Catahoula Leopard Dog

The Catahoula Leopard is one of North America’s oldest breeds, named after Catahoula Parish in Louisiana. It might have descended from Mastiffs and Greyhounds brought to Louisiana in the 16th century by Hernando de Soto. These dogs were crossed with semi-domesticated red wolves, then crossed again in the 17th century with Beauceron brought to Louisiana by French settlers. In 1979 the Catahoula Leopard became Louisiana’s official state dog.

The coat of the Catahoula is short and dense. It comes in a variety of colors, such as black, red, chocolate, yellow and brindle. Many Catahoulas are merles which can be red, liver, black, gray, blue or patched.

There were originally three lines of Catahoula, the Wright line, the Fairbanks line, and the McMillin line. These lines all varied in size, the Wright line being the largest at 90 to 110 pounds and the McMillin being the smallest at 50 to 60 pounds. Many Catahoulas have webbed feet which gives them the ability to navigate marshy areas. Their eyes are often “marbled” which occurs when both colored and glass portions are present in the same eye. This type of eye is blue in color, typically. The Catahoula can have gray, brown, green or amber eyes as well.

The Catahoula is a working breed and is excellent at tracking and hunting. The breed has a very high energy level and needs an outlet for that energy. The breed is independent as well as protective. It can tend to be aggressive toward other dogs as well as strangers. Owners should be experienced with dogs and be thorough with obedience training for the Catahoula.

The Catahoula is a generally healthy dog. One of the major genetic problems the Catahoula is deafness. If a Catahoula is predominantly white or has “marbled” eyes there is an 80 percent chance that they will be deaf. Catahoulas may also experience eye problems, hip dysplasia, and cancer.