Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog
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Breed group: Herding Type: Pure Breed Talent: Agility, Guarding, Herding, Hunting, Watchdog
Size: Medium Weight: 50 - 90 lbs Fur length: Short Ears: Flappy Fur type: Straight Fur Color: 3 Colors, Black, Black & White, Brown & White, Merle / Spotted / Brindle / Speckled
Life Expectancy: 10 - 16 years Rarity: Common Availability: Easily available Climate: Good for every climate.
The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog (aka Catahoula Cur, Catahoula Hog Dog, Leopard Dog) is the state animal of Louisiana in the United States. Catahoula is a parish in the state, and is believed to be from Choctaw words meaning "water" and "beloved." Its name is only one of the things about the Catahoula that seem to have no clear origin. The breed is actually a mixed-breed, descended from Native American dogs and a mix of European dogs believed to include hounds, molossers, and mastiffs. Unlike mutts, however, which come from random breeding, curs are mixed from several breeds on purpose for their work abilities. The monicker "Hog Dog" refers to the Catahoula's use as a tracker/hunter of feral hogs, as well as other game.
The Catahoula's glass eyes are also one of the things noteworthy about the breed. Heterochromia is a condition wherein a pair of eyes may be of two different colors, or where a single eye may contain two different colors. This pigmentation anomaly is a congenital condition in the dog, the result of a dominant gene.
Today, farmers and ranchers consider the Catahoula an integral part of their operations, being a well-rounded dog able to help in watching/guarding, herding, and hunting, as well as protect and be loyal to a family.
The Catahoula's coat is as varied as the stories surrounding the breed's origin. Colors can be solid, brindle or "leopard," and patchwork, with dark and light colors alternating as the ground or the markings. Some are tri-colored or quad-colored, if trim color is counted in the mix. Eyes are not all "cracked marble" or "glass" eyes, but the condition is very noticeable in this breed.
The fur, as might be expected of a dog bred for its working abilities, is usually short and lies flat along the skin. Some dogs may have a woolly coat, with longer fur that tends to be shaggy, and that may develop into a double-coat. Others may have coarse coats that are a little longer, especially along the belly, tail, and hind legs.
As can be assumed of a highly trainable and tractable dog, the Catahoula is an intelligent breed as well. Born and bred to be in a pack, the Catahoula is assertive and sometimes even pushy, but rarely aggressive. Territorial and with a highly-developed sense of "pack" or family, the Catahoula can be very protective of a family it has grown up with, especially children, and is a great alarm dog. With an even temperament and a nature suited to having people around, the Catahoula makes a good family dog, but can be prone to boredom and eventual neurotic behavior if left alone often. While the Catahoula can be a sweet, and sometimes even comical, family dog around the house, he becomes serious and all business when it comes to work. His compact and powerful build gives him the stamina to herd hog and cattle by alternately agitating and intimidating them. In a hunt, he is a silent tracker, but uses an impressive bay upon finding and cornering his quarry. His webbed paws work well for him in the marshy areas of Louisiana, and makes him a good swimmer as well.
The coat can do with once-a-week brushing, to keep it shiny. This will also help with the shedding, which is light but can occur year-round.
As with most working dogs, the Catahoula will require at least an hour of moderate to heavy exercise in one day. The owner or handler will need to be firm, and show that he, and not the Catahoula, is the leader at all times. Otherwise, this headstrong dog could be uncontrollable. Socialization from an early age is recommended, so the dog does not grow up shy. Introduction to other dogs should be gradual and consistent, as the catahoula can exhibit territoriality.
The Catahoula will not do well with minimal human interaction or isolation. Daily exercise or vigorous activity is recommended. If taken on a walk, a leash is recommended, as the Catahoula can be unfriendly towards strange dogs. Catahoula puppies need a firm but loving hand from day one. Harsh corrections can damage even a dog as sturdy as the Catahoula. Positive reinforcement is best for desired behaviors, and crate training can help lessen undesirable ones.