Catahoula Leopard Dogs
Rilee my Catahoula Leopard/Chocolate Lab 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.