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Dogs are often referred to as man’s best friend, and for good reason. Dogs are smart, loving, and can be very helpful, even during a widespread disaster. But which dog breed would be best after the SHTF? With thousands of breeds to choose from, finding a good prepping or survival companion can be a challenge.
While some dog breeds can be trained for multiple purposes, most breeds have instincts that make them better in specific areas. For example, Border Collies are great for keeping track of kids and livestock, but not as good at warning you about trespassers.
The breed you choose really depends on your personal preferences and what scenarios you’re planning for. Here is our list of the top 10 dog breeds for preppers (in alphabetical order).
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The Akbash Dog originated in the mountains of Turkey and were bred to guard livestock from predators and intruders. As a result, they are very loyal toward people they do know and suspicious of people they don’t know.
Because the Akbash will spend lots of time with livestock, lying in the field with cows and birds for hours on end, they are commonly mistaken as a herding dog. In reality, they aren’t very good at rounding up livestock.
They also aren’t the best companions. Yes, they are loyal, but they generally aren’t as interested in games like fetch as other breeds. Instead, they prefer to roam their territory while watching for intruders.
2. Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain dogs were bred by crossing various guard breeds and Mastiffs. They are strong, intelligent, and very friendly, making them great for preppers.
Originally they were trained to work on farms, so if you have a survival homestead, you should seriously consider this breed. They can pull carts, herd animals, and protect your family from danger.
If you do get this breed, keep in mind that they prefer the outdoors and will need lots of fresh air and exercise.
3. Border Collie
This breed comes from Scotland and was bred for herding livestock such as sheep. They are considered by many to be the most intelligent dog breed, which means you can teach them all sorts of tasks and tricks.
Additionally, they are very energetic and love to play, making them great for people with children. Just be warned, they can be very destructive if you let them inside. And be sure they get plenty of attention because they will get bored or depressed if left alone too often.
4. German Shepherd
An intelligent breed which has been trained for a multitude of purposes. Due to their high intelligence, they are an excellent dual-purpose guard dog for preppers. They are friendly, loyal, and can be trained to guard your family.
It has been said that they can be trained to only bark at certain threats. Getting a pup and training it yourself, or getting a well-trained dog is a must. Not all people who breed German Shepherds are able to train them well, so be wise in your choice.
Shepherds, as their name suggests, were originally developed to herd sheep. So while excellent guards, they can also be trained to work with livestock. Any dog you want to work with livestock should be gotten as a puppy and trained with your animals, otherwise your animals will not trust the dog and the dog will not be bonded to your herd.
5. Great Pyrenees
These are bred for guarding livestock or people. They are a perfect homestead breed for large or wilderness-bordered properties. Great Pyrenees will keep any predator off their territory, and they will even tag-team to drive off bears and other large predators.
If you need a dog to drive off human dangers, Great Pyrenees may not work. In livestock guard trials, they were the only breed that did not instantly attack humans. However, they are very protective and act aggressive if they do not trust a stranger. Their size and aggressive bark can also be a deterrent.
Pyrenees also have a mind of their own, so if there is something out there, they will not come in and they will not stop barking until it is gone. Pyrenees can be bonded to either your family members, or your animals, and will guard and protect both.
Another bird hunting dog, Pointers are also good for noticing sneaking predators, though they won’t chase them off. Pointers will point out the location of a game bird, and can usually be trained to also retrieve it. They have good eyes and can notice intruders or predators well in advance.
Both Pointers and Retrievers can be good family dogs, and they cooperate well with livestock. As these are working dogs, they like activity and the freedom to roam. They can also be trained as an intruder alert system, though they may not be as threatening as the guard breeds.
There are several breeds of Retriever. Golden retriever comes to mind, but there are many others. These breeds have a retrieving instinct that can be useful around the homestead for fetching and assisting indoors, and for hunting.
Retrievers are one of the many breeds used for bird hunting, though any hunting dog should be trained so that they are not gun shy. They can also be trained to collect the eggs, though they may get smart and figure out that if they drop an egg, they get to eat it. I know of one Retriever who would fetch 5 eggs and always drop the 6th one.
Another good choice for a guard. Being large working dogs, they need room to be active and must be well trained. Not everyone is suited to training a Rottweiler and it only takes one badly trained dog, or one training oversight, to create a major headache.
The Rottweiler needs lots of exercise and can be an excellent family dog with proper socialization.
