Frequently Asked Questions


Doesn't the word cur mean a dog of mixed ancestry?

What does the Black in Black Mouth Cur refer?

What is the difference between a Mountain Cur and a Black mouth Cur?

What does bobtailed mean?

Why are "ring-necked" Black Mouth Curs disqualified?

Are Black Mouth Curs smart and easy to train?

Do Black Mouth Curs shed a lot?

Do they need lots of exercise?

Are they good with small pets and other animals?

How much space do they require?

Do they chew? Do they bark? Do they dig a lot?

Are they easy to house train?

Do they jump fences? Are they escape artists?

Do BMCs make good family pets?

What are some activities that I can do with my BMC?

Do BMCs like to swim?

What type of health problems do BMCs have?

What is "socializing" and why is it so important?

Should I get Hunting or Herding bloodlines?

What is the life expectancy of a BMC?

What traits are inherent in BMCs generally?

Should I get a male or female Black Mouth Cur?

How big will my adult BMC be?

What should I look for in a BMC puppy?

Is there a club for Black Mouth Cur owners?


 1. Doesn't the word cur mean a dog of mixed ancestry?

No, originally the term cur referred to a specific type of dog.

Written documentation of the Cur dogs in the British Isles goes back to Wales in 920 A.D. to Hywel Dda (Hywel the Good). For purposes of litigation, three types of curs were identified: the guarding cur, the hunting cur, and the herding cur.

The value placed on the guard dog (W. callawedd) was worth twenty-four pence, the value of the Kingís staghound (W. gellgi, where gell probably means yellow. The dog in question was certainly large and powerful) was a pound, and the value of the herding cur (W. bugeilgi) was the value of the most important beast in the herd being worked.


CURB1T.JPG (18749 bytes)

                          From A General History of Quadrupeds, by Thomas Bewick. Printed at Newcastle upon Tyne, 1790.                   .                            This picture in Bewickís book looks extremely similar to the Mountain Curs described by Mr. Ledbetter.

Mr. Bewick further describes the cur dog as "a trusty and useful servant to the farmer and grazier; and, although it is not taken notice of by naturalists as a distinct race, yet it is now so generally used, especially in the North of England, and such great attention is paid in breeding it, that we cannot help considering it as a permanent kind. They are chiefly employed in driving cattle; in which way they are extremely useful. They are larger, stronger, and fiercer than the Shepherd's Dog; and their hair is smoother and shorter. They are mostly black and white color. Their ears are half-pricked; and many of them are whelped with short tails, which seem as if they had been cut: These are called Self-tailed Dogs. They bite very keenly; and as they always make their attack at the heels, the cattle have no defense against them: In this way they are more than a match for a Bull, which they quickly compel to run. Their sagacity is uncommonly great. They know their master's fields, and are singularly attentive to the cattle that are in them: A good Dog watches, goes his rounds; and, if any strange cattle should happen to appear amongst the herd, although unbidden, he quickly flies at them, and with keen bites obliges them to depart."

(Return to top of Page)

2. What does the Black in Black Mouth Cur refer?

According to Mr L.H. Ladner whose family has owned these dogs for several generations, the Black Mouth Cur was called a black mouth due to the black lips around the mouth. The lips are black because they have no fur to hide the intense pigmentation of the skin. The dark coloring continues into the mouth pigmenting the inside fleshy mouth parts with the exception of the tongue. It is thought by some that the dark skin helps prevent sunburn.

 (Return to top of Page)

3. What is the difference between a Mountain Cur and a Black mouth Cur?

A Mountain Cur is a separate breed of cur. As a general comparison with the BMC; normally smaller boned, very agile, not as aggressive, have a wider range of acceptable colors, will usually bark more and some have longer hair than a BMC which always has the short coat. The Mountain Cur have been bred in general for treeing game, but, because of their intelligence, athletic ability, and desire to please their owner, they could be trained to perform almost any task.

The Mountain Cur is most likely the closest in type to the early Curs of the British Isles, which were the ancestors of the Corgi and some other British herding breeds.

