Mastiff breeds are a good choice. Someone will say German Shepherd or Doberman, but finding a good breeder is hard. The Beauceron is in general a healthier breed and is much like the former. Aeirdales work well, too.
But if the dog is so big that you don't bring it with you, then it can guard only your house. Size is a factor, but I would rather have a fearless, tough, 40-pound Australian Cattle Dog with me at the store than a 150-pound gladiator at the house.
This is an interesting question. My husband and I were robbed shortly after arriving in Brazil. Afterwards, everyone said, "you have to get dogs". We ended up with 3. Two mongrels and a Brazilian Mastiff. We consider the two mongrels the noise makers and the Mastiff as 'the protector'.
Mastiffs have a built in instinct about protecting their family. Ours weighs 48 kgs and is a lot smaller than his father is. When people know you have a Fila, as they are called here, they are hesitant about entering the grounds.
Besides the Fila Brasilero, the Doberman, The German Shepard, The Pit Bull, and the Rottweiller all have restrictions when they can be on a public road. There also has to be a sign stating that you have a dangerous dog on your property.
That said, I use to have a Laborador who was very protective of my children, even with people he knew.
I still go with the German Shepherd because of its amazing intelligence and bonding capacity (with owners). But the main thing is training--most dogs have the protection instinct, but they should be civil with friends and visitors the family lets in. Anyway, here's a link to my favorite 12-sec video of a German Shepherd police dog taking down a criminal. (Well not really a link I guess...)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcdYzCsK … re=related
If you're getting a dog to protect people (especially children) a well bred American Pit Bull Terrier or Staffordshire Terrier is an amazing choice. In England they're called "nanny dogs" because they're so in tune with children. I had one growing up and have one now who is a very well behaved girl but if someone violates my personal space she'll go after them. She was never trained to do that it just came naturally. She's also tried to rescue what she perceived to be a drowning child in a lake once. The child was not part of our family, she's just very protective of children in general, as she should be.
I realize pit bulls often get bad press but that's because of the ones bred purposely to be aggressive for fighting and are abused to really make them demented. Put in that situation any breed would go mental. There is a much broader world of breeders, rescuers, and pet owners who have these dogs as pets and are very happy with them. I do suggest finding a good breeder though - rescues are a real gamble as far as their genetics are concerned and wonky genetics an often mean an uneven temperament.
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