If you’re in the market for a Personal Protection or Family Protection Dog, beware. Things are not always what they seem. In the dog world, there are countless ways to cut corners and make a quick buck. I have seen and met dogs being sold for protection that I would never allow into my home or around my family.
The majority of family protection dogs for sale on the market today are dogs who flunked out of other programs, were sold to the highest bidder, and ‘flipped’ as protection dogs. The dog brokers purchasing them have the dogs for a mere few weeks or months before listing them as high-end and costly protection dogs.
These dogs for sale do not possess the necessary temperament, working ability, upbringing, training or health status to make the cut as a true Personal Protection or Family Protection Dog. They’re simply a means to an end for someone looking to make a profit.
When shopping for a protection dog, be on the lookout for the following key aspects:
Our standard for Family Protection Dogs is a dog who’s social, stable, balanced and clear-headed- a dog you can trust with your family and loved ones.
Unfortunately, that’s not the standard in this industry as many of the dogs for sale are not good with people and aggressive or intolerant towards other animals. They have underlying behavioral issues that may or may not be disclosed by the seller; therefore, a dog thought to be trustworthy is in fact a liability.
There was a terrible situation in Wisconsin of a Rottweiler Protection Dog who was purchased as a titled adult dog by trainers who intended to flip and sell the dog as a protection dog. The dog attacked the trainers’ child and was euthanized on the spot by the police. The trainers thought they knew the dog and trusted the dog around the child only to pay the ultimate price. It was a terribly tragic situation that was completely avoidable.
We invest hundreds and thousands of hours into our family protection dogs to ensure we’re selling only trustworthy and stable dogs. We get our dogs as young puppies, and then home raise and professionally train them, because we believe that’s the only way to do it and do it right. If a dog doesn’t possess the necessary temperament to be completely trustworthy, the dog will never be listed on our site or sold.
2. Working Ability
When I lived in Tennessee, I was at a club for protection sports when the trainer who ran the club brought out a German Shepherd protection dog for sale. There was a family there who wanted to meet the dog and see him so they could decide if they wanted to buy him. The trainer initiated a protection scenario, and it all looked good with the dog barking until the dog saw the lady who’d trained him. All of his attention went to her. He stopped barking and, when they released him, he ran to his trainer friend instead of biting the attacker! He completely failed his objective. Why? Poor training and poor genetics. He didn’t possess the necessary balance of prey and defense to successfully complete the scenario. He didn’t take his job seriously and if that were real life, the criminal would’ve been allowed to attack his family. I was blown away. I figured there was no way the family would buy the dog so imagine my surprise when they did. That trainer could sell ice to an eskimo and convinced them the dog was just “so friendly and loving” and knew it was just a fake scenario. I was stunned and never went back to that club. I was disgusted that they had tricked that family into purchasing a dog that was clearly not suited for the job. That’s the standard in our industry, and it all boils down to one thing: money.
The problem is that many dogs put on a good show- barking and biting -but they lack courage and a natural protective instinct. They may be titled in IGP (Schutzhund), but that doesn’t mean much to me. (In many places in Europe, where dog sports are a weekend hobby, titles often bought under-the-table for a couple hundred bucks and not earned, so don’t be fooled by a supposedly-titled dog. I’ve met such dogs and was less-than-impressed with them.) Even if the dog did earn titles, I want to see that dog in various scenarios proving himself in real life, not on a field where the dog knows the exact routine and how it’s going to play out. Titles don’t prove that a dog has what it takes to protect his family and loved ones. I’ve seen plenty of titled dogs run off the field when the decoy puts pressure on them that they weren’t expecting. If someone is breaking into your home, believe me, the intruder isn’t going to be nice to your dog. And when he starts hitting and punching your dog, you want your dog’s defense drive to kick in. You want your dog to level-up and give it all it has and WIN. That’s where good genetics kicks in, and not all protection dogs possess the necessary genetics to dominate an attacker.
