Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
Going into your neighbor's yard is a death wish. The milkman, the mailman, even the kid who lost his Frisbee disc doesn't want to go in there, because that neighbor has an Angry Guard Dog.
Most of the bigger breeds of dog have been used for security jobs, especially Dobermans, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and Pit Bulls. You also have different types of dogs that are supposed to guard whatever, such as a watchdog (who is simply required to bark, so even Mister Muffykins would do), a guard dog (who merely has to look imposing, like a Mastiff) and an attack dog (who has to be athletic and very trainable). Your stereotypical Angry Guard Dog, on the other hand, is all three. It looks intimidating, and if you enter its territory it will bark, but only on the way to mauling you. This dog's bite is every bit as bad as its bark.
Ironically, few Angry Guard Dogs are pitbulls. This has less to do with emulating realism and dodging current stereotypes than with indicating the old age of this trope. Bull terriers were highly regarded during the World War II era, and considering current media trends, no one wants to really highlight them in an opinionated way. And strangely enough, while bulldogs tend to be used in media for this trope, they tend to be one of the worst suited breeds for guard dogs in real life, due to their amiable disposition and poor athletic ability.
A pack of these (usually three or more, and usually Dobermans) is standard issue for any scrapyard or vehicle impound lot, while any Big Fancy House worth its salt will have them chained up and ready for the master to snarl "release the hounds".
Nowadays, the trope is mostly found in cartoons. They occasionally subvert it, showing the dog is a big softie and/or coward if confronted, with the Aesop that a bully's bark is always worse than his bite.
See also Right-Hand Attack Dog.
Contrast Big Friendly Dog, They Have the Scent. Neutralized by Scare The Dog. Sometimes named Fluffy.
Mahou Sensei Negima!: Thanks to childhood naivete, a young(er) Negi believed that getting in trouble will make his superhero-like Disappeared Dad appear. So one of the things he did was cut the leash of a snarling bulldog and have it chase him.
In one chapter of Keroro Gunsou, the Hinata family goes to visit Aki's mother, and the Keronians tag along. At one point Keroro goes to retrieve a softball that's landed next to a sleeping dog (who's apparently named "The Reaper"). Before Fuyuki can warn Keroro that dogs in rural communities aren't usually kept on leashes, Keroro finds this out the hard way and gets chased across the countryside.
Weed encounters a guard dog at the very beginning of the series, whether it be anime or manga. And kicks his tail until Smith arrives.
In the Pokémon mini movie "Pikachu and Pichu" and in some other specials, one of the Pichu brothers' enemies is a Houndour. Yes, a Houndour. And that Houndour chases the Pichu brothers many times, and sometimes gets flattened by a Snorlax. One time, the Houndour ended up beating up Meowth after Meowth stepped on the Houndour's head.
The Sandlot has a subversion in "The Beast," a Mastiff that is shown to have a collection of balls that kids have knocked into its domain and given up for lost. A good chunk of the movie revolves around the kids various efforts to get back a ball signed by Babe Ruth that went into its yard. It turns out at the end of the movie that The Beast is actually a nice dog. He just doesn't like to give up stuff that it finds in the yard unless his owner tells him to.
In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Principal Rooney discovers to his misfortune that the Buellers' family pet is a large Rottweiler.
Played straight in Babe where Rex did not like Babe, though he would eventually come to respect and help him out. And the dogs that attacked Maa are portrayed as such. But subverted with Fly, who adopted Babe.
In The Dark Knight, this is arguably Batman's weakness: first bandits, then The Joker, sic angry dogs at him and Bats has quite some trouble fending them off.
Though in all fairness, even Superman would likely have had trouble fending off the three very large Joker trained Rottweilers.
Napoleon and LaFayette from The Aristocats. They're a pair of unintelligent dogs who for some reason both hate Edgar.
Their dialogue suggests that they attack anyone who comes close to their farm.
In the 1980s Henry Winkler movie Night Shift, the rather nebbishy and timid main character is shown to be frequently tormented by a neighbor's dog who relentlessly pursues him through the apartment complex where he lives, barking furiously. It's a sign of Character Development towards the end when he finally gets fed up and bellows "Go home!" as it's bounding towards him... and it slinks away with it's tail between its legs.
