Are Golden Retrievers Good Guard Dogs?


Not all dogs are created equal when it comes to defense. People may assume all dogs make good guard dogs, but that’s not true. Of the breeds that make good guard dogs, the Golden retriever is one of the best.

While a Golden retriever does not appear as fierce as a Doberman pinscher or Rottweiler, they will do a good job as a guard dog. This is because they are good-sized, protective, and smart. A Golden retriever makes a great guard due because they have an obedient, loyal nature. 

What Makes a Golden Retriever a Good Guard Dog 

  • A Golden retriever is large enough to make a stranger think twice before breaking into your home.
  • These dogs are athletic, fast runners.
  • As a guard dog, this breed has good protective instincts.
  • Golden retrievers are smart, alert companions.
  • As guard dogs, Golden retrievers are known for their resilient, obedient behavior.
  • They can be easily trained to be a good guard dog. 

Originally, the Golden retrievers were bred to be hunters. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t trainable as a guard dog. Because the Golden retriever is so intelligent, you’ll be able to teach him any of the “guard” qualities he may be inherently missing. You can teach your dog to be a great multi-tasker.

Some people view size as everything and may think because this breed is a medium-size rather than a large-size breed, it wouldn’t make a good guard dog. But being medium-sized is a “just-right-size” to be both a great guardian and human companion. 

Loyalty: The Best Quality in a Guard Dog

In those movies where Lassie or another dog saves the day, they’re almost always a medium-sized dog who is extremely loyal to their owner and family members. The Golden retriever has a big heart and the ability to create a warm, strong bond with its family. These wonderful dogs are all about being loyal, and loyalty is the number one criteria for a good guard dog.

Once you own and train a Golden retriever, you’ll see that they always look out for their owner’s best interests. Historically speaking, Golden retrievers are famous for being one of the most loyal dog breeds as far as temperament is concerned. 

Obedience Is Just as Important

From a puppy to adulthood, Golden retrievers are known to be a person-pleaser. They love unconditionally, and their happiness is a direct result of their ability to please their owner. Golden retrievers have won the American Kennel Club Obedience Champion Trophy for many years, setting the bar high for other breeds. No other dog breed has achieved more prestigious rewards for obedience than the Golden retriever, with some scoring higher than the American Kennel Club’s set achievement bar. 

How Smart Are Golden Retrievers?

When tested, the Golden retriever breed excels at understanding commands, needing less than five repeats of a single command before showing comprehension. This makes the Golden retriever not only intelligent but very easy to train. On a scale of 1 to 10, the Golden retriever places fourth in doggie smarts. This breed is highly adaptable as well as smart, which equates to being easy-to-train for being a good guard dog.

Goldens are also very intuitive. They can almost always distinguish between someone who has come to pay you a friendly visit and someone who means you—or your loved ones—harm. This one factor alone gives owners of Golden retrievers a sense of satisfaction because they know their guard dog won’t act aggressively towards others just for the sake of being aggressive. This ability to easily distinguish between a friend and a foe is an outstanding quality that the Golden retriever possesses. 

Golden Retrievers Have Great Instincts

You may think loud, long blasts of barking is the number one way a good guard dog alerts its owner of danger, but growling to give a warning is also something a good guard dog does. Golden retrievers are a very communicative breed, and though they aren’t a breed that barks excessively, their bark can be very persistent. They’ll even jump in front of their owner at the first sign of danger. There are many good stories of Goldens who’ve saved their owner’s life by providing a barrier between their owner and imminent danger. 

Unfortunately, They Can Be Too Friendly

The qualities mentioned above make the Golden retriever a best buddy, confidant, and loving companion. But sometimes this breed has a bit more of the “I love everyone” outlook than a guard dog needs. Being in the top 10 of the friendliest dog breeds, the Golden retriever isn’t naturally inclined to be aggressive.

The good news is, there’s a fix for this dilemma. You’ll need to condition this breed to protect you. Fortunately, there are various training methods you can use to achieve this with Golden retrievers and other dog breeds. If you’ve decided on having a Golden retriever on guard-dog duty, specific training will be required. Remember, their natural instinct is to love and protect everyone. 

You Can Train Your Golden Retriever

If you feel you’d like to train your Golden retriever yourself, there are a couple of basic ways to do this. One of the easiest ways is to help your dog know what his boundaries are so that he can protect you. It doesn’t matter if he is an inside or outside dog; teaching a Golden retriever his boundaries is the best way to help him become a good guard dog. Follow these simple steps:  

  • Take your dog for a walk early in the day; don’t give him any commands while he’s on this walk with you.   
  • When you get home, put the dog on a very long leash so he can roam around the entire perimeter of your yard. By doing this, you’ll help him identify the boundaries that must be protected.     
  • Teach your Golden retriever to bark or growl when something or someone comes close to or enters the yard. A good way to do this is to have one of your friends with whom the dog is familiar come into the yard. Correct the dog if he barks.     
  • Reward your dog with a treat every time he barks at something or someone strange. Do not give him treats if he barks at a friend or appears too aggressive.   
  • Take your dog for another walk later that same day. This will help him realize that the area where you’re walking is not the area he is supposed to guard.       
  • Repeat steps one through five every day for at least a week. A Golden retriever quickly learns this lesson about boundaries.  


Golden retrievers are smart and loyal, trainable, and intuitive. These traits make them a fantastic choice for a guard dog. While there are several ways to teach this breed to be a good guard dog, the boundary method is the easiest if you’re an owner who prefers to train their pet. Knowing you can teach your best buddy to be both a wonderful companion and a pal who has your back is a win-win.