A watchdog has the task of guarding an area (such as a house, a property) or other (such as a herd of cattle) independently, i.e. without the direct influence of a dog handler , and to indicate or report foreign approaches ( barking ). A guard dog is not to be confused with a trained protection dog. The watchdog has mostly not had any such costly training and acts purely instinctively.
The keeping of watchdogs varies from region to region: While in Germany today watchdogs are usually allowed to run freely in a structurally demarcated area to be guarded (by fences or walls), chains and pure kennel keeping are now more against animal welfare. A correctly used guard dog is related to the people who are common on the site and usually lives with a "family connection".
Since around 1000 BC There are watch dogs. The mastiff, which dates back to around 2200 BC. BC is depicted on reliefs, was probably the first to be used by the ancient Babylonians for this purpose. It was the first breed specifically bred for size and combat readiness and was also used as a war dog.
In the Roman Empire (around 400 BC), dogs also played a major role as guard dogs, as evidenced by preserved mosaic inscriptions cave canem (beware of the dog).
More recently (as an example here Bismarck with his mastiffs ) large, sometimes aggressive animals have become status symbols. During this time, many of today's dog breeds were re-bred, which are linked to guard dog types. However, very aggressive and self-confident dogs are unsuitable as guard dogs: They do not bark, but attack directly, whereas without aggressive behavior the guard characteristics are again not possible. As guard dogs, very independent dogs with a certain aggression potential are usually in demand. Many breeding associations today attach great importance to not breeding dogs with an increased aggression potential and try to exclude them from breeding through character tests .
All dog breeds and mixed breeds in all possible sizes, colors and shapes are suitable as guard dogs, depending on the desired behavior of the dog. Due to the genetically determined territorial behavior , most dogs can be used for this purpose. The focus is on striking (barking) and reports if the dog enters the familiar territory.
In large areas such as company premises, important objects and in the event of a permanent threat of any kind, dogs of all sizes and breeds are used to warn of unauthorized entry. Seen in this way, the guard dog is a mobile alarm system. However, some also demand active defense of the area. This often requires more special breeds.
Usually large, strong dogs are considered to be pure watchdogs who also actively defend their territory. For example, herd guard dogs, rottweilers, dobermans, shepherds, malinois or the like are nowadays used to protect state institutions and are bred specifically for this purpose.
Difference to the Schutzhund
A watchdog does not involve an often "official" guided Schutzhund be confused. He has completed special training and accompanies a trained dog handler in property or personal protection.
Geese as an alternative to the guard dog
Geese are rather unconventional, but can still be found today as guards . Both in private institutions and in the US military, these animals are mainly used to report intruders with loud shouts and to deter them.
According to tradition, it was geese and not dogs that the consul Marcus Manlius Capitolinus and his followers in 397 BC. Warned of the night surprise attack by the Gauls on the last defensive bastion of the Romans on the Capitol. ”This was considered a disgrace for the dogs.
- Erik Zimen : The dog - descent, behavior, man and dog . Goldmann, 1992, ISBN 3-442-12397-6 . P. 158
- Erik Zimen : The dog - descent, behavior, man and dog . Goldmann, 1992, ISBN 3-442-12397-6 . P. 155
- Vahdettin Altunok, Evren Koban, Lounès Chikhi, Alison Schaffer, Niels C. Pedersen, Mehmet Nizamlioglu, İnci togan: "genetic evidence for the distinctness of Kangal Dogs" (PDF; 201 kB). In: Bull Vet Inst Pulawy 49, 2005, pp. 249-254
- Erik Zimen : The dog - descent, behavior, man and dog . Goldmann, 1992, ISBN 3-442-12397-6 (p. 162)
- Animal Welfare Dog Ordinance of May 2, 2001 (as of September 13, 2012; PDF file; 88 kB)