Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed

White & Black Catahoula Leopard Dog
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  • Other names:
  • American Leopard Hound
  • Catahoula Cur
  • Catahoula Hog Dog
  • Catahoula Hound
  • Leopard Cur
  • Leopard Dog
  • Louisiana Catahoula Cur
  • Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog
  • View all 8...
Overview

The Catahoula Leopard dog goes by a number of names. You may hear it referred to as the Catahoula Cur, the Leopard Cur, the Catahoula hound or even the Catahoula Hog dog. Whatever you choose to call it, this is one striking and historic dog breed that is firmly rooted in the American south.

Louisiana's state dog is a mixture of a variety of breeds including the MastiffGreyhound, and native American dogs. They were bred to track and hunt wild hogs and herd cattle, though as time has progressed they have become more common as companions. These dogs are known to be diligent workers with a serious demeanor, though they can be playful and cheery when off the job. They are very intelligent and strong willed dogs who require an owner capable of establishing him or herself as pack leader. They are excellent guardians who will keep a protective eye over their family or herd. As such, they are typically quite wary of strangers, though people who own Catahoulas say they are great judges of character.

These are some of the most unique looking dogs there as their "glass eyes" and leopard patterned coats are arresting and beautiful. This dog can be demanding in some ways; they will need at least an hour of strenuous exercise daily and firm, consistent training. If properly raised and taken care of, Catahoulas are impressive, loyal dogs that will give back as much as they can.

Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed Details

Breed Specs
TypeLifespanHeightWeight
Purebred10-14 yrs.20-26 in.50-100 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

Below are details and facts for the Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed.

Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed Description

This is a medium to large sized dog breed. Adult males reach a height of 22 to 26 inches from ground to shoulder and weigh 65 to 100 pounds; females reach a height of 20 to 24 inches and weigh 50 to 65 pounds. Their medium size gives them a combination of dexterity and strength which has helped them perform as hunters and makes them formidable guard dogs.

These dogs are known to be very friendly and affectionate with members of the family, though they might take a while to warm to strangers. They are very strong-willed and require a firm and consistent leader; individuals who are not trained and adequately cared for may exhibit destructive tendencies, especially as a puppy.

This breed requires a medium level of maintenance. Their coat is quite durable and will require little brushing and grooming. Their exercise needs, however, are above average and very important to meet. Dogs who are not properly stimulated may relieve their boredom by digging, chewing, or various other bad habits.

Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed History

The Catahoula Leopard dog originated in northern Louisiana, taking its name from a Choctaw Indian word meaning "sacred lake", which referred to Catahoula Lake, nearby which these dogs were originally created. It is likely the result of a cross between several breeds brought to America by Spanish explorers, including (but not limited to) the Mastiff, Bloodhound, and Greyhound. Some speculate that wild dogs kept by the Choctaws as well as wild red wolves are included in this mix. These dogs were bred to track game and herd wild and domestic animals, most notably the wild hog, which roamed the Louisiana countryside in abundance. As a result, many Louisiana locals still refer to this breed as the "hog dog."

Several lines of this dog have been identified, each with their own unique characteristics. The Wright line, developed by Preston Wright, are the largest of the bunch, weighing from 90 to 110 pounds. The Fairbanks line is slightly smaller, typically weighing between 65 and 75 pounds, and this line tends to have a yellow or brindle colored coat. Smallest is the McMillan line, which weighs 50 to 60 pounds and is famous for the glass eyes and blue coat. Over the years, these lines have been crossed, creating a very wide variety of dogs that fall under this breed.

This breed became the official state dog of Louisiana in 1979, and it was thereafter called the Catahoula Leopard dog. In 1995, the United Kennel Club became the first dog registry to recognize the breed. The next year it became a part of the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service, which keeps records of rare dog breeds, though it has yet to meet the requirements for official AKC recognition.

