Are Catahoula Leopard Dogs Aggressive?

Many new dog owners are smitten with their puppies. They rarely think beyond these early weeks to problematic behaviors their dog may display as an adult.

Aggression is one issue that should be treated early to give the best outcomes. If you have a Catahoula, can you expect them to show any aggressive tendencies?

The Catahoula can be quite protective over their owners which can lead to aggression. They also like to assert their dominance and will challenge anyone who they perceive as a threat to that authority.

Socialization and basic obedience training may help. Some will need professional intervention.

Learn more about your Catahoula’s personality and aggression in this detailed breakdown!

Catahoula Temperament and Personality

If you are considering the addition of a Catahoula to the family, you should make sure to educate yourself on their personality and temperament.

These dogs are not always the happy-go-lucky breed that many people envision for themselves. While they are truly beautiful dogs, you need to have a good frame of reference for how to best approach the breed.

The Catahoula is an extremely loyal dog who will do anything for their chosen master. This can sometimes lead to problems that stem from protectiveness and resemble aggression.

They will go to great lengths to make sure that their family is safe. Around people they do not know well, they tend to be a bit wary. As a result, they tend to make marvelous watchdogs.

With the right person, they tend to be quite affectionate and loving. However, they are quick to defend themselves if they feel that something isn’t quite right.

These dogs can be great family pets, but you must take the right approach to training. You will want to emphasize socialization when your Catahoula is a puppy. As they get older, they will need quite a firm approach to training and discipline.

Signs of Aggression in Catahoula

Because the Catahoula can be quite prone to an aggressive nature, it is important to spot the warning signs early on. Most people can tell that aggression will be a problem once their dog crosses the line into biting or lunging.

However, they may miss the earlier signs that something awful is about to occur.

One of the earliest warning signs of aggression is the hard stare. They will make direct eye contact with the object of their aggression and will have a fixed expression. Their eyes will appear hard or glassy. At times, the hard stare is accompanied by a snarl or a low growl to issue a more serious warning.

If the issue is not resolved quickly, you may find that your Catahoula progresses to more serious behavior. The hard stare is often followed by snarling or growling, as well as barking.

Even if your dog is quiet, you should still take these signs of aggression seriously. Your dog is trying to clue you into the fact that they are unhappy.

It could be caused by a specific person or item. However, it can also be caused by a situation that makes them uncomfortable. Be sure to keep a close eye out for any sign of aggression so that you can begin to work on this problem as early as possible.

Read Next: 15 Best Catahoula Leopard Dog Breeders in the USA: Catahoula’s for Sale

Causes of Aggression in Catahoulas

Identifying the root causes of your Catahoula’s aggression can be a bit complicated. There are a lot of reasons why they may be displaying this behavior.

In most situations, it is because they feel that something is unfair. However, there are several reasons why aggression can surface in dogs of all kinds.

The most common culprit for aggression in dogs is emotional. When they feel afraid or anxious, they are likely to strike out at whoever happens to be nearest.

If there is a specific person or thing that is causing this emotional distress, they are likely to take their aggression out on it. This is an instinctual response that can be difficult to train your dog out of.

At other times, they are trying to assert their own dominance. A Catahoula wants to be the leader of the pack. Their independent nature does not easily allow them to depend on others, even their own family.

Many dogs of this breed will stop at nothing to ensure that they come out on top of the pack. It is important to address these assertions for dominance with a firm hand to let your dog know that aggression will not be tolerated.

Aggression is also displayed in dogs who may not have been properly socialized as puppies. The Catahoula has a high prey drive, which makes them likely to want to capture and kill their prey. In many families with cats, small pets, or young children, this can be extremely problematic.

What to Do if Your Catahoula is Aggressive

If your Catahoula is displaying signs of aggression for any reason, it is time to seek out help from a qualified professional.

A dog trainer who is experienced in handling situations with aggression can help you identify the cause and find a creative solution to prevent the problem from getting out of hand.

Fortunately, the Catahoula is quite easy to train. They are highly intelligent dogs that pick up on new tasks quickly. The only difficulty in training them is that they can sometimes be quite stubborn. It may be difficult to get training commands to stick if your dog would rather be doing something else.

Start by training your dog in low stress environments with basic commands. They are more likely to respond positively when nothing major is at stake.

Eventually, you can generalize these commands to all situations, including times when they are displaying symptoms of aggression toward you, your family, or anyone else.

Basic Catahoula Training Commands

When you want your Catahoula to minimize the aggression they are currently displaying, then you need to start by training them for basic obedience. There are three important commands that you should start with to help interrupt these cycles.

Fortunately, these are simple things you can start to work on now at home, without the aid of a trainer. However, you may still want to seek professional help if you have trouble getting these skills to stick when aggression rears its ugly head.


