A.L. "Leak" Bevil to Campbell & Lynn Loughmiller in Big Thicket Legacy:
“What we call a cur dog was just a general mixture of dogs. They had dogs of all kinds and descriptions, took the best ones and interbred them, developed the cur dog, and the strain breeds true, the best dog in the world.”
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This is Cate's daddy, Coker's Dorcheat Tiger, with his boss, Greg Coker, after winning the treeing competition in the 2006 UKC Black Gold Challenge, in Dover, Arkansas. (As you can see here, and probably already suspected, tree dog competitions aren't real tweedy.) Tiger is a Mountain Cur, mostly of the Kemmer bloodline.
This is a purloined photo of Smoky, Luisa's new cur puppy. (Luisa, I didn't think you'd mind.) We've all been fussing over Smoky for the past several days. If you haven't yet read his story and registered your unqualified approval and support, please do so at once or else your status as a sure-enough dog nut may be called into question.
Luisa made an executive decision: "He is a Mountain Cur. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it."
Given Smoky's appearance, I'm inclined to agree. And this:
"Smoky has one of those barks that's more of a single, sustained roar."
Well, yeah. Sounds about right.
At least one commenter suggested that there may be some Plott Hound in his lineage. Could be. There may also be a some Treeing Tennessee Brindle. I could go on.
No matter. I'm sure he's a cur. I've seen a few.
In 1957, when Riley Daniels, of Georgia, Woody Huntsman, of Kentucky, Dewey Ledbetter, of Tennessee, and Carl McConnell, of Virginia, founded the organization that would become the Original Mountain Cur Breeders Association, they were less concerned with establishing a breed than with preserving a once common general type of herding and hunting dog that nearly disappeared after World War II as mountain people began leaving their subsistence way of life for steady wages in cities and towns.
Take a look at some of the old photos on the OMCBA website and you'll see that the old-time mountain curs varied greatly in appearance, and, I suspect, working style. No doubt, the old-timers were pretty open-minded about style, so long as the semi-wild cattle and swine got bunched, penned, and marked and the 'coons and squirrels ended up in the pot.
And I seriously doubt that the old boys would have hesitated to bring in hound or shepherd blood if they thought it would produce a better cur-dog. Today, we tend to think of the mountain cur as a specific breed or type. The old-timers were simply breeding curs for working conditions in the Southern Appalachian mountains. Had you asked a mountaineer what kind of dogs he ran, he would not have said, "mountain curs." He'd have answered "cur-dogs."
The National Kennel Club recognizes the cur's varied lineage. While it lists specific cur types such as the Mountain Cur, Leopard Cur, and Yellow Blackmouth Cur, the NKC also has a category for the general working cur of recently mixed heritage. While breeders of treeing curs must keep accurate records, the NKC standard specifies a height of 18 to 28 inches and a weight of "over 30 pounds." Eye color? "Green, blue, or brown." Coat color? "Any color variation is acceptable." Tails? "Any length."
What, then, does the standard absolutely require? "The Treeing Cur must show strong treeing ability in the hunting area(s) of squirrel, coon, boar, bear or cat. Their hunting ability must prove them to be more than just an average dog. "
One of the best hunting dogs I've ever known was a treeing cur owned by my buddy Donny Lynch. Molly was a quarter treeing Walker and three-quarters mountain cur - a typical treeing cur mix. She looked just like a big mountain cur. In fact she looked a lot like Luisa's Smoky. And she was a little more open on the track than your average mountain cur, and deadly on squirrels and 'coons. Whenever she'd bark or give a little yelp on a cold trail, Donny would smile and say, "There's that Walker dog showing through."
So, Luisa, is Smoky a mountain cur? I suspect so. I'm almost certain he's a cur-dog in the broad sense. Take him up to your cabin, and then he'll be a cur-in-the-mountains.
That's all the old-timers ever wanted.