The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a wild hunting dog that was first bred in the United States by mating red wolves with local dogs.
Originally used to hunt large game, this dog has been selectively bred to be a keen hunter and working companion. Famous for their unusual brindled coat, these dogs are quite spectacular!
As well as being spectacular to look at, this breed has many different skills. They can herd, hunt and even climb trees!
Want to learn more? Keep reading our complete breed guide…
Catahoula Leopard Dog Overview
The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a purebred dog, raised to hunt large game.
Despite sometimes mistakenly being known as the Catahoula Cur or Leopard Hound (due to their mix of different hunting breeds), they have their own bloodline and purebred lineage.
This breed was named using the Native American Choctaw language.
In Choctaw Catahoula means “beautiful clear lake”; symbolizing the blue and often wolf-like eyes this breed can be born with. They are now known by many different name variations:
- Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog
- Louisiana Catahoula
- Catahoula Leopard Dog
Historically, because of their size and strength, this dog was used for hunting deer and other large game.
More recently they have been used as herding dogs for cattle and wild hogs. They are best suited to a working role on a farm.
Although they can be standoffish to strangers, Catahoula Leopard Dogs are known for being very loyal to their owners. They make great companions and form strong bonds.
It is essential this breed has space to run and uses up all of their energy. They are incredibly intelligent, so with the right owner, they have the potential for many different working roles.
What Breeds Make Up A Catahoula Leopard Dog?
This breed may have descended from wolves.
Since red wolves were so good at tracking they were used by Native Americans to track prey. It is thought that during the 1500s, Native Americans bred the red wolf with village dogs to create an excellent hunting dog.
Catahoula Leopard Dogs are thought to have been one of the first companion dogs in the United States.
A rather unique dog, this breed is the only breed of dog to originate from Louisiana.
Another theory of this breeds’ origin is that the hunting dogs in America were bred with Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto’ Greyhound and Alano Mastiff which he brought to the United States.
This may explain their muscular build of this strong working breed.
Why We Love Catahoula Leopard Dogs
A very rare breed, and not the most well-known, they have many desirable qualities that make them the perfect dog:
- They have lots of energy! If you want a companion for an active lifestyle then this breed will be happy to join you.
- One of the most loyal breeds. This breed builds a positive relationship with their owners.
- Catahoula Leopard Dogs are very protective and act as a great guard dog.
- With experienced owners, because of their very high level of intelligence, they can be successful in many working roles.
- The state of Louisiana coveted them as their official state dog.
- Their unique brindled pattern can include almost any color ranging from brown to blue to red.
50 to 95 pounds
22 to 24 inches
10 to 14 years
Catahoula Leopard Dog Puppies
With so many possible color combinations, Catahoula Leopard Dog Puppies looks strikingly different from each other.
When you are looking for a healthy puppy, be cautious about adopting puppies that are excessively white. White coloring has been linked to genetic health conditions that increases the chance of your puppy becoming blind and ill.
Because Catahoula Leopard Dogs can be prone to specific illnesses, it is also important to enquire about the health checks that both parents and the puppies have had. This will help to prevent any increased risk of your dog falling ill.
Any good breeder should be genuinely invested in making sure you can provide the right home for one of their puppies.
Getting to know your breeder is very important. Experienced breeders should be able to offer lots of helpful tips and will always let you see mom.
You should use the American Kennel Club’s marketplace to find a reputable breeder.
How Much Does A Catahoula Leopard Dog Puppy Cost?
You should expect to spend between $400 to $900 USD.
The price variation will depend upon breeder experience, bloodline, training and socializing.
Litters can be as small as 4 and as large as 12 puppies.
Catahoula Leopard Dog puppies don’t reach their full size until at least 18 months old. Throughout this time, they maintain their playful and puppy-like behavior.
If you want a Catahoula Leopard Dog rescue, The Catahoula Rescue is dedicated to rehoming this breed. Some catahoula leopard dog mixes can occasionally also be found in local shelters too.
Kennel Club Recognition
Catahoula Leopard Dogs are not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. They are only partially recognized and are listed in the ‘Foundation Stock Service’ group.
The only kennel club which recognizes this breed is the United Kennel Club. They are listed in the ‘Herding Dog Group’ and were first recognized on January 1, 1995.
The National Association of Louisiana Catahoula is responsible for the quality of breeding and breeder standards for this breed.
This organization dedicates their time to ensure the survival of this breed, along with the quality of its lineage.
Catahoula Leopard Dog Size and Appearance
This is a medium-sized dog with a well-muscled and powerful appearance.
Catahoula Leopard Dogs are not bulky, instead, they are naturally agile and enjoy long periods of exercise.
Compared with many other working dogs, their tails are quite long and are not usually docked.
Another unique element of this breed’s appearance is their eye color:
- Some puppies can be born with striking blue eyes.
- Others are born with varying shades of brown eyes.
How Big Do Catahoula Leopard Dogs Get?
They typically range between 50 and 95 pounds and are 22 to 24 inches tall; the Catahoula Leopard Dog is a large, but not giant breed.
Color and Coat
Catahoula Leopard Dogs have a short coat that is easy to maintain and keep healthy.
Their short coat is dense, and close to their body, and smooth to the touch.
