Big Personalities In Small Packages: The 5 Best Small Guard Dogs for Families

Apartment life has its perks, but being allowed to own a big, scary-looking guard dog often isn’t one of them. Many buildings ban traditional guard dog breeds entirely, while others have size and weight restrictions that rule them out. If you’re looking for a guard dog in a small, apartment-friendly form, here are some breeds to consider.

The Benefits of Small Guard Dogs

While the breeds mentioned in this article might not be large enough to scare off a determined intruder, having a smaller guard dog does come with many benefits. They can still bark loudly enough to act as a deterrent, since most intruders don’t want to worry about a dog drawing attention to them. These dogs’ small size also lets them work in conjunction with an electronic security system, since they can pass underneath motion sensors that a larger dog might set off.

Apartment living with a small breed dog is also generally easier and more affordable. While some of these dogs have special grooming needs that might add to the cost, they also generally eat significantly less than a larger dog. Even vet visits and medications can cost less. Small dogs are quieter and put less wear-and-tear on your apartment as well, which is perfect for apartments.


Best Small Guard Dogs for Families Dachshund

Despite its funny “wiener dog” appearance, the Dachshund was created to be a serious hunter. These fearless little dogs traditionally worked alone, and their long bodies helped them charge down holes after badgers. While not many people use them for hunting in modern times, bravery and independence still remain important breed traits, so they don’t hesitate to stand up for their family if something is wrong. Dachshunds also tend to be loyal dogs that only bond closely with their immediate family and may be wary of strangers.

Dachshunds are generally healthy, but it is very important to keep them active and at a healthy weight. Their long backs can be prone to injury, particularly in overweight dogs. Long-haired dachshunds may require some additional grooming.


Boston Terrier

Best Small Guard Dogs for Families Boston Terrier

If you want a flexible dog that is happy hanging around the apartment one day and heading out for a hike the next, the Boston terrier might be the dog for you. These little dogs have an outgoing, friendly personality that makes them easy to socialize with, but they’re not afraid to bark if the situation warrants it. They’re a particularly good choice if you’re raising a family in your apartment, as they’re excellent with kids.

Boston terriers tend to have minimal grooming requirements and don’t shed much, which makes it easy to keep a smaller apartment clean. They tend to be fairly healthy, although some genetic diseases do run in the breed so it is important to find a reputable breeder.


Best Small Guard Dogs for Families Chihuahua

Although today they may be best known as “purse dogs” carried around by celebrities, the Chihuahua is an ancient breed whose origins are shrouded in mystery. One theory suggests that these tiny but tough dogs were used by the Aztecs and other indigenous people as household guards and to protect domesticated fowl from predators. Chihuahuas tend to have a big, sassy personality and aren’t afraid to let you know if they’re unhappy about something. Many of them are wary of strangers and will bark and even nip at unwanted visitors. Their small size does make them fairly fragile, so they tend to do best in families with older children.

Since many Chihuahuas are under six pounds, they’re small enough to avoid even the most sensitive alarm system sensors. However, teacup Chihuahuas, which are typically under three pounds, can be prone to serious health problems.

Miniature Poodle

Best Small Guard Dogs for Families Miniature Poodle

Unlike many miniature versions of large breeds, the miniature poodle retains the working traits of the larger standard poodle. These brave dogs are known for their intelligence and fearlessness. They tend to bond closely with their family, but can be aloof around strangers. Most tend to be fairly quiet on a day-to-day basis, but they have a loud alarm bark that is great for warning people away from your apartment.

Poodles are also excellent for apartments because they don’t shed and they tend to have a fairly low amount of dander, so even people with dog allergies are often fine around them. However, they do require daily brushing if you keep their coats long. If you don’t keep up with it, they can develop painful mats. The pet clip is popular among poodle owners since it doesn’t require daily upkeep.

Lhasa Apso

Best Small Guard Dogs for Families Lhasa Apso

Don’t let their fluffy, long-haired appearance fool you. The Lhasa Apso is one of the few small dog breeds that was originally bred as a watchdog. These fearless, independent dogs have been used for thousands of years to guard homes and palaces, although they’re most famous for their work patrolling Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. Lhasas are known for their alert, clever personalities and keen hearing. They have a loud, high-pitched bark that draws attention to visitors, but otherwise tend to be fairly quiet.

Since they were bred to work, Lhasas do need regular exercise. In addition to walks, they tend to do well with plenty of mental stimulation, such as scent games or puzzle toys. Their long coats do require frequent brushing, so many owners opt for a puppy cut, which is a shorter clip that requires less daily maintenance.


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