Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.
Intro / Overview
(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)
Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs are a beautiful spotted breed and, like their name implies, the official dog of Louisiana. They were bred as working dogs used to catch wild hog and cattle. They are hard-working and agile but still a great fit for families. They’re still used as working dogs, but at the end of the day, they’re happy to be a pet. This comes from their gentle and affectionate personality that may not seem to match their intensity when they’re working.
If you want a loyal pet who doubles as a working companion and have the time to give them intense exercise, then the Cathoula Dog could be for you!
Also Known As...
Catahoula Hog Dog. Catahoula Hound. Leopard Dog. Louisiana’s State Dog. "That dog has the prettiest coat I've ever seen!"
Louisiana settlers bred their herding dogs with the dogs of local Native Americans to have a tough dog that would be able to herd the wild hogs that were all over the woods. The settlers’ dogs were most likely bloodhounds, mastiffs, and greyhounds. The result was the Catahoula Leopard Dog breed. The breed was originally known as Catahoula Leopard Dog curs, but in 1979 they were renamed to Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs when they became the official canine of Louisiana.
Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs are, on average, 22 to 24 inches tall.
Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs are usually between 50 to 95 pounds.
The largest part of a Louisiana Catahoula’s personality is their strong drive to work hard. They have a lot of energy that needs an outlet, but they’re happy to be more loving when they’re done working each day. Their energy while working can turn into playfulness when they get home with their family. Like many working dogs, this breed is extremely loyal to their family and can be a great watchdog.
Their intelligence and energy can sometimes turn into aggression with other dogs or strangers. Destruction and aggression usually come from not having enough mental and physical exercise, so both are important for your Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog to be on their best behavior.
Intelligence / Trainability
Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs are extremely intelligent dogs, which connects to their ability to complete a task. They need training and mental stimulation to stay happy. If they don’t have a way to use their intelligence, they can become destructive.
This is why the training process is so important for this breed! They may have some stubborn tendencies, stemming from their sense of independence, when you’re trying to train them, but patience and consistency can lead to great results.
Best Training Techniques For Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs
Early socialization and some patience are both necessary for training a Louisiana Catahoula Dog. They have the intelligence needed for intense training and it’s a great way to make sure they have a good outlet for their energy.
The most important part of training this breed is forming a connection between you and your dog. If your Catahoula Dog respects you, they will be able to do what you want them to do, which can limit destructive and aggressive behaviors. You should be firm and consistent in your training so that they understand what rules they need to follow.
If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise, their excess energy can turn destructive. For training to go smoothly, it should be exciting and not too long to prevent your dog from becoming bored. By preventing boredom, your dog will be able to live a happier life in your home.
Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs can handle variations in weather, but not extreme heat or extreme cold. Mostly, they need to live somewhere with ample space to run around outside. They’re bred to be out in the elements, getting dirty while herding wild hogs. Because of this, they are not made for apartment-living and may need to live somewhere with a well-fenced yard. Though they need to spend time exercising outdoors, they also need human companionship to keep them happy!
Good For Families And Kids?
Though Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs are a loyal breed and great for families, they aren’t always great with younger kids. They’re happy to be a playmate to older kids, but their high energy and herding drive may make it so that they aren’t too happy with younger kids around.
Most Catahoulas will be good with children and will be protective of them. It is important to supervise your Catahoula when they are playing with children—and vice versa—to make sure that they are getting along well.
If your family is committed to providing enough exercise or giving a job to your Louisiana Catahoula Dog, they’ll be happy family dogs that are loyal and affectionate when they’re done running around during the day.
On average, Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs live between 10 to 14 years.
Like any breed, Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs are at risk for some health issues, though they are generally very healthy. The three most common issues are hip dysplasia, deafness, and eye problems. Hip dysplasia is a concern with many breeds this size, so it’s important to have a vet look out for this condition. Deafness is more common in the dogs that are predominantly white. Both of these issues should be screened in puppies.
Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs are extremely high energy and need intense exercise to stay happy and healthy. They need a job that they can focus on, or they may turn to destructive behaviors, including digging and chewing. If they aren’t working, training for agility and obedience events is a great way for them to use their physical and mental energy. In addition, playing outside and several daily walks are both great options, too. They enjoy spending time outdoors, so they’ll be happy to join you in outdoor activities such as swimming and hiking.
Friendly With... (Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?)
Some Catahoula Leopard Dogs don’t do well with other dogs, especially dogs of the same sex. They can become reactive, so it’s important to socialize your dog at a young age. They’re often possessive of their space and belongings which can lead to reactivity with other dogs.
Of course, a number of Catahoulas are perfectly able to live with other dogs, so it’s important to take introductions slowly and watch how your Catahoula reacts to other dogs.
Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs can be protective of their families and may become reserved or protective around strangers. Early socialization with a lot of people can help them become more comfortable around other people.
Because of their herding tendencies, Catahoulas don’t typically do well with cats and other small pets. Some Catahoulas learn to live with pet cats, but it’s important to supervise their time together so that everyone stays happy!
Coat & Grooming
Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs come in many variations of coat color. Their coats can be short to medium in length and sleek or course. No matter the type, they should be brushed weekly, as they shed moderately. You should also give them occasional baths to keep their coat healthy. Their nails grow quickly, so they require regular nail clipping. You should also check their ears for debris, as they spend a lot of time outdoors.
Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs have webbed feet that aid in them walking in marshy areas. This also helps them swim well!
Toys Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs Would Like Best
Catahoulas were bred for herding and chasing animals, so playing fetch is a great option for them to use their natural tendencies. Durable balls (like "The Best Balls Ever") or squeaky toys (like the "Lady Liberty Ball") are both good options for fetch. They’ll have fun getting the chance to run a lot and will enjoy the bonding time with their owner.
When they have excess energy they may turn to chewing, so super durable toys, such as Super Chewer Toys, are a good choice. Chewing on durable toys can keep them busy for hours and can help prevent destructive behaviors.
Puzzle Toys are another option to keep your Catahoula Leopard Dog busy. These toys make use of their intelligence and their ability to focus on a task. Your Catahoula will be excited by the food rewards!
Recommended Diet Or Supplements
Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs should eat a healthy, balanced diet because of the intense exercise they need every day. Make sure you monitor their food and treat intake, so that they don’t become overweight. In addition, joint supplements can keep them feeling healthy, because of their risk for hip dysplasia.
Dogs that works as hard as Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs deserve a comfortable place to relax at the end of a long day of work. An orthopedic dog bed is a great choice for keeping your dog happy and comfy, even if they develop joint pain.
This dog bed is great for supporting your pup’s tired body. A high quality combination of ergonomic memory foam and gel foam helps ease body aches, joint pain, hip dysplasia and arthritis. This bed offers the best therapeutic support for your hardworking pal. ($27.99-64.99.)
Notable Rescues To Find The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog Of Your Dreams
- Janeen’s Catahoula Leopard Dog Rescue
- Catahoula Rescue of New England
- Adoptable Catahoulas on Petfinder
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Featured image via Lottietheleoparddog/Instagram