What is a Catahoula?

What is a Catahoula?


The National Association of Louisiana Catahoulas, Inc. is a non-profit organization. It began in 1977 to insure the continuing line of certified pure-bred Louisiana Catahoulas, through a supervised program of breeding and registration. The act of preservation for a unique part of Louisiana heritage, recognizes the Louisiana Catahoula as the only breed of dog which historically originated in the state of Louisiana. On July 9, 1979, Gov. Edwin Edwards signed a bill into law which passed by the Louisiana legislature, making NALC the propagator of the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog, the official state dog of Louisiana.


The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog evolved in the swamps of central Louisiana, around the Catahoula lakes. Legend says their ancestors were the results of the Indian dogs, or red wolf found in the area at that time, mating with the surviving "war dogs" or mastiff used by the Spaniards in battle and then left behind, either wounded or captured by the Indians. The first white settlers to the Catahoula Lake area found this strange breed of dog with mottled spots and white eyes, and called them CATAHOULA meaning "beautiful clear water". The dogs were used for deer, bobcat, and wild hogs. The settlers learned to appreciate the dogs technique in trailing by wind, baying & herding and soon they had the dogs working cattle.


The Louisiana Catahoula is a medium to tall "rangy" dog, with broad chest, strong legs and a wide head. It has slick shorthair, and the average adult size ranges between 20-26 inches at the withers, and has an average weight between 50-85 lbs. Most Louisiana Catahoulas are spotted up, with 2 to 5 different colors in their coat, having a base color of black, blue, brown, liver or white, with contrasting spots of any, or all, of these colors. A few may be almost solid but have a white spot on the chest or trim on the legs and face. There are 2 types of ears: crinkled and laid-back or folded over like the hound but much shorter. The webbed toes of these dogs help them walk easily in swampland as well as over snow, and make them excellent swimmers. The Louisiana Catahoula keeps growing and maturing until around 2 years old, but they work like an adult at 8 or 9 months. Females come in heat between 8 1/2 months to 1 year. Studs should not be used until they are 12 to 14 months old. The females make good brood dogs when bred after 12 months or older. They wean their puppies early, at about 4 weeks.


A characteristic of the breed are the unusual eyes, which can be brown, green, light blue "glass eyes", or one colored eye with glass eye: or eyes with "glass cracks", spots of white in one or both eyes. The most striking and preferred eye color is the unique "double glass eyes".


This versatile dog can be trained for almost any purpose. Performance in obedience training, as well as the ability to master & perform tricks , amaze and amuse owners. Basically, the dog wants to please it's master, and this, together with their natural instincts, make training a matter of getting the pup's attention, then teaching them basic obedience. They develop their own style of working and strive to help and defend their master. They work on both sight & sound signals and are excellent obedience and field trial dogs. A kind word and a pat on the head will be reward enough for the Catahoula to try his best for his Master.


This dog is second to none as a Head dog, stockdog, having the guts and inbred desire to work wild cows or hogs, but still working well with gentle stock. Lead dogs bark to aggravate the cows from the front; herd or drive dogs circle, give voice and keep the cows bunched: or there is a combination dog that works all positions. The Catahoula can out work and out last any other breed. It is strong, active, and has natural instincts and a working style all its own. A Catahoula is affectionate, intelligent, and faithful. It makes a wonderful pet or guard dog, stock dog, hunting dog or show dog. They are fearless in nature and can be fighters yet gentle with their family. They are a multipurpose dog, good at home, but best on the farm.


Used as hog dogs they work well in swampy areas. They wind, bark, tease, snap and run. It is best to work them in pairs or threes to bring hogs to bay. As cow dogs they circle and bay until the herd calms and bunches. They work away from the owner, straight into the pen. Coon hunters like the Catahoula's keen eyesight for their night hunts. Squirrel hunters rely on the sharp eyesight, keen sense of hearing and winding(smell). They are good deer hunters as they are short range dogs, but remember they are silent trailers.

The Louisiana Catahoula

A big boned, glass eyed, white trimmed, blue leopard is known as the "Cadillac" of the Catahoulas. Many owners go squirrel or hog hunting in the morning, pen a few cows that afternoon, and have a good coon hunt that night...all with the same pair of Catahoulas.


The Louisiana Catahoula is a working breed. It needs a "job". Not everyone needs a Catahoula.

Information provided by the National Association of Louisiana Catahoulas, Inc.