Black Mouth Cur: The American Colonization Hero

Black Mouth cur
John Walton
Written by John Walton

There are thousands of want-to-be dog owners out there that postpone getting a dog, because they want a large dog, but are afraid that larger breeds live shorter lives and are prone to a lot of diseases. While true for most large dog breeds, this isn’t true for all of them. The Black Mouth Cur, for example, was specially bred to be strong and hardy; these traits allowed them to play a very important role during the American Colonization.

In these dogs, you will find a highly intelligent and good-natured companion that has a very strong and large body but is also quite healthy. They are mainly working dogs, but Black Mouth Curs are multi-functional pets; they are great as hunting dogs, as herding dogs, as guard dogs, and just as family pets.

Below, we’ll go over all of the main characteristics of these dogs. We’ll look at their history in the New World; we’ll explore their personalities and character, see exactly how healthy they are, and how best to take care of them.

Breed Characteristics

Black Mouth Cur: The American Colonization Hero

  • Adaptability: Good; very hardy, but needs quite a lot of space

  • Trainability: Good; very smart, but needs a firm hand in training

  • Health and Grooming: Good

  • All Around Friendliness: Good

  • Exercise Needs: High Maintenance

Dog Breed GroupWorking Dogs
Height16 - 25 inches (41 – 63.5 cm)
Weight35 - 100 lbs (16 – 45 kg)
Lifespan12 – 16 years

The Black Mouth Cur is easily recognizable, thanks to the breed’s signature black muzzle and brownish-gold coat. It’s a rather famous look—almost as famous as the dog breed itself.

These dogs didn’t just propel the westward expansion of America’s pioneers—they also make for amazing pets. In a Black Mouth Cur, you can find exceptional loyalty and love, high intelligence, and a very strong and capable work dog.

If you go about it in the right way, a Black Mouth Cur will be quick to learn and eager to please. The high intelligence that these dogs possess makes them capable of learning and performing a lot of different tasks, but it also means that they can get easily bored if they are left alone without sufficient mental stimulation.

See Also: Exciting Games to Play with Your Dog

These dogs are very healthy and can live much longer than the average large dog breed—up to 16 years. This and their low grooming needs make it so that they don’t require too much care outside of giving them enough exercise.

Main Highlights

Black Mouth cur standing in the wood

  • Black Mouth Curs require a strong hand to be raised and trained properly but don’t respond well to yelling and harsh rebukes (let alone physical abuse). So, with that in mind, consider a Black Mouth Cur only if you know you can handle his or her training.

  • Black Mouth Curs are very energetic and require a lot of outdoor time. As such, they aren’t really suitable for apartment life.

  • This breed is quite social and people-friendly.

  • They can do well with other dogs too, as long as they are properly raised and trained.

  • Other pets are usually a No-No, however, as Black Mouth Curs tend to have a pretty strong prey drive.

Breed History

Black Mouth Cur in the autumn wood

Black Mouth Cur is one of the most famous American dog breeds, and yet, their history is kind of unclear. In fact, it’s not even 100% clear whether these dogs descended from European or Asian Cur breeds.

Some breeders claim that the breed descended from the English Mastiffs that were brought to America from Europe as early as the Mayflower voyage to Plymouth in 1621. And it is, in fact, possible that these dogs played a part in the Black Mouth Cur’s ancestry. However, it’s not really clear as there are a lot of other possibilities.

That’s why they are largely considered an American breed and their place of origin is considered to be the American south—either Mississippi or Tennessee.

Wherever the Black Mouth Cur dogs came from, they had a huge influence on the early American settlers and pioneers. Particularly between Florida and Texas, these dogs were virtually in every household.

They were used as farm dogs to herd the farmers’ livestock, as well as hunting dogs in the unfriendly, rugged terrain of the region. They were also used as guard dogs that did great at protecting the farmers and their farms against the dangerous wildlife.

By doing all these things, Black Mouth Curs were instrumental in the settling of the American frontier. In fact, a lot of historians claim that the colonization and westward expansion wouldn’t have been what it was if it wasn’t for these dogs.

Of course, other breeds were used in conjunction with Black Mouth Curs as well, but few had the physical attributes necessary to do their job, and none of them were used in such big numbers.

Still, during these times of American history, Black Mouth Curs were used so heavily, that there wasn’t any precise control on the breeding of these dogs. Because they were used first and foremost as working dogs, they were often crossbred with other dogs whenever and however their owners saw fit.

