Stephens Cur – General Description
The Stephens Cur (aka Stephens’ Stock Cur), is a scent hound that belongs to the Cur dog breed. They were originally bred by the Stephens’ family in southeastern Kentucky. The dogs known as “little darkies” were bred by generations of that family for over a century. In 1970, they were recognized as separate and distinct breed of Cur. The dog is mostly black with white markings, but more than a third white is not permissible. It’s good for hunting raccoon and squirrel, but can also be used to bay wild boars. They are registered with the United Kennel Club, and the Continental Kennel Club.
Classification and Standards
- UKC Scenthound
Character & Temperament
The Stephens Cur is intelligent, easily trained, and neither vicious nor shy. They are known to always try to please their masters.
Hundreds of years ago, the term “cur” referred to dogs of mixed ancestry, but it came to be used for a working type of dog in the Southern United States. The dogs that came to be known as Mountain Curs were used by early settlers for hunting and as guard dogs in Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky.
By the 1940s, the Mountain Cur was close to extinction. Four breeders started programs to save the breed: Hugh Stephens of Kentucky, Carl McConnel of Virginia, Woody Huntsman of Kentucky and Dewey Ledbetter of Tennessee. They founded the Mountain Cur Club, later renamed the Original Mountain Cur Breeders Association (OMCBA), and continued the breeding of Mountain Cur strains. The Treeing Cur and the Mountain View Cur were developed from these strains.
The Stephens’ Stock Mountain Cur was identified in 1970 by its namesake Hugh Stephens who believed it was different enough from the original strains of Mountain Cur, and so the Stephen’s Breeders Association (SBA) was formed. Starting 1 November 1998, the breed is now recognized by the United Kennel Club, and is also recognised by the Continental Kennel Club.
Size & Appearance
A Stephens Cur is usually dark grey or black with white markings on the chest, neck and feet. The breed has a dome shaped head with a short muzzle and brown or dark colored eyes. They have a deep broad chest, medium length neck and have either a smooth or rough coat.
They are a medium sized dog, with Mountain Cur and Blackmouth Cur being larger varieties of Cur type dogs, the Stephens’ Breeders Association standard requires the dogs to be between 16–23 inches (41–58 cm) in height and no heavier than 55 pounds (25 kg).
[tab title=”Health-Maint”]Health & Maintenance
No unusual health problems or claims of extraordinary health have been documented for this breed.
- Official U.K.C. Breed Standard for Stephens’ Cur – http://www.ukcdogs.com/WebSite.nsf/Breeds/Stephens%27Cur
- “Stephens Cur Information”. Sarah’s Dogs. – http://www.sarahsdogs.com/breeds/stephens_cur/
- “History of the Mountain Cur”. United Mountain Cur Association – http://www.unitedmountaincurassociation.com/breedhistory.htm
- “Stephens Stock”. Continental Kennel Club. – http://www.continentalkennelclub.com/Ads.aspx?BreedNum=655
- Smith, Steve (2002). The Encyclopedia of North American Sporting Dogs: Written by Sportsmen for Sportsmen. Willow Creek Press. p. 222. – http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=d4FnXfnoc-IC&pg=PA222&dq=%22Stephens+Cur%22&hl=en&ei=uqXMTJWYBqON4gb9rfzbDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22Stephens%20Cur%22&f=false
- “Breed Standard”. Stephens’ Breeders Association – http://stephensbreeders.org/about/breed-standard/
- Author releases the image into the [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
- Tacosunday (talk).Tacosunday at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
Originally a strain of Mountain Cur, the little black dogs bred by the family of Hugh Stephens in Kentucky soon became sufficiently distinct that they were recognized as a separate breed. The Stephens’ Stock Cur excels at hunting squirrel and raccoon, but is also used in packs on mountain lion and bears.
The Stephens’ Stock Cur was recognized by U.K.C. on November 1, 1998.
The Stephens’ Stock Cur is a powerful, agile tree dog of small to medium size. The body is 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 medium in length. The coat is dense but close fitting. The Stephens’ Stock 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 Stephens’ Stock Cur is a fast, hard hunter that carries its head high on track. Open or semi-open on track is preferred, but silent trailing is acceptable. Good changeover at the tree is preferred. The Stephens’ Stock Cur is intelligent and easily trained with strong treeing instincts on all game.
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 slightly sloping 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, and are darkly pigmented.
TEETH – The Stephens’ Stock Cur has a complete set of evenly spaced, white teeth meeting in a scissors bite.
NOSE – Nose is square with well-opened nostrils. Pigment is black.
EYES – Eyes are large in size, set wide apart with inner and outer corners on the same horizontal line. Eye color is brown. Eye rims are tight and black.
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 Stephens’ Stock 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. Dewclaws may be removed.
The tail is set low and of medium length.
The outer coat is short, and may be smooth or rough in texture, but not wooly. Undercoat is short, dense, and soft.
Black. White markings are permissible provided the dog is not more than one-third white in color.
Height and Weight
Height for a mature Stephens’ Stock Cur ranges between 16 to 23 inches. Weight is proportionate to height and never over 55 pounds. Stephens’ Stock Curs are working dogs and should be presented in hard, muscular condition.
Stephens’ Stock 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.
- Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid.
- Viciousness or extreme shyness.
- Overshot bite.
- Undershot bite.
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