The Catahoula Leopard Dog is best known for their spotted coat similar to a leopard, hence their name. They were believed to be bred originally as companions of Native Americans who inhabited the place that eventually became Louisiana. In 1979, they were declared as Louisiana’s state dog.
Their coats have several variations and patterns. Some Catahoulas have more spots than others, while some are born with a solid shade. Their eye colors are usually blue, but there are others who have amber, brown, and green eye colors. Sometimes, a Catahoula pup is born with two different eye colors, a condition called heterochromia.
The Catahoula’s name came from a Choctaw Indian word that means “sacred lake”. It is speculated that they resulted from breeding local dogs to the larger breeds, such as Greyhounds and Mastiffs, brought by Spanish explorers when they came to the region.
They also earned the nickname “hog dog” for having a history as a working dog used to round up wild hogs roaming the woods.
Catahoulas are considered medium-large dogs, reaching an average height of around 20 to 26 inches.
They can get wary around strangers and have a protective instinct. They have a tendency to bark when approached by an unfamiliar person, making them great watchdogs. If you think your Catahoula might become overprotective, their behavior can be addressed with firm training.
Early socialization is also a must for them to get used to the presence of other people and pets inside the house. They can become playful if they get along well with others. Enrolling them in a puppy kindergarten class is a great first step to help them socialize. You can also bring them outside for walks a few times a week so they can experience meeting a lot of people and learn not to be too aggressive.
Catahoulas are quite energetic dogs and aren’t the type to stay inside the house or be tied outside the lawn. They need a spacious area to run around, but make sure that your garden or lawn is fenced. They can become territorial once they see other dogs approaching the area.
Give them at least an hour of exercise everyday to help them stay fit. They are intelligent dogs and learn tricks and commands quickly, but they still need a firm trainer to manage their protective instincts.
They do not shed a lot, but regular brushing can help reduce the amount of shedding. They are not high maintenance dogs, but you should trim their nails regularly to avoid getting tangled in a loose thread on a carpet.