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Black mouth cur in the woods

Photo by Greg Hume (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Scenthound group (United Kennel Club)
  • Height — 18-24 inches
  • Weight — 40-95 pounds for males, 35-80 for females. The higher weights are for herding dog lines, whereas the lighter weights are treeing lines.
  • Coat length & texture — short and dense, varies from coarse to fine
  • Coat color — Their colors range between brown, black, fawn, red, and yellow. Some white spots on their chest are acceptable, and not every dog has the iconic black mouth.
  • Exercise needs — High
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Frequent barking
  • Life span — 12-15 years
  • Breed temperament — Energetic, loyal, playful, stubborn, and fearless
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Origin — United States

Black mouth cur temperament and characteristics 

Black mouth curs are known for being very courageous and protective, owing to their purpose of protecting settler families from the wildlife of the southern United States. They are playful and will bond quickly with family members. However, their high prey drive and stubborn independence contribute to this breed not being a great choice for families with small children or smaller pets. With proper training and socializing, this issue with younger children can be alleviated to make the black mouth curs great family dogs.

An active breed bred for working outdoors, it is not a good idea to put the black mouth cur in an apartment. If they do not get daily extensive exercise and physical stimulation, curs can develop destructive habits. They are prone to developing separation anxiety as well, so it is important to develop healthy practices when leaving the home. Giving them tasks that will keep them mentally involved and working will also help to alleviate these issues.


The Black Mouth Cur is a medium-sized breed of dog with a muscular build and a short, smooth coat that can come in various colors. According to the United Kennel Club (UKC) breed standard, all shades of red, yellow, fawn, black, brown, buckskin, or brindle are acceptable. We teamed up with FidoTabby Alert, and according to their database, a frequent coat color for the Black Mouth Cur is (78%) brown.

Black mouth cur fun facts

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Black Mouth Curs Max and Jax. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Black Mouth Curs love Nala, then Luna.

  • They are known for their loyalty and courage. Despite being portrayed by a different breed in the movie, the dog in Ol’ Yeller was a black mouth cur.
  • Owners need to be consistently dominant. Very intelligent and stubborn, the black mouth cur has a need to be in charge. This will have to be curbed with consistent and patient training.
  • There is no true breed standard. With many variations in their origin and coat color, it is very difficult to pin down a true breed standard. This is a contributing factor in them not being recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Black mouth cur closeup

Common black mouth cur health problems 

Black mouth curs are well known for being hardy, healthy dogs. Living regularly into their teens if properly cared for, they will not cause you many worries if you take the steps to ensure their good health. Making sure to get your black mouth cur from a reputable breeder will also reduce concerns for medical issues.

However, they are susceptible to some issues, such as

  • Ear infections. Due to the black mouth cur’s floppy ears, they are very prone to ear infections. It is important to keep ears clean, especially after they spend extended time outside. If you need help with this, you can ask your vet for aid and tips.
  • Hip dysplasia. This condition is characterized by the hip joint not fitting together properly due to improper development . It can be alleviated and treated through medication and therapy, but in some instances, surgery is needed.
  • Arthritis. An inflammatory condition that causes joint cartilage to degenerate, arthritis can affect a dog at any age. Catching it early with a vet’s help can alleviate your dog of a lot of pain and help them lead a fulfilling life.
  • Cataracts. Most often developed during the normal aging process, this condition can also be caused due to health conditions such as diabetes. With their active, outdoor lifestyle, this is a very real possibility for black mouth curs. Surgery is the only treatment for cataracts.

Cost of caring for a black mouth cur

Surgery to correct cataracts and hip dysplasia can range from $1,500-$4,500. With these large potential payments in your future, it could be beneficial to look into pet health insurance to help reduce the out-of-pocket expenses of these surgeries. If an insurance plan is too expensive or you cannot be insured due to your cur being a hunting dog, a pet savings account and budget could be your best bet.

Black mouth cur puppy

History of the black mouth cur

Sometimes known as the southern black mouth cur, it is widely accepted that the breed’s origins trail back to when European settlers were trying to tame the southeastern American frontier. Settlers needed a dog that could protect their families and land from dangerous wildlife like cougars and bears. They were also in need of a breed that could be used to help herd their cattle and keep their livelihood in order. The black mouth cur was the answer to these needs.

