Catahoula Leopard Dog: What You Need To Know

I never would’ve known there was a breed of dog called the Catahoula Leopard until one arrived at the rescue I worked with and I got the opportunity to foster this Cajun dog.

When Gunner the Catahoula leopard dog mix arrived in our home, he was a striking little pup full of energy, barely seven pounds. By the time his forever family reached out to us a year later (he was adopted after spending 4 weeks with us), he had grown like a weed and weighed 55 pounds, all lean muscle. 

These days, Gunner (now Lucky) enjoys the expansive acreage of farm life, the company of an older fur-sister, and humans who spoil him and cater to his every need. He runs with horses and wades in the pond on the property almost every day. His mom doesn’t mind giving him a bath almost every day. What a lucky lil pup!

Let’s learn more about this Catahoula leopard dog puppy, its breed info, and its main personality traits. And later, we will discuss the top 10 most interesting facts about this breed, so make sure you read until the end.

Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog – Breed Info & Personality Traits

For many years the Catahoula leopard puppies have been working as a multi-purpose breed. They are intelligent and intense with strong instincts to herd cattle, act as watchdogs, hunt wild hogs, or guard the homestead. 

The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog has a high energy level and is not suited for novice dog owners. However, an experienced dog owner with the skills to manage this breed’s energy level may bring out the kind and loving side of the Catahoula Leopard dog temperament and personality. So they can become devoted and loving family companions.

Catahoula Leopard Dog Temperament & Personality

Speaking of their temperament, the Catahoula leopard dogs are very intelligent, curious, and protective. They can be a bit aloof with strangers at first, but they are excellent judges of character. So once they get to know you, they are loving and loyal friends that will protect their family from any threat.

Even though these Louisiana Catahoula leopard dogs can be stubborn sometimes, they respond well to firm, consistent training that uses reward-based methods.    

Catahoula leopard dogs are very vocal dogs and will bark at any strange noise they hear. They also tend to dig holes in their owner’s yard, so watch out for this! A Catahoula leopard dog mix is not the right choice for an apartment or condo lifestyle as these intelligent creatures require a lot of exercise and room to run around (such as ranch or farm).

This breed has a tendency to be a little aggressive towards other animals, so early socialization is advised if you want your Louisiana Catahoula leopard dog mix to get along with pets and children when it gets older. When well trained and properly socialized, these pups make great family companions due to their intelligence level and loving nature.    

The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is a protective and loyal breed, so they make excellent watchdogs! They can be wary of strangers at first but warm up quickly once given a chance to investigate their new visitor. A Catahoula leopard dog mix may not do well with other pets because these pups are naturally territorial.

With all of these characteristics, it’s no wonder why many people love the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dogs!

Catahoula Leopard Dog Health 

Even though the Catahoula leopard dog mix is a fairly healthy breed, routine veterinary visits are essential to maintaining good health. 

Like any other large breed of dog, Catahoulas have an increased risk for hip dysplasia (or sometimes deafness and eye problems). So it is recommended that you get your Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog puppy checked by a board-certified veterinary radiologist.

To ensure good health and prevent possible future issues, don’t skimp on daily exercise and feed your Catahoula puppy only high-quality food.

Make sure that you check their ears regularly because these pups tend to get wax build-up which could lead to ear infections if left untreated.

Catahoula Leopard Dog Care & Grooming

Being a high-energy breed of dog, Catahoulas require lots of daily exercises, including walks, playtime, and trips to the dog park. 

It is also essential to use positive reinforcement training techniques like clicker training or using food rewards for easier results.

These pups are brilliant, so they need to be stimulated daily, or else they will get bored. This could lead to destructive behaviors like chewing, digging, and barking. 

To keep your Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog mix happy, you should provide these dogs with lots of toys that challenge their intelligence level. 

A Louisiana Catahoula leopard dog has short hair, so grooming is pretty simple, but make sure to brush it often because mats can form in the undercoat, giving off an unpleasant odor. These dogs shed seasonally but not excessively unless they have been spayed/neutered.

Bathing a Catahoula is pretty easy since this breed has smooth short hair, and you can bath your dog effortlessly with a mild dog shampoo (but don’t forget to clean its ears too).

Also, make sure to trim its nails regularly with a nail clipper and even brush its teeth often.

Catahoula Leopard Dog Size

The Catahoula leopard dog is a medium to a large-sized breed of dogs, with the males being bigger than females.

At full growth, the male Catahoula Leopard pups can weigh anywhere from 65 to 90 pounds and stand at about 22 to 26 inches for an average height.

The female Catahoula Leopard pups can weigh anywhere from 55 to 65 pounds and stand at about 20 to 24 inches for an average height.

Catahoula Leopard Dog Feeding & Nutrition

Like with any breed of dog, you should feed your Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog mix high-quality food to ensure they receive the proper amount of nutrients for development.

The most common types include dry kibble, which provides them with all their necessary vitamins and minerals, but make sure it’s one that doesn’t contain corn or wheat (to avoid allergies). 

Treats are an important part of their nutrition and training but don’t overfeed them because that can lead to obesity.

