Mountain Cur: Heroes in the Colonialization Era

Mountain Cur standing in the yard
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

Large, energetic, intelligent, and all-around-capable dogs are a treasure for any dog owner that has a use for them. It’s a great asset to have a dog that can assist you in hunting for both big and small game, that can help you herd cattle, that can do work around the farm, and can also be an excellent guard dog. Few breeds can do all these things to such high levels as the Mountain Cur.

Mountain Curs excel in many areas of both physical fitness and mental abilities. They are extraordinarily intelligent dogs with peak physical qualities. This is what makes them great working dogs and is also why a lot of people love them, even just as pets.

In this article, we’ll go over all the major characteristics of the Mountain Cur breed. We’ll go over their physical prowess and temperament, and we’ll examine what makes them what they are. We’ll also check out if they can be good stereotypical pets and what you need to do in order to look after a Mountain Cur.

Breed Characteristics

Mountain Cur with an owner

  • Adaptability: Moderate; not for apartment living

  • Trainability: Good; very smart and obedient

  • Health and Grooming: Good

  • All Around Friendliness: Good

  • Exercise Needs: High Maintenance

Dog Breed GroupWorking Dogs
Height18 - 26 inches (46 - 66 cm)
Weight30 - 60 pounds (13 - 27 kg)
Lifespan12 – 16 years

The Mountain Cur is the literal “work dog” of the first European settlers in North America. These dogs have been with the first pioneers on the continent and have been instrumental for the process of colonization.

Their top physical qualities and mental capabilities make them suitable for all kinds of tasks, which is why the breed has persisted for as long as it has, even though they are not used as typical household pets.

Mountain Curs can become companion dogs as well, but as working dogs, they need a lot of exercises, a large yard, and a lot of mental stimulation.

Main Highlights

Mountain Cur puppy lying on grass

  • Mountain Curs are a large breed that is also very healthy and can live for up to 16 years.

  • Breeders set up a standard for the breed only several decades ago; before that, Mountain Curs, like most other Curs, were just farm dogs that farmers and hunters bred themselves.

  • Mountain Curs excel at multiple tasks, from hunting and herding to farm work and guarding.

  • They make for excellent tree dogs and can hunt anything from squirrels to wildcats.

  • Mountain Curs are very obedient and people-friendly dogs as long as there is a well-established hierarchy in their pack (i.e., your family). If you let a Mountain Cur think that he’s the pack leader at home, you can face some “behavioral problems” to put it mildly.

Breed History

Mountain Cur on a leash

Like the Black Mouth Cur and many other Cur-type breeds, the Mountain Cur is considered one of the first American-bred types of dog and a true symbol of the first years of the colonization of the continent by European settlers.

Mountain Cur dogs were instrumental in helping the settlers survive in numerous different ways—for hunting, herding, working, as well as for guard duties.

As such a versatile working dog, the various Cur dogs weren’t purebred or held to a breed standard like most other canine breeds.

A lot of the Terrier-type Curs that the settlers brought with them from Europe were left to mate freely with Native American Curs, in between each other, and with other dogs they encountered. They were also sometimes bred with scenthounds which further made them into expert hunters.

As a result of this, different Cur dogs were used for different things, depending on the needs of the settlers. Some were specialized as treeing dogs or traditional hunting dogs; others were used mostly for herding and for work.

Still, both Mountain Curs and other Cur breeds were typically well-versed in all manners of work and tasks, so they were mostly distinguished on a regional basis.

In the 20th century, as more and more dogs were categorized into different breeds and breeding standards were set upon their breeders, the Mountain Cur was recognized as a breed instead of just your average farm dog.

Dogs from the OMCBA (Original Mountain Cur Breeders of America) and the KSBA (Kemmer Stock Mountain Cur Breeders’ Association) are the foundation stock for the UKC Mountain Cur dog breed today. Currently, these dogs are used mostly as hunting hounds as they excel at hunting all types of game, from raccoons and squirrels to big game such as elk, bear, boar, bulls, or wildcats.