Catahoula Leopard Dog Appearance

This is a medium to large sized dog of undeniably striking and unique appearance. Due to their mixed ancestry, their individual characteristics can vary quite a bit, but some common characteristics should be mentioned.

Catahoula Leopard dogs are famous for their eyes. They will often have deep gray/blue eyes that appear glazed; this feature is known as "glass eyes". Sometimes a dog will have two glass eyes, sometimes they may have only one, with the other eye being brown, amber, or blue. They may even have eyes that are partly glass, partly another color - this is known as a "cracked glass eye".

Another famous feature of this breed is its webbed feet. Their toes have considerably more webbing than other dogs, allowing them greater swimming ability, ideal for the swamps of Louisiana.

The coat has three variations and comes in a plethora of color combinations. The most common is short and slick, which is sometimes referred to as the "wash n' wear" coat because it dries very quickly. The coarse coat is a bit longer and is distinguished by the feathering on the legs, tail, and underbelly. The least common variation is woolly or shaggy, sometimes it is a double-coat. It is longer and fuller than the other coats and may require a bit more brushing. The frame itself is rectangular and solidly built. The tail can be either long and tapered or a short bobtail. These dogs carry themselves tall and proud, and are certainly a sight to behold.

Catahoula Leopard Dog Coloring

There are basically no limits to the coat colors of this breed, though it is famous for the spotted, Leopard coat. Common colors for this breed include: black, blue, blue merle, brindle, brown, red, red merle, white merle, yellow, yellow merle, tan, and gray. It is not uncommon to see three, four, or even five of these colors on a single dog’s coat. White or tan marking on the face, chest, and feet are also very common.

Catahoula Leopard Dog Size

This is a medium to large sized dog breed. Adult males reach a height of 22 to 26 inches from ground to shoulder and weigh 65 to 100 pounds; females reach a height of 20 to 24 inches and weigh 50 to 65 pounds.

Average Adult Height

20-26 in
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Average Adult Weight

50-100 lbs

Catahoula Leopard Dog Variations

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is in many ways remarkably different than most every other dog breed known, and the nature of this breed's three varieties are also remarkable. The three variations are known as lines, and these lines are called Fairbanks, McMillin and Wright. There has been a great amount of crossing the three Catahoula lines, and these days there are fewer and fewer of the distinct types described below.

The Fairbanks line has a brindle or yellow coat, the McMillions are blue (and have the glassiest of eyes) and the merle coat is the basic color of the Wright line — which has its roots in the dogs that Hernando deSoto took to French Louisiana in the 16th century. Because of all the interbreeding of these lines, there are a great many coat styles with some or all of the above features. As all lines have short, dense hair, a long-haired Catahoula Leopard Dog is almost certain to be a hybrid dog and not purebred.

There are some size differences among the lines too. The Fairbanks line is the mid-sized of the three. The McMillion line is the smallest whereas the Wright line is the largest. Although someone may develop one in the future, there appears to be no variety called a Mini Catahoula Leopard Dog.

Catahoula Leopard Dog Temperament

This breed is both an avid worker and a wonderful companion if trained and adequately cared for, but it can be a hassle if treated poorly or neglected. Catahoulas are very smart and eager to learn. They can be playful around the house but are known to be serious and dedicated to their job when out working. It is important to keep this dog stimulated and exercised if they are not being worked, because it can and will find ways to alleviate its boredom that may not be especially cared for by its human companions. These dogs will not tolerate being mistreated, and may act in self-defense if they are abused.

These dogs are not aggressive and tend to form a tight, affectionate bond with family, but they can be suspicious of strangers. For these reason they make great watch dogs or guardians, but should be socialized with humans early if they are to be meeting people on a regular basis. They will be protective of children in the family.

Catahoulas are also known for being very assertive. When they want something, such as food, they will let you know. It is important to train this dog early, and establish humans as higher up on the pack hierarchy. Otherwise this dog may act on its leader instincts and establish itself as the dominant party.