9. Scotch Collie
The Scotch Collie is the ancestor of the modern Collies, and while some of the modern Collie breeds have had many of their instincts largely bred out, the Scotch collie still retains its hunting, herding, and guarding instincts. Border Collies mostly have the herding and guard instinct, but aren’t as good for hunting.
Scotch Collies, on the other hand, can do it all because they were originally bred as all-purpose dogs. Collies require lots of space and exercise. If they are cooped up in a bugging-in scenario, they could create havoc with their excess energy.
10. Siberian Huskie
Another excellent working dog, able to literally pull its own weight. The challenge with the Huskie is that it is an independent breed that must respect its owner/trainer to be able to work with them. One benefit of the Huskie is that they are not a breed that eats to excess, but will just eat what they need to optimally function.
Since Huskies were originally bred in rural areas, they usually work best remaining in similar habits.
Hopefully, this post gave you a better idea of what kind of dog you might want to get. If you already have a dog or intend to get one for prepping purposes, make sure your preps include supplies for your dog.
If you enjoyed this article, check out this list of the best livestock guardian dogs.
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We have an Akbash and a Great Pyrenees. They are awesome dogs. They are inside and I have no worries of anyone breaking in. They like to do perimeter checks of the yard and find the best place to lay to watch and protect our home. Both we fostered, then adopted (we couldn’t let them go 😉 ) Our Akbash was most likely abused before we got him, but with love and work he has turned into a very loving member of the family. Both have a bark that will let intruders know they mean business!
Lynne Clark says
Nice article, but the dogs are all for folks with houses and farms. How about doing on on smaller dogs for us urban preppers.
I Have 2 Small dogs and I would not give them up for any other dog. One is a Doxwa and the other is a Pugwa. Last year a neighbor was robbed of everything. The guy then tried to break in our house thinking no one was home because I am disabled I was still home I called out my husbands name and the guy started to come in. By the time I got to the door the dogs Had attacked his Legs. The Funny thing was the guy cried out please don’t let the Dogs OUT they will kill me! He started to slow down and I was holding them and shouted ATTACK! The guy took off liked Greased Lightening
Poodles have my vote. They are gun dogs, have no fear of the loud crack of a rifle or pistol. Do well in cold & wet as they retrieve. Dont eat much, very good with children . On my 6th now.
I have a Cacus Mountain dog that fits all your needs. He’s big(185lbs) tough, loyal as hell to me and my family. They are used as guard dogs in the Caucs mountains. The will tackle anything from bears and wild boar to a trespassing human. Not for the amateur dog person, but they are smart and will go to any length to please and protect their master, his family and their property
Jerry D Young says
I believe the breeder and initial trainer of the dog is of more importance than the breed of the dog in many cases. There are mutts that are great dogs because they were trained well from the beginning. And there are expensive purebreds that come from poor stock and initially raised by trainers that did not know what they were doing, resulting in a very expensive, mostly useless, and often dangerous dog.
So, form an opinion about what breeds might work for your situation, check the breeders in as large of an area that you can, and whichever one seems to be the best breeding, with excellent breeding animals that have a track record of producing good dogs, go with the breed they raise.
I personal favorite as a great general-purpose prepper and homesteader dog breed is the Airedale Terrier. They have been trained to do every type of activity that are needed by preppers and homesteaders. And many have been trained to do far more than just the basic half-dozen tasks. Always protective of children, their own or outsiders, they also tend to be natural herders and can be trained to be excellent herd dogs for any type of livestock. They can hunt anything and have been used as bear, boar, and cougar hunting dogs, as well as raccoon trackers, treers, and kill dogs. Rabbits, groundhogs, opossums, deer, elk, and probably many others of which I might not be aware. They have been and still are used as war dogs and police dogs. As war dogs they serve(d) as couriers, trackers, prisoner guards, and worked with their handler in many other ways.
They are good with their pups, and able to pass along training as they raise the pups. Usually quiet, unless something needs to be communicated. Fearless, not aggressive, but very cautious and ready to respond to anyone and anything that has not been designated as alright by the family.
Like most dogs, they are pack oriented. And while a family can be a significant part of their pack, I believe it is better to have at least two dogs that are compatible, and then to spend plenty of time with the dogs as well to keep that need for a pack fulfilled. Three or more dogs is even better. Then the need for the close personal interaction with the dogs is lessened and the dogs can be less pet and more work dog.
Just my opinion.
I have a boxer that I rescued from a guy in New Orleans, this dog is very loyal to me and would eat someone alive if they even tried to get close to me. He has been my constant companion for 4 years now. He listens to only me. Anyone looking for a good dog check out the rescue missions before you go and spend a ton of money.
