Looking for a livestock guardian dog? We’re discussing two excellent options for livestock guardian dogs here! You’re likely familiar with the Great Pyrenees but may be slightly less familiar with the Colorado Mountain Dog. Both are working dogs whose primary role on a ranch or farm is keeping livestock safe, and both are close in weight and size. There are a few important differences between the two breeds, though.
What are those differences? We’ll tell you everything you need to know about these dogs—ease of training them, whether they also make good pets, major health concerns, and more—so keep reading!
At a Glance
Colorado Mountain Dog Overview
You might be unfamiliar with the Colorado Mountain Dog, as the breed has only been around since 2005. These pups are livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) that came about when Wendy Francisco researched LGDs after goats on her farm were killed by a wild animal. She found that most LGDs had genetic issues and tended to be aggressive towards people who visited farms, not just wild animals. She wanted a healthier breed that would be protective of livestock but still friendly to people. Francisco ended up with a canine that was a cross between the Anatolian breeds and a Great Pyrenees, who became the lead dog of what would become the Colorado Mountain Dog.
This dog breed makes an excellent guardian (of livestock and people). As working dogs, the Colorado Mountain Dog will defend livestock against wild animals, making them ideal for work on ranches and farms. These pups are friendly with the livestock, making it easier for them to blend in with them. But unlike many guard dogs, this breed will be welcoming and friendly if you have human visitors.
The breed can also make a wonderful pet, as they are incredibly gentle with children (though, due to their size, they still need to be monitored around young children). They can also make a go of living indoors with the family instead of being strictly outdoor animals. However, this breed is fairly athletic and energetic, which isn’t a problem if they’re working. If they’re a pet rather than an LGD, though, they’ll need about an hour and a half of exercise each day.
The Colorado Mountain Dog is intelligent, which helps when it comes to training. However, they are also independent thinkers. While that independent thinking helps them be adaptable to new situations, it also makes them highly stubborn at times, wanting to do things their way. The breed isn’t always the greatest of listeners, so you might encounter a few issues training these pups.
Health & Care
Since they’re a newer breed, there isn’t a lot known about them just yet. So far, though, no major health issues have popped up for the breed. But there are a few minor conditions that occasionally affect them that you should know about.
Caring for your dog should be relatively easy. Your Colorado Mountain Dog will only need to be brushed once a week, except for shedding season, when a daily brushing will do them well. Other than that, it’s a simple matter of washing your dog when they get dirty, clipping nails, and keeping teeth nice and clean!
Though this breed takes to family life well, they are still working dogs and ones that need a fair amount of exercise, so the Colorado Mountain Dog is better suited to country living than city living. They make wonderful livestock guardian dogs for ranches and farms and excellent pets as they’re gentle with kids. They can also get along with other pets due to their friendly nature.
Great Pyrenees Overview
The Great Pyrenees is also a guardian dog. This breed came about in 1923 and was initially bred in the Pyrenees Mountains (hence, the name) for the purpose of guarding livestock. With their extremely thick coats, they can work in even the harshest climates. This breed is protective and fearless, able to scare away wolves and other large predators easily.
As a pet, the Great Pyrenees is calm and reserved, though friendly. (But they are much warier of strangers than the Colorado Mountain Dog.) The breed is extremely loyal and will guard their family against any potential danger. These pups are also gentle and friendly with children; however, this breed isn’t the most playful, so if you’re seeking a playmate for your kids, this probably isn’t the best dog. They also aren’t as active as the Colorado Mountain Dog, though they’ll still need close to an hour of exercise a day.
If you’re using the Great Pyrenees as an LGD, they’ll get that exercise during their daily duties. Because of their strength and quickness, they’ll easily be able to protect livestock from threats, whether animal or human.
Though the Great Pyrenees is intelligent, the breed is even more independent and stubborn than the Colorado Mountain Dog, so training them will take time and plenty of patience. These canines were bred to be independent and work on their own, so it will take them a bit to get used to listening to you and learning commands. It isn’t an impossible task by any means, but you might end up needing to call in reinforcements in the form of a trainer.
Health & Care
The Great Pyrenees is a relatively hardy breed, but they are prone to a few health issues, some minor and some major. These include:
If you’re looking for a guard dog for your livestock or your family, the Great Pyrenees will get the job done! This breed is an excellent guardian but will also make a sweet and calm companion. These pups get along well with children but aren’t very playful, so keep that in mind. This is another breed that’s more suited to living in the country than the city, as they need lots of room.
Which Breed Is Right for You?
If you’re only concerned with getting a livestock guardian dog, then either breed will be an excellent choice. However, while both dogs pose challenges when it comes to training due to their independent natures, the Great Pyrenees will prove just a touch more difficult to train. If you have a farm or ranch that sees many human visitors, the Colorado Mountain Dog may be a better choice, as this breed is friendlier and less wary of strangers than the Great Pyrenees.
If you’re looking more for a family dog than a canine to watch livestock, both breeds are also wonderful options. You’ll find the Colorado Mountain Dog to be more playful than the Great Pyrenees, though. You’ll also have to exercise the Colorado Mountain Dog a bit more than the Great Pyrenees, so keep that in mind! Despite those minor differences, both dogs are gentle with children and quite friendly.