Depending on your tolerance for hair and maybe occasional drool, a Newfoundland may be a good choice. Definite couch potato, lovable, big and lots of people are scared of them because they are so big, but they are the most laid back, loving dogs you can find. Yes, they are fine in an apartment, but brushing is a must. I had them for over twenty years and can't say enough about their wonderful personalities - they will stand between their people and strangers, but are not aggressive against man or beast unless absolutely necessary to protect their family.
Just wanted to add to the scary dog criteria, because it's funny to me to see people's reactions to our various fosters and the dogs in animal control.. Blue eyes, no no no- one blue eye, one brown. People either think it's cool or demonic. Can't tell you how many big scary looking men have jumped backward in fight at this one husky golden mix we fostered, just because he had different colored eyes
Anything brindle, people think it looks mean, for some reason.
I have had many instances of people being intimidated by my yellow lab. And growing up, my male standard poodle was one heck of a guard dog. 65lb and snarling at the window and people don't really think about the curly hair. I hope to own another in my life.
While I think the energy level and demands of a doberman puppy might not be the best fit, I fostered a year old doberman once. MrB was in the hospital for an extended time and we lived on a street that saw its share of drug deals and police cars. I never felt so safe in my life as I did when I walked that beast through our neighborhood. Our weimaraner, doofy as all heck, makes me feel that way too (but a weimy probably isn't a great suggestion if you want lower key... Lol!)
I think a doberman might work. Definitely fits the "scary-looking" criteria.
I'm going to second the recommendation for a GSD. Specifically an American show line GSD. (pauses to let everyone gasp and fan themselves). They tend to be less high-drive than their working-line bretheren, and so would be better for apartment living and just hanging out. But they are still GSD, and protection/alerting is What They Do.
My guy frightens people into crossing to the other side of the street when I have him out for a walk, but he's really a sweetheart. Nice with other dogs and respectful of horses, great with our cats, and friendly to people who deserve it. Perfectly happy hanging out when we aren't at home, and ready to rumble with us when we get home. As for shedding, I've found that a good food makes a HUGE difference. Since I switched to a "skin support" recipe, I haven't had huge tumbleweeds of GSD hair to clean up on a daily basis.
All that said, it is important to find a very good breeder - there are nice ASL GSDs out there - just because it's Amercan bred doesn't mean it has to walk like a duck.
What does your apartment management say? What is your longterm living plan? If you're going to be an apt dweller for a lengthy period of time, cross out: Dobes, Rotts, Akitas, Chows, Bully anything (some places have extended that to Boxers because many owners label their pit Boxer), Mastiff anything, GSDs, Huskies or Mals, some even ban Irish Setters, Aussies, and Cockers. You have to view the list from your complex and in your general area in the instance you move to different rental housing.
It's too bad you can't get an adult. I'd say a black Lab is the safest bet for being ok-ed in rental housing that is big & black but generally friendly. Beware many apt & condo communities have weight restrictions. If in need of a smaller, watchful, serious-looking pooch maybe a black Schnauzer or others in the terrier family. Fortunately or unfortunately, most working breeds are banned by rental properties.
I've had both boxers and now a great dane that fit your criteria. I don't do hair, so their smooth coats were important to me, but they are also great companions who will be protective if called upon to do so. My dane is enormous - 38 inches tall and a very lean 170, but he is very much a couch potato. In fact, he would probably be a disappointment to you at play time. I just fostered a dane puppy that was more high energy, so it is an individual thing.
My boxers were more consistently ready to turn it on when it was time to play or go do something. They were equally happy to curl up on the couch for down time.
I saw a lot of both boxers and danes in apartments when I lived in Atlanta; they seem to handle it very well.
If you believe everything you read, better not read. -- Japanese Proverb
Great Dane could fit your parameters. They're big, and that alone is intimidating to many people. They're usually not high energy dogs, and even though they are big, so long as they get regular exercise, they're compatible with apartment living. The ones I've know have gotten along exceptionally well with smaller animals. The only major drawback is that they are not very long lived.
