Are you thinking about bringing home a Mountain Cur puppy or dog?
Do you have room in your life for a very high energy, working bred dog?
This fascinating breed has a rich and colorful history. 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, the Mountain Cur 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 that the typical domestic pet “city dog” doesn’t have.
This is a dog breed that deserves your most careful consideration.
So read on for a thorough overview of health issues, personality and temperament. Along with diet and grooming needs, lifespan and how to choose a Mountain Cur puppy!
Is the Mountain Cur the right pet dog for your family? Let’s find out!
What is the Mountain Cur dog breed?
After about the 1940’s, the influx of new settlers had slowed.
The early settlers living in more established areas had less need of the Mountain Cur’s guard dog services, and the breed itself began to decline.
By the early 1950’s, this shift was pointing towards the Original Mountain Cur 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.
In fact, 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.
In time, the OMCBA was able to fill in some knowledge gaps in the original lineage.
For instance, they learned that the first Mountain Curs actually traveled with settlers 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.
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, sometimes a Mountain Cur puppy will be referred to by a name that indicates the original cur bloodline stock, such as the Rocky Mountain Cur.
However, this type of indication is not in widespread use by breeders today.
By 2017, the Mountain Cur earned its place in the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) exclusive Foundation Stock Service® listing.
A directory reserved for rare breed enthusiasts who want to ensure the original purebred Mountain Cur hound line remains intact.
Mountain Cur squirrel dog
Squirrel hunting with Mountain Curs as assistants 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.
Mountain Curs are not only the breed of choice for scenting and treeing these small, quick prey animals.
Most hunters will even choose a mutt with some cur heritage over a purebred hunting dog from another breed line!
Mountain Cur weight and height
The Mountain Cur 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.
The height range of the Mountain Cur in adulthood is from 16 inches to 26 inches, with the males again typically standing taller than the females.
As well, the weight and the height of any individual dog is always proportional.
So with a proportionate height-to-weight ratio, this would mean a Mountain Cur of a heavier weight would also stand taller than a Mountain Cur of lighter weight.
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 Mountain Cur info to help you learn more about this unique dog breed.
Sometimes the Mountain Cur’s tail is naturally bobbed (short). But sometimes the tail is also manually bobbed by the breeder for hygiene and safety.
Some Mountain Curs 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, although here the brown color can range from a light amber to a deep rich mahogany brown.
Enthusiasts find the Mountain Cur’s eyes to be large, expressive and alert.
Mountain Cur Coat
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, if you see references to a dog called a Yellow Mountain Cur or a White Mountain Cur or some other (color) Mountain Cur name.
These names generally refer to the dominant coat coloration for that particular animal.
The Mountain Cur’s coat is short, thick and close-fitting, with a roughly textured look.
The coat consists of two layers: a heavy top coat and a soft insulating undercoat.
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 temperament
The Mountain Cur temperament is quite different from the typical domestic pet dog.
These dogs are not laid back at all.
They cope very poorly with isolation and boredom and are 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.
Because they are bred to guard, protect and serve, the Mountain Cur can make a spectacular family dog….for the right family.
They are also excellent hunting dogs with keen instincts and a tireless work ethic.
Because of their high guarding and protective instincts, a Mountain Cur dog is normally reserved around strangers.
It can take some time for this dog to bypass that reserve and warm up to newcomers.
If you are thinking about becoming a first-time Mountain Cur owner, 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.
As well, bringing home another Mountain Cur to be a companion to the first will not alleviate this issue – these dogs simply need to WORK.
Mountain Cur socialization
As a natural guarding breed, the Mountain Cur will require a lot of socialization to be a happy member of a family.
From the first day they arrive home, you will need to begin a plan of intensive interaction with people and other pets.
Make sure you have visitors every day, of varying ages. To help your puppy understand that new people approaching the house are not a threat.
Take your dog to numerous locations, sit there and give him treats as people pass by.
