Black Mouth Curs – Meet Our New Puppy

by Chris

A few years ago, we were surprised by a red flash flying by the window. As we jumped up to see what it was, we caught the rear end of the fastest dog we’ve ever seen bounding across the field.

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We found out someone had abandoned her and another dog in our cove. Later, we learned that Animal Control had quickly nabbed the other dog, but the red flash was too wily to be caught. She was scared, skinny, had some crazy scars that she still has today, limping (had ripped a claw out of her back foot and an air gun pellet in one hip), and didn’t trust anyone. Enter bacon. We offered her bacon, and she couldn’t resist. We left out food and treats, and it still took 10 days to get her close enough to touch.

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We started calling her Spirit because she would show up to eat then disappear. Soon she was sleeping on the patio furniture. After discussions with our landlord and the neighbors, including a vet who worked at the animal shelter and helped us ensure we weren’t taking a dog someone was looking for, we decided she could be part of the family if she wanted. We coaxed her inside the basement one night.

She was ours from then on. After a bath and a whole lotta lovin she settled into our family seamlessly. We changed her name to Clover, and she turned out to be as sweet as could be, even sitting in our laps if we sat on the floor. Most of the neighbors had 1-3 dogs who had been abandoned in that cove, but Clover was by far the prettiest. Not only that, we were seeing many Clover look-a-likes in the area, like someone was breeding dogs to look like her.

Beth knows a lot about dog breeds and had an inkling that Clover might be something called a Black Mouth Cur. I was skeptical, but the more links Beth showed me, the more I had to agree. She was the right size and color, relaxed, loyal, not a barker, great with people of all ages, super muscular, and had a black mask. From what we could tell, before we took her in, Clover had gotten by pretty well by hunting rodents in the woods. One night early on when we couldn’t get her to sleep inside, she barked at 2 a.m. to let us know she had an opossum for us in the driveway. Beth called her off of it, and she came up and fell asleep on the chair on the patio. When the opossum realized it wasn’t being watched anymore, it stopped playing dead and ambled back down the road.

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Clover and her look-a-likes in the area have an underbite, which isn’t a Black Mouth Cur trait. It’s certainly possible, even likely, she’s just another Heinz 57 mix. A lot of mixes greatly resemble Black Mouth Curs. We’ve started calling these brown mixes “RBDs” (Rescued Brown Dogs). With the uniformity and great musculature of these dogs, it’s possible someone is breeding pit bull into a Cur line for stronger pig- and bear-hunting abilities, but whatever Clover is, she got us interested in the Black Mouth Cur breed. Pretty soon, we were thinking these brown dogs were the breed for us.

We’ve wanted a couple good farm dogs to help watch over the property, big dogs who are sweet with known guests and children but would scare off a sketchy trespasser. We wanted a breed that could keep up with our active lifestyle, hike 10-15 miles or go for a 3-5 mile run, while not being hyper or bouncing off the walls. A dog who’s active but, back at home, is lazy and laid up on the floor.

As with everything, we researched and researched. Besides Black Mouth Curs, we looked seriously at Boerboels and Rottweilers. Beth really wanted a big, lazy Boerboel, but they’re really too big to hike or jog with. After spending more time researching, Black Mouth Curs made the most sense to us.

A Historic Breed

Black Mouth Curs (BMCs) are named for the black around their gums and mouth that extends into their throat but not the tongue. If there were such a thing, they could be called a “heritage dog breed.” Originating in the Southeast and Appalachia, BMCs have been around for a long time. You probably know about at least one: Old Yeller is a BMC in the novel.

They’re bred as a versatile homestead dog who can guard livestock, herd cattle, and hunt every kind of animal you might want to hunt. One reason so many people label their mutts as BMCs is that even purebred BMCs can look pretty different. Some have long muzzles. Others are “more houndy.” They range from 50-100 lb with short coats. While they’re normally various shades of brown with a black muzzle, several color variations are acceptable. Some descriptions say a BMC’s eyes are supposed to match their coat color.