 (Return to top of Page)

4. What does bobtailed mean?

Bobtailed, also called self-tailed, refers to a dog having a tail shorter than an average dog. This could be a natural bobtail, where the dog inherited a shorter tail from his ancestry, or it could have been done surgically for cosmetic or performance requirements.

Most herding dogs from Eastern and Western Europe had a tendency to produce natural bobtails. Later, as people started breeding to a standard versus performance, fewer and fewer puppies in a litter were born with this trait. The bobtail trait is still common among the Black Mouth Cur, Catahoula Leopard Cur, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Kemmer Curs, Mountain Curs, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Stumpy Tailed Dog, Swedish Vallhund, etc.

Other breeds like the English Shepherds, Border Collies and other herding breeds that prefer normal tails, reported the birth of tail-less pups as late as the 20th century, although today this is rare.

If surgically removed, the tail is usually docked a few days after birth.

As noted in 1868 by a San Franciscan of the dogs in Wilmington, a town some twenty miles south of Los Angeles, California:

" I observed that all the dogs around Wilmington had very short tails, their caudal appendages having been abbreviated very close to their bodies. On inquiry I learned that by an edict of the autocrat of Wilmington [The fabulous Delaware merchant and skipper, Phineas Banning, founder of the town] all dogs born upon the domains thereof must, at an early stage of their existence, suffer caudal amputation, as a distinguishing mark of having been "to the manor born," and to distinctify them from any of the old San Pedro Tomlinson dogs. {John J. Tomlinson was the freighting rival of Banning, who had built Wilmington to compete with San Pedro] also as an act of charity and convenience to the dog. It relieved him from great anxiety on its account. He had no tail to be trodden upon - no projection to lash tin kettles to, and when he sat down he could do it squarely, upon a good basis, and be an upright dog."

Today some hunters like a bobtail dog, because banging their tails on the kennel walls when wagging can cause the skin on the tail to break and to bleed.   Also when they're in the house you don't have to worry about stepping on their tail, closing the door on it, or the tail cleaning off the table with a clean sweep.

Some lines of BMCs have natural bobtails; some do not. The Howard line and the Southern BMCs are usually bred to have a normal tail and breed against a natural bobtail. When a BMC form those lines has a bobtail it is normally because of some trauma in which the tail had to be amputated

The docking was initially, in the United Kingdom, used to separate working dogs (shepherds and farm dogs) from luxury dogs (hounds, settlers, pointers and pets) for tax exemption purposes. People who had sporting dogs noticed that shorting a dogís tail did not affect the performance of the dog and started cutting their dogsí tails also, a practice called "cur tailing".

 (Return to top of Page)

5. Why are "ring-necked" Black Mouth Curs disqualified?

Some registries do and some donít. See BMC breed standards for details. Breeds and breed standards are only a few hundred years old. Prior to this, dogs were organized into types based on the job the dog performed. A breed standard allows people to be able to identify characteristics of a dog, his temperament, abilities, and inclinations. When selecting a puppy for a family dog, criteria like size, shape, and tendencies are very important. As a side benefit a standard allows you to visually identify dogs of the same breed.

Ring-necked curs to some registries indicate that there was another breed or line of BMC in the ancestry, thus diluting their purity.

 (Return to top of Page)

6. Are Black Mouth Curs smart and easy to train?

Well, yes, the BMC is very smart, but no they arenít necessarily easy to train if you mean you can just take a BMC that doesnít know you and quickly train it. BMCs by nature need to bond a few weeks with the trainer before training begins. Too many people get in a rush and try to intimidate or force a BMC to do something before the bond has been established. Very often a BMC is sensitive to rough treatment or harsh corrections and if you try force training, a BMC will rebel in various ways. They respond best to firm but gentle training utilizing positive feedback petting, praise, etc., versus a punishment/avoidance training, like yelling, hitting, etc. The BMC can be difficult at times but in general they want to please their family a great deal, thriving on lots of love, praise and affection.

