Catahoula Leopard Dog

  • Height: 20-26 inches
  • Weight: 50-90 lb
  • Lifespan: 12-13 years
  • Group: AKC Foundation Stock Service
  • Best Suited For: Families with children, houses with yards, experienced owners, farms/rural areas
  • Temperament: Hard working, protective, independent, energetic
  • Comparable Breeds: Canaan Dog, Australian Cattle Dog

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The Catahoula Leopard Dog is driven and has a work ethic that many humans lack. He is happy to go running with his owner but his true love is hunting down wild boars deep in the swamps of Louisiana. Although the Catahoula Leopard Dog loves his family, he must know his place as he can be a dominant dog. This breed is not for the first-time dog owner and requires a gentle but assertive owner.

Catahoula Leopard Dogs are not eligible for registration through the American Kennel Club as of yet. They are being documented in the AKC Foundation Stock Service. This will help breeders as well as the registry maintains proper records.  Eventually, the Catahoula Leopard Dog will be able to become recognized and registered with the American Kennel Club. To learn more about the Catahoula Leopard Dog, please continue reading.

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is driven and has a work ethic that many humans lack.

The Catahoula Leopard Dog was originally established in the Northern part of the wet and wild state of Louisiana, close to the Catahoula Lake. In Choctaw Indian, the word Catahoula means “sacred lake.” It was developed because of his intense work ethic as well as its ability to hunt wild hogs and feral cows.

Catahoula Leopard Dogs must have proper training in order for them to be happy and have the ability to live alongside of their human families.It is believed that the Catahoula Leopard Dog is a combination of Bloodhounds, Greyhounds, various Mastiffs and a host of local dogs. This breed, which is native to the United States, has been the state dog of Louisiana since 1979.

High-quality, dry dog food that is specifically designed for hunting or high-energy dogs is essential to the proper nutrition of a Catahoula Leopard Dog. Dry food will help to keep the dog’s teeth and gums healthy as well as cut down on dental issues and bad breath. Feeding the Catahoula Leopard Dog twice daily is recommended by many breeders as bloat can be a problem within the breed.

Catahoula Leopard Dogs must have proper training in order for them to be happy and have the ability to live alongside of their human families.

Catahoula Leopard Dogs must have proper training in order for them to be happy and have the ability to live alongside of their human families. This is not the breed of dog for passive people. It is essential that the family that incorporates a Catahoula Leopard Dog into the household be assertive and unyielding when it comes to the dominance within the pack. The dog must completely understand that the humans in the pack are ranked higher than he is or all hell could break loose. This doesn’t mean that he should not be loved or treated as a family member; he simply must know his place within the household.

This breed is highly intelligent and takes well to training. For training to be effective, the lessons should be short, repetitive and calm. Yummy treats such as bits of liver or chicken will be a great reward for a task well done.

The average Catahoula Leopard Dog weighs somewhere between 50 and 90 pounds and are between 20 and 26 inches tall at the withers. Of course, females tend to be smaller than males.

    Catahoula Leopard Dogs are watchful and cautious when strangers are around.If bred properly, the Catahoula Leopard Dog is not aggressive toward people. However, they are watchful and cautious when strangers are around. They do have an assertive nature so they need an owner or family that is assertive as well. Passive owners will quickly lose their Alpha status and the dog will end up ruling the home. This is unacceptable so it is important to realize that although the Catahoula Leopard Dog is cool, he is not the right dog for everyone.

Not an incessant barker, the Catahoula Leopard Dog will surely alert his family of strangers or cars approaching. He will also alert when other animals approach and oftentimes, will attack animals that do not belong on your property. This will include other pets that accidentally get out of their homes and make their way to yours.

As with many large breeds of dogs, the Catahoula Leopard Dog is predisposed to hip dysplasia. Even a litter out of two adult dogs that are known to be free from hip dysplasia can result in 25 percent of the puppies having some level of hip dysplasia. To reduce the incidence of hip problems, puppies should have limited exercise and not be allowed to run and play on tile floors or with adult dogs until they are older and more stable.

Deafness can be an issue with Catahoula Leopard Dogs. Health clearances on the parents can help to decrease this problem within the breed, but there are no guarantees. Deaf dogs can lead happy lives. They just need to use hand signals and other alerting methods for working with the dog.

The average Catahoula Leopard Dog lives between 12 and 13 years.

Catahoula Leopard Dogs are high-energy, athletic dogs that were bred to herd wild boar and cows. They need serious exercise that not only gets their bodies moving but also stimulates their minds. A stroll through the park just isn’t enough for the average Catahoula Leopard Dog. He needs to use his skills and inherent drive to work. His work ethic is strong and unstoppable. The Catahoula will not be happy unless he has a productive job to do.

This breed attaches to his human family quickly and does not thrive living outdoors or inside of an outbuilding. He needs to be close to his family as the Catahoula Leopard Dog needs attention and affection from his loved ones. It is also his desire to protect his family from harm hence; he must live in the house with his humans.

Catahoula Leopard Dogs are watchful and cautious when strangers are around.

The American Kennel Club states “The AKC provides this service to allow purebred breeds to continue to develop while providing them with the security of a reliable and reputable avenue to maintain their records. FSS breeds are not eligible for AKC registration. Several of the FSS breeds are approved to compete in AKC Companion Events and AKC Performance Events. The Catahoula Leopard Dog has yet to be able to be registered with the AKC.”

The coat of a Catahoula Leopard Dog is short. Usually, the dog is black and tan or merle. Some dogs’ coats are rather coarse however; for the most part, they are tight. The eye color can vary drastically and it is not uncommon for a dog to have two different colored eyes or even a single eye that has two colors.

Catahoula Leopard Dogs should be bathed seasonally or when they become filthy or smelly. A weekly brushing will help to remove loose dirt and debris from the coat. They shed minimally but while they are shedding, brushing should be done several times each week.

Puppies should absolutely start being socialized as soon as they are brought to their new homes. They should also begin formal puppy kindergarten once their vaccines are completed. This will help them to become wonderful and functional members of your family.

Photo credit: Zuzule/Shutterstock

Comparable Breeds

Go to Canaan Dog

Canaan Dog

  • Height: 19-24 inches
  • Weight: 35-55 lb
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Group: AKC Herding Group
  • Best Suited For: Families with children, houses with yards, farms and rural areas
  • Temperament: Alert, quick, intelligent, devoted
  • Comparable Breeds: Akita, Norwegian Buhund
Go to Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog

  • Height: 16-20 inches
  • Weight: 25-50 lb
  • Lifespan: 11-13 years
  • Group: AKC Herding
  • Best Suited For: Families with children, active singles, houses with yards, farms/country
  • Temperament: Obedient, bold, loyal, energetic, territorial
  • Comparable Breeds: Border Collie, Cardigan Welsh Corgi