AKC Group: Foundation Stock Service
The Catahoula Leopard dog is thought to have descended from greyhounds and mastiffs introduced into the Louisiana gene pool in the 16th century. The Catahoula may also have red wolf blood in them. In the 17th century, the French brought with them Beaucerons, which gave the Catahoulas their gorgeous looks. In 1979, the Catahoula was made the official state dog of Louisiana. “Catahoula” comes from an Indian word meaning “clear water.”
Size: 20 to 26 inches tall, 50 to 110 pounds
Color: Patterned coats of red, blue, yellow, tan or white.
Life span: 10 to 14 years
Health problems: Their large size makes them prone to hip dysplasia. The white coat on their face often leads to eye difficulties or deafness in either one or both ears. Certain bloodlines develop cancer in their senior years.
The Catahoula (or Louisiana Catahoula) are hard to identify just based on their coat patterns. The Catahoula is an extremely active dog and to keep harmony in the house, you need to give him enough outdoor activity. If you live on a farm, ranch or a huge estate, a Catahoula could be for you. If you don’t, find one to visit because your limited space will not make him happy. Catahoula often find work with law enforcement.
Highly intelligent, the Catahoula can quickly size up a situation and react accordingly. (No wonder they work in law enforcement capacities!) Their energy level perfectly match a young child’s, to whom they are gentle and loving. (They love kids!) Their intelligence requires constant learning and gives them a highly curious personality. Without an adequate fence, a Catahoula will often go out exploring. Quality time with his family is an important component of his mental health. He needs to spend time with and be involved in his family unit. At times, a Catahoula may be “too” protective (overprotective, really) of his family. Catahoula may not display this possessiveness as puppies, it tends to show up as he matures, often beginning around age 2. He may never get along well with other dogs, especially dogs of the same sex. Curiously, strangers bring out a timidity in a Catahoula, not from intimidation or fear, but from hesitation. Deep down, a Catahoula abhors strangers.
The Catahoula coat is short and smooth. He requires bathing once or twice a year (yep, you read that right). If he’s gotten into something, of course wash him. Once or twice a week (depending on how much he’s shedding), using a curry comb, bristle brush or mitt, brush him outside. This will help keep his coat shiny and the majority of his shedding out of the house. Trim his nails weekly. Gently wipe his outer ear with baby oil on a cotton ball. (Catahoula are prone to ear infections if they suffer from allergies.)
Training should begin with an obedience course where his exceptional intelligence will put him ahead of the class. Basic obedience will help him learn what’s acceptable. An effective Catahoula trainer needs to be strong willed and able to stand up to him (not through harshness or physical punishments), otherwise the Catahoula will not learn and lead him to exhibit behavior that could become harmful for the trainer, the dog and you. If assertiveness isn’t your specialty (and you don’t seek out an outside trainer), you’ll need to learn it before you bring a Catahoula home; otherwise you may want to seek out an easier breed you can train.