AKC Dog Breeds:  Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog

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Foundation Stock Service® Breed
Height: 21-26 inches   Weight: 55-80 pounds  Color: Blue, Black, Red, Yellow, Brindle

The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog or Catahoula Cur, is named after Catahoula Parish in the state of Louisiana in the United States. Of remaining dog breeds, the Catahoula is believed to have occupied North America the longest, aside from the dogs descended from Native American-created breeds. The breed is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the "Catahoula Hound" or "Catahoula Leopard Hound", as it is not a hound, but a Cur. The Catahoula Leopard breed is believed to have descended from "war dogs" such as Mastiff and Greyhound. Catahoula Leopard's are considered to be the ultimate working dog and the most versatile. They excel at herding cattle as well as hunting wild game that includes squirrel, deer, bear, raccoon, and wild boar. Catahoula Leopard's were given the distinction of being named the State dog of Louisiana in 1979.

General Appearance

The Catahoula Leopard breed is athletic, territorial, and agile. They possess extreme energy and enthusiasm. The Catahoula Leopard is medium to large in size and very muscular. Catahoulas Leopards have a single, short, dense coat in a variety of colors. These dogs are actually solid colored dogs that have been affected by the merle gene which dilutes a normally dark coat. This merle gene combines with solid colors to create merle patterns in patches of white and colored hairs intermingled with patches of solid colors. The texture of a Catahoula Leopard coat can be as varied as the colors and can be painted on coats, slick, coarse, or shaggy, wooly coats. The breed may have "cracked glass" or "marbled glass" eyes. It occurs when both colored and glass portions are present in the same eye. Cracked or marbled eyes are blue or blue-white in color. Catahoulas with two cracked or marble glass eyes are often referred to as having double glass eyes. In some cases a glass eye will have darker colored sections in it and vice versa. The tail of the Catahoula may be long and whip-like reaching past the hocks of the back legs or bobtail which is a tail that is one vertebra shorter than full length to only one vertebra in total length. The bobtail is a rare but natural part of the Catahoula Heritage. Though most dogs have webbing between the toes, Catahoulas' feet have more prominent webbing which extends almost to the ends of the toes. This foot gives the Catahoula the ability to work marshy areas and gives them great swimming ability.

Catahoulas are highly intelligent and energetic. They are assertive but not aggressive by nature. They have a need to take charge of their pack whether other dogs or humans. They do not do well with other dogs or household pets. The Catahoula Leopard breed is highly protective of their family and territory and is aggressive toward strangers. Catahoulas make a very good family dog and are excellent with children. It has been noted that breed individuals have often taken it upon themselves to look after children without any training. They do not tolerate isolation and thrive on interaction. Having a chore or job helps occupy their time. Introducing a Catahoula to another animal should be done in the same manner as with any other dog. They require a strong, dominant, and active owner. Early obedience is essential. Training must be done with firmness, fairness, and consistency.

Catahoula Leopard's require minimal grooming. Bathing should be done when necessary; brushing should be done occasionally. It is important to regularly check the ears and paws for debris.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

Deafness is one of the major genetic flaws in Catahoulas and associated with individuals that are excessively white in color and deafness attributed to a lack of melanocytes.  A Catahoula that is predominantly white, or a white faced dog with glass eyes, has an 80% chance of being bi-laterally deaf or uni-laterally hearing. A concern with many breeds, hip dysplasia is dependent on the the gene pool and good breeders.  They have a life expectancy of around 14 years.

Activity Level
A high energy dog, they need a minimum of one hour of exercise a day. The Catahoula Leopard breed is highly energetic and requires an inordinate amount of exercise. They are not recommended for city or apartment living. The Catahoula Leopard must be given the opportunity to hunt or work. If they become bored they will become destructive. They excel at agility.


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