What is a Colorado Mountain Dog?
The Colorado Mountain Dog began in 2008, with a single dog, Caspian, who had a wonderful combination of working aptitudes which made him suitable for small acreage farming. Although Caspian was a fierce guard when it came to animal predators, he loved people, and he had so much love to give. This is the distinguishing trait of a well bred CMD, above all others, that they should be welcoming to humans who are visiting the farm who they do not know, never shy, hostile, or aggressive. Caspian was an outstanding dog — tall, with huge eyes, and breathtaking quality. Caspian inspired the breed. To understand the CMD it is important to understand Caspian’s role in this breed. To date, the most outstanding CMDs have his influence.
We continue to strive for a dog who wanders and barks less, and who can either be kept in fields or pens. Over-barking is considered a DQ for a CMD. The overall presence of the dog should be mellow, and not over-active. Dogs who move deliberately keep the herds calm. The breed is still being developed, is only a decade old, so people who purchase a CMD should meet the parents and make sure these traits are being propagated. Wendy Francisco, who founded the breed, continues as the genetic director of the Colorado Mountain Dog Registry, and works with farms all over the country who have been raising this type of LGD cross for this purpose. Other clubs and individuals have used the name, but only the CMDR follows the ARBA CMD standard, approved not only by Wendy, but by the board of the CMDR, AND by CMDR breeders across the country.
What is the actual breed cross of a Colorado Mountain Dog?
The Colorado Mountain Dog is not a specific breed cross. Although Caspian was a Pyr x Anatolian Shepherd, the dogs are being individually screened and accepted for temperament and guarding aptitudes. Currently the CMD may consist of Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherd, Boz, Maremma, Kuvasz, Akbash, St. Bernard, or other livestock guardian, or human guardian/rescue breeds. The working group of the breed is important. You won’t find herding, or fetching breeds, for instance, or any breed whose job it is to guard against humans (a guardian/rescue and a guard dog are two different things), in the CMD. However, the St. Bernard was crossed into the Spanish Mastiff to improve temperament and increase size, so we are not breed group purists. In fact, there are many dogs crossed with 100% livestock guardian breeds that would be completely unsuitable for the CMD.
Many people think that any Pyr/Anatolian cross dog can be called a CMD, but that is not true. All lines of CMDs have to be screened by the CMDR for the traits we are looking for and registered into ARBA/CMDR to be Colorado Mountain Dogs.
Does the Colorado Mountain Dog have a Physical Type?
Yes. The physical type is well represented by the photo banner above, of Aslan, an 8 month old Caspian grandson. Caspian was a stunning , giant dog, 31 inches at the shoulder, more slender than some LGD breeds, but tall, with good bone and powerful legs and feet. Everyone who met him stopped in their tracks.
The CMD body coat is medium length, which makes care easier than some breeds. The mane, tail and leg feathers are abundant. The head is a bit more refined, not heavy or heavily jowled. CMDs shouldn’t drool. The eyes should be well set apart, large, expressive, and not deep set, reflecting their open and gentle nature. Colors common to LGD breeds can be found in the CMD — white, faded badger, tan with black muzzle, and brindle.
The CMD community has been educated to understand that since we are only in our G2 generations, physical type should not take precedence over intelligence, guarding aptitudes, and gentle temperament. So at present, physical type may vary, and is a lower priority than utility. The link to the standard for the CMD is listed above.
Can the Colorado Mountain Dog Be Registered?
Yes. All of our registrations are double registrations through the Colorado Mountain Dog Registry, (CMDR) and the American Rare Breeds Association, (ARBA), which accepted the CMD in 2018. Although many people have tried to use the name or run clubs with that name, ONLY dogs in these registries are true CMDs, founded by Wendy Francisco, and tracked by ARBA.
Additionally, our studbooks are still open. The CMDR community is both line crossing Caspian genetics, and accepting unrelated dogs whose owners read our descriptions and think, “That’s my dog!” If you think you may have a CMD foundation candidate, who is in a working farm environment, we’d love to hear about it. Contact WendyJFrancisco@gmail.com
How Widespread is the Colorado Mountain Dog?
We are coast to coast! The enthusiasm for the CMD idea comes from the proliferation of small sustainable farms, and the need for a dog who works well with humans, barks and wanders less, and can participate in every aspect of a small family farm. LGDs in general are becoming important for wildlife populations as well, since they tend to repel, rather than hunt predators, keeping incidences of predation down.