Colorado Mountain Dogs are a relatively new breed of Livestock Guard Dogs.
These dogs were bred to protect farm animals and livestock but have social temperaments that are welcoming of visitors.
However, their personalities are required to have a unique ability to pick up on any predators (animal or human) that could provide a threat to livestock or the farm.
Colorado Mountain Dogs can make great pets with a deep sense of loyalty to the members of the family, including children.
In a bid to learn more about this new breed, we spoke to Emily Hamer of In Over Our Homestead (@inoverourhomestead).
You can follow our dogs Copper and Skye on Instagram here (@lifewithkleekai).
A breeder of Colorado Mountain Dogs with three children and plenty of farm animals, Emily was able to provide an insight into these beautiful canines.
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1) How did you first hear about Colorado Mountain Dogs?
When we first bought our farm, we started researching Livestock Guardian Dogs to keep our animals safe. Colorado Mountain Dogs were started in Colorado, (obviously) and there’s a pretty good number of people who own and love them.
2) Why did you decide to get Colorado Mountain Dogs?
We were immediately drawn to the temperament qualities in Colorado Mountain Dogs. They are bred to be excellent family dogs as well, and with three small children, that was of utmost important to us.
3) What was the primary purpose for your Colorado Mountain Dogs?
They guard our 35 acre farm, and protect our livestock. They have defended our dwarf goats and poultry from everything from coyotes to hawks to cats. They also provide protection from any predators of the human variety that may come prowling at night, as they have incredible instincts towards people, and know when someone is out of place. We wanted dogs that would be absolutely devoted to watching over our three daughters as well, and they have done an amazing job of that.
4) Can you give us an insight into their personalities?
Colorado Mountain Dogs are above all bred for temperament – a rare quality in the dog breeding world. They should be mellow and calm, especially gentle with children and loving towards people, accepting of approved strangers (postmen, delivery trucks, visitors, etc.) and never aggressive towards people. They are also bred to be minimal barkers, and not to wander excessively, and to be gentle and protective towards livestock. They bond easily with humans, and are eager to please, and incredibly smart. They are independent thinkers, and problem solvers, but also highly trainable with the right approach.
5) Do Colorado Mountain Dogs make good family pets?
They can! They are wonderful lovers, and so devoted to their humans. However, there is no one size fits all, as personalities can vary even among dogs. Some dogs are incredibly people oriented, not phased by social situations, very mellow and easy going, and highly eager to please, and these can make great pets with the right family. Some dogs however are more livestock oriented, more particular, less mellow, and need a large farm and a working home. These dogs will thrive in a working environment, but can struggle with the social settings of, say, a dog park. A good breeder should be able to help in evaluating puppy temperaments, and picking the best personality to go with each family situation, but even then sometimes they may grow up into different needs. Ultimately, it’s important to keep in mind that these are working dogs, and their minds work differently than most pet breeds – they will require specific training techniques and good socialization.
6) How much exercise do Colorado Mountain Dogs require?
They’re actually surprisingly lazy. Their job requires short bursts of high energy (when chasing off a predator) but mostly they spend their days sleeping and their nights slowly patrolling. If they are going to a pet home, they will require some amount of exercise, to keep them active and stimulated, but will likely happily lay around the house most of the day. More important even than physical exercise though is mental stimulation. These dogs are incredibly smart, and are bred for a job – so I always suggest that if they don’t have a working home, owners give them another job. Training is great for this, and often they will “guard” you and your family instead of livestock.
7) Are Colorado Mountain Dogs sociable around strangers?
Yes, this is one of the important things we are breeding towards temperament wise – friendliness to strangers, although they do have good instincts. Because of this, I always trust my dogs if they are suspicious of someone.
8) Are Colorado Mountain Dogs easy to train?
They are incredibly smart, and pick up on things astoundingly quickly. They can have a stubborn and independent streak, but if they are properly bonded to you, and respect you, and you are consistent with good training tactics, they can be trained very easily.
9) Why did you decide to start breeding Colorado Mountain Dogs?
Pure passion! We love these dogs so much, and are completely sold on them as a breed – we wanted to share that passion with other families!
10) What advice would you give to someone thinking about a Colorado Mountain Dog?
Do some reading on LGD breeds in general (Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherd, Maremma, Boz, Akbash, etc.), and training tactics for those breeds. Consider investing in a good trainer who has experience with LGD breeds. Knowledge and understanding of what type of dog you’re getting is key to a successful relationship.
11) Why did you decide to start your Instagram page?
I discovered a fun community of homesteading there, and enjoy sharing snippets of our family farming life!
12) Have you got a lot of interest in your dogs as a result of the IG page?
Actually most of my interest has come from our website and Facebook page. Instagram tends to be less local.
13) How much time do you dedicate to your Instagram page?
I’m not very consistent with it yet, as it’s fairly new this year. Only a few minutes each day at this point. I try to keep it purely enjoyable, and if it gets to be too much work, I won’t enjoy it!
14) Any other Colorado Mountain Dogs we should follow on social media?
Check out @coloradomountaindogsofig
Colorado Mountain Dog pros and cons
• Incredibly loving and protective of humans, children especially. Wonderfully intuitive with small children and vulnerable individuals, and will often guard them protectively. There is great potential for service animals, with the right dog.
• Very mellow, calm, and gentle, not prone to over excitement/jumping/licking, etc., and typically not high energy.
• Extremely smart, loyal, and very quick learners. Eager to please and happy to have a job.
• They can be independent thinkers, and sometimes make choices regardless of what *you* want. However, proper bonding and training goes a long way in this regard. The “teenage” stage can be a bit tricky, as they learn obedience, impulse control, and discernment.
• They are bred to protect against predators, and while they shouldn’t bark without cause, they do have a learning period when they are growing into their guardian instincts, and have to learn discernment – and they will bark at things they perceive as a threat. If you live somewhere with nearby neighbors, barking can become an issue if it’s not addressed.
• Some of them can be escape artists, and require creative solutions. Nipping digging, climbing, or jumping in the bud as a puppy is very important.