As a popular breed, Border Collies can have a variety of temperaments – some making them a good guard dog, and some do not. In this article, we will explore what can make a Border Collie a good guard dog, what doesn’t make them a good guard dog, and what to do if you want a good guard dog in your life.
What makes a good guard dog?
First, it’s important to look at the characteristics that make any dog a good guard dog in general, before we can explore why a Border Collie may fit what you’re looking for. For the majority of people, it’s important to have a dog that looks intimidating, while avoiding the potential lawsuits that come with a dog that bites.
A dog that is noisy and barks a lot at a potential intruder is a much more effective guard dog than one that waits silently to bite someone coming into your home.
It might seem logical that a guard dog should bite strangers, but in reality, training a dog for personal protection work takes a lot of training and a very specific temperament.
Most people do not have the time and resources to properly train a personal protection dog, and instead, end up creating a dog that can be a potential liability if they bite the wrong person.
For the purposes of keeping your home safe, you should instead look for a dog that can sound and appear intimidating without risking them biting everyone they meet.
If a dog is barking, it’s a known deterrent to criminals who may otherwise attempt to break into your home. Barking can signify that the dog may be a threat, but more importantly, it draws attention to the would-be criminal.
Can Border Collies be Protective?
What happens if you end up in a situation where it’s truly OK for your dog to protect you by acting aggressively? Will your Border Collie recognize the danger of the situation and react appropriately?
Again, without extensive personal protection training, you shouldn’t rely on your dog (of any breed) to subdue a would-be attacker.
However, there are plenty of cases of dogs of all breeds stepping up when the situation calls for it.
Even one of my past dogs is a good example of this! Growing up, my family had a Labrador Retriever mix named Mya.
Mya was a therapy dog, and kind and friendly to every person she met in her life.
That is, until an inebriated strange man was on our property.
I grew up in a rural area, and much of the land around us was farmland or wooded areas used for hunting. It was deer hunting season, so it didn’t seem too surprising to find a dead buck in the backyard one morning.
Assuming it had been shot and ran to our property before dying, my mom checked with several hunters in the area to see if they were looking for the deer. We eventually moved the deer and realized it hadn’t been shot but had instead likely been hit by a car.
Later that evening, a truck pulled up on our property while my mom, myself, and my younger siblings were spending time outside with our dog, Mya.
A man got out of the truck, and it was apparent that he had been drinking heavily (although not the driver of the truck). He was acting quite unnatural, speaking too loudly, and standing uncomfortably close to my mom as he inquired about the deer.
Mya, who was an extremely tolerant therapy dog that visited nursing homes and hospitals on the regular, stood her ground by my mom and growled at the man.
She recognized the situation was uncomfortable, to say the least, and chose to react protectively.
The man eventually left after being informed that we no longer had the deer. However, it’s a story that I’ve long considered whenever thinking about if dogs will be protective when it really matters.
There’s no guarantee that your Border Collie will choose to react protectively if the moment arrives, which is why choosing a dog that can appear intimidating and be loud and bark is important when looking for a guard dog.
If you spend time forming a close bond with your Border Collie, though, they just might react like Mya did and surprise you if a scary situation should arise.
Characteristics of Border Collies that make for a good guard dog
Overall, Border Collies are known for being a relatively noisy breed, as with most dogs in the herding group. They are also likely to be suspicious or spooked when in new situations, which can make them very likely to bark when a stranger is at the door.
Their tendency to bark at strangers or new things in their environment can make them an excellent warning system if someone should attempt to break into your home.
They are not likely to bite a stranger or respond beyond barking, but as previously mentioned, barking is often the biggest deterrent to a would-be criminal.
The size of the dog can also be intimidating to anyone attempting to harm you. While a smaller dog may bark a lot and sound scary, a criminal that actually sees your small dog is not likely to feel threatened.
There are certainly dogs bigger than Border Collies, but they are still a medium to large breed of dog that can appear more intimidating than others.
Border Collies are not likely to bite a stranger, though. They are bred for herding, which requires carefully moving flocks of sheep, ducks, and other animals through their body posture and intense stares.
A Border Collie that bites a member of their flock is likely to harm the livestock, so they are bred specifically to stare and herd instead of herding via nipping (like some breeds bred for moving cattle).
Should I Get a Border Collie?
Whether or not you should add a Border Collie to your life depends a lot more on if a Border Collie fits your life in general, rather than if they will be a good guard dog. You should always consider the grooming, exercise, and training requirements of any breed, no matter your end goal.
While Border Collies can come with a smooth coat, they most often have longer hair and require regular brushing to prevent mats from forming. Even a Border Collie with a short coat will require brushing to minimize shedding and keep their coat healthy.
Border Collies are also a very intense breed in terms of their exercise needs, due to being extremely intelligent and high energy.
Walks around the block will not suffice for a Border Collie. Instead, you should plan for plenty of physical exercise, and especially for mental exercise as well.
Border Collies thrive when they have a job and can spend time training. Many Border Collie owners find themselves entering the world of dog sports, such as agility, in order to keep their Border Collie occupied.
If you’ve researched a variety of breeds and determined that a Border Collie is the best overall fit for you, congratulations! However, if your main goal is a guard dog, you’ll likely want to choose a different breed that is larger and looks more intimidating, while still keeping a scary warning bark.
You should avoid teaching your dog to bite or attack on cue unless working with a professional trainer who is experienced in the area of protection sports and personal protection work. The liability of a dog that reacts and bites inappropriately is too risky.
Not only can it set you up for a lawsuit, but depending on local ordinances, a dog that is declared dangerous due to biting someone may face euthanasia.
Instead, consider barking and large size to be intimidating for most would-be criminals, and plan to also protect yourself in other ways.
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