After youíve bonded with your BMC, youíll find them very smart and eager to learn, especially if there are lots of hugs, praise or attention.

When working with a pup, try to work in short sessions of fifteen to twenty minutes.

BMCs were bred by the survival of the fittest program. A good BMC will learn from his mistakes and generally not make the same mistake twice. If he doesnít learn, heíll have a very short life getting kicked by cattle or gored by wild boar.

(Return to top of Page)

7. Do Black Mouth Curs shed a lot?

All dogs shed, but the BMC is a short-coated dog and so the shedding isnít as noticeable as a long coated dog. Most BMCs blow out their coats twice a year, in the late fall and in spring and are not a constant shedder.

An added benefit of the short coat is that mud and dirt cleans out very easily and quickly. The short coat of the Black Mouth Cur does not allow ticks and fleas much cover to hide and hunters or stockmen can quickly find them.  If you have cedar shavings in the dog box and change them on a regular basis, this is said to keep down the incidence of fleas.

The only other grooming needs of BMCs are nail trims. If you are not exercising a BMC heavily on hard, rough ground, you will need to trim their nails. Otherwise they cannot run on their toes and this will start breaking down their feet.

 (Return to top of Page)

8. Do they need lots of exercise?

Because the BMC was bred for working, they do require regular exercise. The amount will depend on a lot of factors including the line, the age and the individual dog. Puppies require an outlet for their high energy levels. Their stamina increases with age and appropriate exercise. Adult dogs also require mental stimulation. A walk or run of two to three miles a day will not normally tire an adult BMC out.

For their mental exercise, at least fifteen minutes of daily training for puppies or a half-hour for an adult dog is recommended. Obedience training is highly recommended, especially after the puppies have had all of their shots. This is essential for proper socialization, and it will help improve the communications between you and your dog.

For their physical exercise, one to two hours daily broken up into two to four sessions would be sufficient. This allows them to get out of the house, smell around outside, meet other dogs and have a change of scenery for mental stimulation. BMCs require some interaction during exercise. If you put them in an enclosed area, they will sit or lie there waiting for you to join them. The only time this works is when there are squirrels for them to chase. Some suggested activities are agility exercises, back packing, carting, flyball, Frisbee, obedience, weight pulls (after two years old), and any other physically and mentally challenging activities.

 (Return to top of Page)

9. Are they good with small pets and other animals?

The BMC was bred as a homestead dog that would protect its family and home against intruders. This means that a well-bred BMC is territorial. Most BMCs off their "turf" work well with other dogs, hunting or herding stock, but on their family property will chase the same dog away. Their turf can be viewed by the dog as the familyís home, land, truck, or sometimes proximity to "their person".

If you want a very friendly dog, socialize early and with a variety of people and dogs of different ages, sex, and situations. Enrollment in an obedience class is recommended so they can meet new dogs and people in a controlled environment.

It's usually better to prevent a problem than to cure a problem. It would be better to supervise any interaction between a BMC puppy and other small animals until it grows up enough to be less playful and to know good manners. A BMC puppy will initially chase a cat, but if taught a cat is a family member, the puppy won't chase it. He will tolerate and even be protective of the cat. But, even after the training, if the BMC sees a strange cat not belonging to his family, he might decide to see just how fast cats run.

 (Return to top of Page)

10. How much space do they require?

The amount of space depends on the amount of physical and mental stimulation provided. Hunters and other dog owners have kennels of ten feet by twenty feet for their dogs to live in and this is plenty of room for a medium to large dog. If plenty of activities are provided so the dog doesn't become bored, the dog won't be stressed. Symptoms of stress are excessive barking, digging, or chewing. Most BMCs are family oriented dogs and would rather spend most of their time with their families, inside or outside, if given a choice.

Most breeders will ask if you have a fence or some other means to confine your dog. Because of their size and athletic ability, a six-foot fence is highly recommended. A top on the pen is even better as a male sensing a romantically inclined female has been known to scale a ten foot tall pen wall to court her.