To keep your pup healthy, you should measure out its daily portion by using a standard measuring cup then divide it into two meals each day. Always read the labels on your dog’s food carefully, and consult with a veterinary nutritionist if you are concerned about the meals.

Also, make sure to withhold water and food at least one hour after hard training and exercise in order to avoid bloating. After that, always keep clean and fresh water around.

Catahoula Leopard Dog History

The unique Catahoula leopard dog breed originated in the state of Louisiana, USA. 

The exact history is unknown, but it’s believed that they descended from dogs brought over by Spanish settlers during their explorations into America (back then, these pups were known as “Catahoula Hunting Dogs”). 

Their exotic name Catahoula is believed to refer to a Native American local tribe.

In 1979 Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog became an official state dog of state Louisiana. Later in 1995, it was recognized as a part of the Herding Group by the United Kennel Club (UKC).

Top 10 Facts About The Catahoula Leopard Dog

If you’re an avid dog lover, I know you’re as curious as I am to learn all about the different dog breeds out there and each and every quirk of the breed. Dogs are so unique, and the Catahoula Leopard dog is not an exception! 

sitting catahoula leopard dog

Here are the top 10 facts about the Catahoula Leopard dog:

1. They Go by Several Names

Yes, you read it right. Catahoula Leopard Dog may be the most common name of this breed, but it is also called the Leopard Cur, Leopard Dog, Catahoula hog dog, Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog, and Catahoula hound. It’s interesting to note that it took a while for dog enthusiasts to settle on a breed name for this dog. 

2. State Dog Of Louisiana

No wonder why this dog is also called the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog. The history of this dog traces back to Louisiana, particularly in the northern part. In this region, you can even find the namesake parish of the breed. 

Since the breed is tied closely with the area, and an important breed, then-governor Edwin Edwards named this breed of dog as the state dog of Louisiana in 1979. 

3. Three Unique Breed Lines

When you look closely into this breed, you can actually see three lines of these dogs that differ in terms of appearance and size. 

The biggest among the three is the Wright line, which was created by Preston Wright. This variety weighs about 100 pounds. 

Another line is the Lovie Fairbanks’ Catahoulas which weigh about 70 pounds. They are also known for their distinct brindle or yellow color. 

The third line is the McMillan line. They are considered the smallest dogs, weighing only about 55 pounds. They also feature a blue leopard color, and they are also known for their rare glass eyes. 

Through the years, these three lines have been interbred frequently in order to create a variety of looks among these dogs. 

4. Canadian Sled Dogs

Since these dogs are always associated with their origins in Louisiana, it seemed that they are not that well-known out of the United States. Still, they managed to cross borders. 

Even though they may not be as thick-coated in appearances as the other sled dogs such as Huskies and Akitas, The Catahoula Leopard Dog has attracted attention among sled racers within Canada. 

In fact, one even described the Catahoula Leopard Dog as having power and drive. 

5. Appearance In Books

Perhaps because of the mysterious appearance of this breed, the Catahoula Leopard Dog has attracted the attention and attention of writers who are into crime fiction and mysteries. 

In fact, this breed played a huge role in the plot of a 2005 episode of ‘Veronica Mars’. Several years after that, it also appeared in the crime drama entitled ‘Bones’. 

This breed was also mentioned in the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, as the setting was in North Louisiana. In this novel, the character in the story, Terry Bellefleur, owns several of this breed, even though this character does not own dogs in the TV adaptation of the books entitled ‘True Blood’.

6. Webbed Feet

Aside from their alluring eyes and vivid fur, the Catahoula dogs are also known for having certain distinctive physical features that may go unnoticed at first sight. One of those unique features is their webbed feet.

Webbing in this style is commonly found on canine paws, however, the webbing that may be seen on this breed’s toes is more noticeable.

This design in their body allows them to traverse through the boggy and soggy marshland of Louisiana without much hassle. 

7. Not Recognized By The American Kennel Club

Even though the Catahoula Leopard dog is a cool breed and recommended by many dog lovers, they have not yet achieved official recognition from the American Kennel Club (only from the United Kennel Club). 

However, they are already part of the organization’s Foundation Stock Service, which works in allowing purebred dog breeds to develop continually while giving them the assurance of a reputable and reliable avenue where their records can still be maintained. They have remained in this status since 1996.

8. Original Purpose-Hog Hunters

One name of this dog is the Catahoula hog dog. No, this is definitely not because they are similar to hogs in appearance, but because they were bred originally with the purpose of hunting hogs. 

According to history, when the white population in Louisiana first arrived at the place, the area was filled with wild hogs. In order to address this problem, they used wild dogs to create a new breed that is especially adept at this type of task – hog hunting. These were the ancestors of the Catahoula Leopard Dogs. 

9. Result Of Several Breeds

This history of the development of the Catahoula Leopard Dog is indeed mysterious. There have been speculations about other breeds being crossed in order to create a new one, though the evidence is not available. What is sure, however, is that they have been partly bred from the wild dogs of the native people in the area. 

Other breeds may have also been used, including mastiffs, greyhounds, red wolves, and Beaucerons. 

