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The Catahoula Leopard Dog
April 1, 2021

April 8th is National Catahoula Day! The Catahoula is the Louisiana state dog, and is a beloved member of the AKC herding category. These guys definitely deserve a round of ‘applaws’! A veterinarian discusses these wonderful pups below.

H  istory

The Catahoula originated in Louisiana, near the Catahoula Lake area. The word ‘Catahoula’ is actually a Choctaw Indian word, which means ‘sacred lake.’ Although nobody is sure, Fido may be the result of interbreeding between local pups and the pooches French and Spanish explorers brought over to the area. Either way, we do know that the Catahoula’s first job was tracking and herding wild hogs. (This earned him the nickname ‘Hog Dog.’) By the 1800’s, breeders had started to really focus their efforts on developing a pooch that was a great work dog, guardian, and hunter, but was also good with children. Mission accomplished!


Catahoulas are extremely loving and loyal. These guys can make absolutely wonderful family pets. They can get along pretty well with cats, though it’s always going to be best if Fido grows up with Fluffy. However, they do have a strong prey drive, and don’t always play nice with other pups. The Catahoula can also be a bit reactive, especially when youngsters are being loud or rough. We recommend erring on the side of caution here. Carefully supervise all interactions between Fido and his tiny humans, and don’t let your canine buddy run around off-leash.


Catahoula’s are very active, and need plenty of playtime and exercise. Fido can get a little destructive if he feels restless or bored. Daily walks and play sessions are definitely a must!


Like any other pup, Catahoulas need regular veterinary care to thrive. They are usually healthy, but, as is common with all purebreds, they can be prone to a few specific problems. Deafness is not unusual in Catahoulas, and is often seen in older ones. Hip dysplasia is another common malady. Ask your vet for specific advice.


The Catahoula is very faithful and intelligent. However, Fido must be taught how to be a ‘good boy.’ Training should start when you bring your new puppy home. Be firm and consistent, and focus on positive reinforcement.


Catahoulas come in many different colors and patterns. They are pretty low maintenance on grooming. Your furry friend will only need to be brushed about once a week, and bathed a few times a year. As with any other dog, you’ll need to keep your pup’s ears clean, and keep up with his dental care and nail trims.

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