The history and origin of Catahoula Leopard dog is unknown, but there are several theories about it and most likely, one of their ancestors is an old dog breed used for hunt by Native Americans, which was described by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and it should be a very wolf like dog. These dogs of native Americans were most likely crossbred with the dogs brought to the New World with Spanish explorers. Most likely it was different mastiffs and possibly Greyhounds. Later, when French settlers came to Louisiana with their dogs such as Beauceron, they were again crossbred together. So as you can see, the origins of the Catahoula are very old and kind of mysterious.
2) Hog dog
The Catahoula Leopard dog is an excellent working dog. The early settlers of Central Louisiana, specifically around the Catahoula lake, discovered these dogs and started using them for work. The settlers needed to drive wild hogs of the land, which is why most often, they used these dogs to pen and catch the wild hogs and cows that were rampant in the area. Catahoulas would create a very unique way how to herd the wild hogs and cows. They create a living dog fence around the wild animals and they drive it whereever the owner needs. Even today, these dogs still have this strong working ethic. Today, they can also work as good loyal protectors and watchdogs, hunters or of course, as loving and loyal companions.
And Catahoulas actually make very good and versatile hunters as well and they are commonly used as bay dogs or tree dogs. They would find, chase and catch the prey or drive it on a tree and than howl or bay to alert the hunter. Catahoulas are hunting all kinds of game such as raccoons or squirrels, but also more dangerous game such as deer, boar or bear. And they excellent at hunting, mostly thanks to their strong working ethic, independent, but smart mind, good problem solving ability, powerful, yet agile and endurant body, very strong sense of smell and, of course, higher prey drive.
4) Louisiana favourite
The Catahoula Leopard dog is the only dog breed with its origin in the American state of Louisiana, so its no wonder it is favourite dog breed of many local people and that in 1979 they were given the honor to become the state dog of Louisiana.
Today, more and more Catahoulas are living the spoiled life of family companions and they make very good companions for active people who will spend a lot of time on outdoor walks, hikes or jogs with their dogs. The Catahoula is definitely active, cheerful and playful companion dog, who is extremely loyal to its owner and family. On the other hand, they might be alert and reserved with strangers, but they should never be agressive without a reason. These dogs are known to be quite gentle and they do make good partners for older kids, but of course, you should never leave any dog breed with a very young child unsupervised. Because of the naturally protective instinct, independent mind and very strong body, this is not the best choice for novice dog owners, as this breed needs owner who will properly socialize and train the dog from the puppyhood.
This is a strong and powerful dog with athletic, rectangular shaped body. The average height is typically between 20-26 inch, which is 51-66 cm and weight is usually between 50-95 lbs, which is 23-43 kg. Females are naturally slightly smaller than males.
Most commonly, the Catahoula has smooth and short coat, but they can also as coarse coat in medium length. This breed is best known for its unique coloration. The breed can be in almost any solid color, but they are especially famous for their merle, leopard like coats. Actually, this is one of the breeds with highest incidence of the merle gene, which is creating the beautiful mottled patches of color in a solid coat. The merle gene is also responsible for the blue colored eyes, which are also very common in this breed.
We are not sure on 100% why is the breed named Catahoula. It most likely comes from the Choctaw people, native Americans from todays Southeastern United States and the word Catahoula most likely means clear water. And as i mentioned in the previous point, these dogs are very often in merle or leopard coat pattern, which is why they are named leopard. The breed is known under some other names as well, such as Catahoula hog dog, Catahoula Cur or Lousiana Leopard Dog.
Great fact is, that the maintenance level for the Catahoula is relatively low. A quick brush once a week is enough to keep the coat in best possible condition, clean and shiny. These dogs do shed lightly and regular brushing will also help to minimize the shedding. No other grooming is required. Just like with all dogs, you should regularly check the dogs ears, eyes, nails and teeth and clip them or clean them if needed.
The major health concerns associated with this breed is related to bad breeding. Very often two merle dogs are bred together, which may create a so called double merle dog, a dog with two merle genes. These dogs are extremely prone to deafness, blindness and other eye problems. The normal merle Catahoulas or solid colored Catahoulas are rather healthy and they have average lifespan between 11-13 years.