Catahoula leopard dogs are an American dog breed with origins in Louisiana, where they would hunt and herd with indigenous people and colonists alike. Today, they go by several names, including the Catahoula cur, Catahoula Hound, Louisiana Catahoula leopard dog, and even Louisiana’s hog dog.
What is it?
Hip dysplasia is a hereditary disease that results in the malformation of the hip joint.
% Dogs affected:
18.9% of all Catahoulas
Reduced activity, hesitancy to exercise, limping, hopping, swaying, difficulty standing or sitting, avoidance of stairs, reduced muscle mass in the affected limb.
Medical therapy, restricted exercise, weight loss, or surgery: Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO), Femoral head ostectomy (FHO), or Total hip replacement (THR)
Not all dogs qualify for surgery (including many older individuals)
90% = $1800
80% = $1600
70% = $1400
What is it?
A cataract is an eye lens affected by disease which becomes cloudy or opaque, causing inhibited vision or blindness.
% Dogs affected:
2% of Catahoulas
Cloudy or opaque eye color, difficulty seeing, difficulty navigating new places, hesitation while moving, pawing at the eye
Surgery or medical eye drops
Eye drops can not restore vision, only manage symptoms – however, surgery is not always a suitable option.
90% = $2250
80% = $2000
70% = $1750
Caring for a Catahoula involves plenty of intense exercise to wear out their high energy levels. These dogs love to be active and accompany their family while doing so – anything less will likely result in problematic behaviors.
Catahoula dogs were bred to be strong and independent, which carries on in their willful temperament. Proper training and a confident but loving owner will be necessary to keep this pup in check.
Though it may be a task to establish the right hierarchy between you and your Catahoula, they are loyal, loving companions once trained. With watchdog and guardian instincts, they will protect their people to the end.
Catahoulas are working dogs bred for herding, which necessitates a good head on their shoulders. This highly intelligent breed can learn quickly, although they don’t always want to.
Ultimately, instincts drive much of the Catahoula’s demeanor. Prey drive, alpha drive, watchdog, and territorial tendencies are present in most individuals. You can train good behavior, but you can’t train out their instincts entirely.
The Catahoula leopard dog lives up to its name with its short, smooth coat
Catahoula coats are often spotted with a leopard pattern, marked, or merle. A variety of coat colors can be found for the breed, including light blue leopard, dark red leopard with white trim, brindle, red merle, blue merle, solid silver, solid tan, and many more.
Many dog breeds are named after a place – Australian shepherds, Boston terriers, German shepherds – but it may not be so obvious that the Catahoula leopard dog is also!
Catahoula Lake is a body of water in Louisiana, the state where this breed originated. Due to their ties to this region, they are considered the official state dog of Louisiana.
The word “Catahoula” itself is a Choctaw Indian term meaning “sacred lake.” Those who have seen the beauty and natural strength of this dog breed firsthand understand why such a name might be fitting.
However, the admirable qualities of these dogs also come with challenges for the everyday owner. If you’re considering a Catahoula for your next companion dog, today’s Spot Pet Insurance guide should be your first step.
We’re going to cover everything from health concerns to training and exercise tips – all the info you need to know to make an informed, responsible decision regarding adding a Catahoula to your family.
Not many herding dog breeds can trace their true origins to America, and no others to the state of Louisiana. The Catahoula is a unique breed in many ways, both enticing and challenging.
These dogs are highly intelligent, but they also have strong instincts to hunt, guard, and protect their territory. As such, this breed is typically not advised for novice owners or those who are timider.
It takes an active, confident owner or family to keep up with a Catahoula’s energy and will. Read on to find out exactly what you’ll need to know.
Understanding this breed starts with understanding its history. Catahoulas were bred in Louisiana. Their exact origins are debated, but most agree they began with native American Indian tribes over five centuries ago, later also being adopted by Spanish explorers and colonists.
The purpose of the Catahoula was clear from the offset: a companion dog to handle a variety of hard jobs, from herding and hunting to guarding.
Of their hunting jobs, it was taking down wild hogs that occupied most of their early years, hence they are often called Catahoula hog dogs even to this day. The “leopard” title stuck due to their commonly spotted coats.
Catahoula dogs have seen the world change drastically since their inception as a breed. Today, they can be purchased from select breeders and are eligible for the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service, which ensures the integrity of purebred pedigrees and ownership records for rare breeds.
The breed can be found in America and abroad with owners who appreciate, respect, and work with their temperaments and needs.
Catahoulas are a hardy, healthy breed with an impressively small list of genetic issues and a long lifespan for their size.
As with all breeds, there are some conditions that can still occur, the most common of which is hip dysplasia, affecting nearly 20% of the Catahoula breed.
Pigment-related deafness also occurs in all-white Catahoulas, and eye problems, such as cataracts, are occasionally an issue as well.
If you are looking for a dog that’s happy to cuddle up all day, the Catahoula is not your breed. These are highly active dogs that aren’t demonstrative about love like a lapdog, but they do show love in their own ways.
