The Catahoula Leopard Dog, also known as the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog, is an American dog breed named after Catahoula Parish, Louisiana, in the United States. This breed is believed to have descended from war dogs brought to Louisiana by Hernando de Soto in the 16th century, with a mix of local dogs used by Native American populations. Over time, these dogs were further bred with Greyhounds, Mastiffs, and Bloodhounds, among others, resulting in the Catahoula we see today. Catahoulas are known for their unique appearance, which often includes a strikingly patterned coat (sometimes likened to a leopard's spots) and eyes that can be any color or combination of colors.
The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a generally healthy breed, but as for all breeds, genetic screening is recommended. They may suffer from hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, deafness (mostly in white-coated Catahoulas), and certain eye problems. Genetic testing for other conditions such as chondrodystrophy and intervertebral disc disease (CDDY and IVDD risk) with or without chondrodysplasia (CDPA) is also recommended to assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.
The Catahoula Leopard Dog is known for its versatility as a working dog and its strong drive to work. They are intelligent, energetic, and independent dogs, making them well-suited for roles such as herding, hunting, or as a working dog on a farm or ranch. They can also make good family pets with proper socialization and training, although they may be reserved or cautious around strangers.
These dogs need a lot of physical and mental stimulation, as their intelligence and energy levels can lead to boredom and potentially destructive behavior if not adequately engaged. They are not recommended for first-time dog owners due to their high energy levels and need for an experienced owner who can carry out a well-rounded and consistent training approach.
The Catahoula Leopard Dog was named the State Dog of Louisiana in 1979.
According to the AKC, the word Catahoula is of Choctaw origin, and translates to "sacred lake".
Despite their origins in the warmer climate of the southern United States, Catahoulas have competed and done well in Canada's sled-dog races.