What are they and why are becoming so popular? Their popularity, according to breeder/trainer Kristyn Nabeta of Ten Talents Farm, is that Colorado Mountain Dogs (CMDs) are a friendly, majestic breed that love being by your side whether on the farm, hiking, or in town. Colorado has a lot of natural predators that one needs to be watchful for when hiking our beautiful state. We also have numerous small farms with livestock that need to be protected from predators. Predators can also be a threat to children playing outside, especially when one lives in the country. CMDs wonderfully fulfill all the duties of friend and protector, and active city folks are beginning to realize that with the proper exercise, CMDs can become great family dogs whatever the situation.
Colorado Mountain Dogs are not a recognized AKC breed at this time but started with a hybrid mix of primarily Great Pyrenees with some Anatolian Shepherd and Hungarian Kuvasz. While all three of these breeds are known for their strong guardian instincts, they also tend to be slightly aloof and independent, whereas CMDs are truly people dogs that love being part of the family. We breed primarily for temperament. Any new dog I introduce into the CMD program has to be 18-24 months before I decide whether or not they have the temperament and physical characteristics we look for in CMDs; when they don’t, I rehome them as LGDs. Along with temperament, CMDs are bred for factors such as a manageable coat and dry mouth (non-drooling confirmation), though breeders vary slightly in their opinions.
As with any puppy or dog purchase, do the research first. Decide what breed is best for you and whether or not you have the time and energy to raise a puppy. Dogs are an important part of our lives and can become lifelong friends, but puppies, like children, have an abundance of energy and will need a lot of supervision the first year. Even those dogs that will be primarily left with livestock need training. CMDs are friendly and intelligent so coming on command is generally not a problem, but every dog visits a vet occasionally who really appreciates it when our dogs don’t act out. Puppies also need a lot of exposure to people, places, situations, and other dogs and animals to learn the problem solving skills they’ll use as adults. This “socialization period” is critical, especially the first six months of their lives. Most dogs act out more because of fear than dominance issues, so exposure as a pup when you’re there to reassure them is really important. This will assist them in becoming confident adult dogs that can deal with the unexpected.
If you’ve decided on a CMD puppy, you need to find a reputable breeder. Always visit in person to meet the breeder and their dogs. Not every big white dog is a CMD, though the owner may claim it is. The Colorado Mountain Dog Association registers their dogs and both parents have to have proper paperwork for the pup to become a registered CMD. Ask to see it if this is a priority to you. Next, ask a lot of questions to gage what the breeder looks for in their dogs. Meet the sire and dam of your puppy in person if possible. The male used isn’t always on the property, but the breeder should have photos and possible video to show you. Find out what may have been done to jumpstart training or the socialization process. Be certain to obtain a health guarantee. Next, ask how old their dogs are – some dogs are healthier than others and throw healthier offspring. The foundation dogs in the CMD program are all eight years old and older, with no health problems. Finally, see what follow-up services are offered. I personally offer follow-up training for as long as it’s needed. I’m not a professional trainer but am working toward it, and I am happy to help others should problems arise.
Becoming a professional trainer has really changed the way I raise my pups. I never realized the tremendous responsibility a breeder has to start the pups off right. Pups can learn a lot before ever leaving my property, such as basic obedience training: not to jump on people (especially children), to walk on leash, come when called, and to chew on appropriate items. I also endeavor to kennel train them before they leave my property so that they have their personal safe place to go to until adjusted to their new surroundings. By far the most important element of their training though is socialization, which includes exposure to noises, animals, people, places, and unfamiliar situations, and this process can and should be started from birth. It’s such a critical time in the pup’s life that I’m actually considering not letting my pups go until ten weeks of age so I have more time to work with them. Many people just don’t have the time to spend on their puppy whereas I work with two other trainers and that’s almost all we do. Pups also need to be exposed to other dogs, another critical element in socialization, however, that can’t start until after first immunizations.
So, if you’re interested in meeting some wonderful dogs and energetic puppies, feel free to come by my place for a visit. There’s absolutely no obligation; in fact, you’re helping me socialize my pups! You can also check us out at TenTalentsFarm.com.
Kristyn Nabeta of Ten Talents Farm. Please visit Kristyn’s site to view more photos of CMD puppies and her CMD dogs.