Farm Shepherds Magazine

J. Richard McDuffie "invented" The Leopard Breed, McCurdy Horses, Camus Curs, and Old Time Farm Shepherds to name a few. He was a brilliant breeder and produced many good animals until his last few years. He understood genetics exceptionally well and knew what traits to look for to produce top animals. -- quote from a UKC Forums post by Richard Bailey

Reprinted with permission from Full Cry Magazine

First printed Nov, 1997, Full Cry

In 45 years I have seen many fads come and go. Most of the factors controlling the popularity of types of hunting dogs are driven by fads. There are few advantages of growing old. However, one of the advantages is being able to look at the big picture and recognize that these fads will also pass. As others have.

Few of those who raise and sell pups of any breed know much about the history of their dogs or have a long-range vision of where they want to go with a breeding program, much less how to go about getting there if they did.

The Leopard Cur breed has it's roots in the early settlement of the Carolinas and Georgia. There is no unbroken written record of their descent from the original imported stock till the present. No one knows all the influences along the way. I doubt if anyone has spent as many years, driven as many miles, done as many interviews, or read as many books researching the history of cur dogs as I have. Yet I hear from a lot of people who think they have all the answers. Most of those with all the answers haven't yet heard the question.

It is my considered opinion, based on 45 years of research and experience, that the Leopard breed descended from the farm dogs that were brought to this country from the British Isles. What were they? They were basically shepherd types. They were unlikely to have been any specific breed, but a type that couldserve as guard dog, and hunting dog. From the early seventeenth century until the end of World War II (when written records were started) we can surmise.From the mid forties we pretty well know because of oral and written records, even before registration began in 1961.

Many characteristics of farm shepherd types are evident in today's Leopard Curs. One is color. All Shepherd breeds from Great Britain have the merle color phase. In the fifties and sixties we frequently had Leopard Curs born with long hair! Steve Ingram's Old Dragon Lady female was one of the last of these. When some of her descendants have been inbred, They have produced long-haired offspring. All true leopards have two coats-- a rough outer coat of guard hairs, and a wooly undercoat. Many have a flag tail and thigh feathers. It is my opinion that July hounds and Goodman hounds got their merle genes from the same ancestry as the Leopard Cur rather than the other way around.

The Leopard Cur's method of baying and fighting big game is a dead give away of their shepherd ancestry. They fight and run. The dog baying in front runs when charged but as soon as the game turns to face those eating his backside, the dog that was just running is pulling hair on the quarry's backside. Slash and run is definitely a Shepherd trait.

A third shepherd trait in Leopard Curs is voice. All pure Leopard Curs chop on track and tree. Show me one that bawls and I'll show you a hound in the pedigree, providing the pedigree is correct. While chop mouth Leopards have a much heavier and louder voice than most modern day Shepherds, My Old Time Farm Shepherd, Tank, could easily be mistaken as a Leopard, treeing.

Fourth and most convincing of all Leopard traits, is person ality, or temperament. Like farm shepherd breeds they are extremely intelligent but they are also extremely sensitive. Their greatest desire is to please their master. The only training needed is to gain a pup's confidence then show it what you want it to do. A harsh word can be as destructive as a clubbing, oftentimes.

People who are loud and boisterous seldom have much success with Leopard Curs. Their sensitivity has a negative and positive side. The same temperament that is devastated by the yelling, cursing, kicking handler is what makes them easily trained by the kind gentle, understanding handler. Those who are "rough on dogs" probably should not try a leopard. In fact there are few cur dogs of any breed that will work for that type person. Those people would probably do better with hard-headed hounds.