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Catahoula leopard dog standing in a green yard

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Foundation Stock Service group (American Kennel Club), Herding Dog group (United Kennel Club)
  • Height — 22-24 inches
  • Weight — 50-95 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Smooth and short
  • Coat color — Catahoulas come in a variety of different colors including black, blue, blue merle, brindle, chocolate, red, red merle, white merle, yellow, and yellow merle, with or without tan markings and white trim.
  • Exercise needs — Very high
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Rarely, only to alert
  • Life span — 10-14 years
  • Temperament — Independent, affectionate, protective, loyal, and gentle
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Origin — Louisiana, U.S.A.

Catahoula leopard dog fun facts

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Catahoula Leopard Dogs Blue; Duke is the 2nd most popular male name. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Catahoula Leopard Dogs love Luna, then Bella.

  • The Catahoula’s eyes come in beautiful colors like green, blue, amber, and brown. It’s not uncommon for them to have two different eye colors, commonly referred to as “cracked” eyes.
  • Some Catahoulas start working as early as 10 months old. However, they aren’t considered full adults until 2 years old, so make sure you keep exercise and training fun to help your Catahoula thrive.
  • Catahoula leopard dogs are considered a rare breed. It isn’t easy to find them outside of the Southern United States, and it is exceedingly difficult outside of the US.
Catahoula leopard dog in the snow

Catahoula leopard dog temperament and characteristics 

These dogs originally bred for hunting can be fun and goofy if they are socialized as puppies. Most Catahoulas have a very strong protective watchdog nature that makes it a little difficult sometimes to introduce them to strangers. They are high-energy and need lots of attention and time in the backyard playing frisbee or other dog sports.

Because of their large size and energy, it’s not recommended for young or small children to play with Catahoula dogs without adult supervision. They are great with a family with older children that spend a lot of time outdoors with them either hiking, swimming, or working on a farm. Catahoulas love to work and hunt with their owners.


The Catahoula leopard dog is a medium to large-sized working dog with a muscular body and long legs. They typically have short, smooth coats in various shades. According to the UKC breed standard, the leopard pattern has a base color contrasting spots of one or more colors. Solids have a single coat color. Brindles may have a light or dark base coat color with contrasting stripes. Deep colors are preferable to lighter colors. We teamed up with FidoTabby Alert, and according to their database, a common coat color for the Catahoula leopard dog is (52%) black. 

Common Catahoula leopard dog health problems

Catahoulas are generally a very healthy breed. Although some develop hip dysplasia, deafness, or eye problems as they age, this is the minority with the breed. Most Catahoula breeders make sure they have a healthy line, so you can ask them for any specific problems that might arise.

  • Hip dysplasia. This inherited condition causes the ball of the femur to not sit properly in the hip socket. Without treatment, this condition could cause arthritis which eventually could lead to difficulty walking.
  • Deafness. Because of the complex relationship between coat colors (white and merle) and deafness, some Catahoulas are born deaf or can develop hearing loss through their life.
  • Eye problems. Catahoula dogs have a small chance of being born blind or becoming blind. They also can develop cataracts because of the light color of their eyes.

Cost of caring for a Catahoula leopard dog

Because of their healthy genes, Catahoulas don’t typically run the risk of major health issues. However, like most dogs, their risk for age related diseases such as obesity and arthritis increases as they age. Some Catahoulas might develop hip dysplasia which is correct with surgery that can range from $1,500 – $7,000 depending on your location and age of the dog.

It’s always a good idea to look into pet health insurance to help lower any out-of-pocket costs during routine visits and to prepare should the unthinkable happen, like a broken bone or an unforeseen condition. Make sure to sign your pup up early to get the most out of your pet insurance benefits. If you prefer not to use insurance, you could also look into starting a pet savings account before getting your dog. You can add a certain amount each month to help cover any unexpected or larger out-of-pocket costs.

Catahoula leopard dog puppy running in sand

History of the Catahoula leopard dog

Like many working breeds, the exact origins of the Catahoula are somewhat unknown. Most researchers attribute the start of the breed in the mid 1500s when the Spanish explorers and conquistador Hernando de Soto arrived with his war dogs, mainly ancestors of modern-day greyhounds and mastiffs, and encountered local Native Americans and their domestic dogs. De Soto’s dogs were then crossbred with the Native American dogs of the Catahoula Lake region in present day Louisiana.

