The Mountain Cur dog is a medium-sized dog weighing between 30-60 lbs. They may grow up to 26 inches, with males typically taller than the females.
This breed comes in a variety of colors, including brindle. They make popular squirrel hunting companions!
This hardworking dog is naturally alert, athletic, and graceful. However, it is remarkably strong-willed. The breed has a rich, fascinating history.
What’s In This Guide
- The breed at a Glance
- In-depth Breed Review
- Mountain Cur Training And Care
- Pros And Cons Of Getting a Mountain Cur
Mountain Cur FAQs
Breed At A Glance
- Popularity: Increasing
- Purpose: Treeing; hunting; foundation stock service (AKC)
- Weight: 30-60 lbs
- Temperament: Alert, agile, strong-willed.
Mountain Cur Breed Review: Contents
- History and original purpose of the breed
- Fun facts about the breed
- Mountain Cur temperament
- Training and exercising
- Mountain Cur health and care
- Do they make good family pets
- Rescuing a Mountain Cur
- Finding a Mountain Cur puppy
- Raising a Mountain Cur puppy
- Products and accessories
Meet the Breed
Do you have room in your life for a very high energy, working bred dog?
This fascinating mountain breed has a rich and colorful history.
It is inextricably linked to the early settlers that colonized the southern United States.
Settlers were so dependent on this multi-talented, high energy working dog that Mountain Cur puppies were often accorded precious wagon space — normally reserved for human passengers!
Suffice it to say, this is a dog unlike any other — one that will literally give its life for yours!
However, at the same time, the Mountain Cur has special activity and enrichment needs.
These needs are certainly such that the typical domestic pet “city dog” doesn’t have.
So, this is a dog breed that deserves your most careful consideration.
History and Original Purpose
European settlers brought the Mountain Cur dog breeds to the United States when they settled. These settlers lived mostly in the south — Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. These settlers needed the dogs for treeing, as guard dogs and hunting in general.
However, after about the 1940’s, the influx of new settlers to the southern United States had slowed. As a result, the early settlers living in more established areas had less need of the Mountain Cur’s guard dog services. Then, the breed itself began to decline.
And by the early 1950’s, this shift was pointing towards the original dog breed’s potential extinction. The reason for this extinction threat was simple. The original breeders and keepers had little interest in tracking or recording pedigrees.
They were much too busy carving out a place for their families in the wild country, with the help and protection of their faithful Mountain Cur dogs.
The Mountain Cur only achieved official “breed status” in 1957, when a group of four enthusiasts banded together to form the Original Mountain Cur Breeders of America (OMCBA) with the intention to preserve this unique dog breed.
These four men are credited with saving the breed from extinction. In time, the OMCBA was able to fill in some knowledge gaps in the original lineage.
For instance, they learned the exact origin of the settlers. That the first Mountain Curs actually came specifically from Europe and Spain (Brindle Mountain Cur) to New World.
Today, breeders know that in early American Mountain Curs, five bloodlines were predominant: McConnell, Stephens, York, Ledbetter, Arline. Then, from these five lines, the OMCBA breeders developed a new bloodline called the (Robert) Kemmer Stock Mountain Curs.
The Kemmer Stock bloodline served as foundation stock dogs to create the United Kennel Club (UKC) Mountain Cur.
Today’s Breeders and Puppies
Today still, sometimes a Mountain Cur puppy will be referred to by a name that indicates the original Cur bloodline stock. For example, the Rocky Mountain Cur.
However, this type of indication is not in widespread use by breeders today.
By 2017, the breed earned its place in the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) exclusive Foundation Stock Service® listing.
Fun Facts About the Breed
These dogs are popular squirrel hunting companions. Squirrel hunting with Mountain Curs is a nearly surefire way to bag this essential ingredient.
Making classic southern Appalachian dishes such as squirrel casserole and squirrel stew. Here, the purity of the breed line runs a distant second to the dog’s ability to get the job done.
They are definitely the breed of choice for scenting and treeing these small, quick prey animals. In fact, most hunters will even choose a mutt with some Cur heritage over a purebred hunting dog from another breed line!