The family dog in the Dutch Flodder movies constantly attacks newspaper boys and many other people.
Played with in The Adventures of Tintin where Tintin is attacked by a giant rottweiler outside of Marlinspike hall who becomes docile and friendly as soon as Snowy loyally leaps out in front to defend Tintin. The dog continues to be comical and friendly throughout the rest of the film.
Sam faces two of the junkyard breed in Transformers. They can rip their chains out of the concrete!
In P2, the heroine is attacked and bloodied up by her kidnapper's Rottweiler, until she manages to kill it with a tire iron.
In Date With An Angel, Jim and the angel get attacked by a dog, but she looks into its eyes and charms it into acting like a playful puppy. Unfortunately for Mr. Winston, the effect wears off after she leaves, and the dog bites his butt. Later, Mr. Winston runs into the dog again, and he goes Screw This, I'm Outta Here!.
One appears in Stand by Me (and the original Stephen King novella The Body), though it turns out his fearsome reputation is somewhat overblown.
In Nobodys Fool, Carl has one of these guarding his snowblower. However, after Sully drugs the dog with some painkillers (which he slips into some hamburger), he becomes much more docile.
Cerberus is the three-headed guard dog of the Underworld, assigned to prevent the dead from leaving, as well as making sure living people don't try to slip into the Underworld to visit, or worse yet, rescue dead loved ones or dead prophets. It's always a big deal when someone like Orpheus, Hercules or Aeneus finds a way to get around him.
Orthus, Cerberus' lesser known two-headed brother. He's best known for being the guard and herd dog of the fabulous red cattle of the triple-bodied monster Geryon, and is, according to the poet Hesiod, the father of his siblings, by his mother Echidna, the Chimera, the Sphinx, the Hydra, and strangely, the Nemean Lion.
Garm the Hound of Hel from Norse Mythology, guards the gates of the underworld until Ragnarok.
Richard Adams' Watership Down plays the trope straight and desperate. The hero rabbits consider calling dogs much like humans might consider using an atomic bomb in a war: it destroys their enemies, but at a heavy price. In this case, they are alerting the dog and the owning farmer that there is a rabbit warren near the farm. Considering the Efrafans are fighting to massacre the Watership Down warren, that was considered the lesser of two evils.
In another instance of this trope in the book, the Lapine tale "Rowsby Woof and the Fairy Wogdog" presents the titular Rowsby Woof as an obstacle between El-Ahrairah and the cabbages in a human's garden.
Watership Down certainly plays up the fear factor from a big angry guard dog. You think they're bad? Try them when you're just a little rabbit and you're a fraction of the size.
Carcharoth from The Silmarillion is an angry guard wolf. In this case, though, it's not so much the getting in as the going out that turns out problematic.
The Andromeda Strain mentioned a rather creepy version in passing: vicious guard dogs who had undergone laryngectomies, so they couldn't make any bark. You'd never hear them coming until they were already tearing your throat out.
In the Discworld novel Going Postal, when Moist von Lipwig is undergoing initiation into a secret society of postmen, part of the training is to get past some of these (a natural enemy of postmen everywhere). Concluding that they are Lipwigzers, a very popular guarding breed hailing from his hometown, he briefly dominates them by giving them commands in a stern voice. Played for Laughs after the dogs are led out, and Moist finds out they were NOT the breed he thought they were...
The Rat Things from Snow Crash are actually dogs upgraded with cyborg parts to dissuade intruders even more effectively.
In the Foundation prequel series novel "Foundation's Fear", when Hari and Dors are in the jungle, their minds trapped in chimpanzee bodies, Hari crosses the compound and encounters several genetically enhanced guard dogs who immediately attack upon seeing him (as a chimp).
Oryx and Crake: Wolvogs are dogs genetically engineered to be the ultimate guard dog. They look and, from a distance, act like dogs, but if you're so stupid as to approach them, they'll rip you to shreds.
In his autobiography 'Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid' Bill Bryson describes his encounters with Dewey, a vengeful labrador 'about the size of a black bear' who stalked him on his paper round.
