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Black Mouth Cur Breed Overview, Facts & Care


Last Updated: May 22, 2023 | 9 min read | Leave a Comment

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The Black Mouth Cur is an American-born and bred pooch from the southern states. Little is known about their history, and outside America, they are extremely rare. They are all-purpose dogs who excel on ranches, and families that own one say they would never own another dog breed. Curs are fearless and sensitive dogs rolled into one ball of doggy goodness.

If you are thinking about welcoming one of these dogs into your life, there are a few things you need to know because they aren’t suited to most families. Curs are incredibly hardworking, territorial, and protective of their family. So, if you’re looking for a dog to work with you by day and take care of your family by night, this could be the one for you. But if you’re looking for a laidback couch potato, this is not the breed.

Are you curious about this Cur and think you’ve got what it takes to own one? This pup needs some serious consideration before you commit. So, let’s take a closer look.

Black Mouth Cur
    • weight iconWeightMinimum of 35 pounds
    • height iconHeightMinimum of 16 inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan12-16 years
    • color iconColorsBlack, Red, Yellow, Fawn, Brown, Brindle, Buckskin
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Exercise Needs
  • Puppy Costs


A cute Black Mouth Cur dog standing on the middle of a grass-covered field on a warm and sunny day
The history of the Black Mouth Cur is uncertain, but it was established in the 1800s in the U.S. Southeast.

Some canine historians believe they originate from the Tenessee mountains, but others claim they come from Mississippi. We know that they are an American multi-purpose working dog breed, an accomplished hunter, and a family guardian.

It is thought that the Black Mouth Cur played an essential role in settling the American frontier. During this time, settlers bred this Cur with whatever crossbreeds were with them. Unfortunately, records were not kept, which is why we know so little about their origins. Other historians believe that the English Mastiff plays a part in their ancestry, brought over from England on the Mayflower voyage in 1621.

Ironically, despite being an American dog, the Black Mouth Cur is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC.) This is mainly because little is known about the breed, and still, to this day, there are wide variations between bloodlines from different regions. Instead, the United Kennel Club (UKC) does. Recognized in 1998, avid breeders are working hard to promote the breed. The UKC lists them in the scenthound group.

Being a rare dog, most people have never met a Black Mouth Cur. But many people do not know that the dog in “Old Yeller” is a Black Mouth Cur. The film adaption casts a Labrador mix, but the author heavily implies that the dog is a Black Mouth Cur.


The Black Mouth Cur is a hardworking dog breed that must have a job to do. These dogs aren’t the best fit for a typical family and are not happy to mooch through the day in front of the telly or chill in the kitchen. Instead, they need to work tirelessly throughout the day with their master. The Black Mouth Cur combines tenacity, courage, and a strong desire to work. This is why they make fantastic ranch dogs.

Black Mouth Curs are very territorial of their space and protective of their owner and family. They never back down if they feel threatened and take on vicious predators such as bears and wildcats. They feel particularly protective of children in the family. However, some Curs are known for their rough play style and herding behaviors, and many say they are not the best dog to live with young children.

Despite their hard-as-boots persona, Black Mouth Curs are sensitive souls. They don’t like being left alone for too long and prefer spending their day side by side with their master. They also don’t respond well to harsh training or criticism. Owners should have plenty of dog-owning and training experience to coexist with this pup.

Size & Appearance

3 Fawn and White Color Shorthaired Black Mouth Cur Puppies Relaxing Outside on dog bed
They have a square frame, although they are longer than tall.

Black Mouth Curs are medium size dogs with a muscular, rugged appearance. The UKC lists the expected appearance in the breed standard. The minimum height should be 16 inches for females and 18 inches for males. The minimum weight is 35 pounds for a female and 40 pounds for a male.

Black Mouth Curs are named because of the pigmentation around their mouth. Unless the dog inherits a dilute coat color, their lips and the inside of their mouth are dark in color, except for their tongue. Overall, their shape, coat, and coloring make them look similar to Rhodesian Ridgebacks, except half the size.