Mountain Cur Appearance
The Mountain Cur is a slim, athletic dog with long legs and an overall natural agility and grace. Even the roughest terrain won’t phase this well-muscled working, tracking and treeing dog.
Here is some basic info to help you learn more about this unique dog breed.
Sometimes the Mountain Cur’s tail is naturally bobbed (short). But other times, the tail is also manually bobbed by the breeder for hygiene and safety.
Some also have medium-length un-bobbed tails.
The Mountain Cur’s ears are set high on the dog’s stocky, powerful head and neck. However, from there, the ears are longish and flop endearingly downward to frame the face.
A Mountain Cur’s eyes are typically brown. But the brown color can range from a light amber to a deep rich mahogany brown.
Enthusiasts find the breed’s eyes to be large, expressive and alert.
Purebred Mountain Cur colors include blue, black, brown, brindle (brown striped pattern), yellow and red.
Sometimes small amounts of white may also be present.
Because of this, you may see references to a dog called a Yellow Mountain Cur or a White Mountain Cur. You may even see mention of some other (color) Mountain Cur name.
These names generally refer to the dominant coat coloration for that particular animal. The dog’s coat is short, thick and close-fitting, with a roughly textured look. It typically consists of two layers: a heavy top coat and a soft insulating undercoat.
Are Mountain Curs hypoallergenic?
Shedding is minimal with the exception of the semi-annual spring and fall shed seasons.
Regular brushing and occasional bathing typically provides sufficient coat grooming care.
With such a short coat that sheds minimally, it would be natural to wonder, “is the Mountain Cur hypoallergenic?”
The answer here is, “no.”
The Mountain Cur is also not one of the dog breeds that contains lower amounts of the dander protein that triggers allergies in some people.
Mountain Cur Weight and Height
This is considered a “medium size” dog. But due to variances in parentage, a Mountain Cur’s weight can vary by as much as 30 pounds.
The generally accepted weight range is from 30 to 60 pounds, with males typically being heavier than females.
Adult heights may range between 16 inches to 26 inches. Usually, the males stand taller than the females. Additionally, the weight and the height of any individual dog is always proportional.
Mountain Cur Temperament
The breed’s temperament is quite different from the typical domestic pet dog. These dogs are not laid back at all.
For one, they cope very poorly with isolation and boredom. They’re also best kept as an “only dog,” as they may view other family pets as competition or intruders.
Bright and curious, Mountain Curs make for eager pupils during training. Plus, because they are bred to guard, protect and serve, they can make a spectacular family dog. It just has to be the right family.
They are also excellent hunting dogs with keen instincts and a tireless work ethic.
Are Mountain Curs Aggressive?
Not particularly. Granted, they aren’t the most affectionate or cuddly dogs. But this breed is full of energy and would just rather be running than cuddling. Instead of being aggressive, however, they’re quite loyal and protect their family.
If you are thinking about becoming a first-time Mountain Cur owner, there’s one more thing to note. It is critical to understand that these dogs rarely adapt well to domestic suburban life. Without sufficient daily enrichment and activity, a Mountain Cur is likely to become troublesome and destructive.
You may wonder, “what if I get another Mountain Cur dog? Will that help?” No, bringing home another Mountain Cur to be a companion to the first will not alleviate this issue. The fact is that these dogs simply need to WORK.
Training and Exercising Your Mountain Cur
Mountain Curs have some special requirements to consider. The breed has a tremendous capacity for activity. When kept as a working dog, this breed could walk or run 15 miles or more per day. And they’d still have lots of enthusiasm for activity!
Additionally, since this dog has been bred for chasing and treeing climbing prey animals like squirrels and raccoons, it has pretty fantastic climbing abilities.
What is treeing? In the past, this dog was used to force animals who traditionally climb trees into trees where they’d be shot by hunters. Dogs like the Mountain Cur were trained to keep barking at the animal so it wouldn’t come down.
While the practice is not as popular today, these dogs are still activity-loving. So, with the proper motivation, your Mountain Cur has the potential to climb 10 feet or more!
