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Mountain Cur – General Description
The Mountain Cur is a type of working dog that’s mainly used as a “Bay dog” in the sport of wild boar hunting. The majority of Mountain Curs are bred specifically for treeing and trailing small game, like squirrel and raccoons. They’re also used for hunting big game like bear and wild boar as well being just an all-purpose farm dog. Curs are a member of the Hound group and is one of several varieties of cur. They can also be used as water dogs. Mainly bred in Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee, it has been registered with the United Kennel Club since 1998. The Mountain Cur Breeder’s Association was formed in 1957.
Classification and Standards
- UKC Scenthound Group
Character & Temperament
The Mountain Cur is intelligent, easily trained, and neither vicious nor shy. They tend to be very energetic and generally do not make good indoor pets. They are known to always try to please their masters. They are not however dogs to be trifled with, historically many a cur died fighting to protect his family from hostile natives and dangerous predators.
These curs were bred to work, and if deprived of the opportunity to hunt, guard, or work around a farm they will grow anxious and bored. When they have a job to do, these dogs are generally happy and obedient, and are able to get along well with children and other pets.
The Mountain Cur was originally brought to America from Europe by the settlers of the mountains in Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, then later Arkansas and Oklahoma, to guard family and property as well as chase and tree game. These dogs enabled the settlers to provide meat and pelts for personal use or trade, making them very valuable in the unforgiving frontier environment. The Mountain Cur was bred and maintained for nearly two hundred years. With the advent of World War II, many of the families who had bred them left the rural areas and went to work in factories in the war effort. By the end of the 1940s the breed was becoming rare. Four individuals, Hugh Stephens and Woody Huntsman of Kentucky, Carl McConnell of Virginia and Dewey Ledbetter of Tennessee are given credit for saving the breed from dying out and setting the Mountain Cur breed standard.
Mt. Curs were the pioneer dogs of the southern Kentucky and Tennessee mountains. It has been said that without Mt. Cur Dogs the pioneers could have never been able to settle in these mountains.
Mt. Curs were a necessity for the frontier family. They guarded families against wild animals and other dangers; then also provided food by catching, treeing and holing game for their families’ food. Mt. Curs were held in high regard by the pioneers and few were sold after acceptance into a family.
It is believed that the Mt. Cur came from Europe along with their owners who came to America seeking new homes. It has been established, through the research of the late David Carr, that the cur as a type of hunting & herding dog has existed in Britain since at least the 13th century. Many of these dogs were born bobtailed and this gave rise to the word curtail. This cur is the source for later cattle dogs such as the Welsh Corgis, the famous Smithfield and the Old English Sheepdog. After its arrival in colonial America in the 17th century it became the source for other cur breeds including the modern Mt Cur, and the Blackmouth Cur of Old Yeller fame. Until World War II, the Mt. Cur was still an economic asset to the mountain people. Their Mt. Curs helped feed the family and many of these mountain people bought food, clothes, and other necessities with money from furs caught by their Mt. Curs. Then came the War and the industrial revolution, making jobs available in the Cities. As more mountain people became moved to the Cities to become factory workers the Mt. Cur became scarce in the late 1940s.
However the Ole’ mountain men did not forget the Mt. Cur. Four men have been credited with saving the Mt. Cur from extinction, even though many Mt. Curs bloodlines carry very little if any of the blood of the old pioneer Mt. Curs. These men were Hugh Stephens and Woody Huntsman of Kentucky, Dewey Ledbetter of Tennessee, and Carl McConnell of Virginia.
In 1956, these men founded the Original Mountain Cur Breeders’ Association. Soon after, much controversy over the breed standard caused Hugh Stephen and Carl McConnell to leave the OMCBA and they founded the Stephen Stock Mt. Cur Association (Registered only long- tailed little black and white dogs).
Later the Tennessee Treeing Brindle Association ( Registering any long-tailed brindle dogs), and the Kemmer Stock Breeders Association, who registers any and all OMCBA registered dogs, regardless of bloodlines.
The Mountain View Cur was developed by selecting only the very best certified tree dogs out of a certain pure Mt. Cur bloodline. This is why they are known as the “thoroughbreds” of the cur dog world. No other Mt Cur Strain has ever been bred under their strict selection and breeding standards.
Size & Appearance
The Mountain Cur stands 18-26 inches (46-66 cm) at the withers and weighs between 30-60 lbs (16-29 kg). Mountain curs are short-coated dogs which come in blue, yellow, or brindle coloration. Some individuals will also show white markings on the face or chest. 
- Coat: Heavy, medium short.
- Color: Brindle, black, dark brown, black and brindle, red, yellow and can have white points.
- Head: Broad square with top being a flat plane between the high set ears.
- Eyes: Green, blue, or dark brown, expressive.
- Ears: Short to medium with a high set and tightly controlled.
- Muzzle: Heavy with wide nares. Teeth form a scissor like bite.
- Body: Stocky, muscular, square and slightly longer than it is tall. The tail can be docked but long enough to form a handle for show. 50% or more of pups are born with a bobbed or naturally short tail.
- Legs: Straight, medium long, muscular capable of speed.
- Feet: Oval shaped, muscled with feline-like pads. Can have back dew claws.
Health & Maintenance
Mountain Curs can live up to 14-16 years, and there are no reported breed-specific health issues.
- Steve Smith (1 September 2002). The Encyclopedia of North American Sporting Dogs: Written by Sportsmen for Sportsmen. Willow Creek Press. pp. 222–223. ISBN 978-1-57223-501-4.
- Vickie Lamb (1 November 2006). The Ultimate Hunting Dog Reference Book: A Comprehensive Guide to More Than 60 Sporting Breeds. Globe Pequot. pp. 62–63. ISBN 978-1-59228-745-1.