Coat & Colors

The Black Mouth Cur has a close-lying short and dense coat. The texture of their coat varies and can be very fine, coarse, rough, or anything in between. According to the breed standard, the only texture they shouldn’t have is a wiry coat. This is only important if you want to show your Cur in the ring.

The breed standard states that all shades of red, yellow, fawn, black, brown, brindle, and buckskin are acceptable. Curs can have a black muzzle or mask and are often dark around their eyes and ears. Minimal amounts of white are allowed as long as it is not around the collar and does not cover more than 10% of the body.

There are a lot of color variations between regions and bloodlines, which is one of the reasons the AKC does not accept the Black Mouth Cur as a pure breed. For example, one of the best-known Black Mouth Cur breeders is the Ladner family in southern Mississippi, and their Curs are a mixture of colors. Whereas Curs from the Florida region are usually yellow, Curs from Alabama are known for their rich red coats.

Diluted coat colors occur in the breed, which is a “watered down” version of the pigment. If your Black Mouth Cur has green, yellow, or light brown eyes, white toenails, or a red or yellow coat with no trace of black hair, they probably have a diluted coat. Merle, mottled, or spotted coats are not naturally found in this breed.

Exercise & Living Conditions

Black mouth cur, Dog running outside
They are tireless, which is why they excel as working dogs.

Black Mouth Curs are highly active dogs who need hours of challenging daily activity to be happy. You must lead an extremely active lifestyle if you don’t intend to work your Cur. Don’t expect this breed to be a boxset buddy or couch potato. If you can’t meet their exercise needs, they become agitated, destructive, and problematic.

Black Mouth Curs don’t need to live on a sprawling ranch, but they prefer living in a large home where they have space to roam. They get cabin fever quickly, so don’t expect them to be content in an apartment.

Black Mouth Curs need a home with access to a relatively large and secure yard to roam. Because they have such a high prey drive and are highly territorial, you need to ensure they cannot escape for their safety and others. This Cur is a natural tree dog, with a squirrel and coon being their favorite. If you have trees in your yard, you must block access or ensure they are away from the fence line.

Because Black Mouth Curs are highly territorial, they don’t usually get on well with other dogs. You probably won’t successfully welcome a new dog into the fold if you already have a resident Cur. However, if you introduce a young Cur puppy into a multi-dog household, they have the potential to get along with them if they are properly socialized. To put it bluntly, when it comes to cohabiting with other small furry pets, forget it.


Black Mouth Curs are extremely intelligent and eager to please their master, which is why they make such obedient dogs. However, they can become unruly and difficult if they feel they aren’t getting the leadership and direction they need. You don’t need to be a professional canine behaviorist to train these pups, but you must have some doggy training experience to get the best out of them. Obedience is essential for a happy partnership.

Socialization is essential for this dog, more than other breeds, because of their highly territorial nature. Working with a reputable breeder is vital because they start the socialization process from day one. You must continue this process, and it is a lifetime commitment because they quickly forget their manners. To raise a confident and well-mannered dog, you must mix them with as many dogs and people as possible.

Positive reinforcement training is essential for this sensitive pooch. It should be utilized throughout their lifetime as they thrive on praise. Harsh or shouty training techniques are a huge no-no if you want your Cur to respect and respond to you. Verbal praise is likely to be their favorite treat, but objects such as balls and playthings work well too.


Closeup of A black mouth cur is a breed face with eyes shut getting ears rubbed
Like all dog breeds, a few health conditions are more prominent than others.

Black Mouth Curs are relatively healthy dogs that typically live between 12 to 16 years. Although your Cur might not suffer from any of these conditions, it’s essential to make yourself aware of them. Prevention is better than cure, which is why keeping up to date with immunizations and health checks is crucial to your Cur’s health.

Ear Infections

The Black Mouth Cur is a highly active dog who spends hours outdoors, hunting through the brush and jumping up trees. This means they are prone to ear infections due to dirt, debris, and increased wax. Learn how to clean your Cur’s ears to prevent infection.


