The mountain cur is a rare type of hunting dog that’s known for its intelligence, strong-willed nature, and unrivaled treeing instinct. Mountain curs grow up to 26 inches tall at the withers and weigh between 30 and 60 pounds. The breed has an average life expectancy of 14 to 16 years.
The dog has a muscular build, alert eyes, and a short double coat that comes in a range of colors. While loyal and affectionate, this breed isn’t suitable for first-time owners because of its high prey drive and need for lots of exercise and mental stimulation.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Mountain Cur Quick Summary
|Short double coat
|Black, blue, brindle, brown, red, or yellow with white, tan, or brindle markings
|Minimal to moderate
|Intelligent, strong-willed, protective, work-driven, reserved
|At least 1 hour of exercise daily
|2–3 cups of dog food daily
|Known health conditions
|Ear infections, sensitive skin, ticks
Mountain Cur Appearance
The mountain cur is a medium-sized breed with a muscular, agile build, broad head, and well-filled chest. The most distinctive feature of the breed is its high-set drop ears. These dogs are typically brindle, brown, or black with tan or white markings.
Height and Weight
Mountain curs grow between 16 to 26 inches tall and weigh between 30 and 60 pounds. The dog’s weight can fluctuate even after it is fully grown, depending on activity level, diet, and health.
A six-month-old mountain cur puppy weighs around 20 pounds and stands under 16 inches tall. Males are larger than females and this breed typically reaches its full adult size within 12 months.
Mountain curs have short double coats. The outer coat is rough or smooth in texture, while the undercoat is soft and dense. The dogs with rough coats will have well-feathered tails.
This breed comes in various shades, including black, blue, brindle, brown, red, and yellow. Some mountain curs have tan, brindle, or white markings on their chest and face.
Mountain Cur Origins
The mountain cur originates from the southern region of the United States, where European settlers developed the breed to be an all-purpose farm dog. The breed guarded livestock, helped with herding, and watched over its owner’s property.
Mountain curs were also originally bred to hunt and catch wild game. This breed has been used as a bay dog and particularly excels at a hunting method called treeing — which involves chasing prey up a tree so hunters can easily locate and shoot it.
While the breed nearly went extinct after World War II, the dog is gradually gaining popularity once again thanks to the preservation efforts of dedicated mountain cur breeders — Hugh Stephens, Woody Huntsman, Carl McConnell, and Dewey Ledbetter. These individuals helped establish the breed standard and also founded the Original Mountain Cur Breeders Association in 1956.
The United Kennel Club recognized the mountain cur breed in 1998, while the American Kennel Club added the mountain cur breed to the Foundation Stock Service group in 2017.
Mountain Cur Personality and Temperament
Mountain curs are loyal, brave, and affectionate companions. The dogs make excellent guard dogs, thanks to their protective and alert nature, and form strong bonds with their families.
These purebreds are very active dogs that require plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and attention to feel happy and at ease. While intelligent and work-driven, the dogs are also strong-willed and need an owner that can be firm and consistent during training. If their needs aren’t met, mountain curs can become destructive.
Like most hunting dog breeds, mountain curs have a high prey drive and should be supervised around small animals. This breed doesn’t tolerate being left alone for lengthy periods.
Taking Care of a Mountain Cur Dog
Mountain curs are difficult to look after. These hunting dogs need a high amount of exercise, are prone to separation anxiety, and are challenging to train. Mountain curs also require a protein-rich diet.
As a high-energy working dog, the mountain cur needs 2 to 3 cups of food per day, split into two separate meals. The food should be formulated for medium-sized breeds and contain protein-rich ingredients like turkey, fish, and lamb.
An eight-week-old puppy should be fed 3 to 4 cups of size-appropriate kibble, split into three separate meals. Treats should constitute less than 10% of the dog’s daily calorie allowance.
Grooming mountain curs is easy because they shed minimally throughout the year and their coats aren’t prone to tangles. These dogs blow their coats twice a year, during spring and fall.
Groom the breed once a week, or more frequently if the dog is blowing its coat. Regular grooming keeps the hair healthy and distributes the skin’s natural oils. Use a slicker brush to remove dead and loose hair. The dog should only be bathed when its coat is dirty.