The end result of that is countless of variations of the breed, depending on the region they come from and the specific breeder that’s breeding them.

The Alabama Black Mouth Cur, for example, is notable for their reddish coloration. The Florida Black Mouth Cur, on the other hand, is very recognizable for its yellow coloration. The Mississippi Black Mouth Cur that’s been bred by the Ladner family for over 100 years, is largely viewed as the most well-known and classical variant of the breed.

Nevertheless, despite these variations, Black Mouth Curs are considered purebreds. Modern Black Mouth Cur dogs are intentionally bred only with other dogs of the same breed, to help them stay preserved as a breed.

Despite all these efforts, however, some kennel clubs don’t recognize the breed as purebred. Chief among them is the American Kennel Club. It’s not clear as to whether that will change someday.

Still, a lot of other kennel clubs recognize the breed; the United Kennel Club, for example, registered the Black Mouth Cur in 1998, and now these dogs freely appear in show rings.

Even though today this breed may not be the most popular breed in the states, its contributions to the creation of the US are undeniable. One of the most famous Black Mouth Cur dogs in pop-culture is the dog from Old Yeller.

Although the exact breed of the dog is never mentioned by name, the physical description of the dog, as well as his behavior and temperament characteristics, categorically imply that he’s a Black Mouth Cur.

In fact, it’s fair to say that the breed is so well known as just “a cur dog” that everyone knows these dogs by sight, but few people view them as an actual breed.


Black Mouth Cur standing on ground

Black Mouth Curs are quite large dogs that can, however, vary in size, depending on what they are bred for. Males are typically larger than females; the typical male Black Mouth Cur can weigh between 40 and 95 pounds (18 – 43 kg), while females are more in the 35 – 80 pound (16 – 36 kg) range. It’s not uncommon for larger dogs to reach 100 pounds (45 kg).

In terms of height, Black Mouth Curs are typically 16 inches (41 cm) or taller, ranging up to about 25 inches (64 cm). Smaller dogs (up to about 50 pounds or 23 kg) are usually bred as tree hunting dogs, while larger ones (up to 100 pounds or 45 kg) are typically herding dogs.

These dogs are built for power and sturdiness, which allows them to withstand working on hard terrains. They have a very short coat which helps them not to overheat, and they have big and elongated muzzles.

Personality and Character

man holding Black Mouth Cur

Black Mouth Curs are exactly what you’d expect them to be as working dogs bred for and in the American south. They are exceptionally courageous and never back down from a fight.

This was a much-needed personality trait in the old days when these dogs needed to protect farms and livestock herds from wild predators like bears, wolves, wildcats, and others.

Today, the Black Mouth Cur also has that same amount of courage, which makes them excellent guard dogs and very faithful companions. If you want a dog that will protect you and your home in the case of a burglary, this is a very suitable breed.

Still, this courageousness means that you need to properly train your dog if you want to avoid any problems. Poorly raised and trained Black Mouth Curs can react in improper manners when they falsely identify someone as a threat, but this is something that applies to all guard breeds.

See Also: Personal Protection Dog Training

Furthermore, Black Mouth Curs are also highly intelligent dogs. The settlers intentionally bred these dogs for this characteristics, as they needed a hunting dog that they can easily command and manage on the go, during a hunt, as well as a working dog that can do a large variety of different tasks in the farm.

Additionally, this breed also displays a lot of loyalty and dedication; Black Mouth Curs get really attached to their families and would do anything for them. They are also highly social animals. As long as you’ve raised and socialized your pup properly, you should have no problems having guests and strangers in the house.

Another thing that’s specific to this breed is that Black Mouth Curs require a lot of exercises. This isn’t a downside, but a sought-after upside; these dogs were bred to be very energetic so that they could withstand long days of work with little to no rest.

So, if you’re getting a Black Mouth Cur dog, you should make sure that you can give him/her plenty of exercise. Just two brief “toilet walks” aren’t enough for these energetic dogs. This makes the breed very unsuitable for apartment life. Unless your apartment is rather big and you have a dog park right next to it, as well as the free time to walk your dog there every day, chose another breed.

See Also: How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need

Black Mouth Curs are best suited for houses with big, fenced yards, where they can run and play. A yard doesn’t mean that you won’t have to walk your dog still outside, but it means that he or she will be able to get all the exercise he/she needs.

