If you're looking for a bright dog with lots of get-up-and-go, you're in luck. The Leopard Catahoula, an American breed named after a Louisiana parish, is loyal, animated and intelligent. Catahoula puppies train easily, but they need consistency, exercise and early socialization to temper their strong working instincts.
No one knows the exact origins of the Catahoula, but their ancestors might have lived with Native American tribes at one time. Although it is a distinct breed now, the Catahoula came from a mix of other breeds, mostly likely greyhound, Beauceron, molosser and perhaps a touch of Red Wolf. Sometimes called the "leopard dog," the Catahoula's coat comes in mottled shades of reddish-brown, gray, black and white. Telltale contrasting spots resemble those of a leopard, although not all Catahoula's bear these spots.
Temperament and Tendencies
Not long after Catahoula puppies learn to walk, they start running and they rarely slow down. This breed needs a lot of physical exercise to match its energy levels. Don't be surprised to find your Catahoula puppy stalking the family cat; his ancestors were bred to hunt and herd cattle. Despite his natural tendencies, your puppy is highly trainable and he can form close bonds with other animals.
Training and Socializing
Training should begin early with Catahoulas – before they can develop antisocial attitudes. At eight weeks, it's not too soon to enroll your little guy in puppy kindergarten, where he's likely to be the star of the class. Consistency and structure are the keys to successful Catahoula training. This breed is quick to housebreak and easily can compete in agility competitions, where they out-perform many other breeds. Because Catahoulas have strong protective instincts, it's essential that your puppy encounter lots of humans and other animals when young to prevent aggression triggered by wanting to protect you.
Physical and Mental Exercise
You just found the perfect jogging buddy. By the time your puppy is 6 months old, he needs a minimum of two hours of strenuous physical exercise a day to keep him happy and mentally healthy. He'll run with you or beside your bicycle, and you'll tire of playing fetch long before he does. Your puppy's sharp mind needs mental stimulation as well. Work on a new command or trick at least 15 minutes a day and rotate his toys on a weekly basis to keep him from getting bored.
Healthy for Life
Because hip dysplasia is a concern in this breed, switch your puppy from puppy food to adult dog food around 4 months of age (always consult with a qualified veterinarian about the health and welfare of your pet). Puppy food typically contains a higher percentage of protein, which can cause your puppy's bones to grow too quickly and put him at risk of joint problems when he's older. Otherwise, Catahoulas tend to be a healthy breed with only a slight predisposition for developing hearing or vision problems.
By Glenda Taylor
About the Author
Glenda Taylor is a contractor and a full-time writer specializing in construction writing. She also enjoys writing business and finance, food and drink and pet-related articles. Her education includes marketing and a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.