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Mountain Cur

Nicole Cosgrove

Brindle Mountain Cur dog

The Mountain Cur is a medium to large purebred from the US bred and developed specifically to ward off raccoon and squirrels and to hunt boar and bear. As well as being a hunter, it would protect its owner and was also used as an all purpose farm worker. It is a hound and is strong, active, skilled and loving so as well as being a good worker it is also a good family dog in the right home.

The Mountain Cur at a Glance
Name Mountain Cur
Other names None
Nicknames MC
Origin USA
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 30 to 60 pounds
Average height 16 to 26 inches
Life span 12 to 16 years
Coat type Short, dense, double
Hypoallergenic No
Color Brindle, black, brindle & black, yellow, (with occasional white marks)
Popularity Not ranked yet by the AKC
Intelligence High
Tolerance to heat Average to good
Tolerance to cold Average to good
Shedding Low – a little hair can be expected around the home but not a lot
Drooling Moderate – not especially prone
Obesity Above average – Can be prone if not properly fed, measure the food and make sure it gets enough activity
Grooming/brushing Low – brush once a week
Barking Occasional – does bark sometimes but not constantly
Exercise needs High – very active dog that needs very active owners
Trainability Moderate to easy – experience helps
Friendliness Very good with socialization
Good first dog No – best with experienced owner
Good family pet Good to very good with the right socialization and care
Good with children Very good if they are properly worked, socialized and trained
Good with other dogs Good to very good if they are properly worked, socialized and trained
Good with other pets Good but need to be properly worked, socialized and trained, have high prey drive
Good with strangers Moderate to good – socialization and supervision is essential, can be wary and over protective without proper training
Good apartment dog No – needs space and at least a large yard or even better some land
Handles alone time well Moderate – prefers not to be left alone for long periods
Health issues Healthy breed but some issues might include bloat, obesity, hip dysplasia and ear infections
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $250 a year for a good quality dry dog food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $265 a year for license, toys, basic training and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $1000 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $500
Rescue organizations Mountain Cur Rescue Me, Virginia Mountain Cur Rescue, also check local shelters and rescues
Biting Statistics None reported

The Mountain Cur’s Beginnings

The Mountain Cur was developed when dogs brought and developed by European settlers in the 1800s to the mountainous regions of the US, first Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia then also to Arkansas and Oklahoma were bred to local dogs. The dogs were bred to protect the family and the property from dangerous predators, to be a treeing dog chasing game like raccoon and squirrels and then to hunt larger game for food and fur for use and trade, like boar and bear. They were also kept as companions. For a few centuries the settlers and the dogs lived this way. They were called Mountain Curs because of the mountainous regions they were used in originally but in fact it could adapt to various kinds of living conditions.

Then in the early to mid 20th century when the way of life changed a lot and people moved away to work in factories the dog numbers also dropped as it became less essential. It was also impacted by the second world war and in fact by the end of the 1940s it was close to becoming a rare breed. Only a few owners of the original breed remained. It was also used for a time to round up and handle cattle and feral pigs.

New Lease on Life

There are four people that are given the credit of rescuing this breed, their names are Woody Huntsman from Kentucky, Hugh Stephens from Kentucky, Dewey Ledbetter from Tennessee and Carl McConnell from Virginia. They founded the Original Mountain Cur Breeders’ Association together however disagreements lead two to leave and form a different association. The idea of the OMCBA was to bring together a group of breeders who agreed in a standard for breeding. It is recognized by the UKC but not by the AKC. In the 1980s and 1990s a new breed was developed from the Mountain Cur called the Mountain View Cur.

Mountain Cur

The Dog You See Today

The Mountain Cur is a medium to large dog weighing 30 to 60 pounds and standing 16 to 26 inches tall. Its has a body that is just a little longer than tall so is mostly squared looking with a straight back. It has somewhat long legs and its tail is set low, straight and some come with a natural bob. It is a rugged and stocky dog developed to be a working dog with a typical Cur look. It has catlike feet, some have one or even two dewclaws and it has a deep chest.

It has a wide head, strong jaws and the muzzle is little shorter than the length of its skull. The ears are folded or drop and are set high on the head. It has a strong neck and a black nose. The dark eyes are fairly prominent. It is a short coated dog, the coat is close, dense and has a fine and soft under coat. Common colors are yellow, brindle, blue, brown, black and there can be some white markings.

The Inner Mountain Cur


It is important that if you want to own a Mountain Cur you are able to keep it as a working dog as well as a companion, as this is not a breed suitable to just be the latter. It is very territorial, possessive and protective and that means good socialization and training are absolutely essential as are strong and confident leadership. This is a dog for experienced owners not new ones. It is a great watchdog and guard dog, it will let you know of any intruder and it will act to defend itself, its home and you. If it is getting enough time working or hunting it can be social and friendly but this is certainly not a submissive or easygoing dog.

