7 Facts About The Mountain Cur Dog Breed Every New Owner Must Know

Mountain Cur Feature
The Mountain Cur is an American dog breed.

A Mountain Cur isn’t a dog you encounter every day.

Also known as the Mountain Kurr, this is a particularly rare dog, potentially being one of the rarest dog breeds.

This rare dog’s population is on the rise for the first time since the 1930s. But, what is there to know about the Mountain Cur? Where did it come from? Why are they so popular?

If you are thinking about getting this hunting dog or are a recent pet-parent, let’s explore seven facts you need to know about this unique dog breed.

Mountain Cur Feature
The Mountain Cur is an American dog breed.

1. Bred and Raised in Mid-East America

A Mountain Cur is a rare type of working dog bred in Mid-East America. Predominantly from Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee.

Like most working dog breeds, it is believed that this dog was bred from dogs brought to America from Europe – however, this is uncertain as this is not documented.

A true symbol of the pioneer movement in America, these dogs settled within the Southern Mountains and were used for protection and hunting.

Owners could eat the animals they caught before selling on their pelts (i.e. fur). They also made excellent guard dogs due to their size and protective nature.

Mountain Cur Puppies Would Secure Villages

Mountain Cur Facts
The Mountain Cur dog was historically very popular in villages in Mid-East America (e.g. Ohio, Virginia and Kentucky)

In fact, when settlers would move to set up a new town, they would be sure to take a pregnant Cur with them.

This litter of puppies would then help to protect the town from unfamiliar folk and animals that may pose a threat to the village, as well as helping the villagers hunt animals such as raccoons for their meat and pelts.

As ranches were traded out for city living and men went off to fight in the war, numbers of these dogs dwindled, and the breed was nearly lost – by 1940, this dog was ridiculously rare.

However, a few fans of the breed stepped in and kept the dog breed alive by creating a breeding program.

Interest in the Mountain Cur has boomed in past ten years. With traditionalism starting to make a comeback in America, owners want a reliable dog to help them hunt that still gets on with their families.

2. There Are Five Pedigree Mountain Cur Bloodlines

Mountain Cur Dog

The breed standard for this dog was set in 1956 by four men:

  • Hugh Stephens of Kentucky
  • Dewey Ledbetter from Tennessee
  • Woody Huntsman of Kentucky
  • Carl McConnell of Virginia

These men are credited for saving this breed from dying out and one year after they created the breed standard they founded the Original Mountain Cur Breeders’ Association in 1957.

Before 1957, there was no recorded history of pedigree for these hunting dogs.

From their breeder’s association, the five original lines originated:

  1. Arline
  2. Ledbetter
  3. McConnell
  4. Stephens
  5. York

This organisation allowed for breeders to come together to prevent inbreeding.

As a result, this dog breed may be one of the healthiest breed types, but, we will discuss that in more detail later on in this post.

These dogs have been recognised by the United Kennel Club since 1998 and have a very detailed breed standard.

A Mountain Cur should typically:

  1. have a broad head, with large, brown eyes and floppy ears
  2. be recognisable by their longer legs and tail
  3. be capable of nimble agility, good speed and strong stamina
  4. be an elegant dog who moves with a grace only a canine could

They were added to the American Kennel Club Foundation Stock Service very recently in May 2017 because of their rare status.

3. A Mountain Cur Can Be: Brindle, Black, Blue, Brown and Yellow

Cur Puppy
The appearance of a Mountain Cur will vary because of the five breeding lines.

Although the Mountain Cur is often seen in its common brindle pattern, this is not the only colour these dogs come in.

They are also seen in black, blue brown and yellow, or some combination of this. Very often they will have white markings on their face and chest.

They are not to be confused with the Black Mouth Cur, that looks similar with the black melanistic mark on their face.

Grooming This Dog

Despite their multi-coloured coat, these dogs have a relatively simple grooming routine.

They need occasional brushing with a rubber brush to remove all the loose hair from their coat but beyond that they will need for very little grooming.