A wolfhound intended to be sold as one of these makes a brief appearence in Mistborn. Vin punches his lights out and feeds him to her Kandra.
Guard dogs appear at the prologue of Warrior Cats:A Dangerous Path, brought to a compound by humans to find the pyromaniacs who set the forest on fire in Rising Storm.
In The Savannah Reid Mysteries, a dog named Beowulf. He only grudgingly allows Savannah to pass after she gives him some meat. When she tries this with Hitler, Satan, and Killer in Death by Chocolate, on the other hand, the three little dogs become Savannah's best friends.
In Baynard Kendrick's novels, blind detective Duncan Maclain has two dogs. One is a harmless seeing eye dog, the other an attack dog. Sometimes he switched them to fool a killer into betraying himself.
In Andre Norton's Ice Crown, the dire hounds. Since their keeper is Imfray's friend, he, Roane, and Imfray's rescuers are hidden in a shed behind their pen.
For Survivors, this is bound to happen in a series of talking dogs. The most notable are the Fierce Dogs, led by the bloodthirsty Blade.
In Margin Play by Eric Plume, Amber encounters a Doberman that fits this trope at Thom Cullen's house. When it rushes her, she wallops it with a rolled up Wall Street Journal.
Live Action TV
Dog The Bounty Hunter had a dog at the home of a bail jumper's family who dragged a truck tire it was chained to when trying to get at the team and had to be maced to make it back down.
Pit Boss: Completely subverted by Hercules, Shorty's dog, who doesn't have a mean bone in his body. Same goes for most of the other pits.
Magnum, P.I.: Robin Masters' estate, 'Robin's Nest', is occupied by two Doberman guard dogs, Zeus and Apollo. Interestingly, although Magnum is in charge of security for the estate, the dogs both belong to and answer to Higgins, not Magnum. They don't really like Magnum much.
In Its Me Or The Dog, Victory considers overly protective dogs to be counterproductive to home safety (as they're just as likely to menace harmless strangers, causing problems for the owners), so she re-trains these types of dogs to associate guests arriving with something good happening (i.e. delicious treats).
Person of Interest: A neo-Nazi tries to use one to intimidate Reese. Reese explains that the dog only appears angry because it does not respect its current owner who does not know how to handle such a well trained animal properly. Reese, on the other hand worked with this type of guard dog before and knows the Dutch commands it was trained to obey. A few Dutch phrases later Reese has a new dog.
Though the dog only obeys commands in Dutch, he certainly understands certain words in English, like "walk", "leash", and "treats".
In the made for TV movie Trapped (1973), James Brolin plays a deadbeat dad attacked in a departments store and left unconscious. He is not discovered and the store is closed and is patrolled by unattended attack dogs. He has to escape them and survive (although he is wounded and bleeding) until someone discovers that he is there.
MacGyver: In "Good Knight, MacGyver", Morganna uses an angry guard dog (unconvincingly disguised as a demon) as part of her defences. Mac defeats it by MacGyvering up a dog whistle.
Subverted on Hogan's Heroes. The camp's guard dogs love the P.O.W.s, and hate the guards and officers.
Inverted in Peanuts where Snoopy was terrorized by "World War II", the cat next door. Occasionally Snoopy himself would be put in this role. Performance ranged from lackluster (falling asleep while guarding Peppermint Patty) to metaphysical ('You try to warn them the world's gone mad ... ') to, and I'm not kidding, More Dakka (how many guard dogs have ever mounted a machinegun to their house?!).
David Lynch: "The dog who is so angry he cannot move. He cannot eat. He cannot sleep. He can just barely growl. Bound so tightly with tension and anger, he approaches the state of rigor mortis."
There's one inside the bank in Safe Cracker. He won't chase you out of the bank if you have a dog biscuit, however.
Subverted with the "Kennel from Hell" match during WWE's Unforgiven 1999. The idea was a steel cage match inside Hell in a Cell, where the inner cage was surrounded by vicious dogs. Turns out the dogs weren't so vicious, as they spent more time peeing and crapping on the floor and mating with each other than actually intimidating the wrestlers. The wrestlers were more in danger of slipping on the dogs' mess than being torn apart by them.
