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  • Temperament: Affectionate, Loyal, Independent, Vigilant, Reserved with Strangers
  • 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

About the Catahoula Leopard Dog

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a medium to medium-large, short-coated dog, known for its many varied coat and eye colors and patterns. They require firm guidance and early socialization, as they can be independent, territorial, and protective. Once they know their place in the family unit, they are affectionate, loyal, and gentle.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

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Catahoula Leopard Dog

Find a Puppy: Catahoula Leopard Dog

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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 them clean and looking their 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.


Options for exercise include play time in the backyard, preferably fenced, or taken for walks several times a day. Exercise can also come in the form of indoor activities, like hide and seek, chasing a ball rolled along the floor, or teaching them new tricks. Depending on the breed, certain outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, retrieving balls or flying discs can provide a good outlet for expending energy. If you live in an apartment even short walks in the hallways can give your dog some exercise, especially during inclement weather. 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


Some dogs may be faced with these health challenges in their lives, but the majority of Catahoula Leopard Dogs 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
Catahoula Leopard Dog


The Catahoula originated in North Central Louisiana in the geographic area around the Catahoula Lake from which it got its name. The word Catahoula is of Choctaw Indian origin and is translated into English as “sacred lake”, just as the Choctaw word Choekahoula means “sacred home.”
The first settlers to that area of Louisiana found the woods full of wild hogs and these Indian dogs that were indigenous to the area. In fact there were so many wild hogs in the woods that they were considered to be a nuisance and of little value. Early settlers described them as being so poor that you could make “head sauce” (pronounced sowce and meaning hog head cheese) out of them but they had no meat on their bones. This generated the names “razorback” or “piney woods rooter.”
The idea that the natives had Catahoulas upon the arrival of the first European settlers to the area is difficult to prove and is best offered as legend. The fact that the natives had domestic dogs was recorded by the scribes of Spanish explorer, Hemando de Soto.
As of 1539, when de Soto’s expedition landed in Florida and began their odyssey throughout the Southeastern U.S., there was only one species of domestic animal in North America, the native Indian’s dog. This dog was described by members of de Soto’s expedition as looking exactly like the wolf except that it barked and the wolf only howled.
The Spanish explorers had their “war dogs” with them and they were described as bloodhounds, mastiffs and greyhounds. Legend claims that these war dogs cross bred with the native Indian dogs and produced a new breed or crossbreed for the surviving Native Americans.
This information was passed down from generation to generation by the European settlers in what is now North Central Louisiana. Most of these settlers were farmers who had migrated west as the Eastern lands were used up and no longer produced the crops that they were in the habit of raising.
The early settlers around the Catahoula lake region of North Louisiana began to use these Indian dogs and/or crosses of them to pen and catch wild hogs and cows. This practice was soon developed into a method of managing herds of wild cattle and wild hogs. The peculiar way these dogs work stock is what separates them from the rest of dogdom.
Their style of working stock is to effectively provide a “canine fence” around wild cows or hogs and hold them for their master. Their masters then provide direction to the movement of these wild cows or hogs while inside this “canine fence.”
Catahoulas have been bred by working-oriented breeders since their instincts to work wild hogs and cattle became evident. The ability to handle wild herds is instinct and cannot be taught. A single outcross or crossbreeding so affects the instinct that it eliminates those pups from ever becoming breeding stock.
This self governing instinct could easily be lost if bred for pets or show without the trial by fire working aspect being tantamount. Regardless of size, color, or color of eyes, the working instinct is the true acid test of purity in the Catahoula.

Did You Know?

The word Catahoula is of Choctaw Indian origin and is translated into English as "sacred lake." Just as the Choctaw word Chockahoula means "sacred home."
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.

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