Do You Know What Breed “Old Yeller” Was? Get To Know The Black Mouth Cur

Known by many different names depending on region of origin, the most commonly accepted nomenclature for this all-American dog breed is the Black Mouth Cur. This breed has a fascinating history dating back to the time of the early European settlers of North America, but the exact origins of the Black Mouth Cur dog are unknown. However, most experts agree that the breed originated somewhere in the region of modern-day Mississippi or Tennessee. 

Likely the ancestors of the now-extinct European Cur dogs brought to North America by English and Irish settlers, Black Mouth Curs were used as ubiquitous working dogs. Herders, guard dogs, and hunting dogs, Black Mouth Curs were undeniably an invaluable asset for the survival of their families. 

The Black Mouth Cur

Even if you’ve never heard of a Black Mouth Cur, you’ve probably seen one! For example, if you’ve ever seen Old Yeller, you’ve seen a BMC. Particularly in the Southern United States, Black Mouth Curs and Black Mouth Cur mixes are common. Once you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll never miss a Black Mouth Cur sighting ever again! 

Meet 5 Black Mouth Curs From Instagram

Despite their name, not all Black Mouth Curs have a black muzzle, and the absence of this isn’t considered a breed fault. While the name “Black Mouth Cur” does in part refer to the hallmark black mask, it also refers to the dark gums, lips, and inner mouth. 

Black Mouth Curs come in more than half a dozen colors including red, fawn, black, brindle, and dilute colors—that’s right, there are black Black Mouth Curs! The most common colors are shades of red and fawn with a black muzzle, but the breed standard allows other colors as well.

I’ve rounded up X Black Mouth Curs whose humans have helped them make Instagram accounts to show off this beautiful breed. 

1. Ray

The Black Mouth Cur
Source: @Ray_The_BMC

Ray is a very handsome four-year-old Black Mouth Cur who was adopted in 2020 from the Humane Society of Broward County in Florida and has been living a cushy life ever since! Red with a classic black muzzle, Ray is the quintessential Black Mouth Cur. 

2. Texas

The Black Mouth Cur
Source: @My_Kansas_Curs

As I’ve mentioned, Black Mouth Curs come in several colors, including brindle! Texas is a tan brindle BMC from Kansas City with a sweet and affectionate personality that helps him befriend everyone he meets.

3. Bojangles & Lexie

The Black Mouth Cur
Source: @Bojangles.The.Black.Mouth.Cur

Bojangles (rear) and Lexie (front) are two Black Mouth Curs from Fort Wayne, Indiana whose humans describe them as a couple of chicken addicts! Bo is 8 years old, and Lexie is a youthful 3, but they both have plenty of energy.

4. Brody

The Black Mouth Cur
Source: @BrodyTheBlackMouthCur

Have you ever seen a more handsome gentleman? Brody is a very handsome boy who was adopted from the Southern United States after a major storm and brought up north to enjoy life in the sun and snow! 

5. Roxy

The Black Mouth Cur
Source: @RoxyTheCur

This smiley girl is Roxy, an almost 5-year-old Black Mouth Cur from South Carolina! If you didn’t know what a Black Mouth Cur was, you might think Roxy was a Pitbull—you can definitely see why some people mistake these breeds for each other. 

Black Mouth Cur Basic Info

Working dog breeds like the Black Mouth Cur aren’t for everyone—this isn’t a dog breed that will happily live in an apartment, or put up with being left alone for hours on end. If you’ve been considering a Black Mouth Cur, take the time to decide if your household’s needs match the needs of this breed. A notoriously mischievous and sometimes unruly dog breed, Black Mouth Curs will give you a run for your money if you aren’t prepared. 

Black Mouth Cur Temperament

Focused, hardworking, and eager to please, Black Mouth Cur dogs are natural-born working dogs who love to be occupied. A very high-energy dog breed, the Black Mouth Cur needs regular exercise to work off physical energy, and mental stimulation to stave off boredom. 

Easy to train but sometimes stubborn, Black Mouth Curs respond well to positive reinforcement, repetition, and treats…lots and lots of treats! Because they are highly intelligent, some Black Mouth Curs “outsmart” their owners, and can present a serious challenge, especially to inexperienced dog owners. 