Epilepsy is a neurological condition that causes repeat seizures, and it can be an inherited condition or an abnormality of the brain structure. In most cases, epilepsy is a chronic disease that needs medication management.

Eye Conditions

The Black Mouth Cur is susceptible to eye conditions such as cataracts, entropion, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Cataracts and PRA are degenerative diseases that can read to blindness over time. Entropion is where the eyelid rolls inwards and irritates and damages the eye.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is one of the most common health concerns in the canine kingdom, especially among medium to large-size dogs. It occurs during the development stage when the hip joint forms abnormally and loosely. Hip dysplasia causes discomfort and leads to arthritis and mobility reduction.


Mange is a parasitic disease of the skin caused by microscopic mites. Two different mites cause mange. One mite is found under the skin, and the other in the hair follicles. Demodectic mange is the most common. The main symptom of mange is patches of hair loss that usually start around the eyes and spread around the body.


The amount of food a Black Mouth Cur needs depends on many factors. These include age, size, gender, the type of food you feed them, and activity levels. If your Cur is a hardworking ranch dog, they need more food than one who doesn’t work all day. Performance dog food is calorie rich to supply working dogs with the energy they need. Follow the feeding instructions for your chosen food.

Whatever food you decide to feed your Cur, ensure it is high-quality. Their nutrition must also be age-appropriate, mainly because the Cur can develop hip dysplasia. Feed puppies a food designed for young canines, as they contain specific nutrient levels to control and stabilize skeletal growth.


A cute Black Mouth Cur dog standing on the sandy beach by the beautiful ocean on a sunny day
Bath your Cur once every three months, maybe more if they are working dogs.

The Black Mouth Cur has a very low grooming schedule. Whether they have fine, coarse, or rough hair, it is always short, meaning they only need brushing once a week at the most. Like all dogs, their teeth need brushing and their nails clipped. As the Cur is prone to ear infections, it’s essential to check these weekly for signs of dirt, debris, and excessive wax.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

Black Mouth Cur puppy sleeping on sofa
The Black Mouth Cur is a rare dog breed, meaning there are few breeders to choose from.

Researching them is easier, but you probably need to travel further to meet one, depending on where you live. Look for independent reviews and a website showcasing their experience and breeding dogs. A reputable breeder takes the time to answer your questions and meet you to ensure you are a match for their Cur pups.

The average price of a Black Mouth Cur ranges between $1,000 and $3,000. Factors such as demand, location, and breeder determine the prices. If you are looking for a puppy from a famous breeder or a champion bloodline, you can expect to pay much more than this. You also need to factor in the cost of insurance, food, beds, crates, training, boarding, and more. And don’t forget the cost of securing your home and yard.

Rescues & Shelters

Black mouth cur in the sun in dirt needing to be rescued
As a rare breed, the chances of a Black Mouth Cur being in your local rescue center is unlikely.

Your best bet is to look online for Black Mouth Curs up for adoption, where you can search for them state by state. The cost of rescuing a dog is usually much lower than buying a puppy from a breeder.

As Family Pets

  • The Black Mouth Cur is a highly active dog that needs hours of challenging activity.
  • Curs are very territorial and protective of their family.
  • They are sensitive and respond best to reward-based training.
  • You need to have experience with protective dogs.
  • They have a high prey drive and chase animals up trees.
  • Black Mouth Curs may be able to live with dogs but no other animals.
  • Children need to be older and dog-savvy.
  • Curs need a large home with access to a secure yard.

Final Thoughts

The Black Mouth Cur is a rare American dog breed. They are hardworking canines that need to lead an active lifestyle. Otherwise, they become unhappy and destructive. This outdoorsy tree dog needs access to a secure yard and cannot live in an apartment. They are incredibly protective but as loyal as they come. Sure, the Black Mouth Cur has a lot of requirements that many families couldn’t meet. But if you can manage it, this dog will surely become the apple of your eye.

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