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Catahoula Leopard Dogs

Updated on October 8, 2017

Rilee my Catahoula Leopard mix puppy has become very popular lately. With her unique coloring and abilities I'm constantly being asked what kind of dog she is. Today I thought I would share a little bit about Rilee and the breed Catahoula Leopard dog.

Catahoula Leopard dogs originated in North Central Louisiana around the area of Catahoula Lake from which it gets its name.

The word Catahoula is a Choctaw Indian word meaning sacred lake. It is believed that the first settlers to Louisiana brought these dogs over with them, due to the difficulty in proving the idea that natives had Catahoulas upon first arrival. However, the idea of natives having Catahoulas is widely accepted as legend. It is believed that the Catahoula is a probable cross breed between Native American Indian dogs and either the Mastiffs, Greyhounds, and or bloodhounds brought over by the first settlers.

Rilee at 10 weeks
Rilee at 10 weeks

Coat

Catahoulas have a single, short, dense, coat in a variety of colors. Their coat gives them the mobility and flexibility of their athletic lifestyles. The coat is low maintenance due to the one layer and shortness of their fur.

Color

Catahoulas come in a variety of color patterns the most common being gray with blue or black markings. Other color varieties include: brindle, chocolate, red, red merle, white merle, yellow, and yellow merle. Another feature of Catahoulas are the tan and white markings. Not all Catahoulas will have these markings but many will have one or the other.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Catahoula eye colorDifferent color options for CatahoulaCatahoula puppyWorking Catahoula
Catahoula eye color
Catahoula eye color | Source
Different color options for Catahoula
Different color options for Catahoula | Source
Catahoula puppy
Catahoula puppy | Source
Working Catahoula
Working Catahoula | Source

Characteristics

Catahoulas were first bred to herd cattle and hogs in Louisiana. They have been bred by working-oriented breeders since their instincts to work wild hogs and cattle became evident.

The ability to herd wild animals is an instinct and cannot be taught. A single crossbreeding could lose the ability altogether. Regardless of size, color, or color of eyes the working instinct is the true test of purity in the Catahoula.

Catahoulas are an extremely smart and energetic breed. They require exercise, work, and play time daily. With nothing to do they will eat your house! (My parents learned that one the hard way). They are assertive but not aggressive by nature. They will thrive in a home where the human is the alpha male and can keep the dog in their place.

Catahoulas make great family pets as they will take care of and look after the children as well as be a great guard dog for the house. However, they are not the best choice for every family. Catahoula's need a lot of attention and require a home where they will be able to use their skills.

Rilee has great hearing and instinct and she will alert you when someone is coming up the drive before they even hit the walkway. She will bark at anyone entering the house until she knows who it is. She plays great with children and the two cats my parents have and never too rough.

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Rilee at 5 monthsWaiting for family to get home.
Rilee at 5 months
Rilee at 5 months
Waiting for family to get home.
Waiting for family to get home.

Hunting

Catahoula is a common working dog of the region and is seen mostly on farms and ranches across the United States. Catahoulas are extremely talented trackers and hunters. They can hunt anything from small to large game, and will track quietly until prey is only feet away.

Herding

Catahoulas are commonly known for their herding of cattle and pigs by intimidation of herd animals. They will maintain a canine fence when working with other Catahoulas to help with herding if needed.

Rilee has never been in a place where she could herd animals, but one day on a walk we passed a sheep farm and she was able to herd the sheep through the other side of the fence. It was as if she knew herding was what she was suppose to do, and so she took it upon herself to herd the sheep to the other side of the pasture until we completely passed the farm.

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Showing her stalking skills
Showing her stalking skills
Showing her stalking skills

Although Catahoulas are not widely known around my area they are quite popular around the United States. Living on ranches and farms where they herd cattle and guard the homes of their masters.

Rilee is only nine months and has the Catahoula instincts of hunting and herding. She may be a mix breed with those rich Chocolate Lab brown eyes, however she is a Catahoula at heart. Her ability to smell and hear is uncanny at times, but I know that my family and I will be safe with her around. She is protective and territorial yet gentle. The perfect family pet.

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    • Shesabutterfly profile image
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      Cholee Clay 4 years ago from Wisconsin

      Mark--I don't know much about Australian cattle dogs, however we did adopt her and I'm not sure she really knew what kind of dog Rilee was. She didn't always have upright ears, but around 5 months they popped up:) Thanks for the comment!

    • profile image

      Mark 4 years ago

      In the picture "rilee at 5 months", I think she looks more like an australian cattle dog than a catahoula. Those upright ears, and she looks more ticked or brindled than merle. Either way, she's a gorgeous pup!

    • Shesabutterfly profile image
      Author

      Cholee Clay 4 years ago from Wisconsin

      Shannon--Petfinder.com has a breed finder that has catahoula leopard mixes available where they will tell you what state the dogs are located as well as age and sex. Most are mixed breeds with either labs or shepherds. Hope this helps!

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      shannon 4 years ago

      Where can you find a chocolate lab catahoula mix at ?

    • Shesabutterfly profile image
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      Cholee Clay 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      If you have another dog at home who is potty trained that dog could help train your puppy. If not, consistency and patience is key.

      Watch for signs that your puppy is ready to go potty. Every dog shows these signs. For example my puppy's tail curls in a weird way when she has to go, which lets me know I have to take her out.

      When you take her out to potty, don't play with her until she has finally gone potty. Stand off to the side and wait for her to do her business.

      Create certain times for your puppy to eat and then take her out 10 minutes or so after she eats. All puppies have to go out after they eat, and they don't need a full bowl of food available all day.

      Take your puppy to a designated potty corner in the yard and let her know that this is where she goes potty. Praise her and give her treats when she does what you want her to.

      Hope these few tips help you and Gypsie. Potty training can be one of the hardest things to teach a puppy. I'm sure she will get the hang of it soon.

    • Jennifer Walker profile image

      Jennifer Walker 5 years ago

      Please help. My puppy gypsie is a 10-12 wi old black lab and catahoula mix. I am having the HARDEST time spotty training her. Any pointers

    • Shesabutterfly profile image
      Author

      Cholee Clay 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      Hope you enjoy your new puppy Robyn! They are truly a great mixed breed. I absolutely love mine. She is extremely smart and highly energetic, loved by everyone. The perfect family pet:)

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      Robyn 5 years ago

      I am getting a chocolate lab catahoula mix this week-end! Great to read about them!

    • Shesabutterfly profile image
      Author

      Cholee Clay 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      Thanks Eddy. They are a very unique and intelligent breed. I'm very happy with the adoption of mine:)

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      I have never heard of this breed before but thanks to you I do now.

      A great read and enjoy the rest of your day.

      Eddy.