The Catahoula Leopard Dog, also known as the Catahoula Cur Dog and Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog, weights from forty-five to ninety-five pounds and stands from twenty to twenty-six inches high at the shoulder. An extremely versatile working dog, they have the ability to excel at hunting game such as deer, bear, squirrel and wild boar. They also make wonderful drug detection and search and rescue dogs. Ultimate working dogs, they are extremely active, adaptable, intelligent and happiest when being challenged both physically and mentally.
The Catahoula Leopard Dog is single coated with fur that is short to medium in length, tight, dense, and smooth. Their coat comes in many colors including black and tan patterned, blue leopard, brindle, red leopard, tan and white, or patchy leopard or brindle.
One of several theories on the history of Catahoula Leopard Dogs is that they believed these dogs were descendents of war dogs, which were greyhounds and mastiffs that arrived in the sixteen century. Others believe these dogs originated from Nordic Wolfhounds. They sited Catahoula in the state of Louisiana as the Catahoula Leopard Dogs point of origin. In 1979, Governor Edwin Edwards named this breed Louisianan’s official state dog.
Catahoula Leopard Dogs are territorial, protective, independent animals that require both physical exercise and mental stimulation to be happy and energized. These extremely intelligent dogs are sensitive, loving and devoted to their master, family, and people they know but standoffish and wary of strangers. They are normally gentle, loving, energetic and playful with children so make a good family addition, unlike many breeds of sporting dogs.
Catahoula Leopard Dogs require family interaction to be happy and healthy but they can be overprotective of both their property and family. Because of this and their independent nature, these dogs require experienced dog owners that let their canine companions know they are the ‘top dog’ in the family and not the Catahoula Leopard Dog. They need an owner that demonstrates leadership and authority. Because they need a lot of exercise as energy outlets, the ideal place for the Catahoula is in country or rural settings, where they have lots of space to run and expend energy. Larger homes with a lot of room for the dog to move around and roam are ideal.
Because they are sometimes overprotective or can be aggressive or fierce towards other dogs, especially same sex ones, it is essential that they receive socialization and obedience training starting at a very young age.
Although Catahoula Leopard Dogs are relatively disease free and healthy, there are still a few health problems to watch for including:
[-]Deafness – There is an eighty percent chance that Catahoula Leopard Dogs with glass eyes and mostly white coats will be deaf in one ear and sometimes both ears.[/-]
[-]Hip dysplasia – This is an inherited disease and health problem that affects some Catahoula. To diagnose this problem, the easiest way is x-ray screening, as some dogs display no signs of lameness, pain, or discomfort while others do. Be sure that both the parent dogs are free of hip dysplasia problems before getting a puppy from the breeder.[/-]
[-]Eye Problems – Occasionally there are eye problems including abnormal pupil dilation, eyes that do not open properly, or tunnel vision.[/-]
[-]Cancer – Like many other breeds, some older dogs develop cancer.[/-]
Only get a puppy from a reputable breeder that gives health clearances for both the puppy and parent dogs.
Since the Catahoula Leopard Dog has a dense, smooth, short, single coat, they require minimal grooming, which keeps the dogs coat shiny and looking great. Brush this light to average shedding dog weekly using a bristle brush and curry comb to remove any dead and loose hair, dander or dirt. You may have to brush him more often during shedding seasons. This also keeps down the amount of hair on your furniture, clothes, and other items around the house. When stressed or nervous, many dogs are inclined to shed more hair. Only bathe your Catahoula Leopard Dog if he is smelly or dirty. Use a mild, high quality shampoo made specifically for dogs to avoid drying the Catahoula Leopard Dogs fur and skin.
When grooming your Catahoula Leopard Dog, always check the dog for rashes, sores, inflammation, tenderness, or cuts that could be signs of an infection or problem in their ears, mouth, nose, feet, and eyes.
Trim your dog’s nails monthly or more often if necessary, using dog nail clippers that remove only the tip of the nail. This prevents the nails from splintering or ripping and injuring the dog. Brush their teeth daily or a minimum of two or three times each week to help prevent gum disease, tartar buildup, and bad breath.
It is important to start examining and brushing your dog when he is a young puppy. Touch its feet, look inside the dog’s ears and mouth, and brush its teeth. Make this and enjoyable, fun, positive grooming experience so when the Catahoula Leopard Dog becomes an adult, you have already prepared your pet for handling, such as veterinary examinations.
Catahoula Leopard Dogs have very high activity levels so require a lot of exercise, such as daily walks, running or even jogging with their master. They require a safe open area or fenced yard where they can run, play, and jump for at least an hour or more daily. If they do not receive enough exercise, the Catahoula Leopard Dogs often start displaying bad habits such as excessive barking, digging, or chewing furniture and other items. Some Catahoula Leopard Dogs become unnecessarily aggressive without physical and mental stimulation so being outdoors working or playing is a better choice than sitting around inside. The Catahoula Leopard Dogs do very well in agility and other sports.
These large, active dogs require obedience and socialization training when they are young so they learn how to behave properly in different situations. Because they are extremely intelligent and desire to please their owner, the Catahoula Leopard Dog learns very quickly. This is not the breed for first time dog owners as they require someone strong willed, assertive, experienced, and confident in their dog handling and training abilities.