Mountain Curs are quite large, with a height ranging from 18 to 26 inches (46 — 66 cm) and a weight between 30 and 60 pounds (13 — 27 kg).

Some people even call 90 – 95 pound (41 – 43 kg) Curs to be Mountain Curs, but the general standard of the breed puts them in the 30 – 60-pound range. The females are generally slightly smaller than the males, but at that size range, the difference is usually negligible.

Mountain Curs are short-coated dogs with strong and powerful bodies. They have strong necks and shoulders, dome flat head that’s wide between the eyes, and medium length ears that are set rather high.

All in all, the appearance of the Mountain Cur may seem rather “plain” and “straightforward” for someone unfamiliar with the breed, but the dogs have the exact physical structure they need for the work they were selected for.

Their stocky bodies are both strong and agile enough to make these dogs excellent for hunting, herding, working, and guarding alike.

Personality and Character

Mountain Cur standing

Just as the body of the Mountain Cur makes the breed unsuitable for a simple apartment pet life, so does their temperament. Mountain Curs love their owners and live to please them, but they are not a submissive easygoing breed. To the contrary, Mountain Curs have been specifically bred for toughness and courage above most other qualities.

These dogs needed to have the character to face large wildcats and bears and stand their ground. They needed to be decisive and dauntless in the face of any adversary.

In addition to that, Mountain Cur dogs are also highly intelligent and have strong hunting instincts. A Mountain Cur will stay silent and calm while on the trail, but fierce and aggressive when prey or danger is in the way. All these qualities make Mountain Curs quite unsuitable for both apartment and suburban life.

See Also: Best Dogs for Apartments

The adaptability of the Mountain Cur comes in the form of the different types of work these dogs can adapt to. You can train a Mountain Cur to help you with all kinds of physical tasks—hunting, herding, farm work, and guard duties being the chief categories. The Mountain Cur has the intelligence to learn multiple roles and is also more than obedient enough to gladly do them.

The key to raising and training a Mountain Cur properly is in achieving pack leader status in the eyes of the dog. Mountain Curs live to serve and protect their owners and property, but it’s also their instinct to follow a natural “pack order.”

If you establish yourself as the dog’s leader, the dog will follow you without question. If you fail to do so properly, however, a Mountain Cur may decide to designate themselves as the leader of your pack and “make decisions” for you.

Since dogs communicate their displeasure with the lower members of their pack with growling, barking, and biting, you don’t want to let such a big canine consider themselves your “leader.” Once you achieve and learn to maintain your “leader” status, however, a Mountain Cur will be happy to follow your every command.

Socialization is also important for the breed. As a natural guarding breed, the Mountain Cur can be untrusting toward strangers, guests, and everyone who isn’t a member of their family.

From the very first day or week you get your Mountain Cur puppy, you need to start socializing them. The dog needs to familiarize themselves with all your friends and other family members. More importantly, the pup also needs to be taught that strangers are not a threat.

When bringing your Cur to dog parks and other places, let the dog interact (safely of course) with other people and dogs, so that they can learn that strangers are not a threat. Unless, of course, you want a Mountain Cur strictly as a guard dog.

The high intelligence and energy level of the Mountain Cur also needs to be kept in mind. As most intelligent dog breeds, the Mountain Cur can become bored and restless when left with nothing to do.

These dogs need to work, even if that work is just following your commands in the park or at home. Prepare to give your Mountain Cur a lot of attention and interactions, as a frequently bored Mountain Cur may make escape attempts, become disobedient, develop a destructive behavior, or become depressed.

See Also: Depression in Dogs

Health and Potential Problems

Mountain Cur wearing red collar

The Mountain Cur is a quite healthy breed with no known breed-specific genetic defects. Still, they are dogs like any other, and they can develop certain problems such as dry skin, ear infections, hip or elbow dysplasia, and others.

Additionally, if you’re using your Mountain Cur as a working, herding, or hunting dog, you can, of course, expect injuries to occur.