 (Return to top of Page)

11. Do they chew? Do they bark? Do they dig a lot?

Most adult dogs that chew destructively are usually relieving stress. Other symptoms of stress include excessive barking or digging.

All puppies chew, especially if they are teething. As adults, BMCs are usually not "chewers" and are content with toys like nylabones or Kong toys.

Some lines of BMCs bark more than others, and you should ask the individual breeder about his line. A BMC receiving regular exercise and the proper training should be a quiet dog unless something unusual is happening that needs your attention.

The reasons for digging include: itís hot and the dog is digging a hole to get cool, the dog smells something interesting and wishes to find it, or heís bored and itís something physical to do.

Before taking corrective action, make sure the dog actually has a problem. The dog could be barking at an opossum in a tree near the kennel at night.

(Return to top of Page)

12. Are they easy to house train?

Most BMCs are very clean animals that donít like to soil their space. Crate training a puppy or dog is highly recommended for those times when you cannot directly supervise the dog. Later the puppy will be old enough to be trusted alone in the house.   Except at night when he should go to sleep, do not use to crate for longer than three to four hours in the day.  Nor should you use it as punishment as the puppy will view the crate as discipline and hate going into it.

During the housebreaking phase, it is recommended to feed your dog on a regular schedule. This allows you to know approximately when the puppy needs to go outside to eliminate.  Later you can continue the schedule or free feed.

The biggest problem I have noticed with house training a BMC puppy is when there are very young children in the home and the human parents don't pay close enough attention to the puppy.  This is understandable because in priorities the child is important.  But once a puppy has had one accident in the house, there is a urine smell that the puppy detects and his instinct to continue mark where he smells urine.  This is how wild dogs let other dogs know that this territory is taken and for dogs not in the pack to go elsewhere.  If you keep the house clean and pour some urine outside where you want him to go and then praise him when he marks there you will find house breaking goes very easily.

 (Return to top of Page)

13. Do they jump fences? Are they escape artists?

Usually a BMC stays around the house and its family. But a BMC left alone, or not exercised enough, could become an escape artist. If they are motivated, a BMC can go over, under or chew through a fence. Some BMCs are smart enough to learn how to open doors and latches.

More and more people are putting in underground fencing that uses a collar to confine their dog. The only concern about underground fencing is it doesnít keep stray dogs or animals from bothering the confined dog.

See also "How much space do the require?" 

 (Return to top of Page)

14. Do BMCs make good family pets?

Yes! BMCs as a breed can make wonderful family dogs, but like any dog it is not a good idea to leave a puppy and a child together unsupervised. Both tend to be unaware of their potential to cause damage to the other. A puppy could bite or nip a child intending to play with them just as they would a littermate, but a child unaware that the pup is playing could become frightened. By the same token, a child could hold a puppy with itís back unsupported and hurt the puppy, so the pup would struggle and fight to escape the pain. Each would lose trust in the other. It is the responsibility of the parent of the child and the owner of the dog to take the time necessary to teach the child and the dog how to behave toward each other.

Growling at children who go near their food is not to be tolerated. The dog should be established as the lowest member of the family. This wonít hurt a BMCís feelings as long as he feels heís loved.

 (Return to top of Page)

15. What are some activities that I can do with my BMC?

Well, just about anything you want to do. The BMC is genetically very athletic and eager to please. Given proper guidance and training, a BMC can excel in just about any activity you could imagine. They can herd animals, track or trail game, pull weights, run in a coursing event, work as a Search and Rescue dog, or anything else a smart, athletic dog that wants to please its owner can do.

 (Return to top of Page)

16. Do BMCs like to swim?
BMCs can be taught to swim, and swimming is an excellent way to cool off or exercise during a sweltering summer day. The Willisí dogs of Spanish Moss Kennels in Georgia will go to the pond and soak during the heat of the summer day. Pictured in the water is Carroll's Quiet Courage, a son of Rathke's Reno, at six months of age.








Carrol's Quiet Courage swimming at six months old.



 (Return to top of Page)

17. What type of health problems do BMCs have?

Over all, the BMCs enjoy some of the best health of any breed or mixed breed of dog. But all dogs with dropped ears can be subject to ear infections, especially if worked under very wet conditions, as for example, hunting wild boar in swamps. Humidity in general will cause the inner ear to sweat creating a great environment for ear mites and infection. Itís a good idea to check your dogís ears on a regular basis (weekly). You should look for clean skin, and smell to see if there is any bad aroma. If either ear has excessive wax build up, lots of dirt or a bad smell, take the dog to the vet for a check up. Just a helpful note, itís easier and cheaper to prevent a problem than to correct one later.

 (Return to top of Page)

18. What is "socializing" and why is it so important?

Socializing is very important to the BMC as this is how it will learn acceptable behavior from you. These dogs are very close to the people that raise them and are very protective of the family, so if you want other people and animals around your dog, start socializing them with others when they are a puppy. If you donít, your BMC may misbehave when meeting new people or dogs because of ignorance or trying to protect you from the "strangers". When a child behaves in public you can bet the parent did a lot of training that you didnít see. A dog requires the same training for it to understand how you want him to behave. He should be exposed to various situations, animals, and people, and trained how to behave appropriately. If he makes a mistake, correction is in order not punishment. Also, only correct if he is caught in the act.  Dogs don't understand about being punished for something that happened five minutes ago. During training, try to be upbeat and as enthusiastic as possible, and be very clear in your instruction to the dog about what is expected.

 (Return to top of Page)

19. Should I get Hunting or Herding bloodlines?

The BMC is a multitalented dog that is able to do several different jobs. Some lines have been bred to be better at a specific task than other BMC lines, but all of them should still be able to do herding, hunting and be a companion. T-Dogís BMC dogs are great tree dogs and they herd his goats. Dogs from the Born iN the Bone Kennel are bred for cattle handling but have been used for hunting bear, boar, mountain lion, raccoon, squirrel, and can perform various other jobs too numerous to list here.  I would recommend selecting a breeder who has been breeding BMCs for a while.  For example; L.H. Ladner has been breeding tree dogs and could give you hundreds of satisfied hunter's phone numbers for references.  The Howard line is over one hundred and fifty plus years old and has attained a great reputation for consistency in hunting big and small game.  Before calling these breeders make sure you know what you want the dogs to do and explain your desire to the breeder.  They have a reputation developed over a long period of time to uphold and they have a strong desire to place their pups in a good home.

 (Return to top of Page)

20. What is the life expectancy of a BMC?

Because the BMC is a performance-bred dog they are normally very healthy, with a long life span of around twelve to sixteen years. Many BMCs have lived to be 15 and 16 years old.
Eddleman's Ch. Mitty Mutt was 15 when he died.
Michael Ladner's Wolfriver Yellow was 16 when he died.
Mark Morrison's Sir Beau Regard is 13 (I think) and he just retired him from competition hunts but still pleasure hunts him.
No one knows how old TLS Delight is and sheís still going strong.

 (Return to top of Page)

21. What traits are inherent in BMCs generally?

BMCs are by nature very loyal and loving dogs. They have an intense desire to please their owner. They also have a need to burn off energy through daily exercise. The breed has an excellent nose for trailing (finding scent in the air) or tracking. (finding scent on the ground), making them an excellent hunting companion. When hunting, the BMC will also use his superb hearing, outstanding eyesight, and his memory of where he has previously found game. But a word of warning: the BMC has a very strong desire to please its owners, and this sometimes causes them to attempt actions that might endanger themselves, so an owner should be very careful what he asks a BMC to do.

These traits make a BMC an absolute pleasure to own when well-trained, but in the hands of an inexperienced, unconcerned, or uncommitted owner, their intelligence and drive can become very difficult to manage.

Breeding plays an important role in the temperament of BMCs, so selecting a reputable breeder concerned with both physical health and the personality of the puppies is of utmost importance. Different bloodlines exhibit traits differently, so question breeders about the strong and weak traits of their bloodlines.

 (Return to top of Page)

22. Should I get a male or female Black Mouth Cur?

Either sex will make a good pet, but in general Iíd recommend the Black Mouth Cur with the best temperament. Both sexes have their advantages and disadvantages. It is up to you, the prospective buyer, and the responsible breeder to make the best match possible.

If I were going to be primarily hunting I would want a male. Male BMCs are usually more easy-going in behavior and you donít have to worry about the semiannual problem of a female. Males are usually larger than the females and are more intimidating to strangers, while having a higher pain tolerance in accidents. If a Black Mouth takes a notion to wander, it is generally the males, they will jump a fence or dig out. I have seen them climb ten-foot kennel fences if it wasnít roofed to get out and roam or to get in to a female in heat.

For folks just starting out with BMCs, if their primary purpose is going to be a "just around the house dog" especially for family protection I recommend a female and not the male.  They mature at a younger age and are a smaller size.  And if you wish to start a kennel itís easy to breed to an outstanding male dog if you have a good quality female.

If you are starting a breeding kennel, I would recommend obtaining full-grown dogs that have proven their working abilities.  This allows you to know exactly what the parents of your litters will look like and whether they will meet the breed registry standards you've chosen.  If you buy pups, you're taking a gamble.

(Return to top of Page) 

23. How big will my adult BMC be?

The adult size of your BMC will depend on heredity and environment. The heredity will be the genetic background of its parents. This is the maximum size that your dog can grow, but it can only reach this size if given proper care and fed a complete and balanced diet. The UKC Standard states that adult males should be a minimum height of 18" at the shoulder blade and a minimum weight of forty pounds, females start at 16" and thirty-five pounds. Most hunters of tree game prefer the smaller dogs and people who handle cattle prefer a larger dog around 60 to 90 pounds for a male.

You should be aware that when a hunter or rancher is selecting a BMC for working purposes, they look for the working ability, intelligence, stamina, and agility, not the color of his eyes, shape of his ears or length of coat or tail. Itís more important what the dog can do, not who his great, great, grandparents were. At the same time, there is no reason you canít have an excellent working dog that looks good. A well-written breed standard based on working ability and the correct conformation for the job will help standardize look and still allow some variation in appearance.

Basically, the Black Mouth Cur needs to be big enough to handle large animals, and not so large as to eat the owner out of house and home.

 (Return to top of Page)

24. What should I look for in a BMC puppy?

Well, first you must decide why youíre getting a puppy. Do you want a dog for herding, companionship, hunting, etc.? Do your homework. Research different breeds. Learn about their temperament, various lines, and breeders. Itís a lot easier returning a book to a library than returning a pup to which your children have become attached.

Then talk to a breeder with a good reputation and references, and tell him what you are looking for. Discuss your dog experience and training background with him. If you are a first time buyer, youíll be steered away from the more dominant puppy, which may need an experienced hand.

A good breeder may even direct you toward another breeder with a dog or a line that is more appropriate for what you want to do with your dog.

Breeders that have been in business for more than five years have had a lot of experience, and have a very good idea of the breed temperament, and will try to help you make the right choice for your lifestyle. If they suggest a different breed, listen to them.

(Return to top of Page)

25. Is there a club for Black Mouth Cur owners?

There are many BMC clubs;

National Cur and Feist Breeders Association
(812) 665-3263
Claude Thomas
713 E Sycamore St.
Jasonville, IN 47438

National Kennel Club Inc.
255 Indian Ridge Rd  
P.O. Box 331
Blaine, Tennessee 37709
Email at

Southern Black Mouth Cur Breeders Ass'n.
870 367 6329
John Wayne Ross
1260 Highway 277 North
Monticello, AR  71655

United Kennel Club
100 E. Kilgore Road
Kalamazoo, MI 49002


(Return to top of Page)