All Catahoula Leopard Dogs have a brindled coat, even if the exact pattern may vary between dogs. This spotted pattern is responsible for the ‘Leopard’ part of their name and can come in:
Seasonal shedding is common in this breed.
Catahoula Leopard Dog Temperament
- Lots of energy
Catahoula Leopard Dogs are a loyal and intelligent breed.
When not working, these dogs can make great family pets with lovable and fun personalities.
They love to work as they have been bred with strong hunting and herding instincts which must be satisfied.
In cases where this drive to work is not channeled effectively Catahoula Leopard Dogs have been known to try and herd their owners!
This breed is very friendly and forms a strong bond with their owner. Unfortunately, their loyalty to an owner can cause them to presume the worst in others.
Their protective instincts can cause aggression to strangers and other animals. They are not the best breed at distinguishing between a threatening and a non-threatening situation. Although they love to protect their owners, they are not always inclined to listen.
The Catahoula Leopard Dog is an independent and intelligent breed.
Less experienced owners might struggle to control some of their more aloof and self-determining behaviors.
Nevertheless, these dogs have a unique personality that many owners fall in love with.
They are the perfect dog to have around on a farm or ranch as they are adept at working with larger animals and livestock. Their natural herding instincts are a useful asset.
Catahoula Leopard Dogs have a huge amount of energy that can be channeled into a hard day’s work or an outdoor adventure with the family.
Not known to excessively bark, however, like Beagles they will bay and can get much more vocal when working.
This dog is a born hunter and herder, it is in their personality. They have a strong prey drive which is very necessary for their working role.
Are Catahoulas Good Family Dogs?
The Catahoula Leopard Dog is very protective. They will not fit in well to a busy household of young children and other pets where they are not a priority for attention.
However, they have the potential to make great dogs for families without any existing pets. They will quickly form a strong bond with the whole family and are always happy for outdoor adventures!
There are some characteristics of the breed which make them not suitable for every family:
- If you live in a city or apartment or are looking for a new friend to watch tv with, this dog probably isn’t the one for you.
- They are not suited to older members of the family unless they lead a very active or outdoor lifestyle
- Very loyal to their owners, this can mean they will be cautious of guests in the household and are not friendly to strangers.
- They don’t get on very well with other pets, including other dogs, as they are more suited to a one-to-one relationship with their owners.
Known Health Issues
Catahoula Leopard Dogs are a hardy breed, they were bred for hunting and herding.
With an average lifespan of between 10 and 14 years, this dog can live a long and happy life.
Unfortunately they are prone to some specific illnesses:
- Hip dysplasia affects more than 20% of this breed and sometimes elbow and shoulder dysplasia is found in this breed.
- This breed is genetically predisposed to deafness, as well as eye problems due to specific pigmentation genes.
These health problems highlight the importance of finding a responsible breeder.
Your breeder should knows about these specific health concerns and if they have affected their lineage of dogs. Breeders can use genetic testing within their breeding stock to help reduce the likelihood of any puppies having genetic conditions.
Care Guide (Grooming, Feeding & Exercise)
In order for your Catahoula Leopard Dog to thrive they need lots of exercise outdoors. Caring for this breed can be a big commitment, especially if you don’t live rurally.
You can’t avoid the fact that owning this breed is a big commitment to make.
This dog prospers with lots of attention. They need a lot of your time.
|Daily Food Consumption|
|Cups of Kibble|
As Catahoula Leopard Dogs are so active, it is important to make sure you feed them a high quality food.
This will keep them fuelled up all day and support their energetic activities.
They are definitely on the larger side of dog breeds, so if they are exercising regularly, they will need at least three whole cups of kibble each day.
Catahoula Leopard Dogs were bred to hunt and herd so the ideal outlet for all their energy is working on a farm or ranch.
However, if you don’t live on a farm, these dogs could still be a good fit for you if you enjoy getting outdoors regularly.
They need at least an hour of exercise each day.
Although they won’t say no to a long walk, their ideal exercise is a good run around your local park.
When these dogs aren’t exercised enough, they can channel that energy into mischief and in some cases become aggressive. Committing to this dog’s exercise needs is really important.
Like any dog breed, positive reinforcement is essential when training
Despite their intelligence, they can be difficult to handle and require some expertise to get the most out of their potential to learn.
They are often not as obedient or willing to please as many other breeds are. This means that consistent training is needed.
The grooming routine of a Catahoula Leopard Dog is not extensive because on the whole they are very low maintenance.
These dogs do shed seasonally, but only have a short coat.
Weekly brushing with a soft brush or rubber mitten is all they need. They also don’t need regular bathing to keep their coat healthy.
Teeth brushing is a habit you should not forget about, with a simple daily dental routine you can really improve the dental hygiene of your dog.
Nail clipping is only needed when their nails grow too long and tap on the floor.
If you live rurally or lead an outdoor lifestyle, the Catahoula Leopard Dog is a perfect dog breed for you. If you really want this breed, and you put in the effort to exercise (physical and mental stimulation), it is not necessary to own a farm.
They make a wonderful working dog who thrives on attention and adventures.
On the other hand, they demand lots of exercise and mental stimulation.
With high exercise needs and prey drive, this breed definitely won’t be right for everyone.
Even if they are not the perfect breed for you, this breed is still a spectacular sight to see if you venture into the countryside.
Let us know what you think about this special breed with a unique history.