Catahoula Leopard Dog

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Catahoula Leopard Dog
02. Coahoma Arkansas Logan.jpg
Other namesLouisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog
Catahoula Cur
Catahoula hog dog
OriginUnited States
Traits
Height 22-26
Dogs 22–26 in (56–66 cm)
Bitches 20–24 in (51–61 cm)
Weight 40–95 lb (18–43 kg)
Dogs 45–110 lb (20–50 kg)
Bitches 40–90 lb (18–41 kg)
Coat Short to medium
Color Varied
Litter size 4-12
Life span 10-14 years
Kennel club standards
United Kennel Club standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is an American dog breed named after Catahoula Parish, Louisiana. It became the state dog of Louisiana in 1979. It is recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) under the name Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog, while the American Kennel Club (AKC) Foundation Stock Service calls it Catahoula Leopard Dog. Both registries have assigned the breed a herding group designation, although it has traditionally been used in hunting feral boars.

History[edit]

Lineage[edit]

The Catahoula lineage is unknown. One theory suggests the breed originated in the mid-1700s when French settlers emigrated to what became Louisiana with Beauceron dogs. The settlers crossbred their dogs with well-adapted swamp hunting wolfdogs owned by Native Americans in an effort to develop a better working dog. In the 1800s, breeding intensified in an effort to develop a family dog that was well-suited to work, hunt, and guard yet good with children.[citation needed]

Breed recognition[edit]

On July 9, 1979, in recognition of the historic significance of the Catahoula cur to the State of Louisiana, Governor Edwin Edwards signed House Bill #75 officially naming the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog as the state dog.[1][2] On January 1, 1995, the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog was recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC).[3] In 1996, the AKC added the Catahoula Leopard Dog into their Foundation Stock Service (FFS).[2]

Work[edit]

The Catahoula was initially used for hunting. Native Americans tended to use the dog for hunting large game. European settlers used the dog for hunting and herding livestock. The first white settlers in Louisiana are believed to have used the dog to hunt feral pigs in the swamps of Louisiana.[4]

Appearance[edit]

Though physical characteristics are varied, Catahoulas are usually muscular dogs with a rectangular-shaped body. They tend to have a large head with drop ears and a strong, slightly tapered muzzle.[4] They tend to have a thick muscular neck and a long, curved tail. They come in many colors and have medium/short hair.[4]

Red merle leopard Catahoula with litter showing a wide variety of coat colors including double-merle[5]
A "blue leopard"-colored Catahoula Leopard dog

Catahoulas come in many different colors, including blue merle, red merle, brindle, and solid colors. Often, solid coat Catahoulas have small splashes of other colors such as white on their face, legs or chest. The leopard-like coat of most Catahoulas is the result of the merle gene. The merle gene does not normally affect the entire coat of the dog, but dilutes the color only in areas that randomly present the characteristic of the gene. Deeper colors are preferred; predominantly white coats are discouraged. Since Catahoula is a working dog, coat color is not a primary consideration.[3][6]

The Catahoula has a single smooth short or coarse medium coat.[7][3] The short looks almost painted.[citation needed] The medium can have extended "feathering" on the hind legs, tail, and chest.[citation needed]

The breed may have any eye color or combination of colors including blue, brown, green, or amber.[8]

Work[edit]

Catahoulas are used as bay dogs, tree dogs, and for hunting a variety of wild game, including small game such as raccoons and squirrels, as well as big game such as deer, mountain lions and bear.[9][better source needed] They are also used for scent trailing game, and as a search and rescue dog.[10][2][3]

Catahoulas have a natural herding instinct and a unique way of working a herd. AKC describes it as creating a “canine fence” around the herd which allows the dog's master to work the herd within that circle.[2] Herding ability and a natural working instinct are a top priority to Catahoula breeders, over and above a dog's appearance.[2][3] Herding instincts and trainability can be measured at noncompetitive herding tests. Catahoulas exhibiting basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in cow/hog dog trials.[11]

Health[edit]

Deafness is one of the major genetic faults common in Catahoulas and is associated with individuals that are excessively white in color and deafness attributed to a lack of melanocytes.[12] A Catahoula that is predominantly white has an 80% chance of being bi-laterally deaf or uni-laterally hearing.[citation needed] Hearing in one ear is referred to as "directional deafness". Breeders are often unwilling to allow deaf Catahoulas to leave their premises and will generally euthanize deaf pups. Puppies born from a litter where both parents have the merle color pattern have a 25% chance of turning out to be blind, deaf, or blind and deaf. These puppies are often referred to as "double merles". A double merle can come from any breed, or breed mix. As long as both parents are merle, each puppy has a chance of inheriting these traits. Double Merle Catahoula's only have a 25% chance of being deaf in one or both ears due to their heavy pigmentation. Deafness and blindness from double merle in Catahoula's are more rare than other dog breeds[13]

Lines[edit]

There were three lines of early foundation stock for the Catahoula breed:

  • The Wright line: The largest, at 90–110 lb (41–50 kg). Developed by Preston Wright. This line allegedly represented dogs originally produced from Hernando de Soto's dogs.[citation needed]
  • The Fairbanks line: Next-largest in size, at 65–75 lb (29–34 kg). Developed by Lovie Fairbanks. They were brindle to yellow in color.[citation needed]
  • The McMillin line: The smallest in size, at 50–60 lb (23–27 kg). Developed by T. A. McMillin of Sandy Lake, Louisiana. These were "blue" (grey) dogs with the glassy eye trait.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Laney, Ruth (August 24, 2015). "The Catahoula Connection". Country Roads Magazine.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Catahoula Leopard Dog Dog Breed Information". AKC.org. American Kennel Club.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Breed Standards : Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog". UKC.dogs.com. United Kennel Club.
  4. ^ a b c Mehus-Roe, K. (2005). The Original Dog Bible. Irvine, California: BowTie Press. pp. 206.
  5. ^ "Double-Merle". doggenetics.co.uk. Retrieved October 9, 2021.
  6. ^ "Coat Colors". nalc-inc.org. National Association of Louisiana Catahoulas. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  7. ^ "Breed Standard". nalc-inc.org. National Association of Louisiana Catahoulas. Archived from the original on 2017-10-16. Retrieved 2017-10-15.
  8. ^ "Eye Color Examples". nalc-inc.org. National Association of Louisiana Catahoulas. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  9. ^ "The Best Hunting Dogs for Retrieving, Pointing, Flushing or Scent". Outdoor Life. 2019-10-30. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  10. ^ "Working dog Catahoula". EALC. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  11. ^ Hartnagle-Taylor, Jeanne Joy; Taylor, Ty (2010). Stockdog Savvy. Alpine Publications. ISBN 978-1-57779-106-5.
  12. ^ Young, Linda (May 18, 2010). "Catahoula Leopard Dogs Breed Information". 2Gals Farm. Archived from the original on January 14, 2012. Retrieved April 5, 2009.
  13. ^ Strain, G. N.D. Deafness and the Merle Gene. Louisiana State University.
  14. ^ a b c "History of the Catahoula". Cracker Catahoulas. Archived from the original on 2009-06-23. Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  15. ^ "Centenary College Unveils New Mascot". centenary.edu. Centenary College of Louisiana. December 7, 2007. Retrieved August 13, 2019.

External links[edit]

Media related to Catahoula Leopard Dog at Wikimedia Commons