This unique breed is active, and is best fit for an owner that enjoys bringing their dog along for adventures in the great outdoors. They aren't the best city dwellers, but with the proper training and socialization these the Catahoula Leopard dog breed makes an excellent companion.
These herding dogs are named for their point of origin, which is near Catahoula Lake in northern Louisiana. The word Catahoula means sacred lake in Choctaw Indian. They are also called Catahoula Curs, Catahoula Hounds, and Catahoula Hog Dogs.
In 1979, Governor Edwin Edwards declared the breed as the Louisianan state dog. This produced the official title for this fetching furry friend – the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog.
Due to this canine’s truly phenomenal appearance, they have inspired many a writer – novels and playwrights. The Catahoula Leopard Dog breed has graced the small screen in beloved show episodes such as Bones and Veronica Mars. In the original series of books about Southern vampires on which the popular TV show True Blood is based, one of the characters owns several of these pooches. Sadly, this detail ended up on the cutting room floor in the screen adaptation.
Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed Information
Even before this popular breed became the state dog of Louisiana, associations were already formed including the Louisiana Catahoula Cur Association and the National Association of Louisiana Catahoulas. This breed is not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) despite being purebred pooches. However, since 2010, they are allowed to legally participate in AKC Companion Events such as rallies, obedience, and agility.
In 1996, they were added to the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service (FSS) as a rare variety for record purposes. A year early, the United Kennel Club gave them full recognition as a purebred dog. In Canada, the Catahoula Leopard Dog is a powerful competitor in sled dog races, and they are used to round up wild Braham cattle in Venezuela today.
The Ancestors of the Catahoula Leopard Dog
The heritage of this breed is quite tricky. The Catahoula Cur is a jumble of different breeds and no one really knows for sure. Native American Indians had the first versions of the breed, known as Wolf Dogs, for hunting and herding.
They were especially good at for hunting wild boars that were rife in the area. This is where the Hog Dog nickname comes from – luckily not because these dogs resemble pigs!
When the settlers arrived, and later the Spanish explorers, more dogs were added to the mix. This included international canines, particularly from the French. Suspected ancestors include Greyhounds, Bloodhounds, Spanish Mastiffs, Beaucerons and even wild dogs like Red Wolves.
Understanding the Basics of a Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed
A lesser known fact of this amazingly versatile working dog is that there are actually three main breed line types: McMillan, Lovie Fairbanks, and Wright. This will cause a variance in their size and overall appearance.
Additionally, there is added diversity as there is common interbreeding between these main groups. If you look at the chief lines, the Lovie Fairbank is mostly yellow or a streaked tawny brown, while the McMillan legacy have blue leopard-like coats with the distinguishing eyes.
These truthfully striking canines have short to medium haired coats that can be solid, brindle, patched or spotted in color. Such unique spotting in their appearance is obviously a reason why their names includes the leopard as an honest comparison. The Catahoula Leopard Dog generally has these types of markings and patterns or a combination thereof with a white trim.
Coat shades include black, white, blue, chocolate brown, tan, gray, yellow and silver. Some of these colors are merle, which means that they are more mottled or diluted. In this case, these would be white, red, blue and yellow.
The most remarkable feature of these canines, beyond any doubt, is their captivating eyes. Compared to glass eyes, they vary in color from brown and amber to blue and green. That is not all – some of them have the legendary David Bowie trait of different colored eyes. Others have two colors in one eye! This is called cracked eyes.
Another physical aspect of this breed which differs from other dogs is that they boast webbed paws. While there are some dog classes that have this feature, the Catahoula Cur’s webbing extends way further down the toes than the rest.
Due to their background, this allows them to easily embark through marshes and boggy areas. They are excellent swimmers, too. As you can imagine, many hunters train these dogs to retrieve water fowl.
Height & Size
The McMillan line is the smallest. Catahoula Leopard Dogs of this descent weigh about 55 pounds. In the middle, averaging at about 70 pounds is the Lovie Fairbanks Hog Dog. The biggest is the heavy 100-pounder from the Wright line.
