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The Catahoula Leopard Dog…. Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

Now if you didn’t grow up in the South or haven’t visited Louisiana specifically, we’ll forgive you for not being familiar with this spectacular dog.  That said, however, now that you’ve found this page, you can no longer be excused for not knowing about and appreciating how “awesome” the Catahoula hound is!

So, without further ado, let’s jump into it and begin discussing one of our all-time favorite dog breeds.

Commonly known…

By its former name: “The Hog Dog,” the Catahoula dog received this nickname because of one of its earliest roles, which was to help drive hogs and cattle for slaughter!  And let’s face it is a pretty horrible job to have and one that doesn’t do justice to how unique these dogs are.

This is why here at IndulgeYourPet, we much prefer their full name, which is the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog, because not only does it sound a whole heck of a lot classier, but it’s also a much better description of what the breed is all about.  The only problem is that their name doesn’t really “roll off one’s tongue” easily!

Now, you may also hear them referred to as the Catahoula Hound or the Louisiana Catahoula, which is certainly better than “the Hot Dog” but certainly doesn’t have the same flare as their full title does (in our humble opinion)!

Origin of the Catahoula

As the official breed of the State of Louisiana and hailing from Catahoula Parish, the Catahoula is described to be a ‘Leopard’ because of its fascinating coloring. Where the word ‘Merle’ might be used to describe other breeds with similar patterns, when it comes to the Catahoula, folks have traditionally used the term Leopard instead.

Why is that? 

We’re not all that sure, but it could have something to do with who first owned and domesticated the Catahoula hound.  You see, it is believed that the Catahoula’s ancestry is tied to the Native American tribes living in and around Louisiana and the areas surrounding the Catahoula Lake who originally domesticated these dogs early on in their history.

And many even believe that these early ancestors of the Catahoula were bred early with Red Wolves and Greyhounds (but DNA analysis has since ruled out the “wolven” aspect).

A second theory…

What often arises when trying to determine the true origins of the Catahoula breed is that the early Native Americans interbred their native animals with Bauceron dogs after the French invaded and settled in the south, which is considered scientifically closer to the truth.

But… regardless of how the Catahoula Leopard Dog came into existence, one thing is certain: Catahoula dogs have been bred for strength, agility, speed, and hunting.  And while they may be referred to by some as a “cur” dog, ask any owner of a Catahoula Leopard dog, and they’ll be sure to tell you that there is no finer “type” of the dog in all the world.

Cur Defined: “Cur” is a derogatory term to describe an “aggressive” dog or a dog not in good condition or shape.  It’s often used interchangeably with   “mutt” or “mongrel.”

And truth be told…

Saying that a Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is a “mutt” isn’t true!  Or at least it has been true since 1996.  You see, as of 1996, the breed has been officially recognized by the American Kennel Club AKC, and there is also a National Association of Louisiana Catahoula’s (NACL) organization utterly dedicated to the breed, which is not something you would typically associate with a “mongrel” breed!

Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog Characteristics

Because the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is a bit of a “mix,” you’re going to find that while their coats will tend to be short and easily manageable, their “coloring” can, and often will, vary significantly from one dog to another.  For example, some may be spotted, bridled, patched, or even solid.

Other than that…

You’re going to find that most Catahoula Leopard dogs will be: A medium dog, weighing somewhere between 50 to 90 pounds.  They also tend to have their characteristic “glass eyes,” a genetic trait that makes some of the Catahoula hound’s eyes resemble fractured glass.  And when this trait is combined with their unique eye colors (often mismatched), the effect can be mesmerizing!

And just when…

You think you’ve discovered all the unique “quirks” about the Catahoula Leopard dog; that’s usually when you find out they have “webbed” toes!  It makes a lot of sense when you think about it, considering that they “evolved” while living in the marshy areas in and around Catahoula Lake, Louisiana.

Catahoula Leopard Dog Temperament

Now, you might think that a hard-working dog that “evolved” from the swamp and whose original “duty” was to help herd wild hogs and cattle for slaughter might not be the “type” of dog you’d like to have around the house!

