Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mountain Curs and the Southern Appalachians

“The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.” Charles de Gaulle

"Mountain Curs are the pioneer dogs of the Southern Mountains.  It has been said by many old timers that without Mountain Curs, or bear dogs, the Southern Mountains could not have been settled by the pioneers.  Mountain Curs were a necessity for the frontier family.  They guarded the family against wild animals and other dangers and caught, treed and holed animals for the family food.  When moving to a new home, pioneers provided for the Mountain Cur puppies.  Baskets were slung across the back of pack animals and the puppies rode.  If no pack animals were available, family members carried the valuable puppies.

Our Mountain Curs came from Europe along with their owners, who came to America seeking new homes.  Settlers landed along the Eastern coast of the New World.  Restless souls moved down the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia into the Carolinas, across the Appalachian Mountains, along the Wilderness Trail into Kentucky and Tennessee and south and west into Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri.

It had been established through family history and research that Spanish Explorers brought the brindle, bob-tailed Curs to the South.  Hernando de Soto brought the brindle Curs to drive the hogs and provide protection against wild animals, while he explored the South and discovered the Mississippi River.  Hunters and settlers found the brindles when they came South.

The colors of Mountain Curs of early days are dominant today.  Brindle, yellow, black and blue.  Some have white markings.  Different strains were known by their owners' names such as: Arline, York and Ledbetter.  All these dogs have the same general traits, such as strong treeing instinct on all game, courageous fighters and intelligence.  The Mountain Cur today is still a varmint dog!  Hunting whatever game his master wants.  He is also a guard dog, farm dog and family protector.  This dog is put down and ridiculed by some uninformed people because of the word "Cur".  In Mountain Cur the word "Cur" is used idiomatically and has NO meaning of "low" or worthless"

Until World War II, the Mountain Cur was still an economic asset to mountain people.  Many a boy bought overalls and shoes, maybe coffee and sugar with money from furs caught by Mountain Curs.  Then came the war and jobs.  The old pioneer dogs were scarce by the late 1940's. However, all mountain men did not forget the Mountain Cur.

Four men discovered their common interest in Mountain Curs through Mountain Music Magazine.  They were Riley Daniels of Georgia, Woody Huntsman of Kentucky, Dewey Ledbetter of Tennessee and Carl McConnell of Virginia.  Woody, Dewey and Carl met in Gate City, Virginia in May 1957 and organized the Mountain Cur Club, later renamed the Original Mountain Cur Breeders Association (OMCBA).  Other friends joined the effort to preserve the Mountain Cur from extinction.  By-laws were adopted and Dewey wrote a column for Mountain Music.  However, other interests soon claimed Woody and Riley, a World War I veteran died.  A few years later, Carl left the OMCBA.  Dewey continued working with those as interested as himself in the old Mountain Cur.  Many dedicated men and women are still striving to hold the OMCBA true to it's traditions and principles"



  1. Enjoyed this. Hope you don't mind that I shared it.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, I'm more than happy that you 'shared' it.

  2. I would like to share this article on our "Jonesville Trails and Tales" WIFM radio program and Facebook account. Interesting story and information. Thanks!

    1. Please do, thanks for your interest, please give credit to THE ORIGINAL MOUNTAIN CUR BREEDERS ASSOCIATION