Several Deus Ex missions, starting with the first Hell's Kitchen mission, feature Dobermans - they are always trained attack dogs on patrol.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story has Broggy, the dog of the shopkeeper Broque Monsieur. Initially annoyed enough that it was willing to take on Bowser in a Boss Battle, you actually get to walk this dog after collecting all the Blitties... translated as a new Special Attack for the rest of the game involving him and about twenty kittens swarming the enemies/bosses. It looks hilarious. note This is the first time this series has used an actual dog, as the role is usually played by the Chain Chomp enemy (complete with barks). Broggy's more of a giant ? Block with a dog's face an personality though.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: Oddly used and subverted. Occasionally bandits will have guard dogs who sit around barking to themselves, even if you are covered in blood from their owner. They only seem to turn hostile when their owner does.
An alien variant appears in The Dig, being revived to prevent anyone entering the tomb of the Inventor. The way to get rid of it is somewhat counter-intuitive.
Another one shows up right near the end once you open the Eye. In this case, the way to deal with it is rather obvious.
The first level of Earthworm Jim, set in a garbage dump, has spinning balls of fury next to doghouses which are these.
Toe Jam And Earl in Panic on Funkotron: The game features an old lady and her poodles as enemies. The poodles start as dangerous, but if you capture the lady before them they turn into whirling balls of destruction.
Runner from Septerra Core. He's a robot dog built by Grubb, and joins your party when Grubb does. Other dogs bare their teeth; Runner bares a beam cannon.
World of Warcraft: take a wild guess what Houndmaster Loksey of the Scarlet Crusade does in his spare time. Other Crusaders sometimes have dogs accompanying them; they seem to have picked up the Knight Templar disposition of their owners.
In Command & Conquer Red Alert 3, the Allied scout unit is the Attack Dog, a German Shepard capable of killing infantry with its bite or paralyzing them with its bark. Not to be outdone, the Soviets deploy Angry Guard Bears.
In Dragon Age II, Aggressive!Hawke can turn his/her Mabari into one of these. During Act III, a burglar will sneak into the Hawke estate and is cornered in a wardrobe by Dog. Aggressive!Hawke can order Dog to devour the burglar. Fade to Black over the burglar's bloodcurdling screams as he's torn apart.
Doug had an episode involving the "classic" version, a bulldog who was preventing Doug and Skeeter from getting a (borrowed and presumably expensive) frisbee out of a yard.
Taken to absurd lengths in Eek The Cat, where the neighbors' yard is guarded by Sharky the Sharkdog, who is a literal shark/dog hybrid. Sharky would often go out of his way to terrorize the well-intentioned Eek!, regardless of where they were. Leading to the classic episode involving Annabel's pool in the backyard, a submarine full of ocean-exploring waterfowl parodying Jacques Cousteau, and the "Shark" part of things suddenly being much more literal.
In The Fairly OddParents, Timmy's ploy of getting friends Chester and A.J. to rescue him from "vicious guard dogs" backfires when Cosmo and Wanda are too distracted to play the part, and the junkyard's actual vicious guard dogs go after Timmy instead.
Remy Buxaplenty's family owned some vicious guard dogs themselves (among them Pit Bulls).
Garfield and Friends had Garfield citing the Angry Guard Dog as an especially annoying trope, since he never understood why a dog would automatically defend a mouse or immediately attack a cat for no reason. (Garfield thinks that dogs are ruled by their stupid instincts. Garfield himself does run afoul of dogs occasionally, but it's usually after baiting them.)
The Looney Tunes "Sam the Sheepdog" cartoons subverted this; Sam protects the sheep but has no personal animosity toward the wolf, as a Punch Clock Hero — in one, we see them both punching out mid-fight, having lunch, and getting back into position afterwards.
Foghorn Leghorn's nemesis Barnyard Dawgis one, but that's only because Foggy makes him angry all the time.