But the truth is…

Catahoula “Hot Dogs” are great companion animals and perfect pets for those willing to keep their Catahoula busy.  You see, most Catahoulas will require quite a bit of exercise.  So, you’re either going to need to provide them plenty of room to roam, or you’re going to need to treat them to plenty of walks around the neighborhood.

Because of the last thing…

You’re going to want to do is keep them cooped up inside all afternoon.  Once your Catahoula has had an opportunity to burn some excess energy, you’ll find it a very affectionate, pleasant, and gentle companion for the entire family.

While also maintaining…

A healthy skepticism for strangers.  Which is great! So, please don’t blame him for it; he has been bred to it. Instead, if you wish to have your Catahoula more “social,” just be sure to expose them to plenty of folks while still a puppy so that they will grow up to be more confident and non-aggressive to guests later.

A word of caution:

Catahoulas tend to be pretty raucous as puppies for those with tiny children.  So, this dog breed is best avoided if you have small children, or at the very least; you’ll want to be very careful when your children are around your young Catahoula. That way, once everyone has grown a bit, they’ll all be sure to be best friends later in life.

Is the Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed Healthy?

There is still enough of a wild streak in these dogs that they haven’t been overbred just yet, which is why these guys remain one of the “healthiest” breeds.  That said, as is usual with most medium-sized, energetic breeds, they may be prone to suffer from hip dysplasia in their later years.


There is also a chance of deafness with these dogs, but the cost to treat it is comparatively low – especially if you have insurance…

This brings us to…

The last topic we wanted to discuss regarding the Catahoula is if you’re researching this breed to determine if it might be the right dog for you, that’s great!  But don’t stop there.

Also, take a moment and see exactly what it might cost for you to be able to purchase a pet insurance policy on your new Catahoula puppy or Catahoula rescue dog because the last thing that you want to have to happen is to have your new pet become sick or injured and not be able to afford the care that they will need.

This is why…

We’ve taken the time to research many different pet insurance companies out there and have created our own Best Pet Insurance Companies article so that you can quickly determine if getting a pet insurance policy for your loved one is the right move for you.

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Jim February 8, 2020, 8:27 am

    Lost our very Beautiful pup yesterday morning. She was 15+ y o.
    Maggi was ever gentle with and loving.
    A rescue dog and a good choice. Got her as a pup.

    • indulgeyourpet February 8, 2020, 8:34 am


      We’re sorry to hear about your loss. We’re sure she was a great friend.


  • June Bl February 15, 2020, 4:17 pm

    I got a magnificet Catahoula pup in a shelter when he was 12 weeks old in 2006, March 5th.He passed nov. 8th 2019. Had never heard of them b4. He was never hyper. He was calm and loving with everbody he ever met, human dog or cat. Every dog i have ever had taught me to love more and better. Imiss him ,he was so precious to me. Didnt think i’d get another. I am 74 yrs now. My niece had a stattfordshire terrier that was a rescue. I brought him home w me at xmas. Hes about 5. Hes is loving and gentle and precious and I am learning a lotta new things, but I will always miss my magnificent Catahoula💜🧡

    • indulgeyourpet February 15, 2020, 6:15 pm


      Thanks for sharing your story. Our favorite part was when you shared the part that you’ve taken on another rescue. Owners like you should never go without.



  • Misty A. April 14, 2020, 3:37 pm

    I had 8 puppys and the mom pitbull they are amazing i would. Like to get them registered i have black and white and light brown spots and white pretty amazing but rambon

    • indulgeyourpet April 14, 2020, 6:43 pm


      They sound amazing!



