Bred specifically as a working dog to ward off raccoons and squirrels, the Mountain Cur is an intelligent purebred that has made it through near extinction to become one of the most popular pets in the world today. These dogs were originally introduced to America from Europe by mountain settlers in Ohio. They went on to then spread out among the states of Tennessee, Oklahoma and Arkansas, among a few others, and were used both to ward off small pests like squirrels, and as guard dogs. After World War II, the mountain cur faced near extinction as their owners migrated to find work, and left them behind.
In 1956, the breed was saved from extinction after four men from Tennessee decided to form the Original Mountain Cur Breeders Association, and then the Stephen Stock Mountain Cur Association. Flash forward to the 21st century and the Mountain Cur is still present as a pigeon, and even more popular now than they were in the early 1900’s. Still the question remains, is this working and hunter dog ideal or even suitable as a pet for anyone, or should they continue to be used as workers? By examining their characteristics, it’s easy to draw a conclusion.
Mountain Cur Physical Appearance and Attributes
Mountain curs have a distinct physical attribute that makes them noticeable from a far way, their sturdy but muscular body with very tall legs. They have a rough, medium length coat which comes in a variety of colours including the popular brindle colour, black or dark brown with white points. They can also come in a mixture of colours or parti coloured, with black and brindle prints or black and white colours. Their eyes vary in colour between green, blue and light brown.
On average, Mountain Curs weigh between 45 – 95 pounds fully grown, and have a height averaging anywhere from 16 – 25 inches. They are normally sturdy medium sized dogs but they can also grow to be larger and more muscular, depending on their genes. They have a deep chest, and are comprehensively naturally slim, athletic and very agile. Their ears are set high on their head and tend to be medium length and floppy.
Temperament and Characteristics
These dogs are a pleasure to have in every home, and their eager to please personality will make you love them. Mountain curs are also highly intelligent and easily trainable, whether to do tricks and stunts or just potty training. They are normally also very active, and love having a job to do, so be sure to engage them in both mentally stimulating and physically challenging activities that really test their intelligence. If left alone, they may become bored or anxious, and this can lead to them being a little angsty at best and finding something to do, including destroying property, at worst.
Mountain Curs are generally very obedient, and tend to heed instructions very well. They are also good with children and other pets, and cohabit peaceably with other animals when properly socialised. They are however not the best around strangers because of their defensiveness, and if an intruder shows up, your dog may become a bit violent and dangerous. These characteristics are thankfully subjected to change, and Mountain Curs, if socialised at a young age, can be trained to react differently in certain circumstances.
Grooming and Maintenance
Mountain Curs generally have a short, dense, close fitting coat consisting of two layers, a thick top coat and a softer, much warmer undercoat. Despite the natural excess hair, they normally have minimal shedding outside of their regular shedding seasons. For grooming, you only need to brush their coats regularly to get rid of excess dirt, and bathe them as needed. They do however require daily walks, and a yard to play in.
When it comes to feeding, Mountain Curs need good quality, high energy dog food. It’s best to mix both dry and wet dog food together, to ensure that they get balanced nutrition, and make sure they get adequate water throughout the day and with their meals. It would be best to limit the amount of leftovers they get, as this might cause a nutrient imbalance in your pup.
Health, Lifespan and Physical Activity
These dogs normally live long healthy lives, and have an average lifespan of 14 to 16 years, with no health conditions that are specific to their breed. They have one of the highest energy levels of all dogs, and this heightened physical activity may pose a problem to many because of the amount of time and play they require. Mountain Curs can walk up to 15 miles on average each day, and afterwards, still have enough energy to play and stay active. This is one of the reasons they are ideal for bigger families with lots of active children, so that the Mountain Cur almost always has someone to play with.
Despite being one of the healthiest dog breeds out there, and not suffering from any specific breed related health issues, the Mountain Cur is still prone to developing a number of health conditions as a large dog. These include:
- Ear Infections – While the long floppy ears are an addition to their cute factor, they need proper cleaning to prevent the risk of your dog developing an ear infection. Because of the length of their ears, Mountain Curs will be more susceptible to issues such as ear mites, ear infections and wax buildup, so ensure you wipe down their ears with a wet cloth during the bathing process.
- Dry Skin – As with many other dogs, the Mountain Cur is susceptible to dry skin and irritation if excessive bathing occurs or they are exposed to excessive sunlight with little humidity. Another issue that may cause skin irritations are certain shampoos. Ensure you only use a dog shampoo to bathe your dog to prevent any allergic reactions.
Still not sure if the Mountain Cur is the ideal dog for your lifestyle? Here’s an interesting fact about these dogs. All original and well bred Mountain Curs have a dewclaw, which acts somewhat as a fifth toe. Some even have two per foot. They are made up of both bone and nail, just like the others. This is not specific for this breed though, as many other dog breeds have dewclaws both front and rear.