This is why we pick dogs from proven bloodlines. Our Czech German Shepherds come from old Czechoslovakian shepherd border patrol dogs who were bred and used as protection dogs against intruders and attackers. Our Belgian Malinois come from ring sport champions and old KNPV bloodlines. They are bred to be stable, self-confident and courageous. And on top of good genetics, our family protection dogs are home raised and professionally trained to see every possible protection scenario before they’re ever sold. They’ve seen it all, and they’ve done it all before they are sold. I wish I could say the same for other dogs in the industry but it’s simply not the case. Titles and flashy pictures and videos mean nothing to me. The proof is in the pudding.
Many of the protection dogs for sale have never stepped foot inside a home. They only know life inside the four walls of a kennel. They eat, sleep and live in a concrete box and will not be comfortable or acclimated to home life. They may not be housebroken, they may not have manners or know to stay off furniture. They may spin and chase their tails or bark out the window incessantly because they’re overstimulated by the world outside. When I worked with military and police dogs, who stayed in kennels, they barked nonstop and chased their tails. In the working world it’s not a big deal because the dogs are only brought out to work, then they go back in their kennels. But as a family companion and guard dog, a true protection dog wears many hats and must not only be comfortable inside the home but also easy to live with and enjoyable to be around. This is why our dogs are home raised right away as puppies. Because for the buyer, it makes all the difference in the world.
Not only that, our dogs are raised around children, they understand that guests come and go, and they are comfortable with other dogs and family pets like dogs and cats. This will ensure the smoothest transition possible from our home to yours so you can hit the ground running with your protection dog rather than spending the first several weeks trying to help the dog acclimate and house training it.
You’d think it would go without saying that a costly family protection dog would be highly trained, but there are no absolute standards in this industry. What one trainer considers “trained” is different from what someone else considers “trained.” What someone labels as a Level 3 Protection Dog may just have basic obedience training and basic dog protection training. And as professional dog trainers, we know that the industry standard is disappointingly low. We have the highest standards not only for our personal dogs but also for the dogs we raise, train and sell. Our dogs are trained with reliable on and off leash obedience, manners at home and in public and absolute control during bite work. (Read more about our protection dog training standards.) As professional dog trainers with 35 years combined experience in this industry, we are raising the bar on a daily basis with every dog we train and every piece of educational content we publish. And we believe our dogs for sale should be excellent representations of our abilities and our standards.
I’ve seen and met protection dogs who have lackluster obedience to say the least. They are unfocused, they pull on the leash, they don’t come when called. They may know basic commands, but nothing about them is flashy or impressive. And their obedience may take weeks or months to transfer to a new owner. We train with a heavy focus on foundation work to ensure all of our commands are solid before we test that training in public and around distractions. And after that, we generalize training so the dog readily transfers his or her training to a new handler. Our dogs’ obedience rivals that of a seasoned service dog. We train service dogs every day and put the same work and effort into our Personal Protection and Family Protection Dogs to ensure they possess the same impressive level of training.
A top-level family protection dog always comes with health testing to ensure many quality working years are ahead of that dog. The dog’s hips and elbows should be X-rayed by a qualified and experienced veterinarian to show the dog has no arthritis or early onset hip or elbow dysplasia. The dog should be tested for Degenerative Myelopathy (DM). And the dog should be screened for all possible congenital health issues. This ensures you’re purchasing a dog in tip-top shape who can handle the physical demands of protection training and will live a long, healthy life.
Health testing is an added cost that many skip. And many dogs who flunked out of other programs and were sold to the highest bidder flunked out due to health issues. The last thing you want is to purchase a dog who ends up with a shortened working life and medical bills due to preventable health issues.
We go the extra mile to take care of our dogs’ overall health and wellness during their time with us. We provide top-of-the-line food and do age-appropriate strength and conditioning training to extend each dog’s working lifespan to ensure they are top-performers for many years to come. Taking care of our dogs is of utmost importance. We take good care of our personal dogs, and we take good care of our protection dogs. All of our dogs come health tested so that we know we have only the best possible dogs for sale.
When you look for a family protection dog, pay close attention to the dog’s temperament, working ability, upbringing, training and health. Price has no relation to value in this industry. Watch out for brokers selling and flipping dogs and always seek a second opinion before purchasing a trained k9. Don’t be wooed by false promises and flashy videos. Good dogs are hard to come by. It takes time to do it right- time that many are not willing to invest. See our family protection dogs for sale.