The Catahoula Leopard dog temperament in the field and its abilities were the focus of this dog's breeding rather than its looks.
This does not mean that the Catahoula is not a beauty, just that, there is significant variability in the physical characteristics of this breed
Catahoula Leopard Dog Temperament and Personality
The Catahoula is quite unique; if you are planning to own one, you must familiarize yourself with the many Catahoula Leopard Dog temperament traits.
Intelligent and Energetic
The Catahoula Leopard dog was bred to hunt and herd wild pigs and cattle. Necessarily, it is intelligent and energetic.
You need to keep him physically and mentally stimulated. If, as likely, he is not with you in the capacity of a working dog, you can engage him in agility and obedience training. Regular walks or runs (on a leash) are essential.
Catahoulas are large, rugged dogs. They were bred to work in swamps and forests. They can keep up with outdoorsy owners. For example, they make great companions for owners that like to go hunting, hiking or camping.
If you live in the city, you will have to get more creative to find outlets for your Catahoula’s energy. Dog parks and doggie daycares are great options!
Independent Take Charge Temperament
Your Catahoula’s genes are those of an independent hunter. He’d love to take charge of the household; needless to say, no dog should ever entertain that notion.
You need to clearly demonstrate to him that you are the leader of the pack.
The best way to do this is to commence training as early as possible. You can give in to their, often obsessive, need to maintain a schedule, but his obedience to your commands must never be in doubt.
He usually does well with existing pets, but a new pet may be a cause for concern, particularly if it is a dog of the same sex.
Even-tempered but Assertive
Your Catahoula Leopard is not a high-strung dog so his responses to emotional challenges tend to be quite predictable.
However, most Catahoulas have a tendency to assert themselves in the presence of other dogs.
You will need to ensure that he is on a leash when introducing him into a situation where he will encounter other animals.
Always supervise his interactions with other animals.
If you have your Catahoula from the puppy stage, enroll him in a puppy socialization class.
Introduce him to as many animals as possible at a young age. Praise him and give him rewards for interacting with other animals.
This will set him up for success as an adult.
If you acquire your Catahoula as an adult, you can still use rewards and positive reinforcement to acclimate him to other animals.
If you notice any signs of aggression towards animals, work with a professional positive-reinforcement trainer.
Protective and Territorial
The Catahoula Leopard dog tends to be very protective of his family; additionally, the Catahoula breed tends to be quite territorial.
Catahoulas make good watchdogs.
They will bark when strangers approach the house. However, excessive barking should not be encouraged.
If your Catahoula thinks someone in the family is threatened he will rush to get between that family member and the threat.
In such a situation, his responsiveness to your commands will be of paramount importance.
Early exposure to many different types of people is helpful to make sure that his protective tendencies do not get out of hand.
It is especially important to teach your Catahoula to be friendly and gentle with children.
Even if your Catahoula is friendly with kids, always supervise interactions between dogs and children.
Somewhat surprising for an “independent hunter”, the Catahoula Leopard dog does best with a lot of attention.
He can be very vocal — read that as “bark his head off” — if he’s kept isolated for any length of time.
In addition to barking, Catahoulas can become bored and destructive if they are neglected.
If you have to leave your Catahoula alone, make sure you leave him with toys and enrichment items (like Kongs and food puzzles) to keep him entertained.
If you work long hours, consider hiring a dog walker to check on him during the day and give him some extra exercise.
Catahoulas have a keen sense of smell. They excel at tracking and nosework competitions.
Your Catahoula could get so focused on a scent trail that he might wander out of the yard.
It is important to keep this breed on a leash or within a securely fenced area at all times.
Spend extra time working on his recall (the “come” command) just in case!
Catahoula Size and Weight
The Catahoula Leopard Dog weight varies between 50 and 95 pounds. Their height varies between 22 and 24 inches.
Catahoula Leopard Dog Colors
Catahoulas are beautiful dogs. When you walk a Catahoula down the street, you are sure to attract attention and comments.
Catahoulas come in nearly every color under the sun. Some of the most common colorations are Blue Merle, Red Merle, Brindle, White Merle, and Chocolate.
They can have brown eyes, blue eyes, or one of each!
Catahoulas are big-boned and muscular with a barrel chest. They have droopy hound-dog ears and they have long legs and long tails.
Catahoula History, Origin and Alias
There is some doubt about the origins of the Catahoula Leopard dog; some claim the breed emerged in the 16th century; others say that crossbreeding in the 19th century was the starting point.
This breed is commonly associated with the state of Louisiana. It also goes by the names of:
- Louisiana Leopard Dog
- Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog
- Catahoula Curr
- Catahoula Hound
- Or Louisiana Hog Dog
In fact, the Catahoula Leopard Dog is the official state dog of Louisiana.
The name “Catahoula” is a Choctaw word for “Sacred Lake.” The Catahoula Leopard Dog breed first appeared near the Catahoula Lake in Northern Louisiana.
Catahoula Leopard Dog Training
Training your Catahoula Leopard Dog can be a fun and rewarding process.
Start training and socializing your dog as early as possible.
If feasible, enroll your puppy in a puppy kindergarten class. This will provide an excellent foundation for social skills.
Make sure that you only enroll in classes that use positive reinforcement methods.
Stay away from trainers that use dominance-based methods or physical punishments. Catahoulas do not respond well to forceful training methods.
Positive reinforcement is the most humane and most effective method of training.
Obedience training is a great bonding experience for you and your Catahoula.
In addition to basic obedience classes, you can explore other fun canine activities such as agility, nosework, tracking, weight pull, and Frisbee.
