Complete Guide To The Black Mouth Cur: Personality, Health, Feeding and More

Early American settlers relied on the Black Mouth Cur for their dinners. Powerful, agile hunters and devoted family dogs, they’re named for the black pigment that colors their mouths.

Despite the fact that my veterinary practice is located in Colorado, we still see this breed regularly as folks from the South (where the dogs are most common) move into this area. I also grew up in Georgia and found the breed to be quite common in the kennels where I worked.

How Big Do Black Mouth Curs Get?

Black Mouth Curs are muscular, mid-sized dogs averaging 40-90 pounds — males are significantly larger than females. They’re not included in the American Kennel Club list of breeds, but other organizations such as the United Kennel Club and the Continental Kennel Club have them listed.

What Do Black Mouth Curs Look Like?

Broad-chested but lean with a tall back and graceful lines, they’re built to work. Wide-set drop ears frame a square muzzle, sturdy jaws and bright brown eyes.

Their short, close-fitting coats come in all shades of:

• Red
• Yellow
• Black
• Brown
• Fawn
• Buckskin
• Brindle

A black muzzle is common, and white spots are acceptable from their chests to the tip of their long curved tails. Dogs with dilute coats may have green or yellow eyes. The Black Mouth Curs may be mistaken for Boxer or Mastiff crossbreeds. The Mountain Cur is a distinctly different dog.

What Is The Personality Of A Black Mouth Cur?

Black Mouth Curs are scenthounds, depending on their noses to track prey. But they also have keen eyes and ears and are much more alert to their surroundings — if it’s going on nearby, you can bet they know about it. They’re the antithesis of the lazy front-porch hound.

Bred as multi-purpose farm dogs, they can hunt, herd and will guard your home and family with their last breath. Energetic, they need an active family to keep them busy. Affectionate but not clingy, they’re sensitive and can be territorial around other dogs — early socialization and training are the keys to a long and happy relationship.

How Much Exercise Does A Black Mouth Cur Need?

Black Mouth Curs are all business — they’re intelligent and happiest when they’re on the job. It takes at least an hour a day of vigorous exercise to keep them relaxed, but dawn-to-dusk work is more satisfying. They were born to be farm dogs.

Their favorite time-off activities include hiking and swimming. If you need a running or camping partner, sign them up. Curs need a lot of outdoor time and room to roam — they’re not apartment dogs.

Black Mouth Curs enjoy toys, but they’re unlikely to entertain themselves. Bored, they can be destructive. They need structured, meaningful activities with their families, preferring to be partners, not pets.

How Much Grooming Does A Black Mouth Cur Need?

Few dogs require as little grooming as the Black Mouth Cur. Weekly brushing with a hound glove or grooming mitt is all it takes to keep them shiny and manage shedding — a bonus for allergy sufferers and owners who appreciate a clean home.

Bathing requirements depend on their activities. Farm dogs can’t avoid the mud, so keep the hose handy. If you wash them often, use a gentle shampoo to avoid drying their skin.

Like most dogs with drop ears, Black Mouth Curs are prone to ear infections — especially if they swim. Dry their ears when they get out of the water and clean them after each swim with a pH-balanced solution.

Curs are usually active enough to wear their toenails down, but they benefit from a monthly trim. Use a grinding tool to pare them back and soften rough edges.

What Is The Best Dog Food For A Black Mouth Cur?

Personally I believe that most foods are fine for most dogs. Some dogs may not do well on some foods. However, as a rule I don’t blanket-prohibit any dietary ingredient from any breed at this time.

As a veterinarian, I tend to lean towards dog foods from the larger, more established dog food companies. They tend to have less recalls and issues with production than the smaller boutique companies. More times than not, if a patient is having GI upset due to food, it’s from one of these newer, “boutique” companies.

Best Puppy Food For Black Mouth Curs:

Best Adult Food For Black Mouth Curs:

Please don’t listen to the folks at the pet store trying to convince you to buy a grain-free diet for your dog. There’s zero science behind that and vets are actually seeing diseases now related to feeding grain-free foods.

It’s very important they remain at their optimal weight throughout their life. Have your vet go over with you exactly where to feel to know when your dog is too big.

How Long Does A Black Mouth Cur Live?

Based on its size relative to other breeds, I’d say this breed has a lifespan between 12-15 years.

What Health Issues Can A Black Mouth Cur Have?

This isn’t a breed that’s known to have any particular health issues tied to it but that doesn’t mean that it can’t get allergies, ACL tears, kidney disease, etc.

However, I would tell that if you’re rescuing a Black Mouth Cur from the South, you should have the dog tested for both heartworms and any intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Worms are just more common in the South due to many factors and any rescue from the South should be thoroughly screened.

Interesting Facts About the Black Mouth Cur

A fixture in the Southern United States, the Black Mouth Cur is rare north of the Mason-Dixon line. Breed awareness is low, but fans are getting the word out.

Did you know?

• The Black Mouth Cur is American-Bred

The Cur’s origins are vague. Some claim they originated in the Tennessee mountains, a claim breeders in Mississippi deny. All that’s known for sure is that they were instrumental in the westward expansion, helping settle territory from Texas to California.

• They’re Not Recognized by the AKC

The Black Mouth Cur was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1998, but it has yet to be accepted by the American Kennel Club. Despite sound genetic evidence that they’re a distinct breed, they don’t have enough national attention to be considered.

• Merle Is a No-No

The Cur’s coat color is defined by the UKC’s breed standard. It’s generous, allowing a wide range of shades in most colors, with or without black masks and white spots. A merle pattern, however, is a disqualification, indicating crossbreeding.

• They Inspired Old Yeller

The lead character in Fred Gipson’s novel, Old Yeller, was likely a Black Mouth Cur. Though not explicitly stated, the description is unmistakable. The world may never know, however, about its starring role —etched in the memory of viewers is the Labrador Retriever mix that played the part in the tear-jerking film adaptation of the book.