An average of the Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed (due to mixture of the lines) is 65 to 90 pounds for the males with a height, measured from the shoulder, of 22 to 26 inches. In the fairer sex, you can expect her to weigh in at between 50 to 65 pounds and to be 20 to 24 inches tall.
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Personality of The Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed
The Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed is not a great fit for everyone. If you are seriously considering this pooch as a pet, you will need to make sure that you will be able to provide him with what is necessary to care for him and keep him happy.
You must be committed to your dog all the way. Half measures won’t cut it! Owners of the Catahoula Cur should be active and savor the outdoors, as these creatures need a considerable amount of exercise.
These beautiful animals are not recommended for first time owners who have no canine experience. They also are not a good fit if you have a timid nature. This independent canine needs patience and sternness, but once that bond is formed this leopard will never change his spots. You are 100% guaranteed a loyal, shielding and affectionately gentle companion for life.
These dogs are active, so they need space to run and play. An apartment dweller or someone living in the city would not be a good owner for this breed. A good rule of thumb for a blissful home for the Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed is a fenced off, generously sized yard where they can run and frolic to their heart’s content.
Catahoula Leopard Dogs need to burn off their high levels of energy or they're likely to develop behavior problems.
The Hog Dog needs real companionship as well, so you cannot just tie him up in the backyard alone and expect all to go well. If he is unhappy he will vent his frustrations by acting out destructively.
The Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed needs to be welcome inside your home and is more content to live indoors despite needing regular outside excursions. These dogs will not be content being an outside only dog.
Your backyard must be secure and have a strong unsurpassable fence to contain a Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed. If another animal approaches, your Catahoula will automatically go into defense mode and will protect himself and his territory and humans. Electric fences that are laid underground are not advisable.
How Will My Dog React To Other People?
Although these dogs are usually not aggressive in nature, their natural leadership qualities and steering instincts of other animals often make them perceived as such. There are extremely few recorded cases of mauling or attacks on people by the Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed.
A bonus of this incredibly opinionated canine is that they are amazingly good judges of character. When your Catahoula dog doesn’t like someone ,you should definitely trust their instinct.
This hound adores his owner and family unconditionally. They become strongly attached and exceedingly protective. Kids are not a problem if they are part of the family unit, but the Catahoula Leopard Dog believes in stranger danger, even in children. Supervision is necessary when there are unfamiliar kids around, as these dogs have a tendency to nip.
This breed is dreadfully distrustful of unknown people and will practice extreme caution or act without fear when approached. Another common behavioral pattern is to remain completely aloof, which many misconstrue as shyness. Regardless, they excel as watchdogs as they will immediately let you know if there is someone around.
What About Other Pets?
Forget this one! Unless you have a Hog Dog puppy that grows up with other pets and religiously attends socialization classes and participates in other activities to promote the acceptance of others from very early on, they are highly unlikely to tolerate any other pets in their turf.
When it comes to food, the Catchoula is tremendously possessive. Remember that your dog was bred to hunt and round up other animals, so that predominant bossy part of their nature will always kick in. It's like that any confrontation would end up in a fight.
They don’t usually get along with other dogs of the same sex either. This is more prevalent with males. Although, many can learn to live with others if cultivated from puppyhood. Most often, these dogs do best when they are the only pet in the house.
Cats will be a problem, as will any unexpected small animals that may pop up in your yard. When walking, it is best never to release your Hog Dog from his leash for this very reason.
Is the Catahoula Leopard Dog Noisy?
They are if there is an intruder, as they will alert you by barking. When dissatisfied, they will also make sure to alert you vocally. It is not uncommon that the Catahoula will whine. In fact, Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed owners have stated that these pups will make sure you never forget about them… ever!
Training A Catahoula Leopard Dog
The Catahoula Hound is more intelligent than most dogs. They do learn quickly but just remember, as with any dog, this does take some time and perseverance. Furthermore, it helps that they enjoy pleasing.
Training becomes an issue if you are not self-assured in your role. You must be stern, fair, consistent, and in control. But, do not ever mistreat them.
Even punishment or a harsh verbal reaction when they make a mistake is a major no-no. This will only produce negative behaviors from your Hog Dog including loud vocals of their discontent, destructive chewing, and digging. They easily suffer damage to their self-esteem and overall confidence.
