If you have children or are thinking about starting a family, you may want to seriously consider what type of dog you add to the mix. You want a canine companion who is going to interact well with every member of the family, both small and large.
The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a beautiful breed that appeals to many people, but are they cut out to be good family dogs?
Catahoulas do not make great family dogs. They must be watched closely with children and other pets. This breed is also difficult to train and requires a firm hand from all humans involved in its life. They require lots of socialization and exercise to develop good habits.
For those who have been thinking about adding a Catahoula to the family, here are a few reasons you may want to reconsider.
Are Catahoulas Good with Kids?
Parents who are in search of an excellent family dog may want to rethink getting a Catahoula Leopard Dog.
While they are beautiful and loyal dogs, this breed has the capability of being a bit aggressive without the proper training. You should consider the age of your children before bringing a Catahoula home.
Older children can do well with the Catahoula if they are willing to learn how to interact with the dog. Everyone in the family must be on the same page with training. Consistency is the key to eliminating problematic behavior through training.
On the other hand, younger children often have issues with this breed. This breed wants to assert their dominance and will not hesitate to prove that they are the alpha with young children. That isn’t the only problem you will face with young ones though.
Catahoulas are also prone to herding behaviors. They may nip at the heels of little ones who are playing around the house or backyard.
A Catahoula Leopard Dog who is raised around children may do fine in a family setting after some time to settle in. However, it can be a rocky start, particularly if you have small children who may grow to fear the nipping behavior.
Are Catahoulas Aggressive?
One of the major complaints about Catahoulas is their tendency to be aggressive. While most dogs of this breed will not be aggressive, it depends on how they are socialized as young puppies. You will need to put a lot of time into training and exposing them to new stimuli.
Catahoulas are extremely loyal dogs and can be quite protective of their owners. As a result, they can be a bit wary or even aggressive toward strangers.
If they believe that someone or something poses a threat to their pack, they may strike out to assert their dominance over it. This dog makes a great watchdog because of these traits.
They also will not stand for mistreatment. Catahoulas who feel that they are being wronged in some way may act aggressively in an attempt to reverse the situation.
While it is possible for this breed to be aggressive, much of this behavior can be avoided through early socialization and consistent training. You will need to be firm and consistent with your cues.
Read Next: Are Catahoula Leopard Dogs Aggressive?
Do Catahoulas Get Along with Cats and Other Dogs?
Many prospective owners already have other pets in the home. You may be wondering how this breed does with other animals such as cats and dogs. The truth is that many dogs of this breed will perform better in single-pet families.
You may find that your Catahoula Leopard Dog is aggressive toward other dogs, particularly if both dogs are male. Because of this, you may not want to take your Catahoula to the dog park to avoid potential injuries from fights.
If you have a cat in the home, you may also want to consider whether a Catahoula is the right fit for your family. They have a high prey drive, meaning that they may chase your cat around the house.
You can take steps to work with your dog so that all of your pets can live harmoniously. However, these steps must be taken early in the pup’s life.
Proper socialization is essential if you want to keep other pets in the home with your Catahoula. Keep in mind that even with proper training, your dog may simply not be suited to being around other animals.
Are Catahoulas Hard or Easy to Train?
The Catahoula is an incredibly independent breed. They use their high intelligence to think for themselves, and they may not respond well to being told what to do. Your new dog may be a bit stubborn when it comes to following commands.
Consistency is paramount when it comes to training your Catahoula. You must constantly follow through when you ask them to do something.
Be sure to reward them for successfully listening to your commands so that training becomes a fun game to your dog. Training should begin the very first day you bring your dog home and will last throughout their lifetime.
This breed is not great for the novice dog owner. They need someone who is experienced in handling dogs. You must be firm and patient when it comes to training. However, they still need a loving approach to bring out their very best side.
Training is essential to work out your dog’s mind as well. They need the mental stimulation in addition to their physical exercise to be fully tired and happy.
Working with your dog keeps their mind sharp and engaged. In addition, it strengthens the bond you will have with your dog when done properly.
If you aren’t sure where to start with training, it can be good to enroll them in a puppy class at the local pet store. This gives you an opportunity to socialize them with other pets and gives you the foundation you need to work with your dog at home on your own.
Are Catahoulas Protective of Their Owners?
One of the reasons that the Catahoula Leopard Dog is so popular is because they are so loyal to their owners. This loyalty manifests itself as your dog being overly protective of their pack or family.