All in all, you can trust that your Mountain Cur puppy will grow into a healthy dog and live to 15 – 16 happy years, but to make sure, it’s always advisable to get your puppies from reputable dog breeders. Such a dog breeder will readily offer you health certificates for the puppy, as well as for the parents.

Care Features

Mountain Cur puppy

In terms of the types of care, you need to give your Mountain Cur, giving them work is chief on the list. These are working dogs so even if you’ve got your Cur as just a pet, you still need to keep them occupied.

Mountain Curs are highly intelligent and very energetic dogs, so make sure that you give your Cur plenty of exercises and mental stimulation. Having a big yard is usually very important if you have a Mountain Cur.

Aside from that, Mountain Curs require no other specialized care. Frequently check your Cur’s eyes and ears for infections or dirt and clean them with a damp cloth. Dental hygiene is also important for Mountain Curs as it is for all dogs.

Daily brushing is recommended. Dogs tend to keep their toothaches to themselves (so as to not show any weakness), so it’s quite common for dogs to live with tooth pain for years without their owners realizing it.

See Also: What is the Best Dog Toothpaste?

Feeding Schedule

Mountain Cur's head

As any big and highly energetic dog breed, Mountain Curs need an abundance of rich and high-quality food. Diversity is also important, so feed your dog a diet of both dry and wet food.

Depending on how hard you work your dog, adjust the energy content of their food. For a more precise measure that’s specific to your own dog, consult with a veterinarian.

As for the feeding schedule itself, dogs tend to do better with 3 or 4 meals per day, rather than a twice-per-day schedule. Most dog owners recoil from the idea of feeding their pets more than twice, as their own work schedule doesn’t allow for an 8/8/8-hour schedule. However, feeding your dog three times per day doesn’t mean that you should feed them at 8-hour intervals.

You can easily adopt a 10/7/7-hour or an 11/7/6-hour schedule that fits with your work arrangements and is still better for the dog than a 12/12-hour schedule.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

Mountain Curs tend to have longer hair than other Curs, but it’s still considered short. It typically comes in blue, yellow, brown, or brindle colors. A Mountain Cur may have white markings on their face and chest, but that’s not necessary.

These dogs don’t shed too much, and their coat is generally quite easy to groom; weekly brushing is usually enough. As they are often used for farm work, hunting, or herding, the short coat is a big asset as it prevents any dirt, grass, and other elements from getting stuck in it.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Mountain Cur puppy sleeping with another dog

Mountain Curs tend to do great with children. Their high intelligence allows them to easily view even a toddler as a human member of their pack that needs to be protected at all costs. As a result, with children, Mountain Curs tend to be gentle, careful, and well-mannered.

As long as you’ve properly socialized your dog and taught your child not to physically torture the dog (tail-pulling, ear-pulling, etc.), their interactions will be safe and enjoyable for both sides.

As for other pets, Mountain Curs can do well with other dogs or pets, but they need to be well-socialized and introduced first. A Mountain Cur may feel competitive toward another dog if they haven’t been socialized with dogs well enough.

Mountain Curs may also view cats or other small pets as prey if the owner doesn’t adequately show the dog that the pet is a part of the pack. All in all, Mountain Curs can be compatible with other pets, but a skilled owner is required to make it work.

Wrap Up

Mountain Cur puppy sitting

Mountain Curs are not your typical pets. They are not suited for apartment life and are not a laid-back suburban pet. Mountain Curs are a working breed that needs to do things every day.

They make for excellent hunters of both small and big game. They are great herders. They can learn to do a lot of farm work, and they can also be amazing guard dogs.

If you want a Mountain Cur as just a pet, you’ll need to have a big yard, be able to establish yourself as a stable alpha of the pack, and you need to give your Cur plenty of work, tasks, and exercises to do. If this is the type of active pet you want, then a Mountain Cur can certainly be that for you.

Do you think you have what it takes to care for a Mountain Cur? We want to know your thoughts and opinion! Please leave a comment below. If you need inspiration for naming your Mountain Cur, check out our list of redneck dog names.

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.