Dog News

Watchdogs: Health & Food

by Lilly

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What Makes a Good Watchdog?

A good watchdog is not necessarily a good guard dog. Guard dogs are specially bred and trained to stop intruders and provide extra security. Watchdogs are more of an alert animal. They warn their owners of an approaching threat but will not attack. They are an early canine warning system. These protectors are often larger dog breeds who have good intuition and are intimidating. However, they are also gentle with the people they live with. The Great Dane, the Great Pyrenees, Pit Bulls, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and the Bernese Mountain dog have all been used as Guard dog breeds. But which are the most commonly used breeds today? Many of the following lovable protective breeds can make good watchdogs given the right socialization and training.

  • Rottweiler
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Shepherd
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Bull Mastiff
  • Akita
  • Schipperke
  • Cane Corso
  • Giant Schnauzer

It’s important that your watchdog is trained to bark at the correct times not just because they see blowing leaves. You want a warning and to know the difference between an intruder and the mailman. Many of these potential watchdog breeds have a strong protective drive but they need training to put it to use.

Health Issues for Watch Dogs

A watchdog requires certain traits to be a successful alert dog. They need to:

  • Have a good temperament
  • Have confidence
  • Have the ability to be assertive
  • Be trainable
  • Be loyal

To utilize these traits a dog needs to feel good and be healthy. Owners have to know how to raise a healthy puppy and maintain their health as they grow. Proper support of your watchdog means they will do their best to take care of you while you take care of them.

Many watchdog breeds are larger and are predisposed to some particular medical issues such as:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Panosteitis
  • Bloat and torsion
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Aortic stenosis
  • Spondylolistheses
  • Cruciate ligament tears
  • Cherry eye
  • Arthritis

To combat these issues, they need exercise. Being a larger pup, they do not need intensive exercise but benefit from numerous smaller outings. The other thing to be mindful of is their joints. Many watchdogs have musculoskeletal issues. They should take it easy on the stairs or when jumping. The less stress on their joints, the longer they will live a pain-free life. However, there are some of these breeds that thrive on exercise as found in agility courses. This means you need to pick the type of exercise that is best for your watchdog based on health risks and personality. Each dog will have its own set of needs and preferences.

Along with their physical health, your watchdog’s mental health should be cared for too. They need to rest from always being “watchful.” Spending time doing fun things like hikes, playtime with the kids or romping in the park are all things that can give your pup a break from their family protection job. For dogs that like agility-based exercise, this helps their mental health as well. Quick feet and quick thinking. Socializing is helpful in stimulating and changing physical activity. Socialization through activity is important for a good watchdog as these breeds tend to learn to feel fear earlier than other dogs so having them learn to discern early through socialization is important.

Best Food for Your Watchdog

Along with physical and mental activity, your pup needs good nutrition. Figuring out the right food is crucial in combating potential medical issues and keeping them fit. Bigger dogs need quality protein and fat with the first ingredient on the list being a named meat. You want named animal fats and no artificial ingredients. Along with good food, make sure they have fresh water throughout the day but be mindful at meals as it can cause Bloat if they have too much.

Food for Your Watchdog Puppy

Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy Food

Wellness Large Breed Complete

Wellness Complete Natural

This product is good for large watchdog breed puppies. It has regulated calcium and phosphorous levels for strong bones without overloading them. It contains salmon-meal for brain development and flaxseed to keep their coat and skin healthy. Taurine is included to support healthy digestive tracks and heart. This a great product to start your young watchdog puppy on.

Pros:  DHA for brain and eye health, no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

Cons: Bag not resealable, higher price

Horizon Complete Large Breed Puppy

Horizon Complete Large

Horizon Complete Large Breed

This recipe has above-average protein, average fat and below-average carbs. It contains whole grains and chicken protein for great nutrition along with barley, rye, and flaxseed. There are no poor fillers like corn, potatoes or tapioca. A low glycemic index keeps your watchdog puppy healthy with balanced blood sugar. It’s quality food for your watchdog’s early days.

Pros: Premium protein, good vitamins and minerals, appropriate size kibble

Cons: Some potential allergens


Victor Yukon River Salmon & Sweet Potato Grain-Free

Victor Yukon River Salmon

Victor Canine Salmon Grain Free Food

This premium product has high protein levels with 76% of the protein coming from fish. It is a good recipe with a special grain and gluten-free formula that works well for large watchdogs. It is a good choice for pets with allergies. There are no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and it supports digestive and immune system health. Omega-3 & 6 fatty acids support healthy coats and skin making this a great formula for large, active dogs.

Pros: Vitamin E for health, good for dogs who are lactating

Cons: Strong smell, pricey

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Adults

Blue Buffalo Life Protection

Blue Buffalo Protection Formula

This recipe is a reliable and quality product for your watchdog. It has real meat protein, whole grains and vitamins, and minerals along with what Blue Buffalo calls the “Super 7” package of ingredients for antioxidant-rich nutrition. It offers ingredients like glucosamine to support bones and joints. Good recipe for aging watchdogs.

Pros: No additives, no by-products, lots of omega-3 and omega-6

Cons: Stronger smell, pieces on the small side for large dogs


There are many products that will be beneficial for your watchdog pup’s lifestyle. They are higher energy then a lot of dogs and their potential medical concerns are important. Check with your dog’s veterinarian for suggestions on nutrition and ongoing health so your watchdog will be happy and content through the years.