Last June, after a 6-month wait, we brought home our purebred Black Mouth Cur puppy. Here’s what he looked like the week we brought him home, at 2 months old.
This is the little tank at 3-4 months.
And 5 months.
At 6-7 months, Fuller grew into his legs and was finally able to run without flopping over like a stuffed animal.
He started to look serious by 8-9 months. Still a clown at heart.
And now, at 10 months and 105lb, and still growing.
Fuller’s big for a BMC. Some people prefer smaller curs – bigger dogs may be less agile or wear out faster in the field – but we chose the largest puppy in the litter on purpose. We wanted an intimidating but relaxed guardian.
BMCs are said to be great protectors of their territory. To help Fuller know his territory, Chris established a tradition of walking him around the perimeter of our acreage every day, beginning on the sunny Sunday afternoon we brought him home.
First, it was a short loop, a couple times a day, so his little legs could keep up. We gradually expanded to bigger and more loops. Sarah, one of our “rescued brown dogs” (RBDs), who looks and acts suspiciously like a BMC, has been an awesome co-trainer and role model. She likes to stay nearby.
Of course, Fuller and Sarah cover a lot more ground nowadays than Chris and me, crashing through the woods and wrestling each other back and forth across the field as we walk our loops. It helps to bring a bag of treats to remind them to check in. They’re usually more interested in treats than tracking the exciting scents of woodland creatures up the mountain. Usually.
When not walking, Fuller’s happy alone in the fenced yard for hours with a few sticks or a toy. He rarely barks or digs. That LGD-style independence is one of many cool qualities of the breed.
Even if he’s spent all day in the yard, if he doesn’t have walks, and maybe a car ride or play date, he’ll be up after midnight raiding the toy basket. Toys don’t last long around Fuller, but the cheap ones hold up best. Expensive toys seem to have more decorations to destroy. We’ve had the most success with a line of dog toys at Food City that cost $1.25 apiece. Some of those survive for weeks.
Though BMCs can be great as full-time, outdoor working dogs (like Fuller’s dad), others say their BMCs are great as couch potatoes. Fuller embraces both roles. We joke that he goes by “soap opera” rules: if there’s at least one paw on the ground, he’s not truly on the couch.
Many breeds and mixed breeds share the great qualities we’re seeing in Fuller, but there’s something fascinating about a heritage breed that has been so selectively produced for utility and temperament. Shannon Givens of Givens Blackmouth Cur, the breeder of Fuller’s sire, has the best description of the breed’s personality on her homepage.
She writes, “Your puppy will be what you make it to be…This is not a breed that will tolerate aggressive training and correction.” Sure enough, Fuller becomes magically deaf when you’re frustrated, but patience, treats, and hugs have great results. He may take a moment to process your request, but he’s probably going to do what you ask him to do. Not because you’re loud-talking (so don’t waste your time) but because he respects your judgment. It helps if he’s already calm and understands what you’re asking, so time invested in exercise, training, and socialization is 100% worth it with a BMC.
Crate training has been helpful, which is no surprise with such a big dog. When Fuller is restless, he makes our barndominium feel small fast. His tail has whipped more than a few water glasses off the coffee table, and his face is lap-height, which isn’t always welcome, especially after he drinks. Because: drool.
Luckily, we just have to point to the crate, and he’ll wander in and snore his way through a nap. The crate is one of the places where treats come from, and his favorite bed is in there, so it’s never a hard sell.
Basically, Fuller is awesome. However, after 8 months with our BMC, we stand by the statement that this breed isn’t for everyone. He might not be such a gentle giant without acres of land to stretch his legs, hours to patrol the yard, playdates with neighbor puppies, other dogs in the house to teach him manners, and an endless stream of construction crew to give ear scritches and teach him how to screen visitors. A puppy this size can be a handful on a leash, and you have to watch your knees when he’s in play mode, in case he makes a wrong turn and barrels into you.
Chris and I both call on years of experience with dog training as we work with him. The time commitment has been significant. Especially as Fuller has become a teenager. Some days he tests boundaries, like whether it’s okay to paw you or nip your hand to get you to play…but his head is so big that his “nips” are chomps, and he can knock you over with a paw. His teeth have had many casualties, from eyeglasses to porch furniture. If the weather is bad, as it has been all winter, sometimes the best we can do is load him into the car and take a drive. Twenty minutes of letting the wind stretch his eye sockets usually calms him down, but the work that goes into preventing bad habits with an active breed shouldn’t be underestimated.
We have at least another year of working with Fuller to make sure he turns into the reliable, well-mannered sentry we’re aiming for. Here’s to continuing to enjoy the journey with our BMC.
See more Black Mouth Cur puppy pictures in our first post about BMCs.