Search Menu
  • Temperament: Loyal, Independent, Watchful
  • Height: 22-24 inches
  • Weight: 50-95 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 10-14 years
  • Group: Foundation Stock Service

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Catahoula Leopard Dog standing outdoors in sand
Two Catahoula Leopard Dogs herding cattle.
Catahoula Leopard Dog
Catahoula Leopard Dog
Catahoula Leopard Dog
Catahoula Leopard Dog
Catahoula Leopard Dog
Catahoula Leopard Dog

About the Catahoula Leopard Dog

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a medium-large, short-coated dog, known for its many varied coat and eye colors and patterns. The word catahoula is of Choctaw origin and is translated to mean “sacred lake.” Catahoulas are the only breed of dog to have historically originated in the state of Louisiana. The breed requires firm guidance and early socialization, as they can be independent, territorial, and protective. For the same reasons, they do not allow mistreatment and will assert themselves in self-defense. Once they know their place in the family unit, they are affectionate, loyal, and gentle. Also called the Catahoula Hog Dog, they are used as stock dogs, bay dogs, tree dogs, watchdogs, guard dogs, and of course as loyal companions.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Catahoula Leopard puppy sitting.

Find a Puppy: Catahoula Leopard Dog

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.



The Catahoula Leopard Dog should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.


Beyond regular weekly grooming, the occasional bath will keep your Catahoula clean and looking his best. Grooming can be a wonderful bonding experience for you and your dog. The breed’s strong, fast-growing nails should be trimmed regularly with a nail clipper or grinder to avoid overgrowth, splitting and cracking. Ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris, which can result in infection. Teeth should be brushed regularly.


The Catahoula Leopard Dog needs space to expend his copious amount of energy and always needs a job to do. He is not suited for the city or as an apartment dog. Without the proper amount of exercise and attention, he will start to cause trouble digging holes and chewing things. Options for exercise could include play time in the backyard, preferably fenced, or taken for walks several times a day. Outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, and retrieving balls or flying discs can also provide a good outlet for expending energy. Note: he is an excellent swimmer! Training for dog sports like agility, obedience and rally can also be a great way to give your dog exercise.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Needs Lots of Activity


Without training and mental stimulation, this breed can become destructive in the home. Due to his independence and territorial instincts, becoming well-socialized is also very important for the Catahoula to be a gentle and affectionate companion in the home. Though working like an adult at the early age of 10 months, Catahoulas are not fully matured until they are 2 years old. Therefore, it is important to make all jobs and exercises fun so as not to cause burnout at too early an age.


May be Stubborn
Eager to Please


Reserved with Strangers


Issues such as hip dysplasia, deafness, and eye problems have occasionally occurred in the Catahoula Leopard Dog. Some dogs may be faced with these health challenges in their lives, but the majority of this breed are healthy dogs.

Working with a responsible breeder, those wishing to own a Catahoula Leopard Dog can gain the education they need to know about specific health concerns within the breed. Good breeders utilize genetic testing of their breeding stock to reduce the likelihood of disease in their puppies.

Catahoula Leopard Dog
Catahoula Leopard Dog adult standing next to puppy
Catahoula Leopard Dog
Catahoula Leopard Dog
Catahoula Leopard Dog standing in grassy field
Catahoula Leopard Dog
Catahoula Leopard Dog


In 1539, when Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto landed in Florida and began his expedition through the Southeastern United States, his scribes noted there was only one species of domestic animal in North America: the Native American’s dog, who looked like a wolf but barked like a dog. These native dogs were crossed with the “bloodhounds, mastiffs, and greyhounds” brought by the Spanish explorers. In Northern Louisiana, the Native Americans called these new dogs “Wolf Dogs.” Once the French arrived with their hounds, they were crossbred again, resulting in today’s Catahoula Leopard Dog.

How the Catahoula obtained his working instincts is another story: The early settlers of Central Louisiana, specifically the Catahoula Lake area, used these crossbred dogs to pen and catch the wild hogs and cows that were rampant in the area, and this practice turned into a planned method of managing the wild herds. The Catahoula developed a unique way of working the stock that sets them apart from other herding and working breeds; they create a “canine fence” around the herd, and within this “fence,” the wild herd is directed by the dog’s master. This natural working instinct is of the utmost importance to Catahoula Leopard Dog breeders. Regardless of appearance, he must have these working instincts to be a pure Catahoula.

Did You Know?

Catahoulas have been taken to Venezuela to gather wild Brahman cattle on huge ranches.
Other names for the breed include Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog, Catahoula Cur, Catahoula Hog Dog and Catahoula Hound.
In 1979, the Catahoula Leopard Dog was named the State Dog of Louisiana.
In Canada, Catahoulas have competed successfully in sled-dog racing.
The Catahoula Leopard Dog has been assigned the Herding Group designation.
The Catahoula Leopard Dog has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since 1996.
The Catahoula Leopard Dog has been approved to compete in AKC Companion Events since January 1, 2010.
The Catahoula Leopard Dog originated in Central Louisiana in the region around the Catahoula Lake, from which it got its name.

The Breed Standard

Colors & Markings


Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007
Blue Check Mark For Standard Color 037
Blue Merle Check Mark For Standard Color 050
Brindle Check Mark For Standard Color 057
Chocolate Check Mark For Standard Color 071
Red Check Mark For Standard Color 140
Red Merle Check Mark For Standard Color 276
White Merle Check Mark For Standard Color 311
Yellow Check Mark For Standard Color 232
Yellow Merle Check Mark For Standard Color 436


Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Tan Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 012
White Trim Check Mark For Standard Mark 101