Brush the mountain cur’s teeth two to three times a week to maintain good dental hygiene and prevent harmful bacteria buildup.
Exercise mountain curs for at least an hour per day. The breed enjoys most outdoor activities, including walking, running, agility, hiking, dog sports, and swimming.
These dogs thrive in houses with a spacious backyard where the breed can freely run around and stretch its legs.
Mountain curs need a lot of mental stimulation to stay happy and mentally fit. Suitable forms of mental stimulation include training, agility, scent work, problem-solving games, and interactive games like tug-of-war and fetch.
Without at least an hour of mental stimulation every day, these dogs can become restless, vocal, and destructive.
Common Health Concerns
Thanks to their careful breeding, mountain curs are extremely healthy dogs and aren’t predisposed to any serious health issues. However, these dogs are still susceptible to ear infections, skin problems, and ticks because of their outdoor lifestyles.
- Ear infections: A condition when harmful bacteria or yeast overgrowth in the ear canal. Symptoms of an ear infection include inflammation, head shaking, dark discharge, foul odor, scratching, and pain. Treatment involves medicated ear drops, antibiotics, and pain relief
- Ticks: Small parasites that latch onto a dog’s skin and feed on blood. Ticks can spread harmful diseases like Lyme disease, especially if not properly removed. Use a dedicated tick removal tool and avoid squeezing the tick’s body. It’s advisable to get a veterinarian to remove a tick, especially if your dog is showing other signs of sickness
- Sensitive skin: Conditions that can make the dog prone to infections and other skin ailments. Use hypo-allergenic dog products and keep bathing to a minimum
How to Train a Mountain Cur
Although intelligent, the mountain cur dog breed is notoriously strong-willed and isn’t afraid to test boundaries, which makes training difficult. The breed needs an owner who can be firm, consistent, and patient.
Mountain curs respond best to training methods that use positive reinforcement and high-value rewards. Keeping sessions brief and within a controlled environment can help these dogs stay focused.
Training can begin as soon as you take your mountain cur puppy home. Start with housebreaking, basic obedience, and socialization. Proper socialization involves exposing the dog to a range of environments, sounds, animals, experiences, and handling. This breed is extremely protective, so it needs to be exposed to different kinds of people early on to help it feel at ease around strangers.
Never use punishments during training. These methods aren’t effective in the long term and can make mountain curs anxious, stressed, or aggressive.
Mountain Cur Price
Mountain curs are moderately expensive because of their rarity. Reputable breeders also work hard to preserve these dogs’ distinct qualities and excellent health.
How Much is a Mountain Cur?
Mountain cur puppies cost between $600 and $3,000, depending on the breeder, lineage, and location. Adopting an adult is cheaper than buying a puppy from a reputable breeder, but mountain curs are difficult to find in rescue shelters.
How Much Does it Cost to Raise a Mountain Cur?
Caring for a mountain cur costs between $100 and $160 per month, which covers essentials such as protein-rich dog food, health checkups, toys, and grooming equipment. Expect to pay more in the first year because of additional costs like puppy vaccinations and neutering or spaying.
The cost will be significantly higher per month if you invest in professional grooming or need to hire pup-sitters regularly. Other services that can increase the total ownership cost include training classes, agility classes, and dog-walkers.
Should You Get a Mountain Cur?
The mountain cur is a protective, devoted breed that makes an excellent family dog. However, the breed’s high prey drive, strong-willed nature, and demanding care requirements make it unsuitable for certain people.
Mountain Curs are Suitable for:
Mountain curs are ideal for people that lead active lifestyles, can exercise a dog for at least an hour per day, and don’t work long hours.
These dogs are best suited to families that are experienced with stubborn, energetic breeds. Without proper socialization and firm, consistent training, the breed can become destructive or overprotective.
Mountain Curs are NOT Suitable for:
Mountain curs aren’t suitable for inactive people, first-time owners, and people that lack the time and energy to walk, play with, or train a dog daily. Because of this breed’s high prey drive, the dogs aren’t suitable for households with small animals like cats.
Avoid this breed if you live in an apartment or don’t have a backyard. The mountain cur is an energetic working dog and needs plenty of space to roam. This breed also needs plenty of attention and playtime, so it isn’t ideal for people who prefer a quiet environment.