They Need Lots of Space
For these reasons, it is vital to provide your pup with plenty of active interaction. They would appreciate anything from running, games of fetch, training, swimming, retrieval and more.
A Mountain Cur will never do well in a small, confining space such as an apartment with no yard. You should also plan your containment, fencing and crate or kennel design in advance. This ensures that your dog doesn’t become an escape artist!
Finally, this breed is an eager and intelligent pupil in training. However, this dog breed is neither submissive nor patient. They’re also typically very intolerant to rough or overly authoritarian training or discipline.
As such, a firm and confident but gentle and affectionate approach will give you the best training results.
As a natural guarding breed, the breed will require a lot of socialization to be a happy member of a family.
From the first day they arrive, you will need to begin a plan of intensive interaction with people. The same applies with socializing them with other pets.
To do that, make sure you have visitors every day, of varying ages. This will help your puppy understand that new people approaching the house are not a threat.
Mountain Cur Health and Care
Overall, the breed is considered one of the all-around healthiest purebred dog breeds alive today.
As with all dog breeds, however, the Mountain Cur has certain known sensitivities. If you plan to adopt one, you should definitely keep these in mind.
Excessive bathing or a consistent lack of humidity or both can lead to dry skin and irritation. Only use gentle dog-safe shampoo, and bathe this breed sparingly.
The long, floppy ears are more prone to wax buildup, ear mites and infections.
Happily, this is one of the few breeds with no consistent known genetic health concerns.
However, it is always a good idea to consult the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) database. This is a good way to discover if new heritable health issues have been reported in this breed.
Mountain Cur lifespan
The general lifespan range is from 12 to 16 years. Overall, they are considered generally healthy dogs that can easily live up to 15 or 16 years.
Here however, as with any domestic pet animal, a Mountain Cur’s chances of reaching the far end of the breed life expectancy will largely depend on the individual dog’s daily diet, lifestyle, activity level and genetics.
Grooming & Feeding
These dogs are pretty low maintenance. Since their skin can dry out easily, it’s best to only bathe them when needed. They shed their coats twice a year and may need more frequent brushing at those times. But, otherwise, not too often. Don’t forget to also trim their nails and clean their ears as needed.
Do Mountain Curs Make Good Family Pets?
In the right situation and with the right family, yes. This breed is the most loyal, trustworthy, hard-working, protective and loving dog you will ever meet. These dogs guard their “family” with their life – literally!
But you need to be certain you can provide them with everything they need in terms of exercise, training and companionship. They are not a traditional pet, and really do need to work. This includes being around people 24/7 and having a proper job to do.
You also need to commit yourself to a rigorous socialization program during those first few months with you.
They are usually better suited to active, adult only homes.
This is also a basically healthy dog breed. They only have a few of the genetic-based heritable health conditions that plague so many purebred dog bloodlines.
Rescuing a Mountain Cur
Who doesn’t love adopting a new pup? We know love it. Adopting a puppy is an enriching and fulfilling experience! It always feels great to give a home to a fur child in need. We have some information on dog rescue here.And you can find some rescue societies here.
Mountain Cur Breeders
When selecting a breeder, it is vital to communicate your ultimate goal(s) for bringing home a Mountain Cur puppy. Whether it’s hunting, herding, companionship, guarding, showing competitively, and the like, tell them.
This is because a breeder may specialize in one aspect or another. So, it makes sense to choose a breeder with a specialization that matches your personal goals.
Ultimately, though, look for each of these traits in any breeder you seriously consider working with:
- Good reputation in the field and among current and past clients.
- Willingness to provide an initial health guarantee of at least six to 12 months.
- Willing to take back a puppy if the new situation doesn’t work out.
- Able to provide proof of required vaccinations.
- A release date of nine weeks or later (to allow for proper initial socialization).
- Open to permitting genetic testing on any puppy you have a serious interest in.
- Grants permission for you to meet and spend time with both parent dogs.
- Gives you access to health and genetic information about both parent dogs.