Mountain Curs have some special requirements that you will need to take account for when raising him.
Mountain Cur special needs
The Mountain Cur dog breed has a tremendous capacity for activity. When kept as a working dog, this is a dog breed that could walk or run 15 miles or more per day and still have lots of enthusiasm for activity!
As well, since this dog has been bred for chasing and treeing climbing prey animals like squirrels and raccoons, the Mountain Cur has pretty fantastic climbing abilities.
With the proper motivation, your Mountain Cur has the potential to climb 10 feet or more!
For these reasons, it is vital to provide your Mountain Cur with plenty of active interaction, including 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 to be sure your Mountain Cur doesn’t become an escape artist!
Finally, while the Mountain Cur is an eager and intelligent pupil in training, this dog breed is neither submissive nor patient, and is 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.
Mountain Cur lifespan
The general Mountain Cur lifespan range is from 12 to 16 years.
Overall, Mountain Curs 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.
Mountain Cur health
Overall, the Mountain Cur dog 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 that should be kept in mind.
Excessive bathing or a consistent lack of humidity or both can lead to dry skin and irritation. Only gentle dog-safe shampoo should be used, and bathing should be done sparingly.
The long, floppy ears are more prone to wax buildup, ear mites and infections.
Happily, the Mountain Cur is one of the few breeds with no consistent known genetic health concerns.
However, it is always still a good idea to consult the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) database to discover if new heritable health issues have been reported in association with the Mountain Cur dog breed.
Mountain Cur breeders
When selecting a breeder to work with, it is vital to communicate your ultimate goal(s) for bringing home a Mountain Cur puppy (hunting, herding, companionship, guarding, showing competitively, et al).
This is because a breeder may specialize in one aspect or another, and you want to choose a breeder with a specialization that matches your personal goals.
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.
Mountain Cur puppies
As you begin to search for Mountain Cur 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 Mountain Cur 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 Mountain Cur 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.
Choosing a Mountain Cur puppy
Even if registration overall is not of interest to you, you will still want to look for a Mountain Cur puppy 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 Mountain Cur price for a particular puppy.
Lineage, registration and pedigree, gender, coloration, size and local demand can all cause the price to fluctuate.
Mountain Cur rescue
Because the Mountain Cur is such a high energy working dog breed, some owners discover they are simply not able to accommodate this dog’s continual need for activity.
Since breeders often take back their own puppies if the new home does not work out, it is less common to find a Mountain Cur puppy in a shelter situation.
However, once a Mountain Cur is past the puppyhood stage, it becomes more likely that the dog will be relinquished to a shelter instead of being returned to the original breeder.
If you are interested in giving an adoptable Mountain Cur dog a new “forever home,” reaching out to your local veterinarians and adoption centers is a good way to discover if there are any Mountain Curs locally that are available for adoption.
An online search can also locate adoption-ready Mountain Curs locally and at a distance.
Is the Mountain Cur a good pet?
In the right situation and with the right family, the Mountain Cur is the most loyal, trustworthy, hard-working, protective and loving dog you will ever meet.
This is a dog that will guard his or her “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. 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.
The Mountain Cur is also a basically healthy dog breed, with few of the genetic-based heritable health conditions that plague so many purebred dog bloodlines.
So as long as you can provide your Mountain Cur with sufficient structure, training, activity and interaction, there is every reason to expect to enjoy a long, loving and wonderful life with your new pet!
- Middleton, M., “Mountain Cur History & Training/Temperament,” American Kennel Club, 2017.
- Case, L., “Cur vs. Feist: How to Pick Your Next Squirrel Dog,” Outdoor Life, 2015.
- Chappel, L., “The best dog to buy for your rural land,” The Land Report, 2008.
- Dziuk, E., “The OFA and the Role of Canine Health Databases,” Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, 2006.
- Geiger, J., “The Legend: Robert Kemmer,” ESPN, 2008.