Who doesn’t love a dog? Dogs are fun, loving and loyal, and unlike some humans, they’re thrilled every time they see you. But it’s questionable whether they deliver reliable security for your home and loved ones.

Canine enthusiasts may argue otherwise, but the general consensus seems to be that while having a dog in the home could deter some thieves, a pooch shouldn’t be considered a primary means of home protection.

Pros and cons of dog security

It may seem as though a large, imposing dog with a deep growl or even a small, yappy dog who barks incessantly would send an intruder packing. And that might keep persuade a thief on the prowl to move along to the next house.

But most family pets are trained to be friendly and (after a few barks) may not differentiate between a next-door neighbor and the burglar who just slipped through the window. The intruder could be good with dogs or come prepared with a treat to distract your pet while gathering up your valuables. In one home robbery in Atlanta, some thieves found filet mignon steaks in the fridge and fed them to the dogs to keep them quiet.

Frequent barkers might be ignored like the boy who cried wolf, and if a pet sleeps with a family member in an upstairs bedroom behind closed doors, there’s a good chance it wouldn’t hear a thief skulking about on the lower floor. There’s also the fact that those who rely solely on a dog for home security leave their home unprotected every time Rover is out of the house, whether it be a walk around the block, an afternoon at the dog park or a family vacation. Another consideration is that a beloved canine could be harmed or stolen in a burglary. And owning a dog is also a big responsibility that demands time, effort, attention and expenditures. If you’re getting a dog mainly for protection, it’s not fair to the pet.

The insurance risks of guard dogs

There’s no doubt Americans love their dogs – about 60 million U.S. households have one, according to the American Pet Products Association. And proponents of using a dog for home protection argue that a canine doesn’t take minutes to respond to a break-in or leave a home defenseless in the event of a power outage. But there’s a vast difference between the average pet dog and a trained security dog with a guard dog temperament. Some argue dogs bred and trained to guard and protect (which can be costly) may be unpredictable, aggressive and possibly violent.

The Insurance Information Institute says dog bite claims account for more than one-third of homeowner liability claims, costing insurers about $602 million in 2016, from more than 18,000 claims – an average of $33,000 per claim.

“Because dog bites are so prevalent, insurance companies do everything possible to limit their risk, including excluding certain breeds of dog or exotic pets from coverage,” says Michelle Megna, managing editor at Insurance.com.

Most insurance companies provide liability coverage if your dog injures someone or damages their property. However, depending on the breed, the insurer and where you live, it’s possible your pup could raise your rates or even lead some companies to refuse to insure you.

While not all insurance carriers discriminate based on breed, some have lists of breeds they will not insure. Others consider breeds on a case-by-case basis, charge an extra premium for certain breeds or require owners to sign liability waivers for dog bites, according to Insurance.com.

“Have a Cocker Spaniel?” asks Megna. “You may have no problem getting insurance. A pit bull may be another story.”

Uninsurable dog breeds

Though the list may vary slightly by insurance carrier, according to Megna, the following breeds are generally considered uninsurable:

• Akita
• Alaskan Malamute
• Cane Corso
• Chow Chow
• Doberman Pinscher
• German Shepherd
• Great Dane
• Mastiffs
• Pit Bull Terriers
• Presa Canario
• Rottweiler
• Siberian Husky
• Staffordshire Bull Terrier
• Wolf hybrids

Meanwhile, the American Kennel Club lists the best breeds for guard dogs as:

• Bull Mastiff
• Doberman Pinscher
• Giant Schnauzer
• Akita
• German Shepherd
• Staffordshire Bull Terrier
• Rottweiler
• Puli
• Rhodesian Ridgeback

See the overlap?

Investing in an alarm system

The price to install an alarm system isn’t insignificant, and it varies with extras and monthly monitoring fees. The average cost to install an alarm system is $670, according to Home Advisor.

The National Council for Home Safety and Security says while thieves are most attracted to homes without a security system — which are three times as likely to be burglarized — only 17 percent of houses have one.

“You can usually get a home insurance discount for an alarm system,” Megna says, adding that discounts range from 5 percent for a basic passive alarm to 20 percent for a high-end system that alerts police of a break-in.

Alternative security measures

Still, there are ways to have some benefits of a watchdog without actually owning one. Post “Beware of Dog” signs in your yard, leave a big dog bowl and spiky choke chain on your front porch or consider purchasing an alarm that sounds like a barking dog.

The bottom line is that your furry, four-footed friend may improve your home security to some extent, but it will likely not replace a security system. The best home defense may be a combination of a dog in the house and a monitored electronic security system.

Michele DiGirolamo is a former longtime reporter for United Press International and a freelance writer for MoneyGeek.com.