Catahoula Leopard Dog
The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog, also known as the Catahoula Cur and Catahoula Hog Dog, is named after Catahoula Parish, Louisiana. Of extant dog breeds, the Catahoula is thought to have been in North America the longest. more...
As a working dog, Catahoulas have been bred more for temperament and ability than for appearance. As a result, the physical characteristics of the Catahoula are somewhat varied. They typically range from 50 to 95 pounds in weight and have short to very short hair. They come in a variety of colors: blue, red and yellow, in both merles and solids. The archetype, however, is the blue merle. They are known for having haunting light blue "glass eyes", or half-blue, half-brown "cracked" eyes, although all-brown is also an acceptable eye color. Some Catahoulas have a short tail.
Catahoulas are highly intelligent, energetic and quick, yet are generally very loving and gentle with children. They are inquisitive and have an independent streak. However, the Catahoula temperament is NOT suited for everyone; these dogs tend to be very protective of their territory and family, and can also be aggressive towards other dogs, especially of the same sex. This, combined with their independent nature, their high energy levels, and physical strength, can make a Catahoula "too much dog" for inexperienced or meek owners, and can make it a liability in surburban neighborhoods. Ideally, a Catahoula should have proper obedience training, secure confinement on the owner's property, and an outlet for its energy.
One theory as to the breed's origins states that the Catahoula is thought to have descended from "war dogs" (Mastiffs and Greyhounds) brought to Louisiana by Hernando de Soto in the 16th century. Dogs left behind by the explorer's party were interbred by the local Indians with a semidomesticated Red Wolf. The "Red Wolf" theory, however, was mainly proposed on the incorrect assumption that the Native Americans were "too uncivilized" to have domesticated animals prior to the arrival of Europeans, leaving the Red Wolf as the only canid in the region with which the Spanish dogs could have mated, when in fact this is not true. The Native Americans had many different types of domesticated dogs, and it is more likely that one of the ancestors of the Catahoula was the village dogs of the Native tribes living in the Mississippi Delta area, of a type closely resembling a breed known as the "Carolina Dog" today.
In the 17th century, French settlers arrived in Louisiana. They brought with them the Beauceron and mixed it with the local Indian dogs.
The Catahoula is the working dog of the region. They are used for herding cattle and sheep, and for tracking and hunting feral pigs (as well as anything else huntable from squirrel to deer to bear...) In 1979, they were named the official state dog of Louisiana in recognition of their importance in the history of the region.
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