It would not do justice to this breed to not mention their outstanding hunting abilities. They have of course been used to track and hunt wild boar in addition to just about every other wild animal that humans hunt. They also have a long history as herding and baying dogs. If treated with the respect it deserves, the Catahoula Leopard dog will do its best at whatever role it is given.

Catahoula Leopard Dog and Children

This breed has been raised around families and therefore should not have a problem with children. Many owners report their Catahoula keeping a watchful, affectionate eye over the kids. These dogs should not be left alone with young children, however, due to the potential for the dog to knock them over.

Catahoula Leopard Dog and Other Pets

Catahoulas have been hunting with other dogs for centuries and should not have much issue with canines. Smaller pets, like rabbits and cats, may present an issue. These dogs stand a much better chance at living amicably with these animals if they are socialized from a young age.

Catahoula Leopard Dog and Strangers

These are territorial and protective dogs; they might act suspicious towards strangers, though they should not be aggressive unless provoked or sense a threat.

Catahoula Leopard Dog Photos

Below are pictures and images of the Catahoula Leopard Dog.

White & Black Catahoula Leopard Dog
Tri-Color Catahoula Leopard Dog
Tan Catahoula Leopard Puppy
White & Brown Catahoula Leopard Puppy
Tan Catahoula Leopard Puppy
Black & White Catahoula Leopard Puppy
Black & White Catahoula Leopard Dog with Cracked Eye Color

Catahoula Leopard Dog Maintenance

These dogs are highly energetic and will require a fair amount of daily exercise if they are not being used as working dogs. If they are under-stimulated, they may resort to destructive behavior. Grooming should not be very difficult; a minimal amount of brushing should keep this dog clean, though you should be prepared for some shedding.

Grooming Requirements

This breed's coat can vary in a number of ways, but whatever the coat, it should not require a tremendous amount of grooming. Brushing once or twice a week will keep the coat free of tangles and maintain its sheen. These dogs are low to moderate shedders, though brushing will also help to alleviate this issue.

It is suggested that you bathe this dog a few times a year, possibly more if it is taken out hunting or working on a regular basis. The teeth should be brushed at least once a week to remove tartar and bacteria. Nails should be trimmed as needed. Some dogs need them clipped once a month, some twice - if you hear the nails clicking on the floor then it is time for a clipping.

Lastly, it is important to check the ears often to make sure there's no debris or signs of inflammation. Clean as needed with a wet cloth or cotton ball.

Exercise Requirements

Catahoulas need their exercise to be properly stimulated both physically and mentally. Dogs who are not properly exercised will resort to destructive behavior like chewing and digging. The recommended amount is at least an hour walk or jog, and perhaps a little play time on the side.

Living Requirements

The ideal location for this breed is out on a ranch or rural location, though they will tolerate a yarded house is they are given the proper amount of exercise. Apartment life is not recommended, though some owners have said that it is possible if and only if the owner is very active and takes the dog out daily for a long run or some other comparable exercise. These dogs do not like to be left alone, they want to be part of the family. Do not chain a Catahoula outside or leave it somewhere to be neglected.

Temperature Range

These dogs have lived in the humid, hot American south and are therefore quite resilient to a variety of temperatures. They may not like the cold as much but should do fine as long as they are provided shelter when the temperature begins to get chilly.

Catahoula Leopard Dog Health

The life expectancy for this breed is 10 to 14 years. These dogs do face a few hereditary issues: hip dysplasia and deafness are the most common; eye issues occur occasionally. These dogs can suffer from bloat as well - do not feed this dog immediately before or after vigorous exercise to avoid this problem.

  • Bloat
  • Deafness
  • Hip Dysplasia

Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Catahoula Leopard Dog as a dog breed:

  • American Canine Registry
  • American Rare Breed Association
  • America's Pet Registry
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Foundation Stock Service
  • North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • United Kennel Club
  • American Canine Association, Inc.
  • Animal Research Foundation
  • View all 9...