And- both the husky and Malamute will bolt off leash, unless they have been beaten into submission for years. The problem with that, is there high pain threshold and they kinda don’t give AF. Neither breed is for a newbie, and no way in hell I’d recommend either for a prepper.
Pure bred malamutes can only have brown eyes. And they make terrible watch dogs, and if you let them, will eat all your food. I don’t really understand how husky made this list.
I would choose
If just 1 breed a bloodhound
If mix breed a mix of bloodhound, german shepherd, and husky
Ronald Kinman says
Big Warning, little space, little food Yorkshire terrier.
Why isn’t the chihuahua on this list! Nothing strikes the fear in the heart of an intruder more than a chihuahua. Imagine breaking into a place and suddenly you’re confronted with a pack of yapping fur balls headed your way. What would you do? Most people would pee themselves because let’s face it, when you break into a place to commit a crime, the last thing you consider needing protected are your ankles.
? but it’s the truth! The smallest in my house is the bully, I caught him hanging from my bewildered pitties lip and he goes straight for the ankles of my shepherd. They all run from him!
My Doxwa is a doxhound and chihuahua nix. My son got him for me because I had just lost a dog. The Pugwa is a pug and Chihuahua Mix. Very loving and very Protective of the Family members. Whenever I go outside in my electric cart they walk with me. When my husband goes out they go with him and protect him
Donald England says
I have a Border Collie / Golden Retriever mix that I have found is probably the best dog for preppers. You get the herding, working, hunting and guard dog all in one. But you will need space and keep this dog type busy, otherwise it will drive you crazy.
My fav has to be a Catahoula, they are smart, almost to smart, grit and will bond with family and lay down their life for you if they think you or your family is in danger. They can be taught to hunt, herd, work or what ever you need them to do. I’ve had other breeds but have always looked to the Catahoula for my working partner.
I love malinois and have train a bunch, but I am very interested and impressed with catahoula. I have see some on them work while visiting the south of the States.
You want a good tracking dog with keen senses and no dog is better. Add in its amazing bite force and ability to be trained and you have the perfect dog for a survival situation.
My #1 pick
Richard Schurman says
I raised and trained three bloodhounds for search & rescue in Puget Sound. As a certified Master Handler and judge for trailing trials with the American Bloodhound Club, I disagree. Bloodhounds are great for scent hunting but are not nearly aggressive enough to protect against intruders. I am surprised that the Belgian Malinois was not included but the Husky was. Whoever made this list is not very knowledgeable about the instincts of various breeds.
Richard Schurman says
You can read about one of my forensic cases in Ann Rule’s book entitled EMPTY PROMISES.
I can think of 8 dogs off the top of my head that would be equal to, or significantly better, than any of the dogs mentioned.
Ovcharka; Boerbol; Fila de Brasilero; Anatolian Shepherd; Dogo Argentino; Cane Corso; Tosa; Bully Kutta Presa Canario; Tibetan Mastiff; Tosa Inu; Canis Panther – depends on what you want/need. All of these dogs are easily the equal of a Rotty, the strongest of the dogs on this list, and also fall into the category of “man stoppers”. No one will get to your family through these animals. Of course, it is absolutely necessary to know what you’re doing with these dogs, because they are the equivalent of having a loaded gun. I owned a Boerbol/AmStaff mix, 115 lbs, no one came on the property. Best dog I ever had.
The kangal dog should also have been on this list.
Wow! I know the Dobermanns Pinscher seems to have fallen out of popularity but I’ve owned several and to me, they are heads and tails superior to any other dog I’ve had and friends or family have owned. The Dobermann is highly intelligent, is very loyal, is very protective (especially the female) but is not overly aggressive. They can be trained to attack on command however.
I agree. Dobermans got a bad rap after being portrayed in so many movies as viscous. They’re often used in movies because they’re extremely smart (good actors), they look intimidating and people have been trained to fear them. I’m on my second Doberman and he’s the smartest, best dog ever.
If I was lost in woods the dog I’d take would be a English springer. Fearless with death grip but loyal to there family. Then I’d take my Jake Russell my black tan coonhounds my doberman and last but not least my German Shepherd. Bring it on my dogs can’t wait to meet you
The Russell is the best and eats the least. How are going to feed those big dogs if bugging in or out? They will easily kill enough rodents and rabbits to feed themselves.
