Catahoula Leopard Dogs have sturdy, medium-sized frames covered in short, tight coats that come in a number of colors including brindle, yellow, chocolate and merle. Their heads are broad and flat with medium-length muzzles, “marbled” blue or blue & white eyes, and ears that hang close to the cheek. Their backs are strong, chests are deep and legs are solid. They have long tails that hang low or point out. Overall, Catahoula Leopard Dogs have a poised and powerful look.
Catahoula Leopard Dogs combine hard-working toughness with a gentle family spirit. Easily at home on the range, trudging through swamps and rivers, they are just as comfortable playing on the carpet with children. Gentle, wise and easygoing, they make an agreeable family dog and warm-hearted friend.
Protective and loyal with their owners, they can be slightly reserved around strangers. They have a strong sense of territory, but they are more cautious than anything, keeping a watchful eye on strangers and new people until they feel comfortable. Catahoulas make excellent watchdogs, especially on ranches, farms and other wide-open spaces.
Catahoula Leopard Dogs are high-energy, independent creatures that need strong-willed owners for proper training and socialization. This is not to say they are willful. On the contrary, they are very adaptable. However, they are strong enough, smart enough and curious enough to get into trouble if left to their own devices.
Catahoulas will do fine in apartments as long as they get plenty of exercise and attention. If kept in the back yard, they still need daily walks and companionship to feel settled and centered. Otherwise, they can get lonely, depressed and sometimes destructive. Games of fetch, vigorous hikes and “tasks” will keep their minds healthy and alert.
A healthy Catahoula Leopard Dog can live as long as 13 years. Common health issues include hip dysplasia, deafness and eye problems. Catahoulas are fairly easy to groom, needing just the basics: weekly brushing, plus occasional nail trimming and bathing.
The Catahoula Leopard Dog originated in the Catahoula region of northern Louisiana. Though no breeding records exist, they are believed to be a cross between native American Indian dogs and various Mastiffs, Bloodhounds and Greyhounds brought over by Spanish settlers in the 16th century. When settlers arrived in the area, they found packs of wild hogs and cattle in the woods and swamps. Catahoula Leopard Dogs had the intelligence, organization and quickness to herd these animals and form a virtual “fence” to keep them contained until people arrived. The Catahoula Leopard Dog was named the state dog of Louisiana in 1979.