According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, as much as 10% of the population is allergic to dogs, so it makes sense that many dog lovers are in search of a hypoallergenic friend.
Mountain curs are a sturdy breed, great for hunting and guarding. If you are in search of an active hunter and are also allergic to dogs, you may be wondering if a mountain cur might be the dog for you.
Are mountain curs hypoallergenic? No, mountain curs are not hypoallergenic. They do have a short coat and with proper maintenance, shedding can be kept to a minimum. If it is the saliva you are allergic to, the mountain cur could be a good choice due to their tighter lip structure which keeps drooling to a minimum. This doesn’t mean they aren’t the right dog for you, though, especially if your allergies are not severe.
There is a lot to consider before bringing a mountain cur home to join your family.
European settlers brought the ancestors of the mountain cur over with them hundreds of years ago.
Though the term “cur” has often been used as a derogatory way to describe a dog in poor condition or with no defined breed, it also means a working dog that has been bred to hunt, guard, or herd.
There are many types of curs, and they were very common with the pioneers in the early days of the United States (source).
As their name would imply, the mountain cur was a great asset to the settlers of the mountain regions of the southeastern United States, first in the Shenandoah Valley region, and then spreading across Appalachia. Eventually, they reached the Ohio Valley region before spreading through the west.
They are excellent hunters, which made them indispensable for the settlers, who used the dogs for hunting game for food as well as for the fur trade.
They were also used as guard dogs, keeping other animals and would-be thieves at bay. These were dangerous times, so having a reliable guard dog was very important to the pioneers (source).
Mountain curs were very common in America up until World War II. As men went off to fight and women took over jobs in factories, dog ownership in general declined, and the mountain cur was one of many breeds that became less popular.
While hunting dogs such as labradors and beagles remained popular, as the pioneer days faded into the past there just wasn’t as great a demand for the rugged, territorial mountain cur.
After the war, as more people moved into cities and suburbs for work and away from larger farms, dogs like the mountain cur fell out of favor. They became more of a niche breed that appealed to people looking for a dog suited to a specific job, such as sport hunting.
However, in 1957, the breed was officially established with the creation of the Original Mountain Cur Breeding Association. The OMCBA was formed in Gate City, Virginia by four mountain cur enthusiasts from all over the southeast.
They identified the five most common strains of mountain cur (Ledbetter, York, Stevens, McConnell, and Arline) and unified them into one breed.
This group’s dedication to preserving the breed has kept the mountain cur around all these years, and for the first time since the 1930s, the mountain cur’s popularity is on the rise. (source).
Mountain curs have a squared-off face and long, floppy ears that perch on the corners of their head. Their eyes are brown and usually match their coats to some degree, which can be brown, black, yellow, or blue, with brindle, tan, or white streaks.
They have a muscular build that suits their active nature, with a short, bobbed tail (though some do have medium-length tails). A full-grown mountain cur will weigh anywhere from 30 to 60 pounds and will stand 18 to 26 inches high.
Grooming and Care
Mountain curs are a short-haired breed, and their shedding is minimal during most of the year. Regular brushing with a rubber brush and the occasional bath is all that’s really needed to keep their coat clean and healthy.
Be careful not to bathe them too often, as it can dry out their skin, causing not only irritation and discomfort but increasing the flaking dander that can cause allergic reactions.
Twice a year they will shed considerably so, during the spring and winter, be sure to brush them more frequently to keep your home free of excessive hair. Since their hair is short, they do not require haircuts or professional coat grooming (source).
When it comes to nails and teeth, they are no different than any other dog. Regular trimming of the nails will keep your pal’s paws healthy and free from discomfort.
Likewise, occasional teeth cleaning is recommended for the health and happiness of any dog. Your vet can recommend when they may require professional cleaning in order to stave off gum disease and other oral health problems.
It’s important to note that they do have a predisposition to deafness. Due to their long ears, wax buildup and ear mites can lead to bacterial growth and ear infections that can cause long-term hearing problems.
