The Florida Cracker Cur has been around since the earliest days of cattle ranching in Florida. Back in the days when wild cats, marauding boars, and pillaging bears were a constant threat to livestock, cowboys used these spirited dogs to guard their herds. Tough as old boots and as brave as lions, Florida Cracker Curs didn’t think twice about facing off against even the angriest wild cat if it meant protecting a calf in trouble. These days, Florida Cracker Curs are few and far between, but there are still enough committed Florida Cracker Cur fanciers around to ensure the breed doesn’t die out. Find out more with these ten things you didn’t know about the Florida Cracker Cur.
1. They were introduced to Florida in 1539
The Florida Cracker Cur has been around for years… centuries, in fact. The first Cur was introduced to Florida in 1539 by a Spanish explorer named Hernando de Soto. He, along with a small band of fellow explorers, had been dispatched by the King of Spain to stake a claim to the state. He bought with him several cattle and herding dogs, the descendants of which would eventually become the modern-day Florida Cracker Cur. While their numbers might be low these days, they’re still going, still protecting herds, and still proving a loyal, dependable companion to ranchers.
2. They’re tough
The Florida Cracker Cur is a tough, resilient breed that was bred as a working dog. For most of the breed’s existence, they had one primary role in life: to protect and herd cattle. Sometimes, that meant making quick snap decisions on their own. If they came across a calf in danger from an angry wild cat, there wouldn’t be time to check in with their owner. They decided what to do on their own and they did it on their own. As a result, they learned to be dauntless and very decisive. The combination doesn’t exactly make them the most submissive or laid back of breeds, but it does make them one of the toughest.
3. They’ve got a short coat for a reason
Some dogs are bred to match a specific aesthetic. The Florida Cracker Cur isn’t, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been bred to have certain physical attributes. One of these attributes is a short, close-fitting coat. As well as helping to keep the dog cool during hot weather, the coat has an aerodynamic quality that lets them slide through grasses without experiencing the issues a dog with a longer mane could. As a result, their natural athleticism is given a helping hand, letting them run alongside cattle without breaking a sweat or getting caught in the brush.
4. They’re great at climbing trees
As working dogs who are at their happiest when they’ve got a job to do and a ranch to protect, Florida Cracker Cur’s have developed a wide-ranging skillset that helps them be the best at what they do. Strangely enough, one of those skills is climbing trees. As Florida Raised writes, the breed has developed the somewhat unique ability of being able to scale lower tree branches. Once they’re a few meters above where they’ve any right to be, they can survey the ranch and spot any signs of trouble with the herd.
5. They weren’t bred to be pretty
Ranchers have never cared what a Florida Cracker Cur looks like. Ultimately, this is a breed that was developed and designed to stop wild cats from making a meal of a herd. A graceful ankle and a head-turning face might serve dogs well in the show ring, but on a ranch, it means nothing. That’s not to say they don’t have plenty of charm in their own way. Their short coats are usually white, brown, or black with white markings at the feet and chest. Their muzzles are strong and well developed, their expressions are inquisitive and lively, and their ears are medium length. Their well-muscled bodies are a little bigger than most other types of Cur, but still compact and athletic enough to ensure speed and agility.
6. They’re incredibly rare
As dogbreedinfo.com writes, whereas almost every ranch in Florida used to have at least a few Florida Cracker Curs to its name, changes in the cattle industry over the past 60 years has led to a dramatic fall in their number. In the 1940s, new laws were introduced regarding free-roaming livestock. The laws essentially took away the need for a dog designed to protect and serve the herd. Fortunately, there are still just about enough Florida Cracker Curs around to keep their fans happy.
7. They live for up to 12 years
The Florida Cracker Cur is a healthy, robust dog that’s free of any genetic health problems. Occasionally, minor eye issues and hip dysplasia can occur, but overall, this isn’t a breed you need to be overly concerned about from a health perspective. Obviously, that doesn’t mean you can afford to be lax. Any recommended vaccinations should be kept up to date and they’ll need to be fed a well-balanced, nutritious diet. To keep them fit and sleek, a few long daily walks or jogs should be added to the schedule (remember, these are dogs that were bred to work, not to laze around the sofa. The more exercise they get, the healthier and happier they’ll be). Regular checkups with the vet are also recommended to ensure any potential problems are nipped in the bud.
8. They’re not the only Cur in the family
Florida Cracker Curs aren’t the only Curs you might hear a mention of from time to time. The Cur family is extensive, and while their history of being bred as working dogs rather than show dogs means there’s no breed appearance standard, the United Kennel Club has recognized various Cur breeds based on their bloodlines. Some of the other Cur types you might come across include the Black Mouth Cur, Catahoula Cur, Camus Cur, Cajun Cur, Blue Lacy, Foundation Stock Mountain Cur, Texas Cur, and Henderson Cur, to name just a few.
9. They’re easy to groom
As gundogcentral.com notes, the Florida Cracker Cur is easy to groom thanks to its short coat. An occasional brush and comb to remove any loose, dead hair is all that’s needed. Regular bathing can cause skin issues, so it’s best to only bathe them when absolutely necessary.
10. They’re excellent hunters
While the Florida Cracker Cur was primarily developed to protect and work with cattle, their bravery, grit, and love of the chase also make them excellent hunters. Throughout the years, they’ve been used to hunt everything from wild boar to deer.