Known as Louisiana’s “hog dog”, the Catahoula Leopard Dog is an extremely hard working animal without much fear. This breed has distinguishing features of speckled coats that can be a range of different colors, haunting “cracked” eyes, and a hard-working disposition. While it is unknown the exact origin of the Catahoula, it is believed that the breed was originally discovered in Northern Louisiana by settlers who needed to drive wild hogs off the land. Considering these dogs were bred to drive wild hogs and cattle to the slaughter house, it’s no surprise that they are wiry and fearless. However, it may be surprising to see their “clownish” and good natured side. The Catahoula is a great family dog, very loyal and protective of their family. Yet, there are some things that should be noted about their personality. Because these dogs are bred to take on wild creatures, it should come as no surprise that they tend to have an aggressive personality towards things they are not familiar with. For example, Catahoula’s are slightly wary of strangers and take quite a deal of time before they trust anyone new. It is important to remember that this breed can be aggressive towards unknown dogs, so never walk one without a leash. Catahoula Leopard Dogs need a strong, and firm leader who will train them with a determined, yet kind hand. While these dogs are considered more work animals than pets, they still make a great addition to the family if you are looking for an intelligent companion.
The Catahoula originated in Louisiana somewhere near the Catahoula Lake. The name Catahoula is thought to have been taken from the Choctaw Indian word for “lake”. Regardless of what the name means and where it came from, the Catahoula Leopard Dog certainly lives up to the “leopard” part of his name. With a coat that is speckled all over in multiple different colors, it isn’t difficult to understand why this breed took on that particular name. Sometimes known as the Catahoula Cur, Catahoula Leopard Cur, and the Catahoula Hound, this breed’s name was officially changed to the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog when it became the state dog for Louisiana in 1979. In 1976, the Louisiana Catahoula Cur Association was formed. This organization, and a few others, work together to show off the breed’s unique skills through shows, clinics, trials, and testing including events such as Treeing, Hog Bay, Cow Bay, and Cow Trials. The extreme intelligence and independence of this breed makes them wondrous work dogs and perfect for jobs such as herding livestock.
The appearance of the Catahoula is just as striking as their personality. These medium sized dogs typically have a medium-length double layer coat that comes in numerous colors. From black to a yellow merle, the Catahoula has a leopard pattern that has a base of one color with spots of one or more colors. They can have detailed points above the eyes, chest, cheeks, legs, tail, and underbody. A Catahoula Leopard Dog’s eyes are also extremely unique. The colors can vary in numerous different ways and it isn’t uncommon to find a Catahoula Leopard Dog that has two different colored eyes; there is even something called “cracked” eyes that occurs in this breed, where one single eye can be multiple different colors.
The maintenance level for the Catahoula is relatively low. A quick brushing once a week is enough to keep this breed’s coat shiny and clean. While they may need a bath if especially dirty, typically you will only need to bathe a Catahoula perhaps a couple times a year. Just like any dog, this breed will shed lightly to moderately all year round and therefore isn’t considered hypoallergenic. The shedding shouldn’t be a problem however, if regular brushing occurs. Besides brushing and bathing, be sure to clean your dog’s teeth a couple times a week to remove any tartar build up, as the Catahoula is prone to dental disease. Trim nails a couple times a month as needed and check the ears weekly to remove any debris that may be inside. Because the Catahoula Leopard Dog has floppy ears, it is easier for bacteria, moisture, and mites to create inflammation and infection inside the ear. So regular cleaning and checkups will help to lower the chance of ear problems later down the road.