Why does everyone forget that GSD’s (German Shepherd Dog) is much more than just a herder of livestock and protector of the house? These dogs were originally bred to do EVERYTHING (which is why they became war dogs). They can hunt, track, herd, gaurd not only you and your house but also your livestock, and they can be amazing family dogs. My service dog is 5 almost 6. He is trained to herd my goats (who are a new addition since I’ve only had them 1 year and I’ve had him since a pup), protect them from predators (coyote and other dogs are huge issues), assist me up hills and stairs, wakes up people having nightmares/terrors, detect anxiety attacks and fainting spells (he taught himself that one!), guard whatever I tell him to, and he is learning to chase and kill rats. If it were legal he would easily hunt deer, rabbit, raccoon, and anything else. He’s also trained to be easy to groom (no one plays with their dogs feet enough), tricks like how to shake with both paws, high five, put his paws on my shoulders, jump, retrieve, hand you what’s in his mouth (bending over is hard for me), and a ton of things in forgetting. He’s gentle with kids; even allowing them to poke him in the eyes, ears, nose, or even jump on him without fuss. He never bites or growls at kids or other people; unless they deserve it. He has driven people out of my house without hurting them (important for a service dog). There is no more useful dog than the GSD. I call him my Swiss Army Dog (even though he’s German) for good reason.
But I also got him from a breeder that normally only sells to Police, Military, and Search and Rescue. He failed the courage test so I got him for a song. But because of that, it took much longer and more patience than you would dream. But he is worth everything. He has grown up along side my son and is such a huge part of our lives that my son calls him his “little” furry brother. No one could ever convince me that any dog is better. But they are popular and bad breeders abound so be prepared to spend a year or more looking for a good one and a least $1000.
My top choice for survival purposes would be
1) Rhodesian ridgeback – – Originally bread for hunting. Good at guarding. Sooo much speed and stamina that it would easily keep up with a mountain biker over long distances. Very protective of owners. able to withstand dramatic changes of temperature. Few health problems.
When the ship hits the sand, you will not have enough dog food for a year or longer, You will need to have a large cooking pot and the body’s of dead people and or other animals for the dogs. Any time you kill some scum bag or zombie that’s after your Stash or Woman, cook em up, no one will be looking for them. Your dogs are your day and night protection and detection, feed them well. You have been buying ammo for protection, don’t waste the meat.
Dogs eat meat, we have forced them to eat grains with meat flavor.
Oh yes . Black and tan coon dogs should be on this list . Awsome dogs . My father took Joey bear hunting . The dog was fearless . An awsome watch dog and protected the chicken coop like no one’s business. He protected me a several occasions and I have yet seen any dog match his grace , agility , speed and virtuosity. That was one hell of a coon dog
Yes they should My Bloodhound and Walker Hound I would take over any
We had two great pyrenees. A male and family . Beautiful dogs , wonderful temperaments . Unfortunately they both died from injuries received. When fighting of a German Shepherd. The German Shepherd for ever reason decided to try and act my small children. The male fight the Shepard while the female stodgy between the children and the other dogs . He drove off the shepherd. Unfortunately his juggler vein was bitten and he bleed to death . The shepherd came back again and the female defended the children again . The female accidentally run over that afternoon by the German Shepherd owner . They also ran over our collie . But their German Shepherd and chow chow how both were highly aggressive dogs disappeared. My brother had repeatedly told the other dog owners that they were causing problems . Like killing our chickens and cats but they did not listen . Some people are very bad dog owners
I would also consider a good hound dog that can track prey and I would stay away from very large dogs they require a lot of food to function. Since I woke be sharing the food supply with them I would look for a Malinois or Dutch shepherd very smart focused dogs who are effective in protection.
i agree hound dogs are good hunters
I would take my BloodHound and Walker Hound over any.
Doberman should be on the list!
Absolutely. I had a red female that would not let a person in our home unless I told her it was ok.
Dobermans don’t like cold weather. They have a thin single layered coat. In hot weather they get sunburn and heat stroke easily. For survival purposes that would be a dobermans downfall.
I’ve owned four Dobermanns in the Dallas area where we have cold winters and hot summers and never had any difficulties but our dogs were always indoor/outdoor dogs.
We have had 2 male Keeshonds in our family and they are great dogs. They were originally called the Dutch Barge Dog because they were bred to protect the boat while the Captain went ashore. They are 40-50+ Lbs, with a thick double coat (so they appear even larger) are very protective and alert, yet good with other animals and children in the home. Remember in a SHTF scenario you are going to have to feed that LARGE 100+ lb dog too. A smaller breed eats less, while still being large enough to defend the family.