The same undesired results will occur when your Catahoula gets bored. These dogs need to know what you expect, and because they are a superb work dog they will strive to fulfill that. After all, it is part of their very essence to make their trainers' day.
Remember that the Catahoula Leopard Dog is a selective people pleaser. It is, therefore, good to be assertive and draw up a schedule for training. Stick to it as much as possible. Dogs are actually, on the whole, awfully habitual creatures. Regular and dependable timing suits them perfectly – especially when it comes to training.
Training Catahoula puppies
Training must commence as soon as you bring your fur baby home. If you stay determined and consistent, all teaching can be done in-house without outside aids. However, it is still good for socializing, though, to take your Catahoula Leopard Dog out to meet other people.
Crate training can work well for Catahoula puppies. They will seek refuge occasionally, as they will begin to see their crate as a safe haven. After all, everyone needs their own sanctuary, right?
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Caring For a Catahoula Leopard Dog
Besides the need for exercise and mental stimulation, the Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed doesn’t require much maintenance. Their grooming needs are minimal, and they aren't usually picky eaters. These dogs are also known for being a fairly healthy breed.
General bathing, oral hygiene, and nail clipping are necessary as is the case with all dogs. Thanks to their short coats, the Catahoula does not require extensive grooming. If you start when he's a puppy, you'll likely be able to groom your pup at home very easily.
The Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed typically has a short-haired coat, but some (depending on their lineage) may have medium length hair. They only need to be brushed on a weekly basis to facilitate the removal of hair and dead skin cells. This will help keep their coats shiny and healthy.
Most Catahoula owners appreciate the fact that this breed doesn’t shed a lot throughout the year. They are not droolers either. Dog-loving neat freaks can relax with the Catahoula Leopard Dog in their homes.
The Catahoula Cur requires two feedings daily of high-quality food. This will also largely depend on your pet’s individuality to determine optimal amounts. Like people, dogs differ in tastes, metabolism, and needs.
It's best to work with your veterinarian or a trained canine nutritionist to determine the best diet for your pup's individual nutritional needs. They will be able to tell you the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that your dog needs based on his age, weight, activity level and health condition.
Unfortunately, these furry friends have a below average lifespan for large breeds. They typically live for about 10 to 14 years. The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed is, by and large, of good physical condition if they come from a reputable breeder.
To ensure a good bill of health for your dog, check in on both of his parents in terms of eye health at the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. For bones, especially the hips, ask the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals on reports of his background.
Problems that are fairly common in the Catahoula Hog Dog include:
- Hip dyslplasia
- Hearing impairments
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The Catahoula Hog Dog has stacks of energy. They are great as long as you give them the necessary outlets they need. It is best that this lively dog have an hour a day of taxing exercise at the minimum.
Active play sessions will assist greatly in curbing behavior problems with these dogs. Joggers will delight in the muscular Catahoula Hound. Just bear in mind that they are quite strong, so you can expect a strong pull when using a leash. Proper lead training is vital.
In public, it is better to keep your Catahoula on his leash, as they may act in a hostile way when there are other foreign animals in the vicinity. Please note that this reaction is not typically for humans, but it's better to be safe than sorry with a dog that you are not 100% familiar with.
Exercise does not only stop with physical activity. These dogs are clever, so it is vital that you stimulate them mentally as well. This will curb boredom and help to keep your Catahoula from getting himself into trouble. Create games where he must sniff out treats hidden in the yard or invest in specialized toys that will require cleverness to release a snack.
Where Can I Get A Catahoula Leopard Dog?
Start by speaking with your local shelter or rescue organization. Ask them how common Catahoula hounds are in your area. You can also request that they contact you if one of these dogs ends up at the shelter in the near future.
You can also do a Google search for Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed rescues in your area. You may be surprised to find an organization within a short driving distance that specifically focuses on these dogs.
You can also buy a Catahoula Leopard Dog from a breeder, but be sure that you choose one with an excellent reputation. When in doubt you can make contact with the American Catahoula Association or Catahoula Cur Breeders Association for assistance.