It is an intelligent dog and generally it is happy to please you but it is not a walkover. That said it should not be very aggressive, when hunting or protecting it will be brave and fierce but otherwise it should just be respected never feared. If it is acting anxious, bored, hyper or destructive these are not traits of its personality, they are signs your dog needs to be worked a lot more. It is quite extroverted but should be introduced properly to strangers with supervision so it does not feel a need to challenge them.

Living with a Mountain Cur

What will training look like?

If you have experience and are firm and assured this breed is easy to train though just how easy can vary from one dog to another depending on things like breeding and temperament. Start obedience training from an early age along with socialization. It needs to know what the rules are and that they always need to be followed, and it also needs introducing to different people, places, sounds, situations and so on so it learns not to react too protectively or aggressively. Be positive with your methods, offer it encouragement and praise rather than scolding or punishing when it goes wrong. Make training interesting for it.

How active is the Mountain Cur?

Enough activity, work, hunting and mental stimulation are essential for this breed. It will not be happy in a home where it gets just a couple of walks a day, even if you make them long ones. This is not just a companion dog. It was bred for a purpose and will only thrive in an environment where it gets the level of activity it needs. It certainly is not an apartment dog! It does love canine sports though so if you are going to get it trained and heavily involved that way it would enjoy that. Make sure it also gets play time with you and off leash time where it can explore safely.

Caring for the Mountain Cur

Grooming needs

Caring and grooming the Mountain Cur is not a complicated or involved process, its short coat is easy to look after with brushing once or twice a week. It sheds only a little so there is not a lot of loose hair to deal with in the home, it also does not shed especially heavily during seasonal times. The dog does easily develop skin problems so take care to use a proper shampoo for dogs that is sensitive and only bathe it when it really needs one so you do not dry out its skin.

Other needs include keeping its ears free of hair and clean by wiping them with a dog ear cleaning solution, not by inserting anything into the ear. Check them weekly also for signs of infection such as redness, inflammation, discharge and such. You also need to keep its nails clipped to a decent length use proper dog nail scissors or clippers. Take care not to cut too far down though as pain and bleeding can occur if you cut into the quick of the nail where the blood vessels and nerves are. Another routine you should create is to brush its teeth with a dog toothbrush and toothpaste at least two to three times a week.

Feeding Time

Mountain Curs need a good diet with the kind of active lives they should be leading. It is likely they will eat 2 to 4 cups a day and that should be split into at least two meals. The actual amount can change depending on a few things like health, age, size, metabolism and level of activity. Also it should have access to water that is changed when possible.

How is the Mountain Cur with other animals and children?

It is important the Mountain Cur gets the right care and activity level and that it is also well socialized in order for it to get along okay with children, other pets and other dogs. Remember it has jealousy issues so some do not like to share you with other animals and may challenge them. It really helps though when they are raised with the other pet or with the children. Also make sure children are taught how to properly interact with them, and always supervise when strange children come over to play.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Mountain Cur has a life span of 12 to 16 years and is quite a healthy breed but a few issues to watch out for include obesity, allergies, hip dysplasia, ear infections and bloat.

Biting Statistics

In reports of dogs attacking people in the last three and a half decades in the US and Canada the Mountain Cur is not identified as having caused bodily harm. This dog though does have the potential for aggression and the power to do some damage but with the right home, training and socialization there should be less times it can be drawn into something.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Mountain Cur puppy will cost about $500 for or more depending on where you buy from. Take the time to find a reputable breeder and avoid places like a backyard breeder, puppy mills or pet store. If you find a top breeder you can expect to pay well into one thousand and something, possibly into two. If you do not have to have a purebred there are shelters and rescues that you could look at as well. There are a lot of dogs, many that are mixed or adult though, that need a new home and a loving owner and fees tend to range from $50 to $400.

Then there are initial health checks to pay for, it will need a check up, blood tests, deworming, micro chipping, neutering or spaying, vaccinations and such for about $290. Then there are things it needs like a carrier, collar and leash, bedding, bowls, crate and such come to about $235.

Once you are a full time dog owner you will need to have the finances to take care of its ongoing needs like food, health, toys and such. Health basics like pet insurance, vaccinations, check ups, flea and tick prevention will be about $485 a year. A good quality food and treats will be another annual cost of $250. The other miscellaneous costs like basic training, license, toys and miscellaneous items will be another $265 a year. This means an annual estimated cost of $1000.


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The Mountain Cur is not a dog to get just as a pet because you want a dog for the kids. This is really a working dog, you should be using it on a farm, as a sporting dog, hunter, protector. These are the roles it was developed for and it is not a happy and calm and friendly dog if it is not getting the outlets it needs. It is also important it has experienced, firm and confident owners.

Featured Image Credit: Kyle Christian, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.