Focus is the first thing you should teach your Catahoula to do. This redirects their attention from whatever may be bothering them and places it firmly back on you.

Focusing on the handler is an essential skill for any dog and lays the foundation for the rest of your training. Some people use different words for this command, including watch or look. Choose whatever word is easiest for you.

Make sure you have a pouch full of tasty treats at the ready to begin working on this command. Start by saying your dog’s name and then giving the command.

When they make eye contact with you, mark it with a clicker and give them a treat. If this does not work, you can give the same command but lure their eyes up to yours using the treat.

Eventually, you will be able to drop their name and issue just the command.

Once you have your dog responding reliably, you can start to branch out and use the skill in other situations. Increase the distance between you and your dog.

Practice it in other rooms of the house, in the backyard, and at the dog park. Introduce lots of distractions so that your dog can begin to practice giving you their undivided attention on command.

Lie Down

Getting your dog to lie down on cue is another important thing to train for if your dog displays any aggression. You should be able to ask them to lie down in any situation and have them halt what they are doing.

Start by training for this behavior in a quiet location with minimal distractions. As they become more advanced, it is important to teach them that you mean it when you ask them to lie down.

Work on increasing the distance between you and your dog. Ask them to lie down in situations that have plenty of distractions.

When they are starting to display aggressive behaviors, ask them to focus and then lie down to get a grip on their impulse control and put a stop to aggressive behaviors in their tracks.


If your Catahoula is prone to lunging or chasing, stay is another important command to teach them. You should be able to command your dog to stay in any situation, even when there are lots of distractions around. Stay teaches your dog to control their impulses and puts a stop to a chase.

Are Catahoulas a Good Family Dog?

Because they can sometimes be prone to aggression, many people want to know if the Catahoula makes a good family dog. Does the Catahoula get along with children? Those who have children in the home need to prepare themselves for this answer.

The Catahoula does not often get along well with young children or infants. They are always eager to assert their dominance and may not play well with small children around.

If your family consists of older children or teenagers who will have no problems correcting your Catahoula, then you may have no issues. Make sure that your children spend plenty of time with the dog while it is still in the puppy stages.

When the dog is raised to understand that people are the authority in the home, then you should have no problem with your dog in a family setting.

Socialization is key when it comes to making your Catahoula into an excellent family dog. As long as everyone treats them fairly and takes a firm stance with them, you should have no issues with them being a great family companion.

Do Catahoulas Get Along with Other Dogs and Pets?

Many people already have other pets in the home, whether that means dogs or cats. They do not want to rehome their other animals because they fear that their Catahoula may do permanent damage to them.

It is extremely important to socialize your dog as a puppy to avoid any major problems with other pets.

Your Catahoula wants to be the alpha in their family. As a result, they may challenge other dogs in the home and act aggressively toward them.

If your dog is used to being around them from the time you bring them home and their interactions are always carefully supervised, then you may not encounter any issues.

As for cats, this can sometimes be problematic for Catahoula owners. They tend to have a high prey drive that encourages them to chase, maim, or even kill smaller animals.

Always keep a close eye on the interactions between your Catahoula and any felines in the home. As long as they are socialized at an early age, you should not have any issues down the road with your Catahoula and cats.

Managing Aggression in Your Catahoula

Aggression is a problematic behavior for any dog owner, but Catahoulas tend to be more prone to it than some other breeds.

While they are loyal to a fault, this can sometimes result in protectiveness that prompts aggression. Be sure to train them as early as possible for basic behaviors like focus, lie down, and stay. If aggression becomes an issue, be sure to seek professional help before it gets out of control.

Related Questions

Are Catahoulas hard to train?

The Catahoula is an incredibly intelligent dog who picks up on your cues quickly. Unfortunately, they can also be quite stubborn if they do not want to do something. Training your dog will require a firm hand, as well as lots of practice and consistency if you want to achieve results.

Do Catahoulas like to bite?

Catahoulas do sometimes like to bite. Aggression can be caused by fear, anxiety, a desire to assert dominance, or as a result of their prey drive. Work on socializing them as a puppy to eliminate this problematic behavior before it truly begins.


“Aggressive or Assertive?.” Catahoula Information ” Catahoula Issues ” Aggression, Aggressive or Assertive?,

“Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed – Facts and Personality Traits.” Hill’s Pet Nutrition, 

“Catahoula Leopard Dog Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, 

Martin, Kenneth, and Lynn Buzhardt. “Aggression in Dogs.” vca_corporate, 

Welton, Michele. “Catahoula Leopard Dogs: What’s Good about ‘Em, What’s Bad about ‘Em.” Catahoula Leopard Dogs: What’s Good About ‘Em, What’s Bad About ‘Em,


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!

Recent Posts