Catahoula Leopard Dog

Hard-working companions that adore the country life

Catahoula Leopard Dog

Toni Grzunov - Last updated on June 15th, 2021

All you need to know about the Catahoula Leopard Dog

Originally created as herding and hunting dogs in Louisiana, Catahoula Leopard Dogs are active and love working. They were developed to be versatile and can fulfill various roles.

In Louisiana, you will find these dogs stationed as watchdogs, assigned with herding cattle or retrieving waterfowl, and sometimes even tasked with hunting wild hogs.

Catahoula Leopard Dogs will usually act uninterested towards strangers but will bond strongly with their owner and their family. They make for wonderful companion dogs when trained properly. These pups are also very independent and can disagree with you as well as stand up for themselves.

The breed is most easily recognized by its gorgeous blue eyes and merle coat, although these dogs can come in many different color combinations.

The Appearance of the Catahoula Leopard Dog…

Catahoulas as we know them today actually come from three different breeding lines. All three produced wildly different dogs, even in size. As the years passed, these three lines were cross-bred with each other multiple times and we got the Catahoula Leopard Dogs of today.

These dogs are slender and muscular and their bodies are best described as athletic.

The coat of a Catahoula is typically either short and smooth or medium length and coarse. The short coat is the more common of the two. Both types of coats grow extremely close to the bodies of these dogs, making it look as if they were painted on the skin.

Additionally, these pups are also known for their striking eyes. Most commonly described as blue, they often come in different patterns described as “glass” or “cracked glass” and can range in colors from white, slate gray to pale blue.

Catahoulas can also have two eyes of different colors because they carry the heterochromatic gene. The eyes are large and give these dogs a constant alert expression.

The tail of a Catahoula is long and thin, although some can have bobbed tails. Long ones are usually preferred. They also have webbed toes that allow them to work freely in the water.

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What colors does a Catahoula Leopard Dog come in?

The Catahoula Leopard Dog breed standard acknowledges the large variety of colors these dogs can come in. They can also come in various patterns, including brindle, solid colors, or the famous leopard pattern (merle) that is responsible for the name of this breed.

The most common colors on single-colored coats include:

  • Black
  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Blue

All about the Catahoula Leopard Dog personality

Catahoulas are intelligent dogs that learn quickly. These pups are obedient but you need to know how to approach them. They are naturally independent and wild and need a really distinct manner of dealing with them.

Catahoulas will function best in a household where they are the only pet. Sure, you can get them used to being around other animals with early socialization, but that won’t guarantee that they will never be aggressive when they see another dog.

These dogs have a constantly present prey drive but luckily, it never becomes too overwhelming. This means you can train them to live with cats, but if they see an unknown one outside there is a high chance they will chase it.

It would also be best not to get a Catahoula if you have small children. These dogs are a bit too big for toddlers to play with them, and they will view kids of similar size to them as competition. 

Catahoula Leopard Dogs can also make great watchdogs because they are suspicious of strangers by nature. They will learn quickly what territory is their home turf and will try to protect it, although they are rarely aggressive towards people. They will usually start making noises when they notice a new person approaching.

These dogs are known for their ability to judge character fairly quickly. This means they are quick to realize which humans aren’t a threat, and will warm up to them with ease.

Is a Catahoula Leopard Dog easy to train?

Although Catahoulas can be trained to do anything a dog can do, it can definitely get challenging. They are highly independent dogs and you will need to earn their respect before they start listening to your commands.

You can expect these pups to not even pay attention to you at the start of your training regime. They will often ignore your instructions completely and turn every training session into an ordeal.

You need to be firm and set consistent rules. However, never be too strict. Show these dogs that you are the leader but do so gently. They won’t respond well to aggression.

In the end, Catahoulas are just too intelligent and everyone should be able to train them well, after some minor obstacles. You should always use positive reinforcement, as it can help tremendously during training.

How much Grooming does a Catahoula Leopard Dog need?

Grooming is quite simple with the Catahoula Leopard Dog. You will need to brush its short coat weekly, preferably a few times per week and that’s about it. 

Despite their short coats, Catahoulas do shed noticeably, so they are not hypoallergenic

Catahoula Leopard Dogs have extremely strong nails that grow very fast. You will need to pay extra attention to these, as it can be quite painful for your pup if they get too long. Make sure to check and trim them regularly, using a nail clipper or a grinder.