We had a Husky for 16 years and she was very protective. She wouldn’t bark, because Huskies usually don’t, but the one burglar who broke into our house while we were out to dinner and she was home left a pretty significant blood trail as he fled for his life. And when we were at our mountain property she would silently circle any stranger who appeared uninvited. Needless to say they would freeze and call out to us. She had a black mask and ice blue eyes and was beautiful, intelligent–except when it came to porcupines–and a genuine joy as a member of our pack. It’s been ten years and we still miss her, even though we now have another great dog.
between my walker coonhound and my beagle, i got it covered. not all hounds are obsessed with food. my coonie could care less and she will go anywhere. my beagle mix will eat anything but he has the best nose of any dog i’ve owned and is very loyal and fearless.
Totally agree, and if they are trained to hunt even better!
Merle Johnston says
The best dog I ever had was a German Shepherd Collie mix. He was the runt of a large litter and never got over about 35 pounds but he had the best qualities of both breeds. Fiercely loyal, great herding instincts and one of the best hunting dogs I ever had. Don’t know where that came from except he was always willing to do anything I asked of him.
Opinions will differ and besides all the information on breeds that people assume or accept as absolute and accurate, the fact is that many people ignore what others say and many breeds defy the written profiles and often do more or fall short. There are documented cases of dogs with training doing incredible things and every year somebody buys or adopts a dog of a certain breed and the dog is not nearly the super beast they expect or claim it to be. Training accounts for a lot and many trainers tend to work with one breed or two at most. It’s like learning to use a certain type of sword or driving a certain type of car. You get better by specializing in one thing. Ignore the hype and remember that a dog is not a robot built to perform nor does choosing a certain breed guarantee success even if you are, or think you are a good dog trainer. Remember breeders sell dogs and many dog trainers either mean well, but are just human, are inadequately trained and recite mantra like the self proclaimed guru who trained them, but are totally ineffective. And then there are those that are totally ineffective, clueless fools looking to take your money and either move on or hope you get frustrated and pay them only to leave with a screwed up dog.
APBT and Staffies have high prey drive, tenacity, and because of their muscular build can make good pack animals (as in carrying, not many dogs in a group). They bond well with humans, giving them an innate and strong sense of loyalty and protection, are very good with children, and tend to ignore livestock.
James Galloway says
I love and own APBT, but while they do bond well with humans and have a high prey drive they have to be rigorously trying to be protection dogs because they were originally breed to be animal aggressive but people friendly with is why they were able to be bought and sold quite often with no problems to the new owners. Maybe if paired with a breed that is naturally weary of strangers and a great tracker you will have a great team. Cause it will then pick up what is required of it.
Ted Sockwell says
I like Rotts the best
So do I. Today I made arrangements to have a reputable breeder ship me a puppy. She will be my 2nd Rott. Love her already! Short story about my first. I had to be at work at 5AM so went to bed early and she went with me. My husband and friends were playing dominos. One of the men (hopefully by mistake) came in my bedroom. Sheba did not make a sound She jumped from the floor knocked him down Put her face at his and growled. All he could say was get your dog. Great dog!
I love dogs – ALL DOGS! My preference is for the Greater Sized canine. I was raised with a highly intelligent female German Shepard and she was one of the best pets anyone could have hoped for.
The dog I really like is the Belgium Malinois they can range from about 50 lbs to up close to 95 lbs and are easily trained for anything a Shepherd is trained to do
Scotty L Williams says
The belguim malinios is the best choice I’m a pitbull guy butt have been thinking of getting one they are perfect all around and not known for hip dysplasia like German Shepard and a lot of bad breeding or they would be as well.
Linda Smith says
I noticed these were all large dogs but small dogs serve many purposes too. Our Jack Russell is an excellent watch dog, doesn’t back down til called off. He’s an excellent hunter, often bringing mice, squirrels, etc. to show how much he loves us. Ugh In a hunker down situation I think he would work best for older folks; they have a lot of energy but mostly just love their people.
One breed you over looked is the Alaskan Malamute they can pull far more weight then a Siberia Huskie. They also have tons of natural prey drive. They are very fuel efficient eating very little dog food for their size. They are great with kids. Malamutes only wish to be with you and therefore are completely content even on a couch as long as you are there. Bugging in, bugging out, taking down large game or small game, watching the kids or protecting it’s pack from bears the Alaskan Malamute takes it all in stride. I know I wouldn’t be caught without my Mals!
The thing I love about Malamutes are those bright sky blue eyes they can have. If the Malamute has the dark mask across its face, those blue eyes are very piercing. I knew a man who had one like this. It was one the coolest looking dogs I think I have seen.