Catahoula is one of the breeds that are not recognized by FCI.

The breed is registered by:

UKC (United Kennel Club)
SKC (States Kennel Club)
ARBA (American Rare Breed Association)
NALC (National Association of Louisiana Catahoula)
APRI (American Pet Registry, Inc.)
ACR (American Canine Registry)
DRA (Dog Registry of America, Inc.)
NAPR (North American Purebred Registry, Inc.)
AKC/FSS (American Kennel Club Foundation Stock Service® Program)

Size: females from 51 to 61 cm, males from 55 to 65 cm
Weight: 16 to 37 kg (weight should be aligned with the height of the dog)
Life span: 11 to 13 years

History of the breed

Njegova domovina so ZDA. Pasma je stara, saj sega v prazgodovino. Psa so uporabljali za lov na divjega merjasca ter drugo divjad, kot čuvaja živine in imetja. Izvor prvotne pasme ni natančno dokumentiran, po eni izmed teorij naj bi nastala iz različnih vrst molosov, hrtov in indijanskih domačih psov. Na področje Louisiane naj bi se ti psi razširili v 16. stoletju. Po drugi teoriji naj bi prvotni psi prispeli na to področje skupaj s francoskimi naseljenci in naj bi se kasneje križali z indijanskimi domačimi psi. Kasneje je izumrla, ponovno pa so jo oživili v začetku 21. stoletja. Dobro je prilagojen za bivanje na zahtevnem terenu (močvirje, gozdovi) ob različnih vremenskih razmerah (vlaga, mraz). V sedanjem času je lovski in družinski pes. Kljub temu, da pasma ni številčna, je priljubljena tudi v Avstraliji in na Novi Zelandiji.

Description of the breed

Louisiana Catahoula leopard dog is medium-sized, powerful, muscular and pursuant built dog. The specialty of this breed are eyes , looking like they are from glass. Eye color may be blue, blue and white, blue and green, ice blue, brown, green, gray or amber. Eyes may be the same or different colors. Typical for this breed is also that dogs have webbed toes, which helps them with walking in the swamp or with swimming. There can be over 14 pups in a litter. The coat texture may be different: medium length, dense, water-resistant and hard / short, smooth, adjacent, waterproof / medium long, woolly. Coat is well protected against moisture and different weather conditions. Hair color: blue, bright red, light blue, brindle, various shades of brown, cream, white, various shades of gray, black, silver, tri-color combinations. On the face, chest and legs specific white spots may be present. Care is unsophisticated and comprising brushing and bathing, if it is necessary. 

Character of breed

By the nature Catahoula leopard dog is very intelligent, easy to train, temperamental, hard-working, an excellent hunter and row markers, assertive, energetic, active, loyal, sociable, tough, persevering, strong, tireless, friendly, loving, brave, resistant, protective, good watchdog,  territorial, and needs  attention. Possible negatives: dominance, destructive behavior – conditional character, loneliness, lack of activity and improper upbringing. Unable to tolerate prolonged separation from family. To his owner and family members he is very attached. He loves children and feel obliged to protect them. Adult supervision is  recommended  because the dog is plays very lively and can inadvertently cause damage. It is suspicious to strangers and draws attention to their presence. with timely socialization he nicely accepts other animals, except  wild ones, which he recognises as prey. He reaches full maturity around the age of 2 years. The owner must be experienced, energetic, authoritative, consistent, friendly, patient, physically active (hunter, sportsman), using a positive stimulation and must have enough free time for socializing and other activities. Suitable living environment is inside a house, apartment or a well-insulated doghouse with an enclosed garden. It needs a lot of movement (hunting, hiking, jogging, games, training), socializing, and other physical and mental activities.

Health of breed

The breed is healthy, but there are some potential health problems, most of which are genetic conditions: deafness (especially by white dogs MM-double merle), hip dysplasia, eye problems.

Degenerative myelopathy (DM)

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a slowly progressive, neurodegenerative disease of the spinal cord. DM has been proven in most dog breeds so we can conclude that the disease has been present since the times when breeds were still forming. It is a late onset disease as the first signs are visible only at 8 years of age or even later. The first clinical signs include uncoordinated movement (ataxia) and tightness of the muscles of the hind limbs (spastic paresis). As early as a year after the onset of the first clinical signs, dogs usually become paraplegic, so many owners choose to euthanize a sick dog. If such a dog is not yet euthanized, the disease progresses to the point of paralysis of the forelimbs (tetraplegics), general muscle atrophy and swallowing disorders, which often leads to suffocation.

Research on different breeds has shown that the disease is inherited autosomal recessively, meaning that the offspring must receive a gene with a mutation from both parents to develop the disease. Based on the method of inheritance, the tested animals can be divided into three groups according to the presence of the mutation: • Negative animals (N / N) – no mutation present, normal genotype • Carriers (N / DM) – one of the alleles carries a mutation, the disease is not clinically pronounced • Positive (DM / DM) – both alleles carry a mutation, the disease is clinically pronounced

About coat color genetic

Merle gen (M locus)

Merle affects the pattern of the coat. Because of mutation, the cells are not able to express full pigment, what results on the coat as a bigger or smaller areas of full and diluted pigment. The most laic we can say, that merle is best seen at patchwork and leoprad dogs, where the areas of full and diluted pigment are most noticeable. Merle affects only pattern of the coat, and not colour of the coat or tan. Merle affects also on dog`s eye colour. Dogs who carried the merle gen, can have brown, blue, amber or green eyes. They also can have more colours in one eye (cracked eye).

Genotype is not the same as phenotype; just by the outlook of a dog we can`t be sure what his genotype is; if he carries a merle or not.

We know 7 different alleles at M locus:

Mh = Harlequin Merle, length between 269-280 bp

M = Merle, length between 265-268  bp

Ma+ = Atypical merle +, lenght between 255 – 264 bp

Ma-Atypical Merle, length between 247-254 bp

Mc+ = Cryptic Merle +, length between 231-246 bp

M(c)-Cryptic Merle, length between 200-230 bp

m-non merle

Every dog has two of upper alleles on his locus; one he get from mother and one he get from father; both alleles determine dog`s coat pattern. Bellow are written possible merle combinations with photos; chapter is copied from book M. Langevin, S. Pekova, T. Jancuskova: Merle-SINE Inseration from Mc-Mh “The Incredible Story of Merle” with permission of M. Langevin. 

Possible merle combinations (genotype) and the common outlooks (phenotype) for them are:

Other gens who also affect pattern and colour ot the coat

Merle gen is just one of many, who affect the catahoula`s coat. There are also others, who have impact on intensity of pigment expression, on pigment dilution, on place where will expres,…

On that site, i will just list the genes, which affect the coat and for which DNK test is available.

– EXTENSION (E locus); determines the level of expression of black pigment (eumelanin)

– DOMINANT BLACK (K locus); determines expression of black (eumelanin) and red (pheomelanin) pigment

– AGOUTI (A locus); determines the exchange of black pigment with red pigment, and where on the body will be expressed

– BROWN (B locus); contros black pigment; dog can be black (non-brown) or brown

– DILUTE (D locus); controls dilution of black and brown pigment

– PIEBALD (S locus); controls the pattern of white areas

This chapter about Coat colour genetics is very shortly adapted from the book Catahoula Coat Color Genetics-Painting the Canvas, written by M. Langevin, which is available here: