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Land’s Best Friend: The Mountain Cur

Don’t mistake this bobtailed working dog for a low-born mongrel. Medieval peasants relied on versatile, workaday dogs to herd livestock and help poach game from feudal masters. Since they paid a dog tax based on the length of the dog

MountainCur_lg
Don’t mistake this bobtailed working dog for a low-born mongrel.

Medieval peasants relied on versatile, workaday dogs to herd livestock and help poach game from feudal masters. Since they paid a dog tax based on the length of the dog from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail, peasants cut costs by cutting tails – or “curtailing.” A “cur” was a bobtailed working dog – not a low-born mongrel.

Naturally, settlers from Western Europe brought their curs to North America. Through selective breeding, curs became more tree-oriented as meat- and hide-minded frontiersmen discovered the utility of dogs interested in climbing game.

MountainCur_sm2Mountain curs developed along the Southern Appalachian frontier, where they treed squirrels, opossums, bears, raccoons, and anything else that could be eaten or profitably skinned, gathered semi-feral swine, and boiled from beneath porches to take on threats to stock pens, gardens, and henhouses.

After World War II the type nearly disappeared. Fortunately, a few survived in the remotest reaches of the Mountain South until the 1950s, when devotees formed the Original Mountain Cur Breeders Association to preserve and strengthen the breed.

Well-bred pups train easily and possess keen prey drive and treeing instinct. Most retrieve readily from land and water.

Do:

  • Make your pup a member of the family. Mountain curs form extremely tight bonds.
  • Take your pup on romps in the woods as soon as she has finished her vaccinations.

Don’t:

  • Expect an uninitiated adult cur to distinguish between a house cat and a bobcat. Socialize your puppy, or she’ll want to kill Tabby.
  • Allow children to roughhouse with your puppy.
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Posted in Dogs, Feature, Henry Chappell, South

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