“Our Cur is too smart for his own good. He’s the most food-driven dog I’ve ever seen and unfortunately, his biggest bad behavior is he will sneak into any food he can get his mouth on,” says a comment from a BMC owner in a Reddit thread titled ‘Does it get any easier as Curs get older?’ “That includes sneakily grabbing plastic bowls with his mouth and opening cabinets. Be warned that when these guys want something, they have the endearing but dangerous combination of stubbornness and intelligence to make it happen.” 

Black Mouth Cur

Loyal to their humans and deeply protective, Black Mouth Curs are often suspicious of strangers and aren’t the right breed for highly social people. With their families, Black Mouth Cur dogs can be affectionate and playful, though they may also enjoy alone time to exercise their independence. 

Unlike livestock guardian dogs, herding dogs like Black Mouth Cur are not generally considered friendly towards other animals and have a high prey drive. Difficult to acclimate to cats they are not raised alongside, Black Mouth Curs are unlikely to befriend domestic animals. Though many are good with other dogs, some BMCs can be dog-selective and may be immediately reactive to strange dogs who enter their property unexpectedly. 

Black Mouth Cur Size

Black Mouth Cur are medium to large dogs, and many official breed registries only list minimum height and weight requirements for the breed, leaving out maximums entirely. The United Kennel Club’s breed standards say that Curs must be no lighter than 35–40 pounds and stand no less than 16–18 inches tall. 

Some Black Mouth Curs weigh as much as 80–100 pounds, though these are outliers in the breed. More often, the breed averages between 50–80 pounds. 

Black Mouth Cur Health

Generally healthy dogs, the few health issues that do sometimes present themselves Black Mouth Curs are typically easy to treat and rarely life-threatening. The most serious health condition that affects Black Mouth Curs is epilepsy, and any signs or symptoms of this seizure disorder should be reported to your veterinarian immediately. 

Some health conditions to be aware of if you own a Black Mouth Cur include:

  • Ear infections
  • Eye and vision issues (e.g. entropion/ectropion, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy) 
  • Joint issues (e.g. arthritis, hip dysplasia) 
  • Allergies
  • Skin irritation and hot spots
  • Epilepsy

Where To Buy a Black Mouth Cur Puppy

Black Mouth Cur

Whether you are interested in a purebred or a mixed-breed dog, I always recommend starting your search at your local shelter. You will be amazed by how many purebred dogs you find in shelters and rescues, and even if your heart was originally set on a purebred, you might discover that your dream dog is a mix!

Some of the most common BMC mixes you’ll encounter are Black Mouth Cur Pit mixes, Black Mouth Cur Lab mixes, and Black Mouth Cur Shepherd mixes, but the possibilities are nearly endless. Remember that breed isn’t always an indicator of a dog’s personality, so keep an open mind when you are looking for your new best friend. 

If you want to purchase a Black Mouth Cur from a breeder, I recommend connecting with other Black Mouth Cur owners either online or in person, joining a breed club, and reading online forums for high-quality ethical breeder recommendations. Keep in mind that while backyard breeders are easy to find and are almost always offering puppies, their breeding programs rarely follow ethical guidelines. 

Black Mouth Cur vs. Mountain Cur: What’s The Difference?

Black Mouth Cur vs. Mountain Cur: What’s The Difference?

A predecessor of the Black Mouth Cur dog breed, Mountain Cur dogs likely lent their genetics to the development of the BMC. Also, an early American pioneer dog, Mountain Curs were once more similar to the European Cur dogs and were often born with natural bobtails. Both the Black Mouth Cur and the Mountain Cur now most commonly have long tails, but there are some examples of cur-type dogs with natural bobtails. Some scholars believe that the Australian Cattle Dog is an ancestor of European Curs and that they inherited their natural bobtails from those genetic origins. 

Though related, there are several important differences between Black Mouth Curs and Mountain Curs, which are considered distinct breeds. 


Both Mountain Cur and Black Mouth Cur come in a range of colors, but only Black Mouth Curs have a black muzzle and black inner mouth and gums. Both breeds also have short, dense coats, but Mountain Curs have double coats while Black Mouth Cur do not. Like many working dogs, both breeds also often have double dewclaws, though this is not a breed requirement. 


Black Mouth Curs are typically heavier and larger than Mountain Cur, though both breeds are powerfully built and athletic. Mountain Curs rarely weigh more than 60 pounds while there are plenty of examples of Black Mouth Cur exceeding 80+ pounds. 


