What are Catahoula Leopard Dogs? Beauty, Health and At Risk

16/05/23 11:54 PM

What is a Catahoula Dog? If you are like most you may have no idea what a Catahoula is. Or maybe you are lucky enough to have one of these beautiful dogs. You might be surprised to know this breed is popular enough to have it’s own day! National Catahoula Day was this past week in May. This is a perfect opportunity to learn more about the Catahoula Leopard Dog, also known as the Catahoula Cur, Catahoula Hog Dog, Louisiana Catahoula and Catahoula Hound. 

This unique and versatile breed is beautiful and has a fascinating history. These dogs were originally bred to hunt wild boars in the swamps of Louisiana and have since become beloved companions and working dogs for families and farmers alike. If you are a fan of striking eye colors, smooth coats, active dogs who are loyal companions, the Catahoula Leopard Dog may be the one for you!

Handsome Catahoulas

5 interesting Facts about the Catahoula

  1. This dog breed has many names. The Catahoula is also known as the Catahoula Cur, Catahoula Hog Dog, Louisiana Catahoula and Catahoula Hound.

  2. Catahoulas are the only breed of dog to have historically originated in the state of Louisiana.

  3. Catahoulas are known for having the most remarkable eye color, some will have 2 colors in the same eye, and some will even have a ghostly white color.

  4. The AKC does not recognize the Catahoula Leopard dog, but they have made a successful first step towards being an official breed.

  5. Catahoulas have been known to be sled dogs in Alaska.

History of the Catahoula Leopard Dog 

This breed is believed to be one of the oldest in North America, with a history that dates back to the 16th century. The breed is thought to have been developed by Native Americans in the area that is now Louisiana, who bred their dogs with Spanish Mastiffs and Greyhounds brought over by European settlers. The result was a versatile and rugged breed that was well-suited for hunting wild boars and herding cattle.

The name Catahoula is derived from the Catahoula Parish in Louisiana, where the breed was first developed.  Catahoulas are the only breed of dog to have originated in the state of Louisiana. In 1979, the Catahoula Leopard Dog was named the State Dog of Louisiana. The breed's distinct coat and eye colors were likely influenced by the breeds that were used to develop them, including the Greyhound, Bloodhound, and Red Wolf.

 In 1996, the Catahoula was recorded in the Foundation Stock Service, which is the first step in the process to be part of the American Kennel Club’s full breed recognition. The Catahoula is still a rare breed.

Breed Appearance

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is considered a large-sized dog, standing 20-26 inches tall and weighing between 50-95 pounds. They have a short, smooth coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns, including:

  • Blue merle

  • Red merle

  • Black

  • White

  • Brindle

  • Chocolate

  • Yellow merle with or without tan

The Catahoula Eyes Have It

eye color of Catahoulas

The most striking feature of this breed is their eyes! The eyes of the Catahoula dog are remarkable. While some have brown eyes, it is more frequent to observe "glass" eyes that exhibit a very pale blue hue, resembling a white shade. Additionally, blue, green, and amber eyes are commonly seen in this breed and it is not uncommon for them to have eyes of different colors. Their eyes often have a combination of two colors, either appearing cracked with distinct hues divided or exhibiting a spotted pattern.

The Catahoula Temperament 

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a highly intelligent, independent, and loyal breed. They are known for their high energy levels and need for exercise, making them excellent working dogs for farmers and ranchers. They are also great family pets, but their energy levels and independent nature can be challenging for inexperienced dog owners. Proper training and socialization are essential for this breed to thrive in a family setting.

Catahoula Leopard Dogs are known for their strong prey drive and instinct to hunt, which can make them less compatible with small pets such as cats or rabbits. They are also known to be protective of their family and can be wary of strangers, making them excellent watchdogs.

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a versatile breed that can be trained for a variety of tasks, including hunting, herding, and search and rescue. They are also commonly used as family pets and make excellent companions for active individuals and families.
In addition to their hunting and herding abilities, Catahoula Leopard Dogs have also been used as service dogs and therapy dogs. Their high intelligence and strong work ethic make them well-suited for these roles, as they are able to learn and perform a wide range of tasks.

Black Catahoula

Health Concerns for a Catahoula Leopard Dog

As with all dog breeds, the Catahoula Leopard Dog is prone to certain health issues that potential owners should be aware of. While this breed is generally healthy and has a long lifespan of 10-14 years, there are some health concerns that can affect them.

  1. Hip Dysplasia is a common condition in large dog breeds like the Catahoula Leopard Dog. It occurs when the hip joint does not develop properly, causing the bones to rub against each other instead of fitting snugly together. This can lead to pain, discomfort, and arthritis. While hip dysplasia cannot be cured, it can be managed with a high-quality joint supplement for dogs, weight management, physical therapy and medication.

  2.  Arthritis in Dogs (or Osteoarthritis) poses a significant health concern for the Catahoula due to its size. This degenerative joint disease causes inflammation, pain, and stiffness in their joints, limiting their mobility and overall quality of life. Dogs of all breeds and ages can be affected, but larger breeds, like the Catahoula, are more prone. Early prevention and proper management are crucial. Adding a high-quality joint supplement for dogs at an early age can protect joints. 

  3. Eye Problems including cataracts, glaucoma, and corneal dystrophy. Regular eye exams by a veterinary ophthalmologist can help detect these issues early on and prevent or manage them.

  4. Deafness, which can be genetic or acquired. Congenital deafness is often seen in breeds with white coats and blue eyes, and is caused by a lack of pigment in the inner ear. Acquired deafness can be caused by infections, injuries, or aging. 

  5. Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), is a potentially life-threatening condition that can occur in large dog breeds like the Catahoula Leopard Dog. It is caused by the twisting of the stomach, which can lead to a build-up of gas and prevent blood flow to the stomach and other organs. Symptoms of bloat include restlessness, panting, pacing, drooling, and vomiting. This is a medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention.


Because the Catahoula Leopard Dog breed is built as it is, they can start to slow down sooner than expected due to joint pain or arthritis. Help relieve these signs safely and naturally by adding a joint supplement to their diet.

  1. The best way to prevent signs of arthritis is to begin joint protection earlier. Joint supplements can promote joint health and cartilage development which keep dogs active and youthful, longer. Learn what to look for in joint supplements for your dog.
  2. If your Catahoula Leopard Dog is over age 5, consider starting them a joint supplement as cartilage improvement can be seen in most labs with a daily dose. 
  3. Of course, make sure your dog stays active to help their joints work better. This includes regular walking and playing with your dog. A great opportunity to go to the dog park!
  4. Keep the weight down on your dog. If they begin to get overweight, it will amount to more pressure on their joints. Exercise and proper feeding will help as they age.
Beautiful Catahoula


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The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a unique and fascinating breed with a rich history and versatile abilities. While they may not be the right fit for every family, those who are willing to put in the time and effort to properly train and socialize their Catahoula will be rewarded with a loyal and loving companion that is capable of performing a wide range of tasks. Whether as a working dog or a family pet, the Catahoula Leopard Dog is a breed that is sure to impress and amaze those who get to know them.

Keep your Catahoula Joint Heallthy