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Catahoula Leopard Dog

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Catahoula Leopard Dog

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a medium to large dog from the US and is also called the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog/ Louisiana Catahoula Cur, the Catahoula Hog Dog, Catahoula Hound or Catahoula Cur. It was bred to be a hunting dog able to hunt prey like wild boar and able to react to verbal commands, hand signals and whistles. It has a life span of 11 to 13 years, are intelligent, active and while assertive should never be aggressive when raised properly. As working dog it is serious and committed and as a family dog it is loyal and needs companionship.

TheCatahoula Leopard Dog at a Glance
Name Catahoula Leopard Dog
Other names Catahoula Hog Dog, Catahoula Cur, Catahoula Hound, Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog/ Louisiana Catahoula Cur
Nicknames Leopard Dog, CLD
Origin USA
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 40 to 80 pounds
Average height 20 to 26 inches
Life span 11 to 13 years
Coat type Short and Slick, Coarse, Woolly
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black, black and tan, white, blue, brown, grey, red, silver
Popularity Not yet a fully registered member of the AKC
Intelligence Excellent
Tolerance to heat Very good
Tolerance to cold Good
Shedding Low to average – will be some hair around the home
Drooling Average – expect some but not a great amount
Obesity Average - make sure its food is measured and it gets the physical activity it needs
Grooming/brushing Low to average – brush once or twice a week
Barking Average – barks occasionally but not constantly
Exercise needs High – needs active owners
Trainability Moderate – experience helps
Friendliness Good to very good with socialization
Good first dog No – needs experienced handling
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Very good with early socialization but supervision with younger children is advised
Good with other dogs Moderate so socialization is needed – can be aggressive with dogs of their own sex
Good with other pets Moderate to good with socialization – can get along with other pets if raised together
Good with strangers Moderate to good with socialization – wary of strangers due it its protective nature
Good apartment dog Low – needs space and at least a yard
Handles alone time well Low – does not like being alone, needs human companionship
Health issues Fairly healthy breed but some issues include Hip dysplasia, deafness, reports of cancer in older dogs
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for a good quality food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $245 a year for miscellaneous items, license, basic training and toys
Average annual expenses $1000 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $500
Rescue organizations Louisiana Catahoula Rescue, Janeens Catahoula Leopard Dog Rescue Network, Catahoula Rescue
Biting Statistics Attacks doing bodily harm: 5 Maimings: 1 Child Victims: 1 Deaths: 2

The Catahoula Leopard Dog's Beginnings

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is thought to have its ancestors in the Nordic Wolfhound which came to North America a few hundred years before the Spanish came but no-one knows for sure. It became established though in the north of Louisiana near to the Catahoula Lake, hence its name. It was developed to be hard working and to be able to hunt boar, and help round up livestock that escaped into surrounding swamp land and woods (where the name Hog Dog comes from). This took a lot of team work between the humans and two other dogs it worked with. It was also used to trail and hunt racoons. Breeds that may have been used in its development include Greyhounds, Bloodhounds, local breeds and different Mastiffs.

In 1976 the Louisiana Catahoula Cur Association was started and then in 1977 so was the National Association of Louisiana Catahoulas and the American Catahoula Association. Their goals include not just promoting the breed but also on breed conformity, certified testing, clinical trials, shows and events. In 1979 it was named the official state dog of Louisiana signed in by the governor at the time Edwin Edwards. As a result its name was changed to the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog there.

New Lease on Life

In 1995 the United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized the Catahoula, the first national dog registry to do so. As of yet the AKC has not fully recognized it though it did become a member of the American Kennel Clubs Foundation Stick Service in 1996. It is still kept as a working dog as well as a companion and is more well known in Louisiana and surrounding states than the rest of the US or even the rest of the world.

Catahoula Leopard Dog

The Dog You See Today

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a medium to large sized dog weighing 40 to 80 pounds and standing 20 to 26 inches tall. The female is usually smaller than the male, they have a long tail that is whip like and has webbed feet to help it swim better. It is a powerful dog but not especially bulky as it is also agile. Its body is a little longer than it is tall and it has a broad head and ears that hang down and are small to medium in size. Eye color can vary from one to another and in fact you even often get dogs who have either a single eye that has two colors, or each eye can be differently colored.

The dog has a short/medium length that is tight to the body. It can be smooth or coarse and comes in various patterns, colors, or block colors. A lot of people think that the Leopard part of its name suggests that all of them have markings like one. While some do, in fact there are many different patterns, color points, trim, stripes, and such. They also come in many different colors though come ones are tan, black or Merle. As a working breed no color pattern is preferred over another.


The Inner Catahoula Leopard Dog


This dog is loving and protective of its family and owners when raised well and while it may be assertive and even aggressive when at work, it is not aggressive towards people. It will be wary though of strangers which is why socialization is important as it teaches it how to react and what is appropriate and what are genuine threats. It is a great watchdog, it will bark to alert you to something wrong like an intruder. Otherwise its barking is occasional at most. Owners need to be firm, experienced but fair in how they deal with them. They can be sensitive and do not respond well to be mishandled, or physically punished. It also does not like to be left alone and needs lots of interaction from you.

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is intelligent and energetic but should be even tempered too. It is hard working, insistent, protective and tough. When young it is playful and curious and as it grows it becomes more independent and territorial. Include it in family activities and treat it as a full member of the family. It will start to mature around aged two years.

Living with a Catahoula Leopard Dog

What will training look like?