Catahoulas are companion dogs, and they enjoy the presence of their family, often bonding with one specific member. Loyalty and respect are the means by which a Catahoula leopard dog shows affection, so it will take a confident, patient, selfless owner to achieve this honor.
They are favored by active families who can keep up with the breed’s energy, intelligence, and independent willfulness.
Like most herding dogs, Catahoulas are exceptionally intelligent. They like to wield this intelligence independently, but owners should take care to have strong training in place.
Teaching a new concept to a Catahoula can be a quick but delicate affair. Catahoulas are smart and sensitive, so you will need to use proper training techniques. A balance between positive reward and standing your ground will be needed. Let the Catahoula get its way, or rebuke them too roughly, and you may lose your progress.
It’s certainly possible for a Catahoula to thrive in a home with children, but some considerations should be taken.
Young children are the least fitting since they could easily be knocked over by a large and highly active Catahoula dog. Older children can be a better fit, especially if they are active and enjoy outdoor adventures.
In any case, young children should always be supervised while interacting with a dog (of any breed).
The Catahoula is not a friendly breed that will greet every new person they meet with a smile. This isn’t because they are mean! This is due to their instincts as territorial watchdogs.
Catahoula leopard dogs are naturally suspicious of strangers they meet, but they are also renowned for calming down once a person is accepted as a non-threat.
Thankfully, their watchdog instincts are usually confined to barking as opposed to actual aggression, but socialization is absolutely vital from an early age to keep this under control.
While it is possible to fit a Catahoula in a multi-pet household, it takes a specific combination of socialization, training, and the right second pet. Male dogs are the greatest challenge and may never be able to live with another male Catahoula.
Smaller dogs, female dogs, and cats may be more easily accepted, especially if your Catahoula claims them as their own – but you can expect some amount of protective behavior in such a case.
Be sure to properly oversee introductions – Catahoulas have a strong prey drive, which could be an issue with smaller pets.
Generally, it’s easiest for a Catahoula to be in a single-pet family.
The responsibility of caring for a Catahoula properly starts with understanding your dog’s needs and how they align with your own.
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Let’s go over a few more key areas of Catahoula care below.
Adoption fee: $600-850
First year: $2,990
Following years: $1,890
Timid and novice owners will likely struggle to train a Catahoula. Confidence is key, as is balance. Your Catahoula must receive firm instruction, but they will not put up with harsh or unreasonable authority.
As such, positive reinforcement is your best tool. Be sure never to reward the behavior you don’t want, or else your Catahoula’s willful streak may grow. With consistency, patience, and love, a Catahoula can certainly become a well-trained, obedient dog.
Socialization should be your first priority, with obedience a close second. More advanced training such as that for sports like rally and agility can be an excellent way to bond with your pup and help them get the exercise they need, but only after the proper foundations are in place.
Certain foods should never be given to a Catahoula since they are toxic to dogs in general. Here are some of the most common examples that you should always avoid:
Catahoulas need lots of exercise – at least an hour of vigorous exercise a day. A tired Catahoula is a good one, while pent-up energy is bound to result in destructive behavior or loud displays of annoyance (i.e., barking).
Always keep your Catahoula on a leash while walking, and only let them free in a securely fenced yard. These dogs do have a strong prey drive and will chase or wander off if left free to do so. If they do escape, you’ll be glad if they are microchipped!
If you’re in an active lifestyle, the Catahoula could be an excellent fit for you. Camping, hiking, and similar outdoor activities are a perfect way to keep your pooch well exercised and satisfied. They also love to swim!
Puppy: 0 – 1 year
Adult: 1 year – 9 years
Senior: 9 years – end of life
Here at Spot Pet Insurance, we do our best to provide helpful dog info. We care deeply about your dog’s health and want to be with you every step of the way. For other helpful info about pets, check out our Spot Pet Insurance webpage! Here we provide you with educational materials that can help you with the best foods, toys, safety, and care tips for your dog. We also offer personalized pet insurance plan options to help keep your dog protected in case of unexpected accidents and illnesses.
Catahoula Leopard Dog Dog Breed Information | American Kennel Club
Catahoula Leopard – Dog Breeds | Daily Paws
Catahoula Leopard Dog | PetMD
Canine Hip Dysplasia | American College of Veterinary Surgeons – ACVS
Breed Statistics | Orthopedic Foundation for Animals
How Much Does Dog Hip Dysplasia Surgery Cost? | Vet Info
Cataracts In Dogs | VCA Animal Hospitals
How Much Does Dog Cataract Surgery Cost? (2022) | Spend On Pet
Coat Color Examples | National Association of Louisiana Catahoulas, Inc.
Foundation Stock Service® Program Home | American Kennel Club
Can F 1 Levels in Hair and Homes of Different Dog Breeds: Lack of Evidence To Describe Any Dog Breed As Hypoallergenic | National Library of Medicine
Does training method matter?: Evidence for the negative impact of aversive-based methods on companion dog welfare | bioRxiv
Socializing Your Dog | Animal Humane Society
Basic Obedience Training For Puppies: Where to Start | American Kennel Club
Foods that can be poisonous to pets | The Humane Society of the United States