Therefore it’s important to keep your cur’s ears clean and to check for mites and any unpleasant smells. Have your vet inspect them regularly as well.
They should always be fed a diet of high-quality, fresh dog food. While they are a hardy breed, you should be careful about feeding them table scraps or potentially spoiled meat. Your vet can advise you on which kind of food is best for your mountain cur.
The mountain cur is a healthy breed, with no known breed-specific health issues. The average life span is 12 to 16 years, so you can expect your companion to be with you for a long time.
Behavior and Training
Mountain curs are extremely smart dogs, though how easily they can be trained will vary from dog to dog. They tend to be happiest when they have a job to do, which is why they’re such excellent hunters.
This is also why they’re commonly used in dog sports. With proper training, they can be used as therapy dogs or in law enforcement.
Mountain curs are friendly with people, which makes them ideal pets. However, due to their hunting nature, they may see smaller pets, such as cats, bunnies, or guinea pigs, as prey, so always use caution when bringing them into a home with other animals.
Early socialization is key to making sure they are not aggressive around other pets or small children.
They can be quite territorial, which makes them good guard dogs as well. Though hunting dogs are not as commonly needed as they once were, dogs to protect your home are as useful as ever. Mountain curs are protective of their family and home and will keep a watchful guard.
They are brave and bold, which can sometimes come off as aggressive, but they are usually only trying to protect their owner or territory.
They are suspicious of strangers but will relax once they see there is no threat. Underneath their tough exterior is a loyal, warmhearted pet. With proper training, they can be friendly, affectionate dogs perfect for families.
Due to their high intelligence and job-focused nature, mountain curs require a great deal of mental and physical stimulation.
They are best suited to homes with plenty of outdoor space to run around in, and they require a great deal of interaction with their owner. Plan on an hour of exercise a day, whether it’s a long walk, playing fetch, or a trip to the dog park, or they will become bored and may misbehave.
They are not ideal for apartments or homes with very small yards, or with owners who are gone all day. The mountain cur needs room to run around, and it will grow anxious, bored, and destructive if left alone for long stretches with nowhere to roam or play.
Here are some facts about Mountain Cur:
Mountain curs are great companions for the outdoors lover. They love going on hikes, jogging, and swimming with their owners.
Their muscular bodies keep them from tiring out too soon, so they’re up for almost any activity, no matter how strenuous. They’re perfect for taking on a camping trip too, especially if you’re worried about other animals invading your space.
What does Hypoallergenic Mean?
Allergies are essentially your body overreacting to foreign matter. Our bodies produce antibodies that protect us from sickness and infection. Allergic reactions occur when the immune system makes antibodies to protect against something potentially harmful, even though it isn’t.
Though not as common as cat allergies, dog allergies do affect many people. It is most often a protein found in the dead skin cells, known as dander, that flakes off of the animal and causes these reactions.
Pet dander is particularly nefarious because it is very small and can remain airborne for quite a while. Many people think it is the fur that causes the reaction, but it is actually the dander collected on the fur.
Saliva is another common pet allergen. The proteins that cause allergic reactions are even higher in saliva than in the dander.
Though being airborne isn’t typically as much of a problem with saliva as it is with dander, dried saliva in the dog’s fur can flake off and become airborne. Saliva can also collect on bedding, furniture, and clothing easily.
Urine is also a source of this protein, but with a properly house-trained dog, this is not usually a major concern (source).
When something is hypoallergenic, it simply means it’s less likely to cause an allergic reaction. When it comes to dogs, there are many breeds that produce less of the protein allergens. These dogs are referred to as hypoallergenic, but it’s important to note that no dog is truly 100% hypoallergenic.
Mountain Curs and Allergies
As stated previously, mountain curs are not a breed typically described as hypoallergenic. However, they do possess qualities that make them passable for allergic dog lovers, assuming the allergy is not too severe.