Make sure to keep the ears of your pet Catahoula clean and check them every so often. They have droopy ears which means they can get infected more easily.

Lastly, give your pet’s teeth a brushing a few times a week and that’s about it. Consult with your vet on what the best doggy toothpaste is for your Catahoula.

The Living Environment of the Catahoula Leopard Dog

Catahoulas are primarily companion dogs and won’t easily fit into family life. What we mean by this is that they don’t enjoy laying around and relaxing. These dogs require an environment where they can indulge in their natural instincts and hunt freely or work in herding.

People that live on a ranch or in the woods will be able to provide the perfect environment for the Catahoula Leopard Dog. They will also fit nicely into large houses with big, fenced yards. These dogs need their space.

They also require about an hour of exhausting exercise each day. This can include simply a chance to run around freely, or other activities such as herding or obedience competitions. 

Urban settings are not a good environment for Catahoula Leopard Dogs and they will most likely be miserable living there. Definitely don’t adopt one of these pups if you’re living in an apartment. If you still decide to do so you will need to make sure your dog’s physical needs are met each day.

Catahoulas make excellent pets for people into camping, hiking, hunting, or running. 

The Health and Nutrition of the Catahoula Leopard Dog

Although they are generally quite healthy, some conditions might pose a problem. 

  • As with most large dog breeds, hip dysplasia can become an issue. This can be especially bad for Catahoulas since they are working dogs. This progressive condition affects the hip joints and makes the ball and socket grind against each other, causing pain.
  • Genetic deafness is another big concern with this breed. It is actually linked to eye and coat color and is caused by a lack of melanocytes, which are melanin-producing cells. This is why white Catahoulas have a higher chance to be deaf.

Pups that are deaf in both ears can never become working dogs and can be difficult to train so some breeders choose to euthanize them while they are still young, which is an awful practice.

  • Various ocular diseases can become an issue as well. These include Cataracts, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Entropion, and Ectropion. This is why all Catahoulas should have their eyes tested while they are still young. 

Catahoulas can eat a lot so expect to feed your pet anywhere from 3 to 5 cups of dog food each day. Consult with your vet on what the best one is, depending on the size, age, and activity level of your dog.

Catahoula Leopard Dogs are extremely active so they need to eat plenty of food. This means that you won’t really have issues keeping your pet in shape, as long as it gets enough exercise.

Where does the Catahoula Leopard Dog come from?

Catahoula Leopard Dogs are known by several other names such as the Louisiana Catahoulas and the Catahoula Curs. Their origins are the subject of debate among breeders as there are several plausible theories about where this breed came from.

Some believe that dogs of the Native Americans were bred there with European dog breeds that included the Mastiff and the Greyhound. This would mean that the Catahoula was developed some time during the 1500s.

There are sources that claim that a red wolf was a part of the breeding process, although this is generally disputed by most breeders. 

Some believe that the Catahoula appeared relatively recently, in the 19th century. These people think that a merle version of a Beauceron was used in the creation of this breed, which could explain the resemblance between the two.

Whatever the case may be, these pups were bred to be working dogs, which was always the main priority for the breeders. They are prized because of their hunting and herding abilities all across the United States. They were recognized by the AKC in 1995.

Catahoula Leopard Dog Mixes you would like to know about*

Dog crossbreeds or mixes are sometimes called designer dogs. The name fits since you are “designing” a new dog by mating two purebred dogs. It has become popular in recent times, and more and more breeds have several noteworthy crosses we could write about.

The thing with mixed puppies is that it is hard to know which characteristics they will inherit from their parents. You should research as much info as possible on the parent breeds to understand what you can expect. This way, you will find a mix that has all of the characteristics you want and love.

Read on to see the most popular Catahoula Leopard Dog mixes:

*Not all breed mixes are equal in quality! neither condones nor endorses any example of unethical and unhealthy crossbreeding. We encourage everyone to research in detail before they choose to get a crossbreed. 

Questions people often ask about Catahoula Leopard Dog

  • +Are Catahoula Leopard Dogs dangerous?

  • +How smart are Catahoula Leopard Dogs?

  • +Do Catahoula Leopard Dogs bark a lot?

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