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Best Guard Dogs for Families

Adopting a family-friendly dog teaches children responsibility and compassion. Most dogs are natural protectors. Some will even put themselves in harm's way to save their human family. These breeds make loyal family guard dogs. But keep in mind that whenever dogs are around children -- especially small children -- adults should supervise.

By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

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Large Dogs

"Because of their size, large dogs -- either pure breeds or mixed -- can deter criminals," says Mike Rueb, manager of behavior and training at Bideawee. "What you don't want is an aggressive dog. You want a dog that is trainable, loyal, and comfortable around you and your family."

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Saint Bernards

If drool doesn't bother you, Saint Bernards make great family dogs. They are loyal and loving, and they have a protective nature. Saint Bernards should be trained early and often. When socialized around other people and dogs, Saint Bernards can be gentle and friendly.

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Airedale Terriers

Airedales are fine guardians for families. They are fiercely loyal, and in Britain, Belgium, and the United States, Airedales have been used as police dogs. They do need daily exercise.

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American Pit Bull Terriers

To the surprise of many people, in the early 1900s American pit bull terriers were known as America's nannies. They watched over children and kept them safe. Today, this breed has a reputation for being aggressive, but they can be wonderful pets. They need to be trained and around children at an early age. No dog -- pit bull or any other breed -- should be left unsupervised around children.

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German Shepherds

These highly intelligent dogs are used as therapy, service, and police dogs. They need to be trained at a young age, and they are good around the children they know. German shepherds need to be watched carefully when company comes over. They are loyal only to those they know.

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Great Danes

When raised side-by-side with children, these dogs become wonderful protectors. Great Danes aren't typical guard dogs because they are quite friendly and have a go-with-the-flow type of personality. It's their size that makes them a deterrent for criminals.

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Boxers

This high-energy dog is wonderfully affectionate with children. Boxers need a lot of exercise. They are loyal to their human families, which makes them good guard dogs.

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Newfoundlands

Thanks to a Newfie's size, a criminal would probably steer clear of a home with one of these dogs inside. These big-hearted dogs are good around children and other animals. They need exercise and daily brushing.

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Bernese Mountain Dogs

If you want a pet that loves kids but will deter a criminal from entering your home, then this is the dog for your family. Bernese mountain dogs are actually gentle, but their large size can be off-putting. They need to be trained, and brushed daily.

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Bull Mastiff

Bull mastiffs were bred not to bite, but to overpower their victims by pinning them down. Even though these dogs look tough, they are softies on the inside, which makes them good around children. They are eager to please, don't need much exercise, and don't bark too often. They do require a fair amount of space.

Michele C. Hollow writes the family-friendly pet blog "Pet News and Views."

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