During our research, we learned there are different lineages of BMCs. Apparently the first documented BMCs came out of the Howard line in Alabama. Carnathan BMCs are supposed to be some of the largest. Foundation BMC out of Texas are supposed to be good cattle herders. Yellow Ladner BMCs out of Mississippi were the first to be registered with the National Kennel Club in 1964. The Weatherford Ben’s BMC is valued for its stock and hunting abilities.

A big disclaimer that, while we did a lot of research to make our decision, we don’t claim to be experts on the breed. We haven’t hunted or herded with our dogs and can’t speak to topics like which lines bay and tree the best.

We value this breed because they’re athletic, confident, quiet, friendly, short-coated, and make good watch dogs.

Finding a Breeder

We liked the looks of the Howard/Ladner lineage and the size of the Carnathan line. The Howard/Ladner line has the broad muscular build, red coloring, thick chest, and short to medium muzzle. After much online research and many phone calls, I found Givens Black Mouth Curs in Monroe, GA. Shannon mixes the Howard/Ladner line with the Carnathan line to produce large, muscular BMCs that were exactly what we were looking for. She also breeds for temperament to make a great family dog. Her litters for the foreseeable future were already claimed and paid for. To me, this meant we had found the right person to talk to.

She offered to put me on her waiting list but knew of a breeder here in Tennessee who was using her line in their breeding program. She said they were expecting a litter in the coming year. She would be getting the female pick for her breeding program.

We contacted the breeder, Jessica, in January and asked if we could visit the farm to meet the stud and female for the upcoming litter. It was under 2 hours away, which was a bonus. We were willing to drive longer for a good puppy, but it was nice not to have to.

Their farm and dogs were awesome. The stud is a huge, muscular, short muzzled, red-colored BMC. He’s weary of strangers and guards their acreage at night but is loyal and good with their kids. He loves spending time with his people. The female was extra sweet and relaxed with a very Ladner look. They’d had another litter out of this pair, so we could see the beautiful dogs they produce. (Spoiler: our puppy is under her paw in this picture.)

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Jessica said we could put a deposit down on a potential April litter for pick of the males. We did, and she kept us posted on the pregnancy through the winter. She called in April to say they had a big litter of six males and six females. We could come and pick out our boy in 6 weeks. Other puppies in the litter would go to Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, even California. I can’t imagine how many texts she had to send, because she sent us lots of pictures and updates as they grew.

Our goal was to choose the biggest, calmest puppy so he would fit with our flow. When we arrived at the farm to pick our pup, they brought out the 6 males for us to meet. We watched them play on the grass.

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All the pups had good qualities, but one large, red boy stuck out. They said he was by far the calmest, and he clicked immediately with Beth. It was the first and only puppy she picked up, and as soon as she did, he calmed down and leaned on her. It was an easy choice. We went back 2 weeks later to bring him home.

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Meet Fuller. We named him after the designer of the modern geodesic dome home, Buckminster Fuller. Our neighbor has already dubbed him Pupminster Fuller. The name seemed appropriate since we started the dome build this summer.

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He’s a smart, confident puppy who has been growing like crazy since we brought him home a few weeks ago. We think he’ll be around 90 lbs. <–See how Fuller proved us wrong at 10 months.

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Between the time we put the deposit down at New Years and picking up Fuller in June, we rescued another brown dog from a shelter in a nearby county. After calling her every name we could think of, she responded to Sara. Sara came to us trained in the basic commands and has all the qualities we wanted in a BMC.

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Sara and Fuller have become thick as thieves, and it has helped having her around to show him the ropes.

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Clover has been fighting a weird immune problem diagnosed as “coonhound syndrome” for over a year now. It’s a longer story than I’ll go into, but she had a run-in with a raccoon or some other toxin that caused her to lose the use of her legs. Her prognosis for a full recovery was good, but so much time has elapsed, with such slow improvements even after underwater-treadmill therapy and daily stretching and exercises, we’re not sure which way she’ll go. She’ll be with us as long as she’s happy and improving. She spends most days outside on the porch or the yard and guards the chickens…without chasing them. That’s a plus.

We’ll post future updates about our brown dogs and discuss training and socialization, because this active, independent breed could be a challenge for first-time dog owners or city dwellers. This breed isn’t for everyone.

