A multi-purpose working dog, the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is a moderate breed in all facets: he neither resembles a sighthound nor a bulldog. The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog has a well-muscled, powerful body that’s medium to large in size and just slightly longer than it is tall with a broad head, short coat, drop ears and undocked tail. He gives the impression of agility and endurance. Contrary to his name, the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog has many different coat colors and patterns and varied eye colors besides the typical leopard pattern and blue eyes.
Although the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog’s origin is shrouded in mystery, one thing is certain: his versatility and working instinct is unparalleled. Native Americans and Louisiana settlers appreciated the breed for its capability of hunting a variety of wild game, such as deer, bobcat, wild hog and bear, as well as scenting, tailing and treeing game, and baying and herding feral hogs and cattle. The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is believed to have descended from Native American dogs with bloodhounds, mastiffs and greyhounds brought over by Spanish explorers. The breed’s exotic name, Catahoula, likely is a distortion of the Native American word that meant “Chocktaw,” referring to a local tribe. Regardless of how the breed began, the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog became the official state dog of Louisiana in 1979 and was recognized by the United Kennel Club as a member of the Herding Group in 1995.
The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog’s temperament spans from one end of the spectrum to the other: He is serious and focused while working, yet energetic and clownish at home. Independent and watchful with natural guarding instincts, the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog tends to be wary around strangers. In the company of his human family, the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is an affectionate, gentle and loyal companion.
Beyond weekly brushing and the occasional bath, the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog doesn’t require much grooming. His teeth should be brushed regularly, ears checked and cleaned often to remove any buildup of wax or debris, and nails trimmed on a regular basis. The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog thrives on having a job to do as a means to expend his ample energy — without physical and mental stimulation, he can become destructive. Proper training and socialization are a must. He should be given plenty of exercise and attention in a large fenced yard, and thus isn’t suited for city life or apartment living. The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is an excellent swimmer and also enjoys activities such as hiking and retrieving balls or flying discs.