10. These Dogs Are Tree Climbers

What makes this breed an amazing working dog is its ability to climb trees. One reason for this is their webbed feet. This allows them to work well even in wet areas, as well as in trees. Added to this are their sharp, long, and hard nails. 

Bonus Fact: 

The famous actor Sylvester Stallone adopted a Catahoula leopard dog in the summer of 2010 after meeting one on the set of The Expendables, which was shot in Louisiana. Barney has since been a beloved member of Sly Stone’s family.

Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog FAQ

What Breeds Make Up A Catahoula Leopard Dog?

The Catahoula leopard dog is a mix of different breeds that have been selectively bred to produce this particular type of dog.

The mixed breeds are typically Louisiana Catahoulas, but they could also include English foxhounds, Old Southern hounds, Louisiana hounds, or even bluetick coonhounds.

Are Catahoulas Good Family Dogs?

Yes, Catahoula Leopard Dog puppies make great family dogs because they love to be around people and give them affection. 

However, because this dog has a lot of energy, it is important that you get them plenty of exercise – these pups need at least an hour a day of physical activity.

It’s important to mention here there is a small risk when living with small children because the lively Catahoula can knock them over. 

Also, the youngsters who stand at eye level with Catahoulas may be mistaken for a threat to the dog. 

Older children, on the other side, particularly those that hunt and camp, will greatly appreciate their company as friends.

Are Catahoulas Easy To Train?

Catahoulas are intelligent dogs, and they respond well to training. The dogs will do whatever their owners ask them to do so long as they can interpret the command correctly. 

They love to please their owners and receive praise in return. However, these pups can be stubborn, and this means that some patience is necessary when teaching them new things. 

Nevertheless, with a little bit of time and effort, Catahoulas are easy to train.

How Long Does A Catahoula Leopard Dog Live?

The average life span of the Catahoula leopard dog mix is 12 – 14 years which is actually a long time for such an active, powerful and intelligent dog with which you will enjoy spending time.

Can Catahoula Leopard Dogs Climb Trees?

Yes! Catahoula Leopard Dog puppies are intelligent and very good at understanding what their owners want them to do.

This means that Catahoulas can also easily jump over things, and when needed, even climb trees thanks to their webbed feet with sharp and hard nails.

Can Catahoula Leopard Dogs Be Aggressive?

Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dogs are not aggressive by nature, but there is some concern about their behavior with small children because of the size of the dog.

They are typically playful, but there are cases when they can be aggressive as adults, especially if not socialized correctly. When raising this dog breed, it is essential to teach them how to act around other dogs and strangers early on in life.

Last Thoughts About The Catahoula Leopard Dogs

The Catahoula Leopard dog is a highly intelligent breed that thrives on human companionship. 

These dogs are known for their loyalty and intelligence, making them excellent service animals or guard dogs. They love to be around people, so they make great watchdogs and can be an excellent addition to your home.

If you’re looking for an active pet with a lot of personality, this might be the perfect pup for you. 

We hope this article has helped answer some of the questions about this particular type of puppy. We’ve also included the top 10 most interesting facts about the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog so you can get a better understanding of this breed.

Have any questions about these intelligent creatures? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!

Photo of author

Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

3 thoughts on “Catahoula Leopard Dog: What You Need To Know”

  1. My Catahoula mix (lab, husky, American Eskimo) certainly fits the behavioral traits described in this piece. Always wants to be outside regardless of weather conditions and always on the hunt. And a great house dog, smart, loyal. Love this pup,11 years old and going strong.

  2. Holy accident prone. My female pup is 10 months old. She was born deaf, more white than any other color, with beautiful blue eyes. That being said… After getting spayed and wearing the “lampshade” for 2 weeks, she dislocated both shoulders on her first lampshade free day. Argg! $1200 for x-rays and vet putting them back in socket. The very next day you wouldn’t ever had known, She was completely unaffected by her shoulders injuries. It was tough to keep her immobile while outdoors. I gave up because she was so normal and unaffected. Until I noticed blood on the ground….. She somehow cut, to the bone, her front paws, almost severing her toes off! Plus she cut her rear foot completely severing her achilles tendon. Back to the vet… Stitches, surgery, meds, and let’s not forget the lampshade AGAIN! After another 2 week’s of being stuck inside, she ran off into the woods for 3 days! On her very first day unleashed. Luckily we found her, cold, (Alaska) hungry, and grateful. ( this was today ) Stay tuned for more of Lulu’s Follies.

  3. I have had my Rex man for almost 15 years and I have to say he has been the best friend a man could ever ask for I got him when I was 16 years old and here I am 30 now and he’s still hanging in there I have no kids yet but anyone and every one that knows me definitely knows Rex Man he goes everywhere with me no matter what and he is such a loyal and very smart dog I love him with any and every thing I have to offer in this world and it breaks my heart to see him grow old on me but when he dose finally decide he’s ready to go I have a special spot in my family’s private cometary where me and him will one day be together for ever I just do know what I’d do with out him he is loved by so menny but most of all I love him more then words could ever describe for ever and always hell always be my Rex man


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