Survival dogs: 6 Best breeds for protection
By Virgilio Marin // Sep 13, 2021

There are pros and cons to bringing a dog to survival situations. Dogs warn you of hidden threats, deter incoming attackers, aid in hunting and provide companionship. On the downside, they make unwanted noises and require extra food and water. Some breeds can also slow you down when bugging out because they are not accustomed to the rough terrain.


The decision to bring a survival dog is solely yours. If you choose to keep a pet, you need to decide what breed to raise when SHTF. Each of the following dog breeds has pros and cons: (h/t to


Rottweilers were once used to herd livestock and pull carts full of butchered meat and other products.


  • One of the best for personal protection
  • All-weather coat
  • Intelligent and highly trainable
  • Strong neck
  • Good hearing and sense of smell for early warning
  • Strong work ethic, i.e. they can carry their own bug-out bag
  • Loyal
  • High fear factor, meaning they are highly sensitive to threats


  • Can overheat in hot climate
  • Questionable endurance
  • Poor hunters compared to other dogs
  • Can be a liability due to their defensive nature

Labrador retriever

Labrador Retrievers are gun dogs bred to assist in fishing, hunting and retrieving game. Loving and friendly, Labradors also make great company.


  • Excellent hunting dogs
  • Excellent endurance
  • Strong swimmers
  • All-weather coat
  • Intelligent and highly trainable
  • Excellent hearing and sense of smell
  • Strong work ethic
  • Loyal and affectionate


  • Can overheat in hot climate
  • Can be clumsy and loud at times
  • Questionable protection capability due to their loving nature
  • High prey drive means they may sometimes run off
  • Medium fear factor

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgebacks were originally bred in southern Africa to aid in lion hunting and serve as homestead dogs. They are known for their bravery.


  • Excellent endurance and speed
  • Excellent hunters
  • Intelligent
  • Excellent hearing and sense of smell
  • High fear factor
  • Ability to survive long periods without water
  • Adaptable to most weather conditions, especially hot weather
  • Loyal
  • Can travel almost any terrain due to their athletic build


  • Coat unsuitable for extreme cold
  • Medium protection ability
  • Can be stubborn

German Shepherd

German Shepherds are guard dogs that were originally bred to help shepherd sheep in the wilderness. Nowadays, they are placed in police and military roles around the world due to their intelligent, protective and loyal nature.


  • Superior personal protection
  • Terrific endurance
  • High fear factor
  • Intelligent and highly trainable
  • All-weather coat
  • Loyal
  • Superior hearing and sense of smell
  • Strong work ethic


  • Can overheat in hot climate
  • Can have a questionable health record due to inbreeding

Jack Russel Terrier

Jack Russell terriers have their origins in fox hunting. They are smaller than other dogs but are tough and energetic.


  • Excellent endurance given their size
  • Excellent hearing
  • Fierce barker at strangers
  • Few health problems
  • All-weather coat
  • Easily transportable due to their size and weight
  • Moderate eaters
  • Excellent small game hunter
  • Fearless
  • Small enough to fit tiny doghouses


  • Low fear factor
  • Low personal protection ability
  • High prey drive
  • Can be noisy due to excessive barking
  • Cannot travel through deep snow
  • Questionable coat for cold weather


American pitbull terriers were originally bred to bait bulls and bears. They are fiercely loyal and friendly to strangers but can be more aggressive than other breeds. They also have a high prey drive toward small beings, including little children.


  • Excellent small game hunters
  • Good endurance
  • Loyal
  • High fear factor
  • Trainable
  • Warm climate coat
  • Healthy dogs with a long life span
  • Medium protection ability


  • Do not get along well with others
  • Unreliable around small children
  • Disobedient at times
  • Coat unsuitable for extreme cold weather

Dogs have natural survival instincts, but you need to train your dog before SHTF regardless. Teach your dog to be quiet and to bark at your command before proceeding to more complex tasks. Canine gear such as vibration collars can assist you in training. (Related: Prepping with pets: How to train your pets so they have a better chance of surviving when SHTF.)

A survival dog can aid in hunting and provide protection during SHTF. Use this guide if you decide to bring one to a survival situation.

Sources include:

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