Their brushing requirements may go up when they shed their summer or winter coats, but beyond this, they will require weekly brushing at most.

A Mountain Cur’s coat is short thick and close fitting, with a rough texture to the touch. These dogs actually have a softer undercoat, creating a double coated dog.

This dog does not need regular bathing as this dries out their skin. If you must bathe them, try using a medicated shampoo or one for sensitive skin.

Fun Fact

Unlike a lot of other hound type dogs, these dogs do not drool. This is because the skin around their lips is tighter than that of other similar dog breeds and so they cannot drool.

4. Some Mountain Cur Are Known As Pariah Dogs

Type of Mountain Cur Dog

The word cur is actually an old word that refers to a dog of an unknown breed.

They would also be known as pariah dogs.

However, among dog experts and fans, the Cur Dog is actually referring to a hunting dog used for treeing. This term is used exclusively to describe dogs originating in North America.

Consequently, there are 16 different specific treeing curs, the Mountain Cur is just one of them.

All 16 Cur dogs are recognized as individual breeds have their own organisations associated with them.

Mountain Cur vs. Treeing Tennessee Brindle

The Cur is often confused with its close canine relative, the Treeing Tennessee Brindle.

Physically they are both very similar, standing between 17 and 24 inches and have the distinctive brindle coat.

However, Curs are often heavier set and weigh slightly more, weighing between 40 and 60lb as opposed to the Treeing Tennessee Brindle that weighs between 35 and 50lb.

On top of this, Treeing Tennessee Brindles have larger, softer ears and generally much gentler expressions.

What Is a Cur Dog?

Cur type dogs, such as the Mountain Cur, are not to be confused with Feist type dogs – small hunting dogs.

Although both terms refer to North American Treeing dogs, and were used interchangeably, there is now a distinct difference:

  1. Feist type dogs are smaller than Cur dogs
  2. Feist can be used to refer to a Rat Terrier (which is not a type of Treeing Hound)
  3. On the other hand, all Curs are treeing dogs
Two Perro Dogs
Pictured two perro dogs which are not considered to be Mountain Cur

5. A Mountain Cur Dog Is An Excellent Sporting Dog

This dog was originally bred to be a working dog and consequently they have an incredible drive to work.

As working dogs, they do not deal well with being bored.

They are not known to sit back on their laurels, but love to learn, understand and solve complex problems very quickly.

A combination of all these factors results in a Mountain Cur that is an excellent match for canine sports.

Due to their treeing history, they make excellent flyball dogs. Their instinct to chase and retrieve will be honed in a game of flyball.

If you aren’t looking for a competitive sporting dog, they also make excellent fetch partners.

With an instinct to chase, this will serve you tremendously well as they will love nothing more than chasing a ball with their best human companion.

Their unrelenting energy means that they will continue to chase a ball as long as you will continue to throw it.

Mountain Cur Mix
Mountain Curs are excellent sports dogs

6. They Have Their Own Book (Old Yeller)

Although never referred to by breed name, in the book by Frank Gipson, Old Yeller is described as a dog who is able to hunt and tree and is not afraid of large predators.

This is typical of the Mountain Cur’s temperament and consequently it is commonly believed that Mr Gipson was describing this dog breed in Old Yeller.

To understand what he was getting describing, let us look into the personality of this breed a little further.

Mountain Cur’s are an intelligent dog breed, loving nothing more than to work.

They are always looking for a job and consequently do not do very well with being left alone. Leaving this breed for long periods of time with no stimulation can result in destructive behaviour.

Loving nothing more than to please their owners, they are loving dogs, and consequently, are one of the more obedient breeds.

Mountain Cur are very trainable and are known to be very fast learners.

Due to this drive for work and their ability to learn so quickly, it is recommended that they are exclusively owned as working dogs and used as family pets.

They have a mesocephalic skull shape which indicates their ability to recover quickly to surprise events and may enjoy owner directed play.

A Cur tends to be more cooperative with humans than their smaller feist dog cousins. This is reflected in their drive for work.