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For now, we’re just enjoying letting Fuller be a fat little pup.

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How did Fuller turn out? See him at 10 months in our next BMC post.

24 comments

  1. The BMC is not a breed I am familiar with but they look very like my Ada she came from a rescue as a 3 month old pup of uncertain parentage but best guess german shepherd and am staff cross. She is the fastest dog at the dog park. I have also had people suggest she may have Rhodesian ridgeback in her breeding which would explain her need to run. He looks a lovely pup.

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    1. So many mixes look like them. A lot of people have asked if Clover is a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. She may be a shepherd/pit/boxer, too, but because of her personality and the region we’re in, it’s not too far-fetched to think she could be a BMC. Either way, she got us interested in the breed!

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  2. This is a cute story of an adorable puppy. I enjoyed learning about the breed. It shows how much you both researched before buying Fuller.

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  3. We too have BMC and pit mix ..and it was people at dog park who kept asking if he was BMC..after research we are comvinced! He looks just like Fuller..and has the wonderful traits you described..loyal VERY affectionate loves cats dogs kids..and even beats the greyhounds running at the park ! The perfect dog for a family we love our Maxx !

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  4. What a great story. We got Dougie at 3 months from the shelter in Kennebunk, Maine. He came from Mississippi and looks so much like a bmc. He’s only 85 lbs. But fun, silly, loves the humans, but boy he’s work….chasing down chipmunks/squirrels until he’s ready to drop. He has numerous scars from bashing around in the woods. We just love him entirely. He has black under his nose and around his lips with a reddish coat, very muscular legs. A bit demanding but the sweetest dog ever.

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  5. We rescued a BMC three years ago. He was two yrs old; crate trained and house broken.We were blessed that he had a great foster Mom. After many years of loving various pure bred dogs ( Irish Setter, Black Lab, Golden Retriever, Red Bone Coon Hound) we are thrilled with our snuggle buddy. He is smart and loyal; he travels with us almost everywhere we go. Great breed!

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  6. BMC is the best dog period. Smart as a whip and literally can read minds….lol my Bruno Boy is a sweet heart and my best friend. He rides with me and will not get out of the truck because he knows there’s at least one more stop I have to make and he is not going to get gyp’d
    Coon hound disease can last weeks even months. The dog will recover but it’s up to the owner to care for him hand feeding him and Keeping him clean.
    He is not going to die and do not rush the process. Raccoons defensive bite has a neurotoxin in the saliva paralysis starts in back legs and in days moves to the front legs. It can cause respitory issues also which can kill a dog but mostly causes temp nerve damage. Dog will recover so never get the ide that you have to put him down. Man’s best friend requires the same loyalty. The BMC will pay you back with extreme loyalty, I honestly believe my dog would knowingly die to protect me from harm.
    An amazing creature that I can only talk about you have to experience it. Be warned though this dog is so smart and so strong headed that he will do what he wants when he wants regardless of how many times you flip out , he only comes around to training after you have seriously bonded with him and he has undying love for you . Then you can let him off the leash and he will obey every command. And will not run. My boy ran away so many times, he dug under the fence went over the fence tricked me and they spun around and put the door he went. I chased him with my truck and the faster I went faster he went when I stopped chasing him he stopped running drove me crazy for 2-3 yrs. yes years!
    The time I have spent with him over coved has made him turn such a corner that I let him run no leash and he jumps straight into the truck he only wants to please me and he looks at the horizon thinking about a good run but he stays with me and says why would Inwant to run away from this life
    Lol a regular diet of steak pork chops and BBQ chicken helps with the love

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    1. Thank you for the comment about your awesome bond. Couldn’t agree more about the independence. Winning the BMC’s respect with kindness seems to be key. He will ultimately do what he wants, so it’s a good policy to make him want what you want 🙂 And yes, coonhound syndrome is a long road. Clover girl has been a good dog, and we’ll always work to do right by her.

