The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is believed to have originated from Nordic Wolfhound being introduced some three to five hundred years before the Spanish arrived, however, no one will really know for sure.
The state of Louisiana is cited as the point of origin, particularly the area of Catahoula. In 1979, the breed was designated the state dog of Louisiana. The Catahoula was named after a Parish in northeastern Louisiana and after the mottled spots on its coat.
There is some speculation that the Catahoula Leopard dog is a descendant of the greyhounds and mastiffs that were brought into Louisiana by Hernando de Soto in the sixteenth century. These original dogs were also known as war dogs and are thought to have interbred with the local red wolves.
In the next century, the French began to arrive in Louisiana as well, bringing the Beauceron dog breed, which then mixed with the interbred dogs that were now in the area, producing the breed as it is seen today.
Governor Edwin Edwards made the Catahoula Leopard dog the official state dog of Louisiana in 1979.
The name "Catahoula" actually comes from the Indian word meaning "Clear Water".
As with most smart dog breeds, the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard needs to have a fair amount of stimulation in order to stay energized and happy. These dogs are highly intelligent and quick to assess situations, making them perfect helpers in law enforcement. But at the same time, this energy they have can also match perfectly with young children. The Catahoula is gentle and loving with younger children, so unlike other sporting dogs, this breed can be a good addition to a home setting.
Because of their high intelligence, the Catahoula Leopard is often trying to learn new things and will be curious about their environment. This creates a sort of independent manner about them, and they will go off to wander and explore alone if they are compelled to do so.
Spending a lot of time with this dog is imperative for its health and happiness. This is a dog that craves interaction with others and wants to be a part of the family that it belongs to. If you do not have time to interact with this type of dog breed, it may not be a good fit for your home.
What may not work for every family is the Catahoula Leopard's tendency to be very overprotective of their family and of their territory. This can cause problems in some situations.
The Catahoula can also become fierce when they are around other dogs, especially when the dogs are the same sex as they are.
Though the initial protectiveness may not be seen in the first few years of a Catahoula's life, it's at the age of two that this breed begins to feel it has a responsibility to protect its owners.
What's interesting too is that the Catahoula can become mild-mannered and timid around strangers, not from intimidation, but from hesitation. These dogs are intolerant of strangers and that's what makes them seem fearful in the presence of someone they don't know.
With all of these personality features in mind, some more mild-mannered dog owners may not be a good fit for the Catahoula Leopard. The owner needs to be someone that is ready to demonstrate leadership for the dog, as this breed wants to be lead and trained by an authority.
This dog breed is often encouraged in homes that have a lot of room for the dog to roam, but in city or suburbs, they might feel too caged in.
When trying to control your Catahoula Leopard, you will want to make sure they attend obedience classes as well as have a place where they can be locked up when you're not around to monitor their actions.
While generally a healthy dog overall, the Catahoula Leopard can encounter some problems during their active life.
This particular dog breed is prone to hip dysplasia, which can cause pain and problems with mobility as the condition progresses.
Catahoulas with a white coat or with a white face are also prone to issues with glass eyes. These particular colored dogs can often have an 80% chance of developing Deafness in one or both ears.
Occasionally, this dog breed will have troubles with their eyes, leading to tunnel vision, abnormal pupil dilation, and sometimes problems with the eye opening. This is often seen in particular breeds, like the McMillin line.
Some of the Catahoula Leopard Dog breed can also develop cancer in their older years.
With a short and smooth coat of fur, the Catahoula Leopard dog is easy to groom. They require bathing only a few times a year (more if they've gotten into something messy), but their coats do not require constant brushing.
With proper grooming, you will always have a happy, well adjusted dog that looks beautiful at all times.
The high activity level of the Catahoula Leopard lends itself well to the farm or country setting, but may not work as well in the suburbs or a city dwelling.
The workaholic personality of this dog breed needs to be constantly satisfied, or the dog may become unnecessarily aggressive.
If at all possible, the Catahoula Leopard needs to be working during the day as a herder or in some other capacity. They enjoy being outdoors and playing, rather than sitting around.
This particular dog breed should be allowed to run for a full hour daily, at least to help maintain their health as well as placate their energetic demeanor.
The Catahoula Leopard might be an excellent companion on a jog or a hike, as they can keep up the pace quite easily.
Though they are noisy and playful when they are active, Catahoula Leopards that don't get enough activity can begin to chew, bark, or dig excessively in order to deal with excess energy.
It's best to take this particular dog breed to an obedience school when they are young to begin to train them in the proper ways of acting around other dogs as well as their family. Quick to learn, however, they are often the star pupils in their training classes due to their intelligence.
In many cases, the Catahoula Leopard is a quick learner and often does not require any additional training outside of their owner.
However, if the owner is not strong willed and able to stand up to this strong dog, the training may become problematic. It takes a forceful dog owner to handle the energy and the intelligence of this dog, so if the owner is not confident in their abilities, it will help if they train themselves to train before bringing this dog home.
The Catahoula Leopard needs to have someone as assertive as they are in order to keep them under control. When an owner falters in their assertiveness, it can cause the dog to exhibit out of control behaviors that can become harmful to others.