The breed went through another large shift closer to the 1800s when the French settlers introduced the Beauceron into the mix. This addition is where we start to really see the breed that we now know today.

The settlers used Catahoulas very similarly to the way we still use them – hunting and herding. They were and still are one of the most popular and sought-after working dogs of the South. Catahoulas have a unique way of herding that sets them apart from other dogs. They are used in a group as a “canine fence” that surrounds and moves the flock they are working with.

According to family stories, this method was developed from Catahoulas’ natural instinct to work together. Many breeders say this instinct is essential to have a “pure” Catahoula. They were named the state dog of Louisiana in 1979 and now are known by the full name of Louisiana Catahoula leopard dog.

Caring for your Catahoula leopard dog

Caring for a new puppy can be overwhelming for anyone.

You’ll need to make your first trip to the vet and schedule your dog’s vaccinations soon after bringing them home. It’s very important for this intelligent breed to puppy-proof your home and prepare for teething.

As you pick out their first collar, keep in mind that FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared just in case. Here are some other basics specific to Catahoula leopard cur.


Catahoulas require a lot of both physical and mental stimulation to thrive. Some of the best ways to exercise a Catahoula dog is through dog sports like agility or games such as frisbee or fetch. Without enough exercise, they can become bored or destructive and try to test their boundaries.

This breed needs a few hours each day to run and jump around to burn off the energy they have. One thing to keep in mind when playing with Catahoulas is their size. They love to jump and bump when playing and could hurt smaller animals or people if they jump on them.

Catahoula leopard dog running across a lawn


Catahoula leopard dogs have a short, smooth, single coat and they don’t shed a lot. This is good news for potential owners. There aren’t any special grooming needs that they need to do or keep in mind with their leopard dogs. Weekly brushings are recommended to help get the dead fur out of their coat to keep it soft. Most Catahoulas can get by with using wipes unless they have gotten really dirty playing outside.

Like all dogs, they still need to have other needs, such as

Diet and nutrition

Because of the Catahoula’s general healthiness, they don’t have very strict dietary needs. One important thing to keep in mind when feeding them is the timing, however. Catahoulas are large dogs which cause them to be more susceptible to bloat. To decrease the risk of bloat, make sure not to feed or water your Catahoula for at least an hour after intense exercise or training.

Catahoulas should be fed between 3 and 5 cups a day split, ideally between two meals. As with people, dogs have different lifestyles and metabolisms, so you should always check with your vet before making any changes to their diets. Most vets will help determine how much and what kind of food you need to feed your dog.

Training your Catahoula leopard dog

Training your Catahoula is essential for a relaxed home and a happy, healthy dog. Because of their high energy and intelligence, Catahoulas have a tendency to get bored easily. This boredom quickly leads down the path to destruction and bad behaviors. One of the best ways to prevent this is by giving your Catahoula a job.

Giving your Catahoula a job will reinforce their place in the family as well as give you a structured path for training. This job doesn’t have to be herding cattle like they were originally bred. You can get creative with it and train your Catahoula to have a dinner ritual, like grabbing a certain toy to play with. There are also plenty of dog sports and training games which you can practice at home to keep your Catahoula engaged. Daily training is essential to keep good socialization habits through adulthood.

Catahoula leopard dog standing on wet pavement

Breeds similar to the Catahoula leopard dog

Not quite sure that a Catahoula leopard dog is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Mountain cur. This breed has a lot of the same personality and intelligence just in a smaller package.
  • German shorthaired pointer. GSPs are a great breed to check out if you like the size and energy, but want one that’s a little more child friendly.
  • Bluetick coonhound. Blueticks are another historical hunting breed that has the same affectionate behavior as Catahoulas with a little lower energy needs.

Frequently asked questions

What breeds make a Catahoula?

Catahoulas generally attribute their ancestry to the Native American dog, the Spanish war dogs (greyhounds, mastiffs, bloodhounds), and the French Beauceron.

Are Catahoulas good family dogs?

Catahoulas can be great family dogs with early and continued socialization and training. They also do better with larger children because of their high energy levels.

Are Catahoulas considered aggressive dogs?

This breed is not aggressive to its family, however and can be stand-offish towards strangers due to its watchdog personality.

Is the Catahoula leopard dog considered rare?

Catahoulas are considered rare outside of the Southern USA, especially outside of the USA.