The earliest example might be in Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, episode "Weary Willies" (1929), with hobos Oswald and Pete trying to get a roasted turkey off of a suburban windowsill. Blocking the way is a fierce bulldog who, after several typical blackout gags, is ultimately sent chasing after the cop who'd been pursuing Oswald and Pete for vagrancy earlier.
The Pickles live next door to one such dog on Rugrats, often mentioned but only seen twice — three times if you count the Whole Episode Flashback before it became the ferocious "monster dog" the babies had come to know.
Sponge Bob Square Pants once had to get past a vicious junkyard guard worm, giant worms being the "underwater" equivalent of dogs.
Tom and Jerry: The most famous example is probably Spike the Bulldog from these cartoon shorts. When Spike's popularity caused a softening of the character, the writers merely gave him other reasons to attack Tom (a misunderstanding, trying to set an example to his son about how dogs act, a Papa Wolf attitude toward those messing with said son, etc.)
A 1963 Daffy Duck cartoon involved Daffy trying to contact a millionare, and having to make it past the man's pet bulldog first. Daffy faced a similar situation in the 1948 cartoon "Daffy Dilly", but in "Dilly" the obstacle was the millionare's anthropomorphic dog butler.
A 1998 short of Life with Loopy had Seymore, who confiscated anything going into his yard, including humans.
ReBoot has Frisket, a super strong dog that only listened to Enzo. He absolutely hated Bob, which is used as a Call Back when Bob returns from the Web. Frisket sees a "stranger" and growls, then sniffs and learns it is Bob, then goes back to growling.
Although they do get old and tired, leading Burns to reminisce about one dog's attack on his first hippie:
"That hippie didn't think that was too grooooovy
On one Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird cartoon, Granny seems to have hundreds of guard dogs in her backyard, all of which Sylvester has to get through to catch Tweety.
The guard dog design used in the short was also made into a single recurring character who often antagonised Sylvester (named Hector in later media). Incidentally Hector's design was also reused as Marc Anthony in Marc Anthony And Pussyfoot series, who, despite his best attempts, is anything but.
Shows up near the end of The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The DVD", during the scene where Gumball and Darwin are chased through the neighborhood by their mother. Gumball and Darwin run away from it. Nicolestarts riding it like a horse.
Although most watch dogs are not true guard dogs, but are rather intended to alert the owner of any trespassers, this aggressive variant is not that rare with many a well-protected compound (whether civilian or military) or private home, especially gated properties.
From the book The Truth About Self-Defense written by law enforcement training instructor Massad F. Ayoob:
WATCHDOGS ...A mobile, four-footed burglar alarm. [They] bark insistently and steadily when an entry is attempted, and ... [go] to the entry point to pinpoint it for you.
PROTECTION DOGS are animals with advanced obedience training. On your command, they will bark and lunge at an aggressor, snapping at him without actually biting him. Also upon your command, they will immediately sit or lie and fall silent. Their training is oriented strictly toward a deterrent show of force; if your attacker persists, the animal will have to fall back on its natural protective instinct and bite him. A properly trained protection dog will also perform all the functions of a watchdog.
ATTACK DOGS have been trained to sink their teeth into people on their master's command, or when they observe their master under assault. Once resistance from the suspect ceases, a true attack dog will let go of him. It will do the same on command, no matter how excitement-charged the atmosphere, if it has been properly trained and selected. Normally, the dog will only bite if given the proper command, or if the animal sees its owner or a family member under attack. The attack dog is at the maximum level of obedience training. After the master has ordered it to put a suspect on point, the dog can be called back, and even ordered to "make friends." It feels no personal animosity toward the person it is ordered to attack; it is a canine technician, doing a job on the orders of its human boss.
GUARD DOGS represent the deadliest level of canine training. These animals either walk with a sentry, or patrol alone in an enclosed space. Their function is to apprehend and neutralize any human intruder. They do not stop biting when the suspect stops resisting; they stop only when the human stops MOVING. They are likely to be trained to go for the throat or genitals. Guard dogs are trained to kill and maim. The only legitimate use of a guard dog is in wartime, or when guarding an area so sensitive that human intrusion could result in awesome public danger, such as a nuclear weapons facility.