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The Catahoula Leopard Dog

April 15, 2021

Did you know that the Catahoula is the Louisiana state dog? This cute pup is a much-beloved member of the AKC herding category. A veterinarian discusses the Catahoula Leopard dog below.


The Catahoula breed originated in Louisiana; around the Catahoula Lake area, to be specific. In fact, the word ‘Catahoula’ means ‘Sacred Lake’ in the Choctaw language. Fido may be the result of interbreeding between local pups and the dogs French and/or Spanish explorers brought to the area. Although that is unclear, we do know the Catahoula’s first job was tracking and herding wild hogs. (This earned them the nickname ‘Hog Dogs.’) In the 1800’s, breeders really focused their efforts on developing a pooch that was a great work dog, hunter, and guardian, but was also great with kids. Mission accomplished!


Catahoulas are very loving and loyal watchdogs, and can make absolutely wonderful family pets. They are protective, but they’re also big fans of ear scritches and belly rubs. However, these pups do have a strong prey drive, and don’t always play nice with other pooches. As far as cats go, Fido can get along well with cats, though it’s best if they grow up together. They can also be a bit reactive, especially when youngsters are being loud or rough. We recommend erring on the side of caution here: supervise all interactions between your pup and young children, and don’t let him run around off-leash.


Like any other pup, Catahoulas need regular veterinary care. They’re usually healthy, but, as is common with purebred dogs, they can be prone to some specific problems. Deafness and hip dysplasia are both common issues with this breed, especially as they age. Ask your veterinarian for specific advice.


The Catahoula is extremely smart and loyal, but he must be taught how to be a ‘good boy.’ Training should start as soon as you bring little Fido home. Be firm and consistent, and focus on positive reinforcement. Make training fun and rewarding! 


Catahoulas come in many different colors and patterns. They’re pretty low maintenance as far as grooming goes. Fido will only need to be brushed about once a week, and bathed a few times a year. As with any other pooch, you’ll need to keep your pet’s ears clean, and keep up with his nail trims and dental care.

Do you have questions about Catahoulas? Contact us, your local veterinary clinic!