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 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 a 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 everyday. His mom doesn’t mind giving him a bath almost every day. What a lucky lil pup!
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! 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 as the smallest, weighing only about 55 pounds. They also feature a blue leopard color. 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 captivating eyes and colorful fur, the Catahoula dogs are also known for other amusing physical traits that may not be noticeable at first glance. One is their webbed feet. While this type of webbing is common on canine feet, the webbing that is seen on this breed extends more visibly down to the toes. 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. 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 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.