10 Fun Facts About Catahoula Leopard Dogs

what are catahoula leopard dogs known for

The independent, loyal and watchful Catahoula leopard dog, sometimes known as the Catahoula leopard cur , comes from the United States originally, specifically the southern state of Louisiana.

In fact, Catahoula, meaning “sacred lake” in Choctaw, a native American language, are the only dog breed that originates in the state of Louisiana.

Below we’ll dive deeper into their unique history and some more fun facts about this affectionate, family-friendly pet.

Catahoula leopard dogs, known for their characteristic spots, with a wide variety of other appearances and colors, are believed to originate from the crossbreeding of dogs in the Louisiana territory in the 1700s, though they did not have a standard name and breed association until over 200 years later, in the 1970s.

To this day, Catahoula leopard dogs are not registered or recognized by the AKC, though they are working on meeting the criteria to be included into this official registration (American Kennel Club).

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Brief History of the Catahoula Leopard Dog

Catahoula leopard dogs are the result of a long history of breeding amongst dogs of the French, Native Americans, and Spanish explorers in the Louisiana Territory dating back to the 17th century.

It is said that these dogs probably have a combination of mastiff, bloodhound, greyhound and domesticated “wolf dogs” of the Choctaw tribe.

The breed was originally bred for it’s mix of working attributes and disposition. Catahoulas are known for their herding abilities and their ability to traverse the marshy landscape of the Southern United States; they also have a strong history of being devoted and loyal companions.

You can find Catahoula hounds working on farms, hunting for game, swimming in rivers and other active endeavors.

They were originally bred for hunting wild pigs in and out of marshes and streams!

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10 Fun Facts about Catahoula Leopard Dogs

1. Catahoula Leopard Dogs are Rarely Found Outside of the USA

Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs are very rarely found outside of the United States.

This may be because they are not AKC recognized, or because it can be difficult to track their breeding history. Whatever the reason, Catahoula leopard curs are primarily found in the Southern United States.

2. Catahoula’s have a Unique Look

This breed has a huge range of physical characteristics, though they often have striking light colored “glass” eyes and “leopard” spots.

In reviewing many photos from breeders and owners, these dogs can range hugely in appearance.

This makes it difficult for the dogs to be recognized. Solid colored and non-spotted dogs can often be confused for other hounds, pitbull terriers, and even rottweilers.

Not only this, but there is so much Catahoula blood mixed into many working dogs and other mixes that it can be easy to miss. They are typically about 50-100 lbs, short coated and stocky in build.

Read Also: Are Catahoulas Good with Other Dogs?

3. Catahoula leopard dogs can climb fences!

They are a very active, working dogs, as they were bred to run for long periods. This does not mean that every Catahoula hound will jump your backyard fence! It just shows the athleticism this breed is capable of.

As with many other breeds, good training and a mentally and physically active lifestyle that matches the dog’s activity level, can allow these dogs to live in a variety of lifestyles and situations.

4. Catahoula’s are Picky

While they were bred to be companions and protect their homestead, Catahoulas often bond strongly with 1-2 people.

They can be wonderful family dogs but may have a preference for a single family member and need guidance around small pets, small children or other dogs. They would make great hunting partners, shop dogs and fly fishers!

Giving these dogs space to move around and fun activities to do, will keep them happy and more flexible.

5. Catahoula Leopard dogs are the State Dog of Louisiana

A fitting title based on their history.

This is probably part of the reason why their population is concentrated in Louisiana! Only 13 of the U.S. states even have a state dog (netstate.com). The state feels that these dogs are an important part of their history and probably even lifestyle.

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6. Catahoula’s are Extremely Active

If you’re a hiker, runner, outdoor enthusiast of any kind, a Catahoula may make the perfect partner for exploring.

They are hearty, healthy, fast, athletic, often like water, and ready to go wherever you do! While they were bred to live on a farm or acreage, the more active lifestyle the owner has, the less space they could get away with for their Catahoula hound.

7. Catahoulas are Intelligent

This breed is often very intelligent and requires mental stimulation in the form of training, toys, games, and activities.

Not only do Catahoula leopard dogs have a lot of physical energy, but they are also often considered to be very intelligent. Their herding patterns can be complicated, and they have had intelligence bred into them over many decades.

Puzzles, nose work, agility and other training games can help this active minded breed engage and tire out their brain.

8. Catahoula’s are Naturally Healthy Dog’s

Catahoulas are typically a hearty and healthy breed, though hip dysplasia and deafness are occasionally a risk.

This is a dog that was bred, and continues to be bred, to work and run and herd. It is important to their breeding that they be healthy and sturdy, to prevent injuries from their lifestyle.

Sometimes, pet owners can stray away from very active breeds, but one of the advantages is having a dog who has had “soundness” and health bred into them for many years.

Read Next: Are Catahoula Leopard Dogs Good Family Dogs? – 5 Things to Consider

9. Catahoulas are Unique Herding Dogs

A “canine fence” is a unique herding technique used by Catahoula Leopard Curs to contain the livestock while giving the handler control over the herd’s direction.

Most herding dogs will simply move a herd in a certain direction, with a combination of chasing and guiding. The “canine fence” is a method in which the dog contains the herd into one area, like a fence, and then the handler or person can then guide the herd in a direction.

10. Catahoulas are Dangerous Hunter’s

Feral hogs were the original hunting target of the Catahoula hound, if you can imagine running through the Louisiana bayous after one of those!

Feral hogs are also very large, so this medium to large sized dog is able to do their job in other, more intelligent, ways.

Meet the Breed: Physical Description and Photos of the Catahoula Leopard Dog

The Catahoula Leopard dog has a wide variety of colors and sizes, ranging from 50-100lbs and a rainbow of colors, spots and patches.

The Catahoula leopard dog is actually named because of their tendency toward leopard “spots”, amongst their other colors. Even so, some full-bred Catahoula Hounds are solid colored, black, brow or tan, and can be easily confused for many other breeds of dogs!

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While many have brown eyes, Catahoula Leopard Dogs are often known for their light colored and striking eyes, often called “glass eyes” as they often are very light blue to blue green in color.

Many Catahoulas have one or two light colored eyes, a trait I’ve always found striking in animals! Look below for some photos of this interesting and rare breed. Notice the range in appearances mentioned earlier.

This is what many think of in a Catahoula hound. Medium build, stocky, leopard spots and light-colored eyes. This photo really shows where the breed gets it’s name from!

This photo shows the “glass eyes”, leopard spots and spotted and mottled coloring often seen in the breed.

This adorable Catahoula leopard cur puppy has very striking, light blue eyes and characteristic mottled and leopard spot coat.

catahoula leopard puppy

While the Catahoula Leopard dog may not be the right fit for every family, owners can enjoy the loyalty, intelligence, and athleticism of the breed.

As you can see from the small sample of photos in this article, Catahoula leopard dogs are striking to look at and beautiful in their uniqueness.

Keep an eye out for this Southern belle in the streets of Monroe and the marshes of Lake Charles, and maybe grab yourself a companion while you’re there.

Read Next: Are Catahoula Leopard Dogs Aggressive?


Hi, I'm the owner of Juniper Pets! You can often find me playing fetch with my dogs, working out or cooking up something legendary in the kitchen. Hope you enjoy my blog!

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