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.
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.
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."
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."
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."
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"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.
"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.
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."
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.
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 United Kennel Club in 1998.
- 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.