Catahoula Leopard Dog

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The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is a medium to medium-large, short-coated dog with a broad head, small-to-medium drop ears, and an undocked tail set as a natural extension of the topline. The Catahoula is well muscled and powerful but not bulky, giving the impression of agility and endurance. The Catahoula is a moderate breed and should not resemble either a sighthound or a bulldog in appearance. The body is just slightly longer than tall and the distance from the elbow to the ground should equal 50-60% of the dog's height. The Catahoula should be evaluated as a multi-purpose working dog, and exaggerations or faults should be penalized in proportion to how much they interfere with the dog's ability to work.The ideal height at maturity for males is 24 inches and for females, 22 inches, with a variation of two inches either way acceptable. Weight may range from 50 to 95 pounds, in proportion to the dog's height. The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog must be both powerful and agile so actual weight and height are less important than the correct proportion of weight to height.Intelligence - Catahoulas are an "in-charge" type of dog, and will assume the leadership role, if allowed. The Catahoula temperament ranges from serious and business-like when working to clownish at home, with varying levels of energy. It is not uncommon for Catahoulas to be aloof with strangers, which often results in a lack of animation when showing and may cause some to draw away from judges when being examined. Catahoulas should never be excessively aggressive or shy. They can be independent, protective and territorial so they require firm guidance and a clear understanding of their place in the family unit. Catahoulas are affectionate, gentle and loyal family companions. A structured type of training is advisable, and should be socialized at an early age.Energy - Catahoulas are high-energy dogs and require a minimum of one hour of running exercise, daily. Catahoulas have been used in a wide variety of disciplines including, Herding, Search & Rescue, Narcotics, Arson, Hunting (both large and small animals), Tracking, Blood Trailing, Schutzhund, Obedience, and Agility. Catahoulas can outwork most dogs doing similar types of jobs. As a herding dog, he will continue to bay (bunch) its prey until its owner arrives and takes charge. On the hunt, he is relentless, fearless, and obsessed with locating its prey.Description:Highly intelligent, hard working, and at times a real clown. Catahoulas adapt well to any environment. Protective of what and whom they think they own. Excellent watch dogs. They will sound a warning bark at anyone or anything approaching that is not a part of its family or surroundings.


Once called a "Catahoula Cur," the foundation of the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog came into existence through chance breeding, and from some planned breeding. The Indians in and around Louisiana used the Red Wolf, which then roamed Louisiana during this period, to locate game, much in the same manner as hunters use their dogs today. Hernando DeSoto left behind "War Dogs" that had made the journey to the New World. The breeds were the Greyhound and Alano Mastiff. After being abandoned, his War Dogs which were allowed to roam freely, and interbreed with each other along with the Red Wolf. The offspring of the various breedings were then used by the Indians, and became known as the "Wolf Dog," so named by Henri Tonti, asis mentioned in Louisiana History, as well as most history books covering this era.The French arrived in the mid 1700's, bringing their dog known then as the "Bas Rouge." Today the Bas Rouge is known as the Beauceron. With the introduction of the Beauceron, these four canines contributed to the inception of the Catahoula that we know today.Although the medium sized dog is the one used today, there were three distinct versions of the Catahoula which varied in size and color. These lines of dogs were known as the Wright, McMillin, and Fairbanks lines.Mr. Preston Wright's line was the largest of the three, and represented the dogs originally produced by the dogs of DeSoto. His dogs ranged between 90 and 110 pounds.Mr. T. A. McMillin, who lived on Sandy Lake, raised mostly Blue Leopard dogs with glass eyes. These dogs ranged between 50 and 60 pounds.Mr. Lovie Fairbanks' lines were the Brindle to Yellow colored dogs. His line was not as large as the Wright dogs, but larger than the McMillin line. They ranged between 65 and 75 pounds.These and similar lines are still strong today, but it is due to the crossing and interbreeding of these three lines that there is so much variation in the Catahoula's appearance.

At the withers, males measure 22 - 26 inches, and females measure 20 -24 inches.

Catahoulas normally carry a short coat, as if the hair were painted on. There are some varying lengths, but should never be shaggy coated. The skin is tight throughout the entire body.Shedding - Catahoulas being short coated shed very little, but there is usually some shedding during seasonal changes.Grooming - A "wash and wear" type of dog. An occasional brushing is all that is needed, and because of their short coat, they should not be washed to frequently. Too frequent bathing can lead to drying out the coat and skin problems.Color - Catahoulas come in an endless variety of coat colors and patterns. All color combinations and patterns can have color points or trim, which may be located on the chest, cheeks, above the eyes, on the legs, underbody or under the tail. The Leopard pattern has a base color with contrasting spots of one or more other colors. Solids have a single coat color. Brindles may have a light or dark base coat color with contrasting stripes. The Patchwork pattern may or may not have one predominant solid color with one or more different size patches of different colors and shades placed randomly on the body. Colors must be rich and deep.

Common ailments: 

The Catahoula is an overall healthy dog that is very resistant to disease. The major problems lie in those dogs that are predominantly white, or bald faced, lending to the presence of deafness, blindness, or sterility.


Business-like to Clownish

Information supplied by: 

Don Abney - More information about this breed can be found by reading "The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog" by Don Abey.