As far as training goes, Black Mouth Curs can be a bit stubborn, but a skilled trainer or dog owner can easily manage them. A firm hand is usually required with these dogs, but not to the point of yelling or physical violence; like most dogs, Black Mouth Curs don’t respond well to that.

Health and Potential Problems

black mouth cur lying sad

The Black Mouth Cur is a very healthy breed and doesn’t display almost any breed-specific genetic problems. This means that they also have a relatively long life-span of 12 — 16 years, which is great for a breed of their size.

Still, they are dogs, and they are not immune to problems. A Black Mouth Cur can suffer from most of the common dog health issues such as hip or elbow dysplasia, cataracts, mange, epilepsy, and ear or eye infections.

To make sure that your dog isn’t genetically predisposed to any health problems, you should always make sure to get your pup from a reputable dog breeder. If a breeder is reluctant to provide you with a valid health certificate for the pup and for both of his/her parents, it’s better to look elsewhere for your next dog.

As working dogs, Black Mouth Curs are also predisposed to physical injuries while on the field. They are pretty sturdily built, but this doesn’t make them immune to harm.

Care Features

Black Mouth Cur playing with a human

As with any other dog, the Black Mouth Cur requires daily check-ups on his/her eye and ear hygiene. Any dirt is to be removed with a damp cloth to prevent infections.

Dental hygiene is also quite important; brushing your dog’s teeth daily or at least weekly is strongly recommended to prevent any dental problems in the future. Dogs tend to keep their toothaches to themselves, so the fact that your pooch isn’t complaining doesn’t mean he or she is not in pain.

See Also: Dog Dental Cleaning

Aside from those standard care features, the Black Mouth Cur requires quite a lot of exercise. Two prolonged walks in the park, plus several hours in a fenced yard are pretty much a must if your Black Mouth Cur is to maintain good physical and mental health.

Feeding Schedule

Black Mouth Cur's face

Being large dogs, Black Mouth Curs require quite a bit of food, especially when you consider how energetic they are. As such, they don’t only need a good quantity of food, but high quality as well. If you are using your Black Mouth Cur as a working dog, make sure to feed him/her with food that’s high on energy as well. A mix of dry and wet food is a must.

As for the feeding schedule itself, a 3-meals-per-day or even 4-meals-per-day is much better than the standard twice-per-day feeding schedule that most people use.

If you are worried that you’re at work and you can’t feed your dog every 8 or 6 hours, remember that three meals per day don’t necessarily mean that they need to be spaced with 8 hours—a 10/7/7 or 11/7/6-hour feeding schedule can work just as well.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

Black Mouth Cur puppy

The Black Mouth Cur has a short-haired brown/gold coat with a black mouth and darker ears. Depending on the region the dog’s coming from, he or she can be slightly more yellow or has a touch of reddish coloring.

The short coat is very easy to groom and maintain; just brush it regularly and clean/wash the dog after his or her outdoor adventures.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Black Mouth Curs are quite social animals that do well both with single-person households and with families with children.

They are rather big dogs, so you should, of course, teach your children how to play with them properly. Once the dog and the kids are well acquainted, however, they should have no problems living and having fun together.

See Also: Dog Facts for Kids: Teach the Little Ones to Be Friendly

Other dogs can work well with a Black Mouth Cur as well, but a bit more socialization and training may be required there. Black Mouth Curs are highly territorial animals, so if you want your Cur to co-exist with another pooch, you should be well-versed in dog training.

As far as other pets are concerned, Black Mouth Curs have a very strong prey drive, so they are not really recommended for life with cats, rabbits, hamsters, and other such pets.

Wrap Up

Black Mouth Cur dog's head

The Black Mouth Cur is a very special and unique dog breed in that it’s one of the most used breed for the colonization of the entire North American continent. They are very strong, healthy, energetic, loyal, good-natured, and intelligent dogs, but they also require quite skilled owners and specific environments to thrive.

If you are looking for a large dog that will most likely live a healthy life of around 15 years, consider this wonderful breed. Will you adopt a Black Mouth Cur now that you know all the facts related to this dog? If you will, you’ll need a name for him/her. Our article on redneck dog names is just right for the job! Before you go, we’ll really appreciate it if you leave a comment below.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.