golden retriever dog relax on the hay bale

Golden Retrievers are beautiful dogs that are affectionate, loyal, and intelligent and are among the most popular dog breeds in the United States. Their golden double coats are thick and water repellent, and they make excellent family companions, as they get along well with children and other pets. If you’re thinking of adding a Golden Retriever to your household, you may be wondering if they make good guard dogs.

While this may seem like an easy question to answer, it’s not so clear-cut. Generally, no, they do not make good guard dogs because they are not aggressive. Rather, their temperament is sweet and loving. One may be able to train a Golden Retriever to be a guard dog, but even then, it may take a good while, and you may be better off getting a true guard dog breed, such as a Doberman Pinscher or a German Shepherd. On the other hand, Golden Retrievers are good watchdogs. Watchdogs and guard dogs are not the same, and in this article, we’ll explain why.

Guard Dogs and Watchdogs: How Are They Different?

The main difference between guard dogs and watchdogs is training. Guard dogs are specifically trained to protect their owners and attack if an intruder invades the home. Watchdogs will alert their owners in such a case, but they won’t attack or intervene. Your Golden may growl at an intruder, but it’ll be up to you to take action.

Golden Retrievers have certain characteristics that can make them good watchdogs. Let’s break them down.

  • Loyalty: For starters, they are loyal and obedient to their humans, and if danger is present, your Golden will have the instinct to protect you, and that will be in the form of a bark or growl. These dogs aren’t really barkers, but they may bark if they sense a threat. However, don’t rely on your Golden to protect you.
  • Size: These dogs are large in size, and their size alone can be an excellent tool in deterring someone from messing around your home. If an intruder knows nothing about these dogs, their size could be enough to stop any danger.
  • Intelligence: Goldens are one of the most intelligent dogs you can have, and their intelligence will play a role in being a good watchdog. Your Golden will love you to the moon and back, and if it senses danger, it will react by alerting you.
golden retriever dog watching over his owner's house
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Will a Golden Retriever Protect You if You Are Attacked?

Golden Retrievers are very smart and will know if someone is lurking around who has no business in doing so. However, with their gentle dispositions, they probably won’t attack.

These good-natured dogs simply do not have the aggression in them that’s needed to be a good guard dog. Their easy-going nature will eliminate the desire to attack or bite, and your Golden will probably want to make friends with the unknown person rather than attack them.

Can I Train My Golden Retriever to Be a Guard Dog?

Since these dogs are intelligent, it is possible to train them to be guard dogs. These dogs are smart enough to train to be service dogs, such as guiding a blind person or assisting someone with any other disability, and guard dog training is no different—it just may take more time than with other breeds who are natural guard dogs.

One technique you can try is actually teaching your Golden to bark on command. Since they are not really barking dogs, this can come in handy if need be. For instance, if you hear someone or something out of the ordinary, you can train your dog to bark on cue. That way, at least the intruder will know a dog is present inside the home. Professional dog trainers can also be useful in helping you train your Golden to protect the home.


Having a Golden Retriever in your family is a rewarding experience. These docile, loving, intelligent, and easy-going dogs make excellent family companions. As for being guard dogs, they may not be suitable for you if you’re specifically on the hunt for one. Goldens are simply not aggressive dogs, but it is possible to train them to alert you to any danger.

Featured Image Credit: SasaStock, Shutterstock