Talk about a match made in designer dog heaven. The Labahoula is an energetic and people-oriented dog that combines the gentle nature of the Labrador Retriever with the physical agility of the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog. This sweet natured boy is quick to consider himself a part of the family and absolutely loves to spend time with his human pack. Coming from two working breeds, he is highly active. So, accompanying his owner on a hike, run, jog or play-date with the kids, would suit him fine. In fact, this dog needs an active partner who can keep up with him.
When trained and socialized, the Labahoula is a great dog with a lovely personality, but they do require experienced owners. They are full of energy and some of them with a stubborn streak to boot- it’s essential to be their pack leader and not let them be the boss of you. That takes an experienced owner who knows how to institute a proper training and socialization regime from a early age. If you think that a Labahoula might just be the perfect dog for your family, read on and learn all about this designer dog before making a final decision. Everything that you could possibly want to know about the Labahoula is about to be revealed. So keep your eyes glued to this page and scroll away.
The Labahoula is a mix of Labrador Retriever and Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog.
The Labahoula is a relatively new breed and likely comes from the trend towards designer dogs that emerged way back in the 1980s. With the success of hybrid breeds such as the Labradoodle, many breeders tried to develop their own mixes for different roles and purposes. While the first wave of crossbreeds was mainly limited to those with the label ‘doodle’, other popular breeds quickly became popular as parental breeds.
That “second wave” of designer dogs was probably when the Labahoula was first developed (unfortunately we can’t be completely certain because there was not much documentation kept about the history of designer dogs at that time). This puts the origin of the breed in the last 15 to 20 years, although there is no way to know when for sure. No breeders have stepped out to claim the Labahoula as their own invention, so there is no specific information about the origin. It’s also highly likely that the breed originated in the United States, as the rare Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is mostly bred in the US.
Although his history is recent, his ancestors have been around for quite some time. The Labrador Retriever originated in Newfoundland back in the 19th century when he was used by fishermen to haul nets, ropes and fish. The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is also known as the Catahoula Hog Dog because it was once used to hunt wild boar. Rumour has it this unusual dog with the remarkably colored eyes originated in the 16th century when Native Americans bred their own dogs with greyhounds and molossers brought over by a Spanish explorer. Today he is the “state dog” of Louisiana.
The Labahoula is a designer dog with two purebred parents: the Labrador Retriever and the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog. Like most other designer dogs, the Labahoula is also a first generation hybrid. This means that the parents of the litter are always two purebreds, with no additional “interfering” from other breeds in the lineage. In addition to being the most common type of designer dogs, first generation mixes are often thought of as the healthiest of the hybrids. While the jury is still out on that, there’s no denying that Labahoulas are generally healthy dogs, when bred responsibly. Sadly, there are irresponsible breeders out there who should not be supported. The best way to quickly determine the nature of any potential breeder is to ask for the parents papers. If they are unwilling to provide that documentation, they should not be trusted.
Of course, as crossbreeds, Labahoulas are somewhat unpredictable. You can never know which of the parental breeds will have more influence in the puppies, both in terms of looks and behavior (this is even true of pups born to the same litter). Many owners actually prefer designer dogs because of this: each Labahoula is truly unique, in every sense of the word!
Albeit extremely rare, there are also multigenerational Labahoulas. These are Labahoulas with more than 50 percent of one breed in their genetic makeup. They can either be Labahoulas that are bred to unrelated dogs from their parental breeds, or litters where both of the parents are a Labahoula. Second generation Labahoulas are more predictable in terms of their genetic make up. This might make them more appealing to certain owners.
Due to his mixed breed status, the Labahoula is unable to join the American Kennel Club’s ( AKC) roster of purebreds. And while the Labrador retriever side of his family has been a highly regarded member of this elite club’s “sporting group” since 1917, the Catahoula Leopard Dog is not a member. Sadly, the AKC remains prejudiced against designer dogs.
Food / Diet
Every dog needs a diverse and well-balanced diet to stay happy and healthy, and the Labahoula is no exception. Meats, healthy fats, and plant-based fiber should all be included in your pet’s meals, as well as an array of vitamins and minerals. The most convenient way to meet your dog’s dietary needs is high-quality kibble. This would be dry food made from high-grade ingredients, with meat (not by-products) being first on the list of ingredients. Naturally, not all dogs are the same, and it’s important to make sure you’re getting the right type of formula for your Labahoula.
Your Labahoula is a medium-sized dog whose energy level mandates a diet that is suited to active dogs of his size and age. Ensure you’re giving him a top quality food that doesn’t include fillers such as carbs and grains or he will always feel hungry and as your dog comes from two breeds with a known propensity toward joint issues, foods that list glucosamine as an ingredient are a good option.
