Selecting the Ideal Prepper Dog and Trainer

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If you have been thinking of getting a dog to use as a “Prepper Dog”, this article will help guide you in choosing the best candidate and understanding the training behind the Ideal Prepper Dog.

There are certain qualities which one needs to look for in an ideal SHTF dog. The dog should be naturally alert, intelligent, athletic and courageous, with a strong sense of duty to protect home and family. Good genetics will produce a healthier dog with lower maintenance. It is good if the dog is not too large and able to get into small spaces but big enough to be a man stopper, not just an alarm dog. A Prepper Protection Dog will stop a man if needed but will be compact enough to fit into small places.

The best breeds for the job are the Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherd and German Shepherd as well as crosses of these breeds which are often used successfully in the Military and for Police K-9 work. These dogs are recognized as Police K-9 dogs by the criminal element and therefore are a strong psychological deterrent. There are other breeds and mixes which could make great protection dogs as well & a professional trainer would be able to evaluate and set up a suitable training program for you and your dog, as well as evaluate your handling skills and whether you can handle a high drive dog, or need more of a medium drive dog.

Most Huskies, Labradors, Great Danes and Poodles would be a small example of breeds that are not generally suitable for Prepper Dogs, as they are bred to be companions and pets, not a working protection dog.

The Military uses Malinois for bomb detection and protection work for Special Forces.

The Military uses Malinois for bomb detection and protection work for Special Forces.

There are three types of dogs for protection work. An alarm dog, that is a small/large dog who barks to alert you that something is wrong. A threat dog is one who looks big and fearsome, will bark but is purely for a psychological deterrent. A man stopper, is a large powerful dog professionally trained to physically stop a man if need be. A man stopper dog, if given the command or if his owner is attacked, must react. This dog is capable of damaging a person badly in a brief encounter and has the confidence and training to do so while remaining under the control of it’s handler.

Not everyone can handle a man stopper. There are varying degrees of threat dogs and man stoppers. The handler’s abilities and handling skills will directly determine if they are capable of having such a dog. I have placed many trained protection dogs with new handlers and families. It is very important for someone to get a dog that they can handle. GatorlandK9 has 40 combined years of experience matching dogs with handlers to ensure success.

A dog for prepper work must be environmentally sound, that is the dog is not stressed in new places or situations. A well trained Prepper Dog should be able to work in hostile environments with gun fire, bad weather and stressful surroundings. If a dog folds under these conditions, it should not be considered for prepper work. Another trait which will disqualify a dog is uncontrollable aggressive behavior. The dog can not be a danger or a loose canon.  A dog should be confident, social and obedient to its pack leader. Professional training by someone who understands protection work will teach your dog to obey it’s advanced obedience, which should be required by any reputable trainer before going on to protection work. Protection exercises will focus on defense of the handler and area that the family has chosen to live. Most importantly, the dog learns when and when it is not appropriate to defend it’s territory. If the handler is attacked, the dog must react.   Proper training helps prepare your dog for violent conflict.

American Street Ring is a system of practical protection training that was founded by Ted Hoppe. The ASR Protection Dog Level would be a good foundation for a Prepper Dog because it combines intermediate level obedience with handler protection exercises that show that the dog will not just bite a sleeve but will protect the handler. Criminals do not wear bite sleeves and your Prepper Protection Dog needs to be trained for the real world. For more information on American Street Ring as a system of training for Prepper Dogs, go to

Protection Dogs will be able to give you time to get to your gun.

Protection Dogs will alert you to intruders and give you time to get to your firearm.

An important duty of the trained dog is to take away the element of surprise if you are attacked. If someone is planning on robbing you and sneaking up on you, a good Prepper Dog should alert on this. As a handler, you need to recognize that your dog is communicating an alert to you which may be subtle such as having the dog stand and the ears perk up or more dramatic such as barking and running in the direction of the threat.

The best protection you can have is a well trained dog and a gun. In the event of a robbery, the dog will buy you time to get your gun and take away the element of surprise of the bad guy. If you have a dog sleeping by your bed and someone is trying to break in, the dog needs to slow that person down or stop that person, buying you time to get your gun. Remember, an alarm system cannot defend you and a gun cannot wake you up. A good Prepper Dog can do both.

A criminal may have doubts as to your ability to use a gun or your willingness to shoot him, but that same criminal may show more fear of a dog than someone with a gun. This is where the value of having a Prepper Dog comes in. The importance of the psychological deterrent cannot be over stressed.

If and when the grid goes down, everything as we know it will change. Dogs must serve a purpose in protecting their owners. The time to train your Prepper Dog is now.

You can contact Ted Hoppe at 888-898-7877 or go to the website for pictures and videos of training at

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Do any shepherd dogs have these characteristics? Ideally, I’d like to have a small farm and use a breed that will defend the flock from predators and pull double duty for family defense as well. I’m not really a dog person, so having a couple different ones isn’t preferred. Thanks!

Pat Henry

Thanks for your question! Here is the response from Ted who is unable to reply directly to you right now. “For you , I would recommend a gsd (German Shepherd Dog) from the black & red, pink papered Import bloodlines. these are dogs that are bred in accordance to the German quality control standards for breeding & have passed breed licensing for many generations, thereby producing superior overall quality & working temperament. Many of the black & red , pink papered Imports are used today in Germany for the tending style of sheep herding, known as HGH. These have passed… Read more »

Dog Lover

Bad Advice to get a “Prepper Dog” The breeds mentioned are high work drive dogs. Most people are not prepared to handle these dogs and provide a proper environment for them. If you do not like dogs you shouldn’t own one.

Pat Henry

I agree that if you do not like dogs you shouldn’t own one, but who if they hated dogs would buy one because of an article like this? The article specifically states your concern…

“Not everyone can handle a man stopper. There are varying degrees of
threat dogs and man stoppers. The handler’s abilities and handling
skills will directly determine if they are capable of having such a dog…. It is very important for someone to get a dog that they can


I’d also add the consideration of a hunting dog. I have a Terrier mutt, at 27lbs he isn’t a “man-stopper” but in addition to being a set of enhanced eyes, ears, and nose for me 24/7 he also has a natural instinct to catch small game which could be useful in a SHTF scenario.

Pat Henry

Great point! How did you train your dog to hunt?


Would a pitbull be a good SHTF dog? My pit is about 110 lbs, and 2 years old. He is fiercely loyal, and VERY intimidating. Would this be an advantage in a survival situation? I know that a German shepherd is psychologically terrifying, but what about pitbulls? They carry their own stigma because of misconceptions, and i would like to know if it would be an advantage.

Dawn Hoppe

Your Pit bull sounds like a good dog to have in a survival situation. It is true that they have a lot of psychological deterrence because of misconceptions that are mostly due to poor handling from the owner. Your dog sounds like a loyal family dog & yes, he would definitely be an advantage to have. We always judge the individual dog, & not the stigma that is given to the whole breed.

Jeffrey Fortune

I am assuming the GatorlandK9 is for people in your area. Do you have any recommendations for other places in the US….specifically in southern california. Thanks.

Dawn Hoppe

Actually, GatorlandK9 serves clients from across the country, we have many references, including Southern California. Our clients normally fly or drive here but we also offer delivery service. We would be happy to answer your questions regarding Prepper Dogs & training.

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