Monday, December 1, 2014

Breed of the Month--Catahoula Leopard Dog

Catahoula Leopard Dog

Color:  All coat colors and patterns.  White trim, tan markings, yellow, yellow merle, white merle, red, red merle, chocolate, brindle, blue, blue merle, black.
Height:  Males: 24 inches/  Females:  22 inches
Weight:  50-95 pounds
Life Span:  12-14 years

Breed Health Concerns:  Eye problems, congenital deafness, and hip dysplasia.

Coat:  Single coat.  Short to medium length with smooth to coarse texture.  Coat lies flat and close to the body.
Country of Origin:  United States.

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

The name for this breed comes from the Parish of Catahoula, meaning "beautiful clear water," in northeastern Louisiana.  The ancestors of the breed are not known, but it is thought to be descended in some part from mastiff-type dogs brought by Spanish explorers to the Americas.  It is known that in 1686, during his explorations, Henri de Tonti spoke of seeing dogs with "mottled spots" and "white eyes."  It is thought that European shepherd dogs were crossed with these mastiff-types to form the Catahoula Leopard Dog.

Named for a swampy area in Louisiana, the Catahoula Leopard Dog was used to assist people in trapping, fishing, and running wild cattle and hogs back into the woods.  These are dangerous jobs, and the assertive, protective, independent nature of the Catahoula Leopard Dog made him the perfect helper.  

Known also as the "Catahoula Hog Dog," and referred to as a "walking sledgehammer," the Catahoula Leopard Dog was named the official state dog of Louisiana in 1979.  The breed is affectionate with those he known well but can be tentative around strangers.  Although a hard working breed, he is personable and playful when he becomes comfortable around people.

As a hard working breed, the Catahoula Leopard Dog requires plenty of exercise and daily vigorous walks.  This breed is high energy and will become destructive without regular physical and mental activity.  The Catahoula excels at sports like herding and agility.

Regular brushing will keep the coat at its best.  The undercoat will shed continuously and even more so when he is uncomfortable or anxious.

Training for the Catahoula must involve techniques that engage his intellect and energy.  The Catahoula is quick and smart, making him a very capable learner.  This breed does have a very independent nature however, and his trainer must always remember to keep alert to hold the dog's attention.

I have met a few Catahoulas & Catahoula mixes in my day, and I will say that the one thing they all have in common (other than beautiful coats and eyes) is that they are all very high energy.  This is most definitely not a dog for someone who is not highly active.  Catahoulas need lots and lots of daily vigorous exercise to stay happy and healthy.  This breed is a working dog and needs to be given a regular outlet for his excessive energy.

Catahoula mix pup Mocha (middle) 
making friends at her first dog training class.

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