A true man-stopper does not merely show a willingness to fight. His job
is to stop a man, if necessary, by winning a fight.
A strong sense of responsibility. Unless he feels responsible, a dog
may be easily distracted from his purpose of physical defense.
Awareness. He must be keenly alert and aware of situations that
Decisiveness. It is not enough for him to be aware and concerned. He
must act with sufficient force. Courage. He must be able to stand up
to threat and pain.
Capability. He must have the mental and physical abilities to be a
Reasonableness. When you admit someone to your premises, your dog
should respect your judgment but remain alert. The maniacal,
uncontrollable dog is not only dangerous-he's useless, being shut away
much of the time when his presence would be a comfort.
To find a dog who meets the above requirements and can then reorient
these qualities to another master can be very difficult. Generally, a
pup with such potential is more adaptable to a household than an adult
would be. However, you will probably find that, since the methods for
seeking and choosing an adult are the same as for finding and
accrediting a pup, through the performance of his relatives, you can
start looking and let your decisions be influenced by the best that is
You will find further information common to all types of protection
dogs, and methods of finding them, in Chapters 7 through 10.
Use all available information so that you will have a full perspective
on what is obtainable. Keep in mind all the breeds mentioned as
suitable, instead of one or two. Truly, handsome is as handsome does in
the case of a man-stopper. Regardless of what he looks like, the most
beautiful dog you will find is the one who would give his life to save
The following suggestion may help you acquire additional facts about the
dogs to which your leads may take you. From some of the breeders you
will meet, or from the pages of dog magazines, you can obtain the names
of the secretaries and other officers of regional and national breed
clubs. These officers, along with the writers of the breed columns,
often possess quite a knowledge of the accomplishments of various
breeding programs. Although it's true that there is a degree of "kennel
blindness" in the dog fancy, it is just as true that a person who would
fault a rival's dog as not being of the "right type" will concede the
same dog's superiority in demonstrated characteristics such as
protectiveness and trainability. When they learn that you need a dog
for such an exacting task as maximum protection, they will try to tell
you of a person who, either by intent or by chance, produces dogs that
are conceded to be the best for your needs. They realize that in
questions of performance, unlike those of eye-appeal, comparison is
If your discussions turn up any information on people who have been
active in obedience work, talk with them. They are interested in
temperament and may be able to tell you about common faults and virtues
that they have observed in certain lines of dogs. Both professionals
and amateurs may be of help in this respect.
You will find that your leads to dogs and information will generate more
leads, and you will eventually have some prospects worth testing. The
tests are surprisingly simple.
The Responsibility Test
The first is a test to see whether a dog will stay with a person or
property by his own free choice when there are obvious and inviting
opportunities to leave. Remember that no guard dog is any good when
he's gone. Even more important is the truth that a dog who lacks the
responsibility to stay with his charges rarely makes a good protector
when he is with them. Conversely, a dog who concerns himself with
staying where he belongs is one who will act effectively when his
charges are threatened. These facts emphasize the foolishness of
skipping this test merely because there seems to be no possibility of
your dog escaping from confinement. Apply the test in the same manner
to adult prospects and to the parents or close relatives of any puppy
prospect you might consider. The best possible way of determining the
traits a family of dogs possesses is by observing those traits in dogs
of that family.
You will soon see that an explanation of how you intend to test
prospects will cause many owners to retract their statements on their
"great" dogs, thus saving you much time. Have the owner of each dog you
test take him by car away from his premises, and, in a strange area,
free him from any restraint. Without commanding the dog in any way, the
man should walk slowly along. From a distance, watch to see whether the
dog is so distracted or tempted by his new surroundings that he forgets
all about his master. A dog with the qualities of a good guard dog
might drift around a bit, noticing all things in his environment, but he
would show concern with his master's whereabouts, and at definite
intervals would swing back close to him to demonstrate his
responsibility. Such a dog would be worthy of further consideration.
If, when he is not restrained, a dog finds his new surroundings so
interesting that he forgets to keep track of his master, you had better
look elsewhere for a natural protector.
As previously stated, merely considering such a test will cause many
owners to withdraw their dogs with such excuses as, "He's had no
training," or "He's never been out of the yard." You'll gain more than
you'll lose from these withdrawals.
The second step in testing is to arrange with the dog's owner for a
demonstration of what happens when a gate or door is accidentally left
open. Watch the proceedings from a distance so that you will be of no
interest to the dog. A dog who is accustomed to confinement is
sometimes slow to notice an opportunity to leave an area, so be sure
that your prospect makes a choice between staying and leaving. The
owner should remain concealed and quiet so that he does not influence
Ideally, a responsible dog should be concerned with staying on "his"
property. Don't write him off completely if he saunters outside his
area and putters around in a way that demonstrates he is still more
concerned with home and fireside than with the call of the open road.
However, if he shows that his heartstrings are but frail threads against
the pull of adventure, and with his unconcern indicates that you could
steal the house from behind him, you'd better say "Thanks, but no
thanks." What makes such a dog appear to be a demon guard when
confinement forces him to confront an intruder is not the thing that
will make him a dog to ride the river with.
The Capability Test
The nature of this test may frighten off another block of owners. Again,
good riddance-you claim you want a real "stopper."
For this very careful procedure, you will need complete understanding
and cooperation from the dog's owner and assistance from a
well-coordinated man who will follow your instructions carefully. Your
helper should be equipped with a burlap sack and a gun for blank-firing.
Even if you were willing that your helper be bitten, you would find no
volunteers, so in order to protect the man, you will have to choose
between having the dog securely chained or confined and having him wear
a safe muzzle. Though it will confuse some dogs, the muzzle is by far
the better choice. See that the owner of the dog you are considering
has an opportunity to familiarize his dog with the muzzle by having him
wear it during short periods for two days before the test.
Meet with the owner and your helper in a place where the dog cannot see
or hear any of you talking together, and arrange to have the dog muzzled
and in a definite place so that your "heavy" can force an entrance and
make the test. Explain to the owner that the place of the test must
provide a means of your watching the action without attracting the dog's
attention, and permit him to be close at hand for any emergency, yet out
of the dog's sight. All concerned should realize that there should be
no oral communication between any of you, because at best it's difficult
to create a test situation that will ring true to a good dog. Be
definite about the time of entry and the signal that will tell the man
that the muzzle is in- place and all is ready. The lighting of a light
or the closing of a drape are easy ways of signaling.
When he gets the signal, the "heavy," gun in one hand and the sack in
the other, should approach the point of challenge, which will probably
be the door or gate. Regardless of whether the dog meets him head on or
hangs back a bit, the heavy should move steadily toward him. The man
should snap the cap gun a couple of times, hit the dog with a hard swipe
of the sack, and retreat from the area, shoving the dog back away from
him if necessary so that the gate or door can be closed. If the muzzled
dog tries to fight the man in the face of the gun and club-like sack,
there should be little doubt that he would make things rough for an
intruder. If he stands his ground while trying to free himself of the
muzzle, you can logically conclude that he would fight effectively
without that handicap. Muzzled or not, if he shows he would sooner
retreat than fight, he's not the kind of dog you need.
The foregoing tests will reveal whether or not a dog has the qualities
that will make him a good personal protector. However, there are other
factors that can determine how acceptable he may be in your situation.
Your own observation of the physical situation in which he lives can
tell you much about a dog's living habits. A thorough questioning of
the owner will give you more information. Remember, many undesirable
traits are definitely inherited and you should check for their existence
in the relatives of a puppy prospect as well as in an adult.