If you encounter a breeder that expresses reluctance or resistance to any of the above, it is best to walk away. The same holds true for any breeder who states their dogs are free of all health problems, as this is biologically impossible.
Finding a Mountain Cur Puppy
Look for one that displays the following characteristics and traits:
- Has bright, clear eyes and ears and a healthy coat.
- Is inquisitive and curious.
- Approaches you without fear.
- Permits handling and light holding without protest.
- Wants to interact and play.
- Socializes well with litter mates.
Typically, breeder-raised Mountain Cur puppies cost between $300 and $500. However, a number of factors can influence the price for a particular puppy.
Lineage, registration and pedigree, gender, coloration, size and local demand can all cause the price to fluctuate.
You’ll find all our tips to help you with your puppy search in our guide here. It is also wise to avoid puppy mills on your search for a puppy. You can learn more about puppy mills here and why they’re frowned upon.
An alternative many people have found enjoyable is adopting a mixed breed. A popular breed mix is the Mountain Cur Lab mix. If that sounds like something you’re willing to consider, you may check with your local breeder.
Raising a Mountain Cur puppy
Caring for a vulnerable Mountain Cur puppy is a big responsibility. There are some great guides to help you with all aspects of puppy care and training. You’ll find them listed on our puppy page.
There are some similar breeds to the Mountain Cur. These dogs also have a hunting or hound background and are just as active or a little less active. Other dog breeds you might want to consider if you love this breed include:
Pros And Cons of Getting a Mountain Cur
- Needs space for activity; won’t work with smaller apartments
- Not a lap dog; needs lots of activity
- Reserved; may not work with kids or strangers
- Stubborn; may be hard to train beyond physical activity
- Great guard dog
- Perfect hunting companion
- Good match for an active lifestyle
Mountain Cur Products and Accessories
Mountain Cur Breed Rescues
As you begin to search for puppies, it likely won’t be long before you notice there are several different breed registries, including the American Kennel Club (AKC), the American Canine Association (ACA), the United Kennel Club (UKC) and the Continental Kennel Club (CKC).
There are pros and cons to choosing Mountain Cur puppies associated with each of these registries.
For general purposes, the AKC is often the preferred registry if your primary goal is to breed and show breed-standard Mountain Curs within the network of AKC-sponsored competitions.
The ACA bills itself as the largest veterinary health tracking dog registry worldwide. The goal of this registry is to track and improve both the genetic health and the overall wellbeing of companion dogs. As such, choosing an ACA-registered puppy is an ethically sound choice that keeps the welfare of the breed in mind.
The UKC may be the best choice if you are seeking a Mountain Cur that exemplifies the working hound/scent-hound traits the original breed was known for, rather than the purebred appearance-oriented breed traits.
The CKC can offer a greater gene pool diversity, since their breed registries permit mixed-breed registrants. This can be a great choice if your primary concern is to obtain the healthiest possible Mountain Cur puppy with the lowest chance of inheriting any known breed-specific health issues.
Other Rescue Societies
If you know any other rescue societies for this breed in the UK, Canada, Australia, and the US, let us know in the comments!
References And Resources
- Sutton, Keith B. (1 January 2002). Hunting Arkansas: The Sportsman’s Guide to Natural State Game. University of Arkansas Press. pp. 107–111. ISBN 1557287198.
- Gough A, Thomas A, O’Neill D. 2018 Breed Predispositions to Disease In Dogs and Cats. Wiley Blackwell
- O’Neill et al. 2013. Longevity and Mortality of Dogs Owned In England. The Veterinary Journal
- Schalamon et al. 2006. Analysis of Dog Bites In Children Who Are Younger Than 17 Years. Pediatrics
- Duffy D et al. Breed differences in canine aggression. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2008
- Strain G. Deafness prevalence and pigmentation and gender associations in dog breeds at risk. The Veterinary Journal 2004
- Packer et al. 2015. Impact of Facial Conformation On Canine Health. PlosOne
- Adams VJ, et al. 2010. Results of a Survey of UK Purebred Dogs. Journal of Small Animal Practice.
This article has been updated for 2019.