  • Mary August 25, 2020, 10:09 am

    Have two Catahoula’s! One is all Catahoula and she weighs about 55 pounds. Love, love, love her!!!! The second is a Catahoula mix. She is about 35 pounds. The first one is going on ten. And the second is 16 months! Love this breed!! Great to take on walks yet intimidating to strangers. We are never bothered on our walks. They are definitely my best friends and protectors! ❤️❤️❤️🐶🐶

    • Melissa February 28, 2020, 2:50 pm

      Totally agree…I have 3 siblings of five from a rescue mom, who was vizsla and ridgeback and dad we have learned was the catahoula. Talk about energy, always want to be busy and want to be involve and with you for everything you do…Everything, but they are adorable and love their people so much that there isnt anything they wont do for you(except stop chewing😁) Really sweet babies!!

    • indulgeyourpet August 25, 2020, 11:38 am


      Thanks for sharing your own personal experience, it’s these “types” of testimonials that really help some folks decide on whether or not one particular breed is right for them.

      Thanks again,


    • Evan W April 18, 2021, 4:51 am

      We just got our DNA testing back about a “sled dog” runt/stray we got when we lived in AK. Turns out he is a sled dog in that he is part Malamute and Catahoula. We expected a husky mix, because of his one blue eye but we found out it’s actually the Catahoula in him (which explains the “cracked” look we always thought was interesting). He just turned 9 and he is an awesome, healthy dog that did great with our kids and other dogs, because did socialize him. When we found out he was part Catahoula we were also surprised to find out that they were a popular sled dog breed

  • Christina B. November 20, 2020, 6:55 am

    I have one hes 4 months old and I love him .could use all the information I can get

    • indulgeyourpet November 20, 2020, 9:22 am


      Congrats on you new puppy, we hope you found our article informative!



    • Jim August 15, 2022, 5:16 pm

      I have a pittie catahoula mix and she’s an extremely smart, living girl. She’s very athletic and has a wonderful personality. She’s great with kids and people alike. But if she gets loose….hoo-boy. it’s off to the races! She always comes back but when she’s good and ready!

  • Donald S. November 22, 2020, 10:43 am

    Last march my wife and I rescued a deaf catahoola from a rescue group in Louisiana. He was found as a stray and went through 2 years of abuse from a series of fosters. He was slated for euthanizing in two days before he was rescued and adopted by us in upstate New York. He was heart worm and lyme disease positive. Thanks to our veterinarian and Cornell university he is the picture of health and safe from abuse for the rest of his life. He lives happily with two other rescue dogs. He has learned basic sign language and is the sweetest spoiled baby boy ever. Please don’t let deafness or old age keep you from adopting them, they give you unconditional love. Bruno has his own Facebook page called bruno deaf dog please feel free to follow him and his adventures in life and hopefully you also adopt a dog like him, you will never regret it.

    • indulgeyourpet November 22, 2020, 1:10 pm


      These are the types of stories that we here at IndulgeYourPet love to hear!



  • Gen O. February 1, 2021, 4:53 pm

    Wow this explains a lot as to why my boy isn’t great with some people. We got him at 6 months and we think his last owners abused him poor guy. But he definitely fits all of these characteristics!

  • Evan W April 18, 2021, 4:55 am

    We just got our DNA testing back about a “sled dog” runt/stray we got when we lived in AK. Turns out he is a sled dog in that he is 50% Malamute and 50% Catahoula. We expected a husky mix, because of his one blue eye but we found out it’s actually the Catahoula in him (which explains the “cracked” look we always thought was interesting; also found out that Malamutes only really have brown eyes). He just turned 9 and he is an awesome, healthy dog that did great with our kids and other dogs because we did socialize him. When we found out he was part Catahoula we were also surprised to find out that they had become a popular sled dog breed in Canada over the years. Which makes sense and explains why a pure bred one would be in Bethel, AK making puppies with pure bred Malamutes. He’s quite the athlete, and when it snows he turns into a bit of a machine that even our husky mix has trouble keeping up with, which we assume comes from the incredible stamina/working background of both his breeds. It’s pretty cool to learn about this breed this many years into it but it definitely explains a lot of his characteristics that we would be happy to have in the house for years to come.

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