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9 Small Breeds That Make Great Watchdogs

Written by: Scott H
Scott Haiduc is the Director of Publishing for iHeartDogs, iHeartCats and The Hero Company. When not working, Scott spends his time on the farm, taking care of his animals and crops.Read more
| Published on September 3, 2015

Watchdogs are dogs that alert their owners to strangers approaching or any unusual activity in or around their homes. They are different from guard dogs because guard dogs are bred and trained to actually fight intruders, whereas watchdogs simply let you know there is an intruder. Although watchdogs can be good guard dogs and vice versa, they are not one in the same.

One of the many reasons people enjoy having dogs around is for a little extra protection; after all, dogs can hear someone coming from much further away than we can. So choosing a breed that makes a good watchdog is a great option for many people. Another factor that plays a big role in one’s decision making is size, as many don’t want to or cannot house a large or giant breed. For this reason, we’ve gathered a list of excellent watchdogs that are small in stature. But don’t worry, what they lack in physical size they make up for in personality!

#1 – Cairn Terrier


The Cairn Terrier is small but mighty and is typically not recommended for the novice owner. They are very active and intelligent dogs that are particularly stubborn and will have no problem taking over your household. That said, a well-trained Cairn makes an outstanding active companion that will alert to anyone approaching its home.

#2 – Dachshund


Both the Standard and Miniature Dachshund make excellent watchdogs. They are alert, active and stubborn but are affectionate and devoted toward their families. The breed is prone to resource guarding, even their owners, so it’s important to remind them that alerting to unusual behavior is acceptable but aggression is not.

#3 – Miniature Schnauzer


Miniature Schnauzers may be smaller than their Standard and Giant counterparts, but they are no less courageous. The breed was originally used as a ratting dog and has a strong-willed, terrier-like personality. They make great watchdogs and take their job very seriously.

#4 – Schipperke


The Schipperke is a small spitz-type breed from Belgian, originally used for sheep herding. They are active, alert and intelligent dogs and getting past one without being noticed is nearly impossible. They are very strong-willed and are generally not recommended for first-time dog owners.

#5 – Miniature Pinscher


The Miniature Pinscher might be a fraction of the size of the Doberman it resembles, but it is just as fearless. In fact, many prefer Miniature Pinschers as guard dogs because they are constantly active and alert. Assertive and independent, this breed does best with experienced owners.

#6 – Tibetan Terrier


The Tibetan Terrier might look like a lazy lapdog, but it was actually bred to be a companion to Buddhist monks and watchdogs for their monasteries. They are deeply affectionate and loyal to their families, but assertive and wary of strangers. They have maintained the ability to be excellent watchdogs.

#7 – Toy & Miniature Poodle


Both the Toy and Miniature Poodle are listed here because their temperaments and watchdog capabilities are both excellent. The size difference is not huge; Toys being roughly 10 inches tall and Miniatures 10-15 inches tall at the withers. Although the breed has a reputation of being stubborn and grouchy, they are actually all active and intelligent dogs that make great companions with the right training and exercise.

#8 – Scottish Terrier


The Scottish Terrier maintains a true terrier temperament; strong-willed and confident. They are wonderful watchdogs and typically reserved toward strangers. That said, they become very attached to their families and make great active companions.

#9 – Chihuahua


The Chihuahua is known for being a barker, but when properly trained the breed is actually an outstanding watchdog. Many Chihuahuas get away with yapping, but they can learn to bark only when needed and can be counted on to be dedicated alarms. Chihuahuas are generally very sweet and affectionate dogs that make great companions with the right training.

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