- Dominique De Vito; Heather Russell-Revesz; Stephanie Fornino (15 May 2009). World Atlas of Dog Breeds. TFH Publications. pp. 592–593. ISBN 978-0-7938-0656-0.
- Tacosunday [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Mountain Cur was declared a breed in 1957 with the organization of the Original Mountain Cur Breeders of America (O.M.C.B.A). Prior to that time, dogs of this type could only be found in very remote, rural areas and there were no organized breeding records. The most common strains of Mountain Cur included the McConnell, Stephens, Ledbetter, Arline and York strains. OMCBA was able to assemble breeders and register the original-type Mountain Cur. On the last weekend of September, 1991, a group of men and women met at Robert and Lou Ella Kemmer’s house and formed a new breed club that registered a strain of line-bred cur that became known as the Kemmer Stock Mountain Cur. These curs are Mountain Curs that are bred from the above-mentioned lines. The best was bred to the best and then line bred. Kemmer Stock Mountain Curs were first registered with the Kemmer Stock Mountain Cur Breeders’ Association (K.S.B.A). Mountain Curs from O.M.B.C.A. and K.S.B.A. provided the foundation stock for the U.K.C. Mountain Cur breed. Today these dogs are used on squirrel, raccoon, and all types of big game.
The Mountain Cur was recognized by U.K.C. on November 1, 1998.
The Mountain Cur is a powerful, agile tree dog of medium size. The body is square or just slightly longer than tall. Legs are long enough to allow the dog to move quickly and with agility in rough terrain. The head is broad with a moderate stop, and a muzzle slightly shorter than the length of skull. Ears are set high and drop. The tail is straight, set low, and may be a natural bob. The coat is dense but close fitting. The Mountain Cur should be evaluated as a working dog, and exaggerations or faults should be penalized in proportion to how much they interfere with the dog’s ability to work. Scars should neither be penalized nor regarded as proof of a dog’s working abilities.
The Mountain Cur is a fast, hard hunter that runs the track with its head in the air. Open, semi-open, or silent on track the Mountain Cur has a clear bark that can be heard a long distance. When a hot track is not immediately available, the Mountain Cur will circle and drift on a cold track until it locates a hot track. Mountain Curs are courageous fighters when required. This breed is intelligent, with a strong desire to please, so, despite its strong treeing instincts on all game, the Mountain Cur is easily discouraged from tracking unwanted game. A Mountain Cur responds better to training if it has lots of human contact. In addition to hunting, Mountain Curs make great family companions and watch dogs.
The head is broad but proportionate to the size of the body. When viewed from the side, the muzzle is slightly shorter than the skull and joined by a definite stop. The planes of the skull and muzzle are parallel.
SKULL – The skull is flat and broad, tapering slightly toward the muzzle. Cheeks are muscular and prominent.
MUZZLE – The muzzle is shorter than the skull, moderately broad with a well-defined underjaw. Lips are tight with no flews. Lip pigment matches nose pigment.
TEETH – The Mountain Cur has a complete set of evenly spaced, white teeth meeting in a scissors bite.
Disqualifications: Overshot bite. Undershot bite.
NOSE – Nose is square with well-opened nostrils. Pigment is black or self-colored.
EYES – Eyes are large in size, set wide apart with inner and outer corners on the same horizontal line. Eye color is brown, ranging from dark to amber. Eye rims are tight. Eye rims match nose pigment.
EARS – Ears are drop, of short to medium length, wide at the base, and set high.
The neck is slightly arched, strong, very well muscled, and of moderate length. The neck gradually widens from the nape and blends smoothly into the shoulders.
Shoulders are well laid back. The upper arm is long and wide, and forms an apparent 90-degree angle with the shoulder blade.
FORELEGS – The forelegs are well muscled with strong bone. The elbows are set close to the body, but able to move freely in action. The pasterns are short, powerful, straight, and flexible.
A properly proportioned Mountain Cur is just slightly longer than tall. Back is broad, strong, of moderate length, and level, blending into a muscular, slightly arched loin with slight to moderate tuck up. The ribs extend well back and are well sprung out from the spine, then curving down and inward to form a deep body. The brisket extends to the elbow. Viewed from the front, the chest between the forelegs is muscular and well filled. This is a dog bred for stamina and faults should be penalized to the degree that they detract from that goal.
The hindquarters are strong and muscular. The bone, angulation, and musculature of the hindquarters are in balance with the forequarters.
HIND LEGS – The stifles are well bent, and the hocks are well let down. When the dog is standing, the short, strong rear pasterns are perpendicular to the ground, and viewed from the rear, parallel to one another.
The feet are slightly oval in shape, are of moderate size, compact and well arched. Pads are large, tough, and well cushioned. Single or double dewclaws are preferred but not required.
The tail is set low and either naturally bobbed, bobbed, or of medium length, carried high. Bobbed tail is preferred. On rough-coated dogs, the coat on the tail is well feathered.
The outer coat is short, and may be smooth or rough in texture. Undercoat is short, dense, and soft.
Black (with or without tan or brindle points); blue; brindle; brown; red; yellow; blonde or buttermilk buckskin. White markings are permissible provided the dog is not more than one-third white in color.
Height and Weight
Height for a mature male ranges between 18 to 26 inches and 16 to 24 inches for a mature female. Weight is proportionate to height. Mountain Curs are working dogs and should be presented in hard, muscular condition.
Mountain Cur gait is smooth and effortless, with good reach of forequarters. Rear quarters have strong driving power, with hocks fully extending. Viewed from any position, legs turn neither in nor out, nor do feet cross or interfere with each other. As speed increases, feet tend to converge toward center line of balance.
- Semi-erect ears.
- Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid.
- Viciousness or extreme shyness.
- Overshot bite.
- Undershot bite.
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