The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is a dog of many names, including Catahoula Hound, Catahoula Hound Dog, and Catahoula Leopard Hound.
Originally called the Catahoula Cur, its name was changed to Catahoula Leopard Dog after it was named the official state dog of Louisiana in 1979.
The word Catahoula itself is a Choctaw Indian word meaning "sacred lake." The name Catahoula derives from the area in North Central Louisiana near Catahoula Lake, where the breed originated. The Catahoula Leopard dog is a descendant of the Native American dogs that the first settlers to northern Louisiana encountered in that area.
Although the American Kennel Club has designated the Catahoula Leopard Dog a herder, it was originally bred as a hunting dog used for hunting the wild boar indigenous to its area of origin. As working dogs, Catahoulas have been used to track and hunt all manner of woodland wildlife, including wild hogs, deer, mountain lions, black bears, raccoons, and squirrels.
However, their herding instincts are just as prominent. When used as herders (herding dogs usually of cattle and hogs), Catahoulas use antagonization and intimidation to manage their herds, a technique that differs from the constant patrolling methods of other herders like Border Collies and sheepdogs. Whether they're used for hunting or herding, the true test of purity in a Catahoula is its working instinct.
The Catahoula is an intelligent, high-energy breed, and males are thought to be slightly more rambunctious and assertive than females. It is an even-tempered dog that does not tolerate isolation well, and thus requires ample daily interaction. As family dogs, Catahoulas are protective of children and are excellent watchdogs. They will naturally alert the rest of their pack to anything unusual. Their life span is about 10 to 14 years, and their trainability paired with their high energy levels make for a dog that loves mental stimulation, like interactive puzzle toys.
While Catahoulas can be good family member dogs with proper socialization and consistent training, the important thing to remember is that they are first and foremost, a working breed. As such, they require an owner who is willing to put in the time to keep his or her Catahoula well exercised and sufficiently stimulated.
Working dog breeds like Catahoula dogs, Bloodhounds, and Mastiffs need a job! The United Kennel Club (UKC) and other organizations have a lot of dog sports available, you simply need to register your dog with the UKC - enjoy!
READ MORE: How to Teach Your Kids to Interact with Dogs
The Catahoula coat color can range from merle to brindle with brown or tan, to solid colors, like white. Despite all of the different colors, one of the most discerning features of a Catahoula is its blue eyes! Health problems include hip dysplasia, like most big dogs, and they are prone to deafness when crossbreeding white or merle Catahoulas.
Do you have a Catahoula? Tell us or show us in the comments below!
This post was originally published on November 12, 2019.