Are Bulldogs good guard dogs?

With the aerodynamic features of a brick, British British bulldogs are short, stocky, and powerful.

They have a very loving disposition, making them a firm favorite amongst many families. While some households keep bulldogs around to serve as companions, others have looked to the breed for protection.

So, how well do bulldogs measure up as protection dogs? And should you train one to serve as your family's protector? 

Different types of protection dogs

Before we discuss the pros and cons of owning a Bully protection unit, it’s important to realize that there are different types of protection dogs, each with a different role.

As you can imagine, each role requires a certain disposition and personality.

Brown and white grumpy bulldog


Guard dogs

The American Kennel Club notes that a good guard dog has “a natural instinct to protect their home and family” and “tend to be loyal, fearless, strong and watchful.” (1)

British Bulldogs definitely are strong, fearless, and loyal. However, they have a very loving disposition which might prevent them from acting decisively when an intruder is around the home.

But they do have a really deep bark and an intimidating stance, making unwanted guests think twice before jumping over a fence.

The AKC, mentioned earlier, lists the Australian Shepherd, Boerboel, Bullmastiff, and Doberman Pinscher as some of the best guard dogs. 

Noteworthy, they have excluded the British Bulldog from their list.

This probably isn’t because they don’t think bulldogs have the qualities to make good guard dogs. In all likelihood, they aren’t considered the first pick because of their relatively small stature.

Attack dogs

Lazy brown and white bulldog


Attack dogs are often used for personal protection as they take protecting their owners to the next level.

They require a lot of specialized training and in this case, their bite is definitely worse than their bark.

These dogs are trained to attack on command of their owner and generally don’t have much patience for families with younger children. They’re often used in situations that require a lot of bravery and trust in their handler.

An excellent example of this is a German Shepherd or Rotweiller in the police force.

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Like a guard dog, a watchdog is trained to be alert to intruders around the home. But the difference is that guard dogs are expected to react to a threat and fend off any perps.

Watchdogs identify potential threats and alert their owners, allowing them to escalate the matter further.

For this reason, watchdogs do not necessarily need to fall into the larger, stronger, and more intimidating dog breed.

Out of the three categories listed here, you might mistakenly identify bulldogs as natural watchdogs. However, they tend to sleep for up to 50% of the day. Definitely not a dog breed to keep on the watch!

Personality traits of Bulldogs

Bulldog with an underbite


There are two things that all bulldogs have in common - their loyalty and stubbornness. 

Speaking of their stubbornness, CastlewoodBulldogs says, “Bulldogs are one of those “show me” breeds – they tend to need to know there’s something in it for them if you want them to do something, and they also need to know you’re going to get what you want as long as it’s reasonable.” (2)

That’s something you’ll either love or hate about your dog. While the selective deafness might be annoying, being inherently stubborn actually lends itself to being a good watchdog.

They won’t be easily distracted or chased away by anyone they deem a threat but rather tag that person for as long as they think necessary.

Their loyalty to their owners stems from their social side. They love a good cuddle on the couch and welcome children into their lives as long as they are still relatively young and have the patience for it.

Physical traits of Bulldogs

As hinted at the article's outset, British Bulldogs aren’t built to win any best physique contests.

They are short and stocky, with a large head and broad muzzle. These dogs move effortlessly with short, quick-paced steps at full speed.

They’re medium-sized dogs with males weighing about 50 pounds and their dense skeletal structure means they’re quite heavy for such a short dog breed.

They are found in various colors, but the most common is a mixture of brindle, white and fawn.


Training your bulldog to be a guard dog

English bulldogs can be good guard dogs with proper training. They are eager to please their owners and with some positive reinforcement (i.e., a snack or treat), they will adhere to basic commands.

British bulldogs are naturally protective of their owners and are pound for pound probably amongst the strongest dog breeds.

So keep the following two things in mind for successfully training your bully.

1. Start them young

Bulldogs are incredibly headstrong; if they’ve decided they don’t like something, they simply can not be convinced to do it.

Nope, you can’t teach this old dog new tricks.

So, if you’re interested in keeping a bulldog as a guard dog, start its training from a very young age. 

If you don’t have the time or patience to do it yourself, find a trainer that will get your pup in tip-top shape (or as close as his physique allows) in no time.