I'll put in another standard poodle vote. The black female we have is incredibly protective of us and the house. She's big enough (and more importantly *sounds* huge behind a door) that she makes most people think twice. She's incredibly aware of what is happening outside the house and is quick to alert to it.
We keep her in a 'German' haircut (Google it) so she does t look particularly froo froo. She's actually my boyfriend's dog (I have a miniature poodle), but I love her to death. She's great with familiar people and anyone she's told is okay, but I have no doubt she'd defend me or the house.
The problem with most of the breeds people are suggesting is they're on most apartments' banned list. A poodle is going to be accepted nearly anywhere.
Something else to keep in mind, the people you're afraid of IME, don't say 'oh poodle, not scary'. They see 'big dog' and don't want to mess with it. The black ones in particular.
Boxer is a Great idea for guard dog, lots of energy and will play with you for a very long time, people do seem to find them intimidating when they first meet them. And the crop ears tend to look more alert/menacing. They seem to have boundless energy.
My insurance company would drop me if I owned any of the guard dog breeds..... Ie Akita, GSD, Dobie and etc. Fortunately they are not against the standard schnauzer (who is in the same working group as the Dobie and etc). My male would fit your criteria. But he's prob going to top out at 40+ pounds. And 20" at the shoulder.
I would also be worried that if your neighborhood is sketchy what's going to happen on the evening potty breaks? I mean will it be safe to take the dog out tom potty after dark?
Also be careful about spending all your time at home with the puppy and never getting it accustomed to being alone...... Can be a great way to create separation anxiety issues. Obviously puppies require a lot of hands on time and extra care. But they also need to learn to be alone for age appropriate/ increasing periods of time.
Have you thought of a rescue Dobie with cropped ears? The dog could have three legs and still be "scary" because 1.) It's a Dobie and 2.) Cropped ears makes dogs look more "serious."
LOVE Dobermans, although you HAVE to know whether you are allowed to have them in your apartment. There can be a lot of difference in individuals--clingy, will-run-away-if-loose, mellow, busy, very friendly to strangers, standoffish, etc. If you're interested in this breed, check with:
I can second the ruling out of the Mastiff breeds for your particular situation.
I have had several different breeds of mastiff and currently I have a young female English Mastiff. Mastiffs take a lot of socialization (and then some more) and are hardwired to be territorial and guard what is theirs (which includes you).
Yes, they are gentle giants to their family, but they can be a huge liability in inexperienced hands.
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I had somewhat similar requirements, and a Great Dane fit the bill perfectly for me. I adopted her at a year old (actually I foster-failed). She is black, and weighs 130 lbs, so people are TERRIFIED of her. I live in a 700 sq foot condo downtown, and I feel perfectly safe walking her at midnight by myself. However, I also have a lot of small kids living in my neighborhood, and I know that they can walk up to her and pet her and she is absolutely trustworthy with them. They need very little exercise to be happy, so on a daily basis my dog walks around the neighborhood a few times a day, and spends the rest of the time napping. However, she loves coming to the barn with me, and will happily play with any dog there. In four years with me where she has met a LOT of other dogs, she has never not gotten along with one, including tiny ones. She is super protective of me, but super friendly and a big teddy bear once she knows someone is okay.
I would say a Doberman or a Dalmation if they get the exercise, neither are very vocal (for the apartment) in my experience unless triggered. Dalmations were bred to protect and keep up with carriages and Dobermans were bred for owner loyalty and protection. Both are leggy athletic dogs, good for keeping up with horses, and neither were bred with a focus on hunting, so no innate desire to rip into small animals.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks I'm not as familiar with, but they would make good trail dogs because they have thick pads for walking long distances on dry ground and I've heard some stories about their loyalty and protectiveness. They were originally bred to hunt lions with tribes in Africa!
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