In terms of training the Leopard Dog is moderately hard and needs firm, consistent and clear leadership. Because of its assertive and independent nature it is likely to challenge you for pack leadership. It is important to avoid being meek or giving in to it. Set rules, stick to them, set expectations and be firm but fair. Results will be gradual but they will come with positive training methods, encourage, praise and use things like treats to motivate. Early socialization is important to make sure it learns how to react appropriately to strangers, animals, other people, situations, sounds and so on.

Catahoula Leopard Dog

How active is the Catahoula Leopard Dog?

The CLD is an active dog and needs active owners. It will need its mind engaged as well as its body. Expect to spend at least an hour to 90 minutes a day with it, taking it on a couple of long walks a day as well as giving it play time with you. It should also enjoys some safe off leash time where it can run free a few times a week. Because its work involves rounding up animals and it has hunting instincts it needs to be kept on a leash on walks so it does not chase after other moving things and animals. It would happily join you for a hike, jog and so on and should also have a well fenced in yard to play and explore in. When playing with this dog keep in mind it is noisy and likes to get physical so it needs to be taught how far it can go with rough play. If it does not get enough activity and stimulation it will become hard to live with, aggressive, destructive and loud.

Caring for the Catahoula Leopard Dog

Grooming needs

The coat of the CLD is easy to look after being short and single. It is an average shedder though so expect some hair in the home and brush at least once a week to keep the loose hair controlled and give it a healthy sheen. It sheds more when being petted and when nervous or stressed. Only bathe these dogs when they really need it otherwise you can damage the natural oils in its skin. For the same reason it should be cleaned with a proper dog shampoo only.


Trim its nails when they get too long if its outdoor activity does not wear them down naturally. Use proper dog nail clippers and take care not to cut too far down as it can hurt them and cause bleeding. Look after its teeth and gums by brushing at least two to three times a week. Its ears also need to be cleaned weekly using a proper dog ear cleanser or just a damp cloth, use this time to also make sure there is no redness, bad odor or discharge, all signs of infection. Do not insert anything into the ear to clean it.

Feeding Time

The Catahoula Leopard Dog will eat somewhere between 2½ to 5 cups of a good quality dry dog food split into at least two meals a day. Metabolism, level of activity, age, size, and health can all have an impact on that amount. Make sure it also has access to water that you change for fresh when you can.

Catahoula Leopard Dog

How is the Catahoula Leopard Dog with children and other animals?

The CLD can be good with children when it gets good socialization and especially when raised with them. It will be affectionate, playful and loving and it is protective of them. That can mean it thinks visiting children who are rough playing with its children are a threat, so make sure socialization covers things like that. Small children can get knocked over too accidentally when it is being rambunctious so supervision is a good idea. Make sure children are taught how to approach it and touch it and play with it appropriately. It does not like strange animals coming onto its property and can be aggressive towards them. If raised with other pets it can get along with them though. It can get on with dogs of the opposite sex with proper introductions but tends to be aggressive and dominant with dogs of the same sex.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Leopard Dog has a life span of about 11 to 13 years and is quite healthy. Some issues to be aware of include deafness, eye problems, hip dysplasia, cancer when older and bloat.

Biting Statistics

Reports of dogs attacking people and doing bodily harm over the last 35 years in North American show that the Catahoula Leopard Dog has been involved in 5 incidents. This means an average of just 1 attack every 7 years. Out of those 5 attacks there was 1 maiming, so the victim was left with permanent scarring, loss of limb or disfigurement. There was 1 child victim and out of the 5 attacks 2 people died. The fact is no dog is 100% safe, and is could never possibly be involved in something like this. All dogs have triggers, can be provoked or just have an off day. Those top family companion dogs like the Golden Retriever and the Lab both have more incidents than this one. While you can never completely control something like this you can help lessen the odds by making sure it is well socialized, trained, exercised and fed, and that it gets the attention it needs.

Catahoula Leopard Dog

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Catahoula Leopard Dog puppy will cost about $500 for a decent breeder, or more of you are looking at top breeders. You might find it for less from somewhere like a backyard breeder, puppy mills or pet store but these sources should be avoided. There are shelters and rescues that you could look to and there are also your own local shelters where there are a multitude of dogs desperate for new homes. Adoption may mean having an older dog or having a mixed one, but these have a lot to offer and can be very rewarding to bring home. Adoption fees can range from $50 to $400.


Then there are initial health costs, it will need a check up when you bring it home and some tests and procedures like deworming, blood tests, micro chipping, spaying or neutering, shots, a physical and so on. These will cost about $290. Items you will need when you bring it home like a carrier, collar and leash, bedding, bowls, crate and such come to another $220.

There are also annual costs for its health care, feeding, license and other miscellaneous items needed. To feed it a good quality dry dog food and give it treats you can expect to pay around $270 a year. For miscellaneous costs like training, license, miscellaneous items, toys and such expect around $245 a year. Basic health care like vaccinations, tick and flea prevention and check ups along with pet insurance is another $485 a year. This is a yearly starting figure of $1000.


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The Catahoula Leopard Dog is not a dog for just anyone, it needs active and experienced owners prepared to give it good socialization and good training. It does need quite a lot of attention, it is not a dog happy to be left by itself and if not given the commitment it needs from you it will act out and be unhappy. In the right home with the right owners though it can be a wonderful companion, with a lot of affection and loyalty to offer, one who will protect you and stay by your side through anything.

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