The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan a world-class Dog Trainer from New Zealand is worth taking a look at. This online resource has hundreds of fun informative dog training videos that can help you learn the basics and more.
Catahoula Leopard Dog Grooming
Catahoulas are easy to groom. Their short coats are low maintenance.
Occasional brushing, bathing and nail trims will do the trick! Professional grooming is not necessary for this breed.
If you suffer from dog allergies, this may not be the right breed for you.
Catahoula Leopard Dog: Staying Healthy
The Catahoula Leopard dog comes in a number of colors, but the more white they have, the more likely they are to develop deafness.
In fact, 80% of dogs that are predominantly white are likely to be deaf from birth.
Reputable breeders normally do not sell these puppies.
The Orthopedic Foundation of America’s (OFA) statistics shows that of a little over 500 Catahoula Leopard dogs evaluated for hip dysplasia, over 100 displayed signs suggesting dysplasia.
Within the OFA's database, the Catahoula Leopard was ranked 27th out of 164 breeds for hip dysplasia (the higher the rank, the more likely a finding of hip dysplasia).
Overall, the Catahoula Leopard is an agile healthy breed.
Like all breeds, you must take your Catahoula to the veterinarian once per year for a checkup and vaccinations.
It is crucial for your Catahoula to receive monthly heartworm and flea prevention.
Spaying and neutering are highly encouraged.
As far as the Catahoula Leopard Dog Life Expectancy is concerned, with good care, Catahoula Leopard Dogs generally live between 10 and 14 years.
Serious Note: Our Health is #1 Priority. It should be no different or your Catahoula Leopard Dog. But you need to help him. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is the answer. This handy guide will help you recognize the symptoms of health problems. Get the knowledge to stay ahead of these terrible issues that can rob your lovely Catahoula from vigor and life. Help your friend make it to 14 yrs+ without pain and suffering.
Catahoula Leopard Dog Adoption and Rescue
Shelters and Rescue Groups
If you would like to add a Catahoula Leopard dog to your household, you can probably find one available for adoption in a shelter or rescue group near you.
Catahoulas are prevalent in animal shelters, especially in Southern states. Even puppies are frequently available through adoption groups.
Most Catahoulas end up in rescue groups and/or animal shelters through no fault of their own.
Sometimes their owners are forced to move or fall upon hard financial times. Or the owners cannot provide enough exercise or training for this active breed.
Shelters and rescues are full of sweet and loving dogs that just need a second chance.
Visit your local animal shelter or humane society and tell the adoption counselors that you are searching for a Catahoula or Catahoula Leopard Dog mix.
Ask to put an application on file so you can receive a call if one becomes available.
You can also search the internet to find a Catahoula Leopard Dog Rescue Group.
These groups specialize in one or two particular breeds. For example, Houlas and Heelers is a great rescue group that specializes in Catahoulas and Australian Cattle Dogs!
If you search on Facebook, you will find the web pages for dozens of rescue groups around the country.
For example, you can find Catahoula rescue groups in the Southeast, Northeast, and many more regions.
Do not forget to check the national adoption websites such as Petfinder.com, Adoptapet.com and Getyourpet.com.
These national websites will allow you to search for adoptable Catahoulas in your geographic region.
They will even allow you to set notifications so you will receive an alert every time a new Catahoula for adoption is added to the site.
Other Adoption Benefits
- The Catahoula Leopard Dog cost through a rescue group or adoption center will probably be between $60 and $150.
- Adopted Catahoulas will be spayed/neutered and vetted prior to adoption.
- They may even receive microchipping, heartworm treatment or other services.
Finding Catahoula Leopard Dog Puppies for Sale
With so many beautiful Catahoula dogs available for adoption, please explore rescue options before looking into Catahoula Leopard Dog breeders.
If you choose to purchase a purebred Catahoula Leopard Dog puppy, the Catahoula Leopard Dog price tag will probably be around $500.
Be prepared to invest some time into finding healthy Catahoula Leopard puppies for sale from a reputable breeder.
Never purchase a puppy from a pet store or from an internet site.
Always make sure you visit the breeder’s facility in person to make sure you are not acquiring a puppy from a puppy mill.
Your breeder should welcome your visit. He or she should have medical records for the puppies and parents.
Your breeder should ask you questions, too.
They will want to make sure that you are prepared to give their puppy a good home for its whole life.
If for some reason things do not work out, a good breeder will always accept their puppies back.
A good place to start your search for a Catahoula Leopard dog for sale is Catahoula Leopard Dog 101. This is the website for the Catahoula Leopard Dog Club.
However, the Catahoula Leopard Dog breeders listed on this site still need to be thoroughly vetted. Just because they are listed on this website does not mean they are endorsed by the club.
Similarly, just because a puppy has an American Kennel Club registration does not necessarily mean it is from a reputable source.
Always do some extra digging to make sure that your breeder is ethical.
Checkout our Complete Guide to Breeders:
If reading this got you concerned that you may not be able to provide the right environment for the Catahoula Leopard dog, here is a list of breeds that are similar in some respects:
Conclusion: Why the Catahoula Leopard Dog?
A Catahoula Leopard Dog is an absolutely beautiful and stunning dog. It is easy to fall in love with their gorgeous appearance.
However, before you bring one home, make sure a Catahoula Leopard Dog fits your lifestyle.
Visit dog shows, breeders and rescue groups to talk with experts about this breed and see if a Catahoula Leopard Dog could be your perfect match!
Do remember that this description of the Catahoula Leopard dog temperament is a generalized one.
Your dog is an individual and you should expect his individuality to manifest in variability from this norm.
Be sure to tailor his conditions and treatment to his very own temperament.