obedience training in particular is critical. It’s needed so they can learn to properly balance their natural instincts for aggression and protection.

Consequently, they require an experienced owner/trainer who can take control and lead the Anatolian to be its best. This is not the breed for the faint-hearted or first-time down owners.

Anatolians are not as eager to please as some other breeds, so early socialization is also important for them to become affectionate and loyal family protectors.

Also, know that Anatolian Shepherds have a fairly high need for regular mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom and the development of unwanted behaviors. With the strongest bite force of any dog, they are capable of tearing the siding off your house!

Honorable Mention Top Dogs

We would be remiss if we didn’t point out that there are at least 8 other breeds that are similar to the top three in many respects. Of these, here are the three we feel are closest to the top three, because of size, bite force, rarity, and some shared characteristics.

Presa Canario Perro de Presa Canario Dog Breed

Tosa Inu Tosa Inu Dog

Tibetan Mastiff Tibetan Mastiff

Just like the top three, these honorable mentions are ferocious and powerful protection dogs. They should only be your choice if intense protection is your primary need.

Also, as with the top three, you should be a very experienced owner who is willing to do the things necessary to control and prevent them from becoming dangerous animals.

These three are similar to the top three in the following characteristics:

  • Bred to be protectors
  • Affectionate and gentle with owners
  • Aggressive with strangers and other dogs
  • Fearless against all threats
  • Intelligent but stubborn
  • Challenging to train
  • Need for extensive socialization and training
  • Not suitable for first time dog owners

The reason they aren’t in the top three is because they are just a bit more laid back and friendly, although still aloof with strangers and other dogs. We used two criteria in choosing these three breeds:

  1. Maximum size greater than 100 pounds
  2. Bite Force of 500 psi or higher

These may not be perfect criteria, but they gave us an objective way to narrow down the field of other good candidates.

Here’s the statistics for each one. Click on each name to find out more about that breed.

  • Presa Canario
    • Size – Up to 110 pounds
    • Bite Force – 540 psi
  • Tosa Inu (insert link)
    • Size: Up to 180 pounds
    • Bite Force: 556 psi
  • Tibetan Mastiff (insert link)
    • Size: Up to 150 pounds
    • Bite Force: 550 pounds
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