Catahoula Leopard Dog Breed: What You Need to Know

Catahoula Leopard Dog

The Catahoula Leopard dog might just be the dog for you and your family. With a  loving sense of family, an affectionate nature with those it knows well and a very strong sense of protectiveness for those that it loves, this breed is one that certainly does spend a great deal of time making its family happy. With any dog, it’s always best to learn as much as possible before making the commitment to bring it home; all breeds are different and the Catahoula Leopard Dog is no exception. Though beautiful and highly intelligent, this is a dog that really does well in a home with the right family. However, you might not be the right family for the Catahoula Leopard dog. You won’t know this until you get to know the breed a bit better, so we have a comprehensive overview of what you can expect from this lovely dog before you bring it into your home. We’d rather you know ahead of time that the Catahoula Leopard dog is the right breed for you rather than finding out too late (because what if it is not the breed for you?).

Personality and Temperament

The Catahoula Leopard dog is not a fan of strangers (who is?) and it’s very reserved with anyone it does not know. This is why it is so exceptionally important to begin socializing this dog as soon as you bring it home. The more socializing you do with your Catahoula Leopard dog, the friendlier and more welcoming it will be when you have guests in your home or bring in family and friends from somewhere else. When it’s with the people it loves most, though, this is a very protective, very loving and very loyal breed. Don’t expect your Catahoula Leopard dog to spend much time cuddling you, though. This is an independent breed with its own mind and its own thoughts. It is highly intelligent, and it must have a job.

The Catahoula Leopard dog is not for a novice owner, either. This breed requires a strong pack leader who will not allow the dog to feel as if he or she is in control. This could lead to destructive behavior that can cause havoc in your home. It’s best that this breed is kept with a firm hand and a gentle spirit of leadership. This is a slow maturing breed, too, so don’t expect your Catahoula Leopard dog to mature until it around 2-years-old, and even then it might take a bit longer.

Lifestyle and Expectation

The most important thing you will learn about the Catahoula Leopard dog is what to expect once you get it home. You most certainly need to know how to care for this dog, what it needs, how it thrives and how you can guarantee that this dog will not work well for your family. It’s just basic knowledge, and it’s information that any potential owner must know before bringing any dog into their home for any reason.

The Catahoula Leopard dog is not a huge dog, but it is sizable. It stands around 26 inches tall and weighs around 80 pounds. Males are typically a bit larger than females, and they are just sweet dogs as a whole. This breed is one that will be around for a long time, as the average lifespan of a Catahoula Leopard dog is around 13 years. However, there are some health issues to be concerned of when you do decide that this is the breed for you. The Catahoula Leopard dog is prone to experiencing hip dysplasia as well as deafness. Sometimes the eyes on this breed are troublesome, either not opening completely or simply causing tunnel vision. Fortunately, there are no real breed-specific diseases to worry about, though some are known to develop cancer as they age.

If you live in an apartment, this might not be the breed for you. It’s been said that some Catahoula Leopard dogs do all right in an apartment setting, but others do not so it is not typically recommended to bring one into a smaller home or apartment. This is a breed that loves to run and have fun, so a yard and a larger home is usually the best option in terms of care for this gorgeous breed. Additionally, this is a breed that really does require ample attention. These are known to become very aggressive, angry dogs when they are chained up and kept away from humans, so please do not resort to this type of containment when dealing with the Catahoula Leopard dog. Instead, let this dog run and play and have a good time at home. It’s what he needs and it’s what he wants in his life.

Lovers of hunting, any dog that doesn’t get to spend his days in the woods hunting animals needs to be taken on a long daily walk; the Catahoula Leopard dog likes his exercise, so don’t hold back when providing that for him. He loves to play, but humans need to understand that they are dogs that are quick and enthusiastic, and completely unaware of their own strength. This means he might come running at you to attack you with love and affection, not realizing that perhaps a child will fall down and become injured thanks to his enthusiasm.

Fortunately, this is a breed with a short coat so it’s not one that requires much in the grooming department. Your Catahoula Leopard dog is fine with a weekly brushing and a bath when required.

Breed History

The breed is one that is thought to have derived from a Nordic Wolfhound somewhere three to five hundred years before the Spanish arrived, and it’s a dog that is very native to Louisiana. It’s actually the state dog of Louisiana, but not much is really known about its long history other than the fact that it has been depicted throughout history as being around for a long time. It’s believed that the Catahoula Leopard dog was once a breed that spent its time rounding up loose cattle, pigs and other animals, and that makes sense since this is a hunting animal that does like to do anything that is work related.

Photo by Getty Images


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