They tend to be extremely wary of strangers and will go to great lengths to defend their owners if they feel it is justified.
Sometimes, their protective instincts can go too far though. A dog who has not been properly socialized as a puppy will be too wary of strangers.
You may find that your dog acts aggressively toward anyone who enters your home, including extended family members, the postal worker, or a friend. They need time to warm up to new people before being welcoming.
5 Reasons why Catahoula’s May not be the Perfect Family Dog
Unfortunately, the Catahoula does not necessarily make a great family dog. Here are a few reasons you may want to reconsider adding a Catahoula to your family.
1. Catahoula’s Need an Experienced Hand
If you have never had a dog before, then the Catahoula may not be a great fit for your family. They require an experienced hand that many novice dog owners simply do not have. You will need to be extremely consistent and firm with them.
Families with children may really struggle to get everyone on board with training techniques. Small children may lack the ability to reinforce training, and your intelligent Catahoula will pick up on their inability to keep up with training. They may take advantage of the situation to assert their dominance over the children.
2. Requires Lots of Socialization
Some owners are eager to have a happy-go-lucky dog who loves everyone he meets. You may get this type of behavior from a fun-loving Labrador Retriever, but you will be quite surprised by the behavior your Catahoula displays.
They often view unknown things as threats and can act out aggressively toward these people, objects, and other animals.
To curb their aggressive behavior, you must socialize them early and often. You will spend a great deal of your time taking them to group classes, shopping with them at the home improvement store, and taking them on leashed walks through the dog park.
3. Catahoula’s are Not Good with Other Pets
For many families, having one pet is simply not enough. They may want to have both a dog and a cat or multiple dogs. The Catahoula’s prey drive and need for dominance can make it extremely difficult for them to get along with other animals in the home.
Some of this behavior can be handled through early socialization and correction. If you get your Catahoula as a puppy, start to socialize them with other animals right away.
Be sure to monitor all their interactions closely, and keep them on leash in the beginning to prevent aggression.
Even with lots of socialization, your Catahoula may never be able to go to the dog park safely. They simply do not do well with other animals in many situations.
4. Needs Lots of Exercise to Curb Destructive Tendencies
The Catahoula Leopard Dog needs lots of exercise to be happy and healthy. They are bred to be working dogs, herding from sun up to sun down.
Many prospective owners do not account for how much time they will need to spend engaging their dog in physical activity.
Catahoulas tend to require at least one full hour of rigorous exercise daily. A quick walk around the block is not going to be enough to get out all of their excess energy. You may have to take up a new hobby such as agility training with your dog.
The problem is that these dogs tend to get into trouble when they are not tired and happy. They may engage in destructive behaviors such as digging or chewing on things that don’t belong to them.
Aggression may also begin to surface over minor issues if they are not already tired.
5. Training Difficulties
Training your new Catahoula can be quite difficult if you have never engaged in this activity before. Because of their independent nature, they like to think for themselves and don’t love being told what to do.
They need to come to respect your authority, and it will require a firm hand from an experienced trainer.
While it is possible to train your Catahoula on your own, you will need lots of guidance if you have never done this before. Have a great deal of patience with your new dog when you first start working together.
These training sessions can be quite challenging in the beginning. Eventually, you may come to enjoy your training sessions as they can improve the bond between you and the dog.
Finding the Perfect Family Pet
The Catahoula may not be the right fit if you are searching for a happy-go-lucky family pet. They can learn to get along with children and other animals, but they will have to be closely monitored at all times.
They are very protective of their owners and are wary of strangers. Unfortunately, they do sometimes present with aggression. Be sure to consider whether your family is prepared to handle the many behaviors of the Catahoula before bringing one home!
How much exercise does a Catahoula need?
The Catahoula is a working dog breed who is quite active. You will need to give them at least one hour of vigorous exercise each day. This might mean playing games with them in the backyard, going for a long jog, or taking up a sport such as agility or flyball. If you don’t give them the exercise they require, you may face some problematic behaviors like destructive chewing.
What type of diet should a Catahoula have?
Your Catahoula likely needs between three and five cups of food daily. They can be fed dry kibble appropriate for their life stage. Puppies can benefit from a specially-formulated food for puppies while senior dogs may require the nutrition found in dog food geared toward their dietary needs. Avoid giving food and water for an hour after exercise to prevent bloat.