Because Labs are known to overeat, you may find your Labahoula has an endless appetite so don’t plan to free-feed him; schedule two or more meal periods throughout the day to pace his intake. On average, they don’t need more than 3 to 4 cups of high-quality kibble a day- check the manufacturer’s recommendation for precise amounts and stick to it.
If you are in any way concerned about either establishing or altering the diet of a Labahoula, then it’s always a wise idea to consult with a veterinarian. While dog food manufacturers and pet blogs provide useful feeding guidelines, they are still merely guidelines and should not be treated as gospel. All dogs are different after all, each with their own needs. The only person qualified to determine the specific dietary needs of your personal pooch is a vet. So, always rely on a veterinarian’s expertise before decide what to pour into your pup’s bowl.
The sweet natured Labahoula is quick to consider himself a part of the family.
The Labahoula comes from two intelligent breeds that, in their capacity as retrievers and herders, are known to take direction well. That said, the Labahoula can have a mind of his own and while patient repetition will eventually deliver results, you may want to seek out a professional trainer to help with the process. Once he has been socialized and tutored in obedience you’ll end up with a great family dog. For those who opt to train him on their own, keep it rewards-based and offer up lots of praise and treats in order to achieve the results you want. It’s important to focus on positive reinforcement and rewards-based techniques during training for the best results. Anything less is closer to abuse than training.
The Labahoula is considered a medium sized dog and when fully grown, he will weigh 50-90 pounds depending on whether your dog is a male or female.
Temperament / Behavior
The Labahoula is known for being gentle, playful and great with kids. He is an even-tempered dog who craves human companionship and doesn’t enjoy being left out of family activities. In spite of his friendly nature, the Labahoula can be cautious around strangers and this, coupled with a very protective nature, makes him a good potential watchdog. While he is typically fine with other pets when raised alongside them, his instinctive nature is to chase smaller animals (warn the cat) and he can become aggressive with other dogs. This is why early socialization is so important, to help curb these behaviors as much as possible.
Common Health Problems
Labahoulas are typically a healthy breed with no known issues however whenever you are considering a dog with a mixed lineage, you need to do your homework regarding potential ailments. In this instance, both the Labrador retriever and the Catahoula Leopard dog can suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, with some Catahoula’s having a genetic condition that causes a malformed hip joint. And Catahoulas with coats that are heavily spotted with white markings, have an increased tendency toward deafness. It’s important to maintain regularly scheduled checkups with your vet (especially as you pooch ages into his senior years) to ensure that any potential health issues are identified and treated as early as possible.
The Labahoula has a life expectancy of 10 to 14 years.
The Labahoula is the product of two working breeds so he’s pretty active dog. He will require regular, daily exercise to keep him mentally and physically healthy. Long walks or a jog/run are great but this boy is known for his skills in agility, herding, tracking, and retrieving, so regular active playtimes (including chasing a ball in a fully fenced yard) will allow him to blow off steam. Because the Catahoula instinctively herds and chases smaller animals, an off-leash park is not ideal. He can also become aggressive with other dogs, so keeping him in check will be easier if he is leashed. It’s important that these dogs find homes with owner who can keep up with their demanding exercise routine. Because if this pooch doesn’t work off all of his excess energy every day, he will find other more mischievous ways to burn that energy that you might not enjoy.
The Labahoula is known for being gentle, playful and great with kids.
Because he is a designer dog, the Labahoula does not qualify to join the American Kennel Club (AKC) roster of purebreds. He is however, recognized by the Dog Registry of America, Inc. (DRA). So that’s something. You won’t be able to get the same papers that one might expect for a purebred pooch, but at least there is some recognition available. That is certainly not the case for all designer dogs.
In spite of his thick, coarse coat, the Labahoula is a low maintenance dog who sheds minimally which makes him perfect for pet owners who don’t want the upkeep (home and pooch) that can often come with pets. Professional grooming is not required and to keep his coat looking its best brushing him once or twice a week should suffice. As with most dogs, bathing can be done as needed however because of his floppy ears, weekly inspection and cleaning should be done to avoid wax build-up and potential infection.
Labahoula pups can possess a stubborn streak when it comes to training. Because they are naturally cautious around strangers and can be aggressive towards other dogs, both obedience and socialization training need to begin when these dogs are very young. Since Catahoula Leopard Dog puppies with heavy white markings in their coat / around their head are known to have hearing issues, potential owners should be aware before they adopt the Labahoula. It doesn’t make him a less desirable dog, just one that will require a little more patience and visual cues when training. Hearing evaluations called BAERs (brainstem auditory evoked response) can be done and interested pet parents can ask the breeder if this is the case. As his parent breeds are prone to joint issues later in life, be careful when exercising this little guy so as not to overexert tiny bones and joints.
Photo credit: lisafx/Bigstock; Zuzule/Bigstock; cwgrl51/Bigstock
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