It is unknown what breeds were crossed to make the original Southern curs, but their love of the outdoors has persisted through the years to their current form. As hunting dogs, black mouth curs are still capable of tracking down prey and scaring them into trees where their master can find them and complete the hunt. As family dogs, these curs show the good qualities needed in a loving dog that is also fiercely loyal and protective.

Despite the unknown origins of the breed, the black mouth cur is considered a purebred dog due to generally only being bred with other black mouth curs.

Caring for your black mouth cur

Caring for a new puppy of any breed can be overwhelming, and the black mouth cur is no different. You’ll need to make your first trip to the vet and schedule your puppy’s vaccinations. It is important that you puppy-proof your home and prepare for teething.

Additionally, no one likes to think about losing their new dog but FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared just in case. Here are some other basics specific to the black mouth cur.


The black mouth cur is a highly energetic breed that requires extensive physical and mental exercise. Long walks and tasks that challenge their intellect are a must, but it would be better to give your dog a large yard where they can run and play for extended periods of time. They were bred to be able to keep up with the demands of a working lifestyle, so it is necessary that they get their energy out in a productive, non-destructive manner.

Agility training and other physical sports are helpful to honing your black mouth cur’s skills and keeping them properly exercised. Due to the breed’s high prey drive, it is not a good idea to take them to dog parks to get exercise. With their purposeful courage to take on dangerous wildlife larger than them, black mouth curs would not behave well around larger dogs either if not properly socialized.

Black mouth cur exercise


The black mouth cur’s coat is largely self-managing with its short length and shedding, however, you will need to brush them once a week. Depending on how often they play outside, semi-regular bathing will help to make sure their coat stays clean. Be careful not to bathe them too often, though, or else you run the risk of drying out their skin.

Regular maintenance of their nails through trimming and teeth brushing is needed. To help avoid the risk of ear infections, it is important to keep their ears clean as well.

Diet and nutrition

The nutritional needs of your black mouth cur will depend on their lifestyle. If they are a working dog that herds your cattle or helps you hunt, they will need to eat more than the typical family dog. No matter what job or activity level you expect of your cur, they need a high-protein, high-quality food that is meant for active, medium-sized dogs. If you have any questions about feeding your black mouth cur, don’t hesitate to reach out to your vet.

Training your black mouth cur

Black mouth curs are incredibly intelligent and respond well to persistent, reward-focused training. They want to perform well and meet your expectations, but they will need to be shown that they can trust you to lead them. Highly stubborn and strong-willed, black mouth curs require an owner that will be able to be firm and consistent with their instructions.

This firmness, however, can’t devolve into shouting at the dog. Curs do not respond well to abuse or being yelled at, and they will quickly lose their trust and respect for anyone that yells at them. If you can stay calm and patient and use positive reinforcements, you will be rewarded with a dog that is incredibly obedient and responsive to your every command.

Black mouth cur training

Breeds similar to the black mouth cur

Not quite sure that a black mouth cur is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Mountain cur. Loyal, strong, and protective, the mountain cur will fill your home with love and keep it safe at the same time.
  • Bluetick coonhound. Another hunting dog, the bluetick is ideal for tracking down and finding your prey. Not only that, but they are also another breed that originates from the southern states.
  • Rhodesian ridgeback. Bred to take on large game like lions in South Africa, the Rhodesian ridgeback will be able to protect your family and home much like the black mouth cur.

Frequently asked questions

Is a black mouth cur a good family dog?

Black mouth curs are extremely loyal and loving to their family members, but their exercise needs and difficulty of training mean that they are not going to fit in with a family that does not have the time or patience for them.

Are black mouth curs fighting dogs?

They were bred to defend early American homesteads and settlers against predatory animals and threats. They were not bred to be dogfighting dogs, but unfortunately, their aggressiveness could make them attractive to people that engage in these bloodsports.

Why is the black mouth cur not recognized by the American Kennel Club?

Due to the unknown heritage of the black mouth cur and what breeds make it up, there is no standard that can be applied by the AKC.

Is the black mouth cur a common dog breed?

Virtually nonexistent outside of the United States and Mexico, the black mouth cur is deemed a rare breed.

Will getting my black mouth cur neutered make him calmer?

Altered pets are known to exhibit less aggressive behaviors, but it is not an end-all solution. Proper training and socialization can aid in curbing bad behaviors in your dog.