The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog & Its Habits

The Louisiana catahoula leopard is descended from the red wolf -- from this very one. Naaaah. Images

Formerly known as the catahoula cur, the Louisiana catahoula leopard dog gained his more distinguished name when he became state dog in 1979. His coat resembles that of a leopard. He’s a strong, multipurpose working dog who adapts well to family life. As a worker, he does have a number of habits to be aware of if you’re considering getting one as a pet.


The Louisiana catahoula leopard dog is naturally protective. But unlike typical guardian breeds engineered only to protect, he has other strings to his bow. Instead of flipping straight into a defense mode, your catahoula will alert you first if he suspects a problem. He’s sharp, alert and intelligent. An intruder will have to be at his stealthiest to sneak past a catahoula dog without being noticed.

Chasing, Tracking, Scenting and Baying

The catahoula is an “all-American” breed, created in the Gulf states using native wild dogs and newly arrived European imports that worked with livestock and hunted game. The catahoula still possesses keen hunting instincts, including scenting, trailing and baying. Owners should carefully monitor their dogs when they're in the presence of small animals, as his instinct to chase these critters will still be strong.

Assertiveness and Dominance

A confident and intelligent breed like the catahoula leopard dog can be a handful, especially for an inexperienced owner. You’ll need to be consistent, firm and assured in your training and leadership, otherwise the dog will wind up owning you. While your pet is the ideal protection dog, if not kept in check his habits for ruling the roost can morph into unwanted assertiveness and dominance, making him disobedient and hard to train. Your catahoula puppy needs regular structured obedience training.

Aloofness With Strangers

While loyal and affectionate with family, the catahoula is naturally wary of newcomers. It may take a while for him to warm to a new person; until he’s sure they pose no threat to his jealously protected family, he’ll be aloof. This is a natural habit born of his protective nature.


When working, the catahoula is focused on the task at hand. This can be taken for a mean spirit if the work involves hunting, as the catahoula will want nothing more than to capture his quarry. He’ll devote the same focus to training and any activity that speaks to his natural working instincts, such as chasing or fetching, so it’s probable that he’ll develop a habit of being “all business” during training. When relaxing and usually at play, he’ll be the opposite.