Stephens Cur

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Stephens Cur
Tacosunday /

A black and white, medium-sized scenting hound, the Stephens Cur is one of many purebred Cur dogs native to the USA. They derive from the Mountain Cur and were first established in 1970. Their lithe and powerful body is well adapted to the sprinting, jumping and treeing, which they carry out so expertly. Never one to shy away from a challenge, the Stephens Cur has even been known to target mountain lions.

Traditionally kept outside, the Stephens Cur has always been a rural, hard-working dog. However, more and more nowadays they are being brought into the family home and are proving their worth as loving pets. Not suitable for everyone, they require ample space and an owner that is either a hunter or one that leads a very active life indeed.

About & History

The Stephens Cur dog, or the Stephens’ Stock Cur, is a scent hound that originated in Kentucky. While the term ‘cur’ can be another word for a mongrel, the Stephens Cur is most certainly a purebred dog. Each type of Cur dog is a working dog from the south of the USA. Other examples of Cur dogs include the Black Mouth Cur and the Blue Lacy. There are a large number of Cur dogs and they are each unique in their own way.

As with other Cur dogs, the Stephens Cur makes a fantastic hunting dog. They have traditionally hunted a wide variety of animals, including squirrels, boars and raccoons. Incredibly, it has also been known for the courageous Stephens Cur to hunt for bear and mountain lions when in packs. A dog that uses its melodic voice when on the trail, the Stephens Cur relies heavily on its advanced sense of smell to pursue both hot and cold trails. They chase and tree their prey when possible.

This breed gets its name from a Kentuckian called Hugh Stephens who, around 50 years ago, started the process of creating an entirely new breed from its ancestor, the Mountain Cur. Along with three other American men, Hugh Stephens formed part of the organisation that is today known as the Original Mountain Cur Breeders Association.

As of 1998, the UKC officially recognised the Stephens Cur within their Scent hound group.


It remains essential that the Stephens Cur be an athlete through and through. They have been bred for purpose and should display a muscular, toned body that is in good proportion with no exaggerated features. They have a relatively wide head with a flat skull that is slightly longer than their muzzle. Their cheeks form a large part of their face. They should have large, dark brown eyes that exhibit a pleading expression. Their prominent nose is black and houses notably wide nostrils. Their endearing ears hang flat beside their face and are of a medium size. All four limbs are well-muscled and lean, allowing for powerful movements. Their body is rectangular in shape and they have a wide, level back and a tucked-up abdomen. Their slender tail is medium in length, though is seen to be docked in some individuals.

The Stephens Cur possesses a close-fitting double coat that offers it suitable protection from the external elements. Both their outercoat and smooth undercoat are short. The predominant coat colour must be black and the only other accepted colour is white. It is important that more than two thirds of the dog be black, otherwise they are disqualified from the show ring.

Individual breed members will measure somewhere between 16 and 23 inches, with their weight in proportion to their height. On average, the Stephens Cur will weigh in at around 45 to 55lbs.

Character & Temperament

Primarily a hunter, the Stephens Cur lives and dies for its job. Hunting, some would say, is in its blood. They are notoriously dedicated to the task that is set to them and they will allow nothing to get between them and their prey. While some would call the way they doggedly pursue their quarry ‘aggressive’, it is within their breed standard that ‘viciousness’ is an automatic disqualification, so it is essential that the dog be well-mannered around people at all times.

Smart and savvy, the Stephens Cur likes a challenge and is a versatile worker. When it comes to life outside of work, once an owner puts ample time into their development and socialises them thoroughly from puppyhood, they tend to manage very well indeed. In most cases, this adaptable dog will happily relax on the sofa after a hard day’s work. They are known to bond closely with their master and are very tolerant of the children that they have been raised with. While they can be trusted with their close family, this dog is naturally suspicious of any new person in the home and does not readily accept them. Not unexpectedly, small animals, such as cats and birds, are not safe in the company of the Stephens Cur, though they do tolerate other pet dogs quite well.


With brains to spare, the Stephens Cur responds very well to firm and kind training. A trainer is most likely to succeed if they play this dog to its strengths, focusing on trailing and treeing. They are natural superstars when it comes to hunting, and, in fact, need very little in the way of training when it comes to this job. While convincing this dog to perform other tasks can pose a slightly bigger challenge, they are capable of doing well in most areas.

With such a high drive and a passion for the pursuit of practically anything that moves, it is important that the training of the Stephens Cur starts early in their life and remains consistent. Socialising them from the moment they arrive will make it more likely that they will be submissive and docile in the company of new people.


A healthy breed of dog, the Stephens Cur is not known to be affected by any particular health condition, however, does put itself at risk when out and about hunting all day. Owners should be mindful of the following:


Whether it be lacerations from fences, wounds from prey that fight back or damage caused by rogue thorns in paws or sticks that penetrate their skin, the Stephens Cur is far more likely than a lap dog to get itself into a spot of bother. After every hunt, they should get a thorough check over from their nose to their tail, ensuring that they have come away unscathed. It is especially important that the less visible areas, such as their inner thighs and paws, be given a careful examination.

Tick-borne Diseases

While any dog that lives in the south of the USA may potentially contract certain tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, the Stephens Cur is at a particularly high risk due to the sheer amount of time that they spend outdoors and in wooded land. It is essential that their parasite prevention be kept up to date at all times, and any visible ticks should be removed as early as possible.

Ear Infections

When outside, the Stephens Cur is likely to get in contact with wet grass, mud and bodies of water. Any moisture in their ears can contribute to the development of infections. Ear canals must be dried thoroughly after the dog has gotten itself wet outside or has been bathed.

Exercise and Activity Levels

A vibrant and keen worker, the Stephens Cur needs a large amount of exercise if they are to be kept happy. They are entirely unsuited to life in the city or in a small home and require lots of land on which to ramble. When not hunting, their demands can be met via other activities, such as swimming or hiking.

These intelligent dogs also like to keep their minds active and enjoy playing games and puzzles. They are particularly well-suited to scenting games.


Bred to be an outdoor, hardy dog, the Stephens Cur needs little in the way of grooming. They should be brushed once or twice a week and their claws may need trimming if they become thick or long, particularly in elderly dogs. The floppy ears of the Stephens Cur can be prone to ear infections, so should be cleaned out regularly.

Famous Stephens Curs

The Stephens Cur is kept well out of the limelight and there are no famous individuals.


While all Cur dogs have a mixed ancestry, the Stephens Cur is considered a purebred dog today. There are no popular cross-breed examples just yet.

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