Since their hair is short and they do not shed excessively, their dander may not be prevalent enough to cause problems. If they are brushed weekly so that shed hair collects on the brush where it can be disposed of rather than all over your home, you may find that their dander does not bother you at all.
In addition, they have a tight lip structure that keeps drooling to a minimum. If dog saliva is an allergen for you, mountain curs are a much safer breed than, say, a bloodhound or a bulldog, two breeds known for excessive drooling.
Washing bedding, pillows, and any blankets the dog regularly rests on will help keep saliva allergies at bay.
While there are no truly hypoallergenic dogs, there are many that are referred to as hypoallergenic due to their decreased likelihood of causing allergic reactions.
In general, dogs with soft hair, such as poodles, or longer, fine hair, such as Yorkshire terriers, are more likely to get the hypoallergenic designation.
If you want a mountain cur but are concerned about allergies, there are several breeds that have similar characteristics without the allergy risk.
If it is an active guard dog you’re looking for, the schnauzer family may be the right choice. Schnauzers come in three sizes: miniature, standard, and giant.
Miniature schnauzers can be as small as 12 pounds, while the giant schnauzer can reach an impressive 85 pounds!
They have a double coat, and if the outer, wiry layer is clipped, the undercoat can be easily maintained by regular brushing. A professional groomer can clipper your schnauzer to remove the outer coat.
They do require more coat maintenance than the mountain cur, but the advantage of them being hypoallergenic makes it worth it.
Behaviorally, they are very similar to the mountain cur. They are good hunters and excellent guard dogs. If you’re specifically looking for a guard dog, the giant schnauzer is big enough to intimidate almost any intruder.
Schnauzers can also be very affectionate, love being a part of a family, and find great joy in interacting with their owner.
Much like the mountain cur, they require regular walks and plenty of mental exercises to keep them happy and stimulated.
They are fairly easy to train, and early socialization is important to avoid behavior problems later in life. Much like the mountain cur, they need to be taught which animals are friends, or they may attack smaller pets (source).
Kerry Blue Terrier
Similar in appearance to the schnauzer, but with a soft, fluffy coat, is the Kerry blue terrier. These dogs love active play but are also very happy to cuddle up next to their owner.
Since they do not shed, they require regular brushing to keep their coats smooth and free of mats.
They also need regular clipping, especially around their mouth, where the hair can grow quite long and will become matted without proper care.
As with the mountain cur, early socialization is imperative, and obedience training, preferably with a trainer that has experience with terriers, is recommended.
With proper training, the Kerry blue terrier can make a wonderful, loving pet that relishes spending time with its family (source).
If you want a hypoallergenic dog with no coat maintenance, the exotic Xoloitzcuintli may be for you. Xolos, as they are commonly called, come in a short-haired variety as well as a hairless variety that eliminates the need for brushing and coat grooming completely.
Of course, there are other grooming necessities with hairless dogs that you’d never think of with your typical dog. For example, if they’re going to be exposed to the sun for a long time, sunscreen may be necessary.
Xolos require a good bit of exercise but are known to be calm and quiet around the house. They also require consistent training and early socialization. Young Xolos need a great deal of play to keep them from being bored and destructive (source).
There are many other hypoallergenic dog breeds to consider if you suffer from allergies. They can be small or large, active or calm, and can have every type of coat from soft to wiry to no coat at all. Be sure to consider exactly what you’re looking for in a pet before making your choice.
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If you’re looking for a truly hypoallergenic dog, there are many breeds that come pretty close and do well with allergy sufferers.
Whether it’s an active, outdoorsy dog or a calm, indoor cuddler you’re after, you’re certain to find a dog that meets your needs and doesn’t trigger constant allergic reactions.
However, don’t discount the mountain cur just yet. If it’s an attentive guard dog with an active personality you’re after, the mountain cur fits the bill perfectly.
If your allergies are not severe, you may find that the mountain cur – with its short hair, minimal shedding, and tight lips – does not cause any major allergic reactions and will be a loyal companion for years to come.