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  7. I really enjoyed reading this story. I also am an owner of a wonderful BMC. A rescue I got in New York. Didn’t realize he was a pure bread but had it confirmed. I follow Givens BMC on Instagram. So when I saw the name, my interest peaked. Your Fuller looks just like my BEAU. Moles are in the same place and even though I didn’t see him as a pup I’m sure he looked just like your guy. I swear now I have to reach out to them and see if I can confirm he originally came from them. The resemblance is ridiculous!!!!! I’ve wondered this a number of times looking at their posts.
    Hands down the BEST dog I’ve ever had. He chose me but literally saved me.
    High energy, has the run of 5 acres in PA, lives with 3 cats that he herds around the house, full of energy all day.and is a pure joy. He makes me laugh all the time and those killer puppy dog eyes he gives makes me melt. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!!
    Enjoy your new edition. 🙂

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  8. Chris. Wonderful post. I didn’t even know about this blog, until this morning. A lady sent me a message from here. Fuller as you know, was my pick of the males. I loved him! His sister Britt is amazing and doing well. Love how you did your homework on the BMC before commenting. Another reason why Fuller has been a great addition to the family.

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  9. We have a Black Mouth Cur too in Indiana. It always bugs me when I am looking through dog breeds (like to get a canvas print made), BMC is never NEVER listed. But if you look around, they are everywhere! When the info on this breed says the dogs are sensitive, that is an understatement! If I have to tell her no with a stern voice, she is VERY sorry and will give me those super sad puppy eyes.

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  10. I love this article. It popped up on my Google feed due to my obsession with this breed. It first started 3 years ago after my beloved Cocker Spaniel, Aston, passed. My husband and I swore off dogs due to the heartbreak over that loss. A few months later my husband texted me pictures of this beautiful blonde from work telling me that he was bringing her home. I was outraged l! Nonetheless, he had a co-worker follow him home with her and forced me to meet her. And, yes, the instant connection was unrivaled. Soon we realized that she needed a playmate but we were so hooked on this breed that I searched high and low and found a Yellow Ladner puppy a mere 12 hour drive from me. Winter instantly fell in love with the new puppy and began “Mommying” her. She licks her eyes every night to sleep, makes her behave, and has “saved” her many times from the pool (she finally realized that she can swim and didn’t need saving). These two girls have gotten me through a very difficult year (2020 stuff + divorce) that I swear I don’t think I could have made it through without them.

    For the life of me, I cannot understand why the breed is not more widely loved and sought after. Perhaps it is due to their need for extraneous exercise? I don’t know but all I had to do was replace my grass with Bermuda and they have a ball and I still have grass. They are so loving, protective, loyal…not enough words for them. Oh! And those EYES! Reznor ( the puppy) is rather ADHD so most people don’t really get to spend much time with her because she is so busy but everyone that meets Winter is instantly in love with her. Even my best friend whom swears that she hates dogs, I have caught her whispering “I Love You” into Winter’s super soft ears. I think it would do the world much good to share in the love and beauty of Black Mouth Curs but in the meantime, I will relish in it.

    Thank y’all for sharing your story and photos. I am in awe of the chicken video.

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    1. Thank you for the heartfelt comment! It sounds like you have an awesome tribe. Driving 12 hours for the right puppy definitely resonates. And we love how their eyes match their coats!

      Looking over everything people have commented about the breed, it seems like BMC owners are as loyal as our dogs. However, they do need a lot of exercise and are complex thinkers, so they’re not for everyone.

      As far as the Clover video, I need to add a, “don’t try this at home” disclaimer 🙂 We are extra careful with our dogs and the chickens, but Clover’s special. All the best for you in the New Year.

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  11. We had a similar situation. We rescued Rocky from a sawmill in East TN. We found out a few days later he is a BMC. What a great dog he is. One of the best we have ever had.

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  12. Thank you for this blog. It is very informative. I have a rescue from the Cumberland Plateau of TN who has been more than a handful. All of his siblings looked like black mouth curs. I just didn’t know it. My dog was the only solid black one of the bunch. He is 90 pounds and a perfect gentleman indoors but outside is another story. His favorite thing to do is run off-leash. I am not strong enough to walk him even with a pinch collar. My husband has to walk him. He is 3 years old. He has a fenced backyard and I take him to dog park. We go to ranch in Texas once a year which is dog paradise.

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