Ironically, after all of that, the dog in the Disney movie version of Old Yeller used to play the title character is not a Mountain Cur, but a Labrador x Mastiff mix.

7. Mountain Cur Are Extremely Healthy Dogs

Mountain Cur Puppy

This dog breed is known to be very healthy, due to their breed history. Like other remote dog breeds, they have very little to no inbreeding as a breed type.

Consequently, they are incredibly healthy dogs and don’t suffer from some of the health problems of purebred dogs.

Due to their hunting instincts, they may occasionally be known to chase and/or become aggressive towards other animals.

For example, if not socialized properly as puppies, they may chase other household pets like cats or even young children.

This can result in accidents so be sure to socialize your dog well when young and teach both your pup and children how to play safely with one another.

One of the only concerns is their propensity for deafness. Due to their long floppy ears they can get a build up of wax, mites and bacteria. These can cause infection that ultimately leads to deafness.

The only other concern is the development of skin conditions or allergies. This can be due to excessive bathing or high humidity environments.

Try to limit your dog’s interaction with water to the absolute minimum to prevent these conditions from occurring (if your dog must get wet, make sure they are completely dry afterwards).

As with any domestic pet, life length will depend on lifestyle, diet choices and genetics. However, on average, a Mountain Cur has a lifespan of around 16 years of age.


If you’re now sold on the Mountain Cur and can’t wait to get your hands on one, try looking on the AKCs recommended breeder page for breeders near you.

The UKC also has a list of registered breeders, but these are not vetted before they are allowed to register.

If you are thinking about getting one of these dogs? Remember that they require a lot of mental and physical attention and stimulation.

These dogs need constant access to the outdoors to burn off their unrelenting energy, and as a result they are not suited to city living.

Due to their hunting origins, make sure they are well socialized with children and other household pets.

They are working dogs at heart and anything less than this will result in an unhappy puppy. Do you own a Mountain Cur? Feel free to leave us a comment about these active dogs.

About John Woods 280 Articles
John Woods is the founder of All Things Dogs, member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, graduate in Animal Behavior & Welfare and recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America.


  1. We have a pup that was a rescue and we were told he likely a Mountain Cur. Would love to know for sure. Do you know of someone we could at least send a picture to?

  2. Rescued a two year old Mountain Cur in August of 2018 just days before she was to be put down! She was a stray in Estill county Kentucky. Did not know what we had at first. This is the sweetest, intelligent, active dog we have ever had. She is brindle with black on the head, white tip on tail, white paws, and white on the neck and muzzle. People stop and comment on how beautiful she is all the time. We are so lucky to be with her.

  3. We have a 7 month old Mt Cur/Pitbull mix. He is very large in size, extremely intelligent, swift learner and wants nothing more than to please. He is very active, runs and jumps up trees. He is great with our young children and treats them like one of the pack – but in a very gentle way. LOVES attention and follows close behind at all times. This breed mix is a lot of work but he is already on his way to being one of the best dogs we’ve ever had.

  4. I found a very malnourished brindle hound in Central America a couple of years ago. She was so sweet and gentle, I fell in love with her and I decided to adopt her. Since bringing her home to Canada, I’d been told she was most likely a purebred mountain cur. She looks identical to the pictures of the brindle on this website. She is very intelligent, a fast learner, and loves to run mountain trails with me. She even treed a squirrel during one of our runs!

  5. I was wondering if you think my boy could be part Mountain Cur. He is a rescue. How do I post a photo?

  6. Hi, we adopted a rescue a few months ago and were told he’s a mix of lab/great dane/Australian cattle dog. After seeing this, this looks to be more his breed! Can you compare? I can send you a pic of him!

  7. We rescued a brindle cur about 3 years ago. He loves being in our family. He was so pitiful when we got him. Someone did a home cut job on his tail and he was so skinny and sad. Now he has 2 kids and a mom and dad that love his little high energy butt. Best choice we ever made.