Training your bulldog from a young age will help ingrain the importance of protecting their owners or pack at all costs and feed off their natural loyalty.

2. Keep their training routine regular

Like all other dog breeds, English bulldogs benefit from regular mental stimulation. This keeps them happy and makes them much more pleasant companions at home.

So try your best to provide regular training. 

For example, you could train them to bark on command. Traditional dog breeds like to bark at any strangers that approach their owners, and your dog will likely be more effective than an attack dog with his deep bark.

On the flip side, you want him to stop barking at your command too. So train him to follow both orders in succession so as not to drive you mad.

You could also train your dog to defend you when you give him the signal. British bulldogs have a calm temperament but a protective nature regarding their loved ones.

So make sure they know when to protect and when to back off from a perceived threat.

These training sessions can be done at home, during an outing or just at a local park, as long as it’s regular.

Reasons why your bulldog shouldn’t be your primary guard dog

Mutlicolored english bulldog


If you really want your bully to be the primary guard dog of your pack, there are a few things you might want to consider.

- Low Stamina

Bulldogs have very short muzzles and can suffer from breathing problems. This means that they run out of steam fairly quickly. 

Bullies also tend to overheat as they have problems cooling themselves.

- Slow speed

Over short distances, this dog breed is actually pretty quick. But their short legs don’t lend themselves to top speed.

Bulldogs can be lethargic and are often seen as lazy, so don’t expect them to get up and run to the front door with every noise or movement outside.

A short sprint to the front door or gate every now and then isn’t an issue for these compact units, but running after an intruder isn’t what they’re built to do.

- Health problems

Because of their laziness, British bulldogs have been known to be obese, especially in their later years. 

They also suffer from respiratory issues due to their flat noses, which causes them to produce excess mucus. This mucus, in turn, tends to get infected.

Another thing to consider is dental problems. Tartar build-up often progresses to infection of gums and teeth.

A good guard dog is always ready to obey your command and do whatever is needed to protect his family unit. Unfortunately, British bulldogs suffer from several health problems that would disqualify them from the list.

- Too loving

Bulldogs are very loving dogs, and when it comes to chasing off intruders, smothering an intruder with kisses doesn’t count.

They show a lot of affection to their owners and tend to trust others that they don’t deem a threat to themselves or their loved ones.

Further Reading: French Bulldog vs. English Bulldog - Which is right for you?

Other dog breeds to consider

If you’re thinking of getting a dog that can act as an attack dog, watchdog or guard dog, you might want to look past the British bulldog simply because of their limitations in size and health.

Here are a few popular guard dog breeds to consider: 

American Bulldogs

American bulldog wearing a Sparkpaw's harness


American Bulldogs are loving, loyal and strong family dogs.

Descendants of the British Bulldog, these dogs are naturally protective of their owners. They’re larger than their British cousins and have the stamina and physical abilities needed to be good guard dogs.

They’re super smart, love being trained, and are always eager to please their owners.

They are also fearless and have powerful jaws, all the characteristics you might be looking for.

Sparkpaws has a wide range of tactical collars for your favorite furry friend. They’re perfect for training and exercise.

German shepherd

A german shepherd lying on the green grass


German shepherds are special dogs. They are slightly larger than American bulldogs and originally bred to herd sheep.

They are hardworking by nature, making them a good pick if you need an around-the-clock watchdog.

They’re also known for their bravery, running headfirst into danger to get the job done.

But they also have a kind and loving disposition, known for being gentle with children and treating them as part of their pack.

German shepherds can seem distant towards strangers, which will discourage unwanted attention to you or your family from strange characters.

With one of these dogs around, you can be sure that any unusual activity around the house will be inspected, making them perfect for home security.

Final thoughts

English bulldogs actually make excellent guard dogs if they aren’t expected to do much more than guard their immediate vicinity.

Because of their great love and attachment, they will be alert to any danger and alert their owners to it, standing on guard until the threat is cleared.

They also make fantastic family pets and lifelong companions. So if you’re wondering whether or not you should get one, rest assured that you’d absolutely adore this dog breed.

Before spending way too much money on a new puppy from a breeder, consider a turn at the local council and adopt an animal in need. These dogs will appreciate a warm home and happy family to call their own.

Article sources:

1 - American Kennel Club

2 - CastlewoodBulldogs