I walk several large dogs for my business that I’ve worked with for years. Some I’ve had since they were puppies! Having owned a large breed myself, I’ve always been fascinated with their size, traits, and personalities.
One dog I walk on a daily basis is a Black Russian Terrier called Hera. She and her little companion, BooBoo, are a constant delight to me one our walks as they interact with other dogs and people. Hera is a guardian breed with a very stable temperament and thorough training. Training is a must for any dog but even more so for these larger breeds – they can get out of hand if not trained properly.
Guardian breeds often get a bad rap. They’re suited for a specific purpose; to protect and guard their pack or their territory. A well trained guardian breed will know when to shut off and when to stand at the ready. The breed’s perceived reputation, coloring, or stature can create negative opinions on what is actually a wonderful breed.
These are not breeds for everyone. Some guardian breeds, such as Dobermans and Rottweilers, are often suited to be personal guard dogs, as they were bred to live closely with people. Livestock guardian dogs are often more aloof with people due to their main purpose being to guard a flock at night without human intervention. This makes them more independent minded and difficult to train. It all depends on their socialization, breeding, and training whether they either live up to negative stereotypes or are true to the noble giants they can be.
A lot of the guardian breeds are wonderful with children; some might just be very large and not realize their own size when dealing with a small child. But to bring out this side it comes down to training and proper socialization. I ask most children to tell Hera to sit and then pet her only under the chin or her side. Know your dog’s limits and never push them to do something they’re uncomfortable with.
Guardian breeds can be dominant, not something every average dog owner is ready or able to deal with. Be aware of what you’re getting into when thinking about getting a guardian breed. Increased food amounts, training, beds, room, etc. are all things that you should consider before getting a dog just because it’s big and intimidating.
These dogs are meant to have a job. Some of them such as Hera, can be lazy and not need constant stimulation, her only job being that she protects her family and home. This is true for several guardian breeds, including livestock guardians, who conserve energy for the big bursts necessary to propel their large size should there be an actual threat. Then there are others, such as German Shepherds, who were born to work and may get bored easily. It’s always best to vet out the temperament of the dog you’re looking at to see if they fit your lifestyle. Can you run a dog everyday if its needs for exercise is high? Do you mind a dog that may not want to go out for a walk simply because they’re too lazy?
Hera requires several walks to give her stimulation outside of the house. If she were given the choice however, she’d probably stay with her family at all times just to enjoy being with them. That’s just the nature of a guardian breed.
Make sure you know what you’re getting into when looking into any dog. Proper training and socialization goes a long way in making for a calm and beautiful relationship between yourself and your beloved pet. And if you’re prepared to open your heart and home to one of these gentle guardians your commitment and dedication will be rewarded a hundred times over!