  8. I have a three month old Mountain View Pup named Finn. He is the most loving pup. He is with me day and night, take him to our hardware store and everyone loves him. I will train him to hunt so he is active mentally and physically. We have three other dogs in our family so he interacts at work and home. People think he is a yellow lab till they see his ears and tail, and want to know what he is. Could not be happier.

  9. We have a now 2yr old believed to be Mt curr …. we were originally told she was black man blue healer mix but vet told us otherwise. Very quick learner yet very stubborn too. Good with our kids and tons of energy. Most protective dog I’ve ever had. But also loud protective bark at first but then big chicken when the person comes inside hahaha. Sleeps at my bed or the girls feet every single night big on cuddles thinks she’s a lab dog. Don’t know what the best brand is for sensitive skin shampoo for her would be? Any suggestions would be helpful.

  10. Have had 2 mountain curs, a male and female, girl pretty typical but male was a brindle and the gentlest dog ever. He would bring us chicken eggs and carry them around for hors without breaking them. Both great dogs, but you did have to keep them buzy.

  11. We rescued a dog from Texas that has a very unusual vocalization, which I call yodeling. Her build is very much like a cur. I cannot find any other breed that has this trait. Does a cur have this ability?

    • We rescued a pup from Kentucky, they guessed Catahoula leopard dog and lab… nope! He is 36% mountain cur, 14% husky, 10% min pin… the rest is a mash up of cattle dogs. He can yodel and sounds like he tries to talk.

    • Yes, that sounds like my mountain cur. She is a hunter, and will squall (yodel) on a hot track. She also “sings” for us when she greets us when we come home to her. I had another mountain cur who has since passed, and she had a regular LOUD chopping bark. They were quite the duet when they both joined in together!

  12. We rescued a pup from a shelter that came from Tennessee and was said to be a boxer mix. After getting him and looking over the vet records it was stated he was a MTN cur. We couldn’t be more happy with him. Duke loves to learn and super smart and such a good boy.

  13. We adopted a pair of sisters from the same litter. However they’re mixed with Jack Russell and quite amusing to look at. One has stronger features from the Jack Russell breed, so the head and ears make you doubt they’re sisters.

  14. Something has been catching our free range chickens. We need a friendly outside dog that will stay on our 12+ acres and protect our chickens. Well this breed be a roamer or a guardian?

    • We adopted a dog from the rescue. She’s amazing loving and fun – about 6 months old. After reading that they’re working dogs and need to constantly work, I’m wondering if I’m going to be able to keep her mind occupied. We live in the city and have a decent size yard with many dog parks to play.

  15. I have my first registered Mountain Cur puppy, Layla. Energy galore. We have 9 acres of land as well as a blue heeler and coonhound. Today Layla starts her 13th week of life. She learned to sit at eight and a half weeks.

  16. We recently adopted a dog that we were told is a Mountain Cur by the shelter she that rescued her. From what I’ve read she has many attributes of the Mountain Cur; but I think she might be a mix perhaps with some Feist. She is smaller than a pure bred Cur, Roxy is 18 months old weighing in at 39.30 lbs. We plan on DNA testing to see it we can get an idea of what other breeds she may have in her genetic line. We had her three weeks and she is a love.

  17. We have a registered Mountain Cur female that just had her 2nd litter. We kept a male from the first litter and he is very energetic and super smart. He learns commands and tricks quickly. Both are great family dogs. We are keeping a female from this 2nd litter too. All pups are registered and have been bred with other registered males. We have one female left to sell!

  18. Recently adopted a Mt. Cur alleged to be mixed with a Lab. I don’t see any Lab at all in her. She is bridle with a black muzzle. She is 3.5 months old, and very sweet, lovable and so expressive. She is learning the leash, and loves the dog park- it is part of our daily routine.

  19. My husband and I adopted a puppy in September from a shelter in Arkansas. They labeled his as a hound mix, but as I research a bit more, he resembles a Mountain Cur. I do think there are other breeds mixed in, but if I email a picture, could you help me identify if I’m on the right track?

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