Of these two breeds, the Mountain Cur personality can be more suitable for socializing, as Mountain Curs are slightly more playful and affectionate. However, both breeds can be extremely wary of strangers, territorial, and highly protective of their families. Both Mountain Curs and Black Mouth Curs require large amounts of exercise, and neither breed is suited for city living. Both highly trainable, intelligent, and tenacious, Mountain Curs are sometimes more vocal than BMCs, though neither breed is considered an excessive barker. 

Where To Find Mountain Cur Puppies

Black Mouth Cur vs. Mountain Cur: What’s The Difference?

Like Black Mouth Curs, there are plenty of Mountain Curs and Mountain Cur mixes available for adoption! Mountain Cur Pitbull mixes, Shepherd mixes, Lab mixes, and other combinations of common working dogs are easy to find, and a trip to your local shelter—particularly in the Southern United States—could help you find your new bestie. You can also check out the Rocky Kanaka adoption list to find adoptable dogs from around the country, including Black Mouth Curs!

Remember that Mountain Cur Pit mixes will almost always be the most available dogs and that you can help to reduce the number of Pitties that are euthanized each year due to unethical breeding, irresponsible dog ownership, and biased breed stereotypes. 

You can also find Mountain Cur breeders who are working to preserve this all-American dog. A good place to start is with Original Mountain Cur Breeders Association affiliated breeders, or by connecting with Mountain Cur owners to get recommendations for ethical puppy programs. 

Black Mouth Cur Dog FAQ

There’s a lot more to know about the Black Mouth Cur—so much I could never fit it into one blog! But, I’ve done my best, and I’ve answered some of the most common questions dog lovers are asking on the internet about the Black Mouth Cur. 

Are Black Mouth Curs good family dogs?

Yes! Black Mouth Curs are extremely loyal, protective, and bonded to their families, and many are affectionate towards their humans when they’re feeling in a cuddly mood. 

Are Black Mouth Cur dogs good with young children?

Sometimes. Some Black Mouth Curs are gentle with children, and some BMC owners report that their dogs become so protective of their human kiddos that they protect them even from their parents’ scolding. Other Black Mouth Curs might find young children overwhelming and can be nippy or reactive when their personal space is invaded. As with all breeds, Black Mouth Curs should always be supervised by an adult when around young children. 

How much daily exercise do Black Mouth Curs need? 

A high-energy dog breed, Black Mouth Curs need at least 1–2 hours of vigorous exercise every day. Black Mouth Curs love to run and thrive with families who have large yards, rural properties, ranches, and farms. 

Do Black Mouth Curs bark a lot? 

Black Mouth Curs are low to moderate barkers who mostly use vocalizations to alert their humans to other people, animals, or disturbances on their property. Some Black Mouth Curs can be vocal when frustrated, bored, or in the heat of an exciting “job” or game, but are not considered compulsive or frequent barkers. 

Are Black Mouth Cur dogs easy to train? 

Yes—and no. Very smart and driven, Black Mouth Curs can pick up on training quickly and with accuracy. However, many BMCs are stubborn and mischievous, which can make them tough to handle without the right consistency and patience. 

What is the average lifespan for Black Mouth Cur dogs? 

Black Mouth Curs are long-lived dogs that have an average lifespan of 12–18 years

Are Black Mouth Curs or Mountain Cur dogs related to Pit Bulls? 

No. Black Mouth Curs and, to a lesser degree, Mountain Curs are often mistaken for Pitbulls or Bully-type dogs. Though they may have a similar body and head indent, cur-type dogs are not related to Pitbulls or Bully breeds. Notably, cur-type dogs have longer snouts and faces than Pitbull-type dogs. 

How much do Black Mouth Cur puppies cost? 

Black Mouth Cur are mostly bred as working dogs, and puppies from reputable breeders typically cost between $300—$1,000. Rescue BMCs and Black Mouth Cur mixes typically cost $100—$500. 

Does the American Kennel Club recognize the Black Mouth Cur? 

No. The American Kennel Club does not recognize the Black Mouth Cur, but the Mountain Cur is included in their breed registry. 

Do Black Mouth Curs have black tongues? 

No. Black Mouth Curs have black lips, gums, and inner mouths, but they don’t have black tongues. 

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