Black Mouth Cur dog breed profile treatment dog on a green background

Black Mouth Cur

The black mouth cur is a loyal and hardworking dog who is at the same time sensitive, playful with families, and filled with boundless energy.
Black Mouth Cur
Breed Group
Dog Size
Other Traits
Temperament

Black Mouth Cur

height
  • 18–24 inches
weight
  • 35–60 pounds
life span
  • 12–15 years
breed size
  • medium (26-60 lbs.)
good with
  • families
  • children
temperament
  • willful
  • playful
intelligence
  • high
shedding amount
  • normal
exercise needs
  • high
energy level
  • active
barking level
  • frequent
drool amount
  • low
breed group
  • none
coat length/texture
  • short
colors
  • brown / chocolate / liver
  • black
  • red
  • fawn
  • gold / yellow
patterns
  • bicolor
  • brindle
other traits
  • easy to groom
  • high prey drive
  • strong loyalty tendencies
  • good hiking companion

The black mouth cur is an energetic, intelligent, and hardworking dog who is incredibly loyal to her family. Standing between 18–24 inches at the shoulder and weighing in between 35–60 pounds, the black mouth cur was bred as a working dog. But she's not all business—she loves to play with her family, too.

As a highly energetic pup, a black mouth cur needs to be physically stimulated. So pet parents should be ready to hit the hiking trails and enroll her in dog sports and events like agility.

Appearance

When you see a black mouth cur at your local dog park or on a walk around your neighborhood, you may think she's a small Rhodesian ridgeback or maybe even a Vizsla. It's easy to do, as the three breeds do favor each other—but rest assured, the black mouth cur is indeed her own breed.

black mouth cur standing on rocks near ocean shore
Active, strong, and intelligent, the black mouth cur thrives when she gets to exercise and explore with her humans.
| Credit: Wirestock / Adobe Stock

The black mouth cur has a short, dense coat that lies close to her square and muscular body, with a texture that can be coarse, rough, or very fine, depending on each individual dog. The black mouth cur's coloring varies, and she can be all shades of red, yellow, fawn, black, brown, or brindle. She may also have small patches of white under her chin, around her nose, and on her neck, chest, legs, and the tip of her tail.

Temperament

Though she's bred to work, the black mouth cur is known for her loyalty and strength, and she's becoming an increasingly popular family dog

"Black mouth curs are very energetic and sensitive dogs, in general, with a high work drive," says Cherice Roth, chief veterinary officer with Fuzzy. "They were originally bred to be used for herding and property protection, and they typically are very connected with their owners and immediate family." 

When it comes to training your dog, Glen Hatchell, behavior and enrichment manager with Humane Society of Tampa Bay, says, "Black mouth curs are easily trainable since there is usually something like a ball or toy or treat that they will do anything for."

black mouth cur puppy looking at the camera
Black mouth cur puppies pick up new cues and tricks quickly—if you give her lots of treats, head scritches, and other forms of positive reinforcement.
| Credit: Amy / Adobe Stock

Though, first-time dog owners should perhaps shy away from black mouth curs until they have more experience under their belts.

"This breed may be challenging for first-time dog owners due to their high energy levels and need for constant mental stimulation," Roth says. "They are extremely intelligent dogs who do best with precise and positive training. Pet parents new to dog training or working with larger working breeds might fare better with a less driven dog breed."

As with most dogs, it's best to socialize your black mouth cur puppy and train her early on so she adapts well to different environments and situations. This will ensure that she's as comfortable in your home—and out in the world—as you are.  

Living Needs

Hatchell says that while the black mouth curs he's worked with are social with people and some other dogs, they generally do best as the only pet in the home.

"Black mouth curs can do well with other animals in the home; however, they [were bred to watch over property] and are very strong dogs, so new introductions should be made on neutral territory with positive reinforcement," Roth says. "They can have a high prey drive, so small animal introductions should be monitored closely. If they're raised with small animals from puppyhood, they may do well."

She'll be happy in a home with wide-open spaces or a fenced backyard to run in, but she can also live well in an apartment as long as she's well-exercised.

"They can adapt to apartment living if given enough outlets for their energy, which usually involves a lot of scent work, like searching for yummy treats inside of puzzles," Hatchell says.

black mouth cur sitting facing away from the camera next to a field of poppies
Black mouth curs know what they love—and what they love is to keep their paws moving. Expect long walks around the neighborhood with these pups.
| Credit: Freddie Fehmi Mehmet / Adobe Stock

Roth adds that black mouth curs have high energy demands and do best with frequent exercise, jobs to focus on, and mental stimulation. They love to play and can be good playmates for older children.

"They are extremely muscular and strong dogs with a high prey drive, so they may be more challenging with young children," she says. At the same time, "they tend to bond closely with children."

As with all breeds, playtime with kids should be supervised by adults. Kids should also be taught how to properly interact with animals.

Care

Grooming your black mouth cur is fairly easy as her short coat essentially takes care of itself. She will shed, so a once-a-week brushing with a bath every once in a while should keep her looking her best and keep any loose hairs under control.

As with all dogs, take the time at home to ensure your black mouth cur's ears are clean, her nails are trimmed, and her teeth are brushed often.

With their high level of intelligence and loyalty to their owners, black mouth curs take to training well. 

"The best way to train a black mouth cur—or any dog—is through positive reinforcement, which can include food treats, balls, toys, fetch, or anything that she finds rewarding," Hatchell says.

Additionally, her smarts and attentiveness mixes well with her playful nature and boundless energy to help her excel at agility, search-and-rescue, and obedience. 

"They are an extremely sensitive breed of dog and bond very closely with their immediate family," Roth says. "Positive reinforcement, as well as a consistent outlet for their desire to work, is the most beneficial way to train a black mouth cur."

Closeup of black mouth cur dog on blurred background
Credit: Wirestock / Adobe Stock

Health

Black mouth curs have a lifespan of 12–15 years and are generally healthy dogs.

"Black mouth curs were originally created from a variety of different breeds, and they tend to be fairly healthy overall due to this wider gene pool," Roth says.

But she does note a few health concerns to be aware of: Ear infections (due to their floppy ears) and orthopedic issues including arthritis. If you suspect your pup is developing either of these conditions, consult your veterinarian.

Aside from these potential conditions, your black mouth cur should visit the vet for regular checkups and vaccinations.

History

The black mouth cur's origins are a bit hazy, but they are synonymous with the southeastern United States. Some say that the breed's ancestors originally accompanied European immigrants, namely the Irish and Scottish who settled in the southeast, or even the English and the French. Others believe the black mouth cur is an American breed and developed in Tennessee or Mississippi.

The breed isn't recognized by the American Kennel Club, but the dogs received recognition by the U.K.'s United Kennel Club in 1998. 

Fun Facts

  • While the breed gets its name from the dogs' black muzzle or mask, not all black mouth curs have that signature marking.
  • Some families in the southern U.S. are said to have had black mouth curs for more than 100 years.