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What can you tell me about Catahoulas?

10842 Views 9 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  CatintheHat
Lo and behold, Kaki is a Catahoula mix. Her last owners told me she was an aussie mix and my guess is that they got her from a shelter. She's definitely not aussie. I lurve her so much that I'd like to get another catahoula but she is a mix so I don't know if her temperment is the mutt or not. I want to know more about the catahoula disposition and all that jazz. Please.:)


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The Catahoula Leopard Dog is one of the oldest North American breeds. They trace their roots to the sight hounds and molossers brought by the Spanish in the 1500s, then bred with the dogs domesticated by the Native Americans of the deep south, with some French Beauceron mixed in later. They have been bred primarily for health, temperament, and working ability with little regard to appearance until fairly recently. They are well adapted to the swamps of the deep south, with single coats (need to be kept warm in cooler climates), and very pronounced webbing between the toes. Some have the ability to climb trees.

They are working dogs grouped with the herders but are very versatile. The same dog is often used to hunt large and dangerous game, herd (primarily by heading), retrieve, protect, and be a good family companion.

A good hunting catahoula has a "hot nose" and a "closed" bark, meaning they only pick up relatively fresh scents and only start barking when they can actually see the quarry. They have pretty soft mouths and are not usually used as catch dogs, they just hold the animal at bay while the hunters bring in a harder-mouthed catch dog to bring down the bayed animal. Hunters usually run at least three bay dogs together after feral swine or black bear, that makes it less dangerous for the dogs. They are very persistent and very tough.

They are high-energy dogs that need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. If they get bored they can (will)) be destructive and turn into escape artists. Giving them jobs to do is the best way to manage their energy. They have been bred to work with and independently of humans, and consequently can have an independent streak that many handlers might regard as hardheadedness. Diligent attention to basic obedience and gentle but firm introduction to and reinforcement of leash manners are necessary. They are generally good with kids in the family and other pets, but also can have a very strong herding instinct, which means a tendency to nip. They can have protection instinct, so a lot of socialization with people and other dogs is necessary, especially strangers coming onto the home territory.

They can be quite a handful and are probably not the best choice for a first dog or for an apartment in the city. They are growing in popularity as non-working companion dogs because of their looks, and a lot of them are ending up in shelters because people can't handle them, especially in the exuberant puppy stage. With good handling and lots of exercise and mental stimulation they can do well in suburbia.

They have been bred for hundreds of years but were only recognized by the UKC in 1995. Here's the UKC page: http://www.ukcdogs.com/WebSite.nsf/Breeds/LouisianaCatahoulaLeopardDog. Note that the information given in the breed history is not correct; genetic testing has not confirmed any red wolf (Canis rufus ) heritage in either modern or ancient North American dog breeds.
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Velcro, yes, very; perhaps to the point of SA. Not a good breed for families where everyone is gone all day every day and the dog is left home alone with nothing to do. Cuddly, depends on the individual dog and your relationship bond with it. If you let the dog come to you in it's own time, it will work out much better than trying to force it to be a lap dog the first day you bring it home. Keeping the thermostat set low will help. ;) But if "cuddle buddy" is going to be the main job for the dog, it's definitely not the right breed for you.

Don Abney perpetuates the red wolf myth, misunderstands/misapplies dominance theory, is pretty clueless about dog training, and breeds for conformation. The breed was developed to it's current high level without the "benefit" of breed clubs and standards of appearance. As with all the working breeds, conformation shows do nothing whatsoever to improve the breed, and do considerable damage to the characteristics that actually matter. Despite all of those major flaws in the website, this is still a pretty good assessment:
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A typical CLD is probably a higher energy dog than a typical APBT. A game-bred CLD of working age is gong to be happiest when given the opportunity to run off-leash and solve problems for 2-3 hours every day, with longer work days fairly often.

CLDS and various APBT/mixes often live and work together, the latter are popular as catch dogs. So the cats trail and bay, then the hunters bring in the pit on leash. The pit is released, catches and holds the quarry, the curs jump on to help hold, while the hunters hogtie or otherwise secure the quarry.

A CLD pup with strong herding instinct can be pretty annoying to the older dog(s).

I'll get around to posting about my CLD pup (7.5 mos) in the introductions forum one of these days.

This seems like the right thread for breed questions, I will answer what I can, and hopefully some other cur fans will offer their thoughts.
I am thinking about ring sport for Chip (aka Zydeco Slim). CLDs are definitely naturals at trailing and tracking, agility, retrieving, and obedience. But because they are bay dogs, it might be a challenge to get the bitework. They've got the drive and biddability, but the kill bite is genetically modified to what we see as nippiness (protects the stock from serious injury when herding), and they are also soft enough in the mouth to do real retrieving. CLD x APBT are popular as catch dogs. The Blackmouth Cur has a lot in common with the CLD, but with a full kill bite and a harder mouth that is more suitable for catching. AFAIK the CLDs in LE are mostly doing detection work. There are a number of websites that say that CLDs are suitable for ring sport (of which Schutzhund is one type), all of this seems to trace back to Don Abney, and I haven't been able to find any proven dogs.

The first step in ring sport training is to develop obedience to the level of Traffic Steady Companion Dog (BH) and that should be the first priority. It's also good to get started on basic trailing and tracking, agility, retrieving, and beginning mouth work.

Traditional ring sport training programs do make judicious use of -R and +P to get 100% reliability. Experienced ring sport trainers who have never worked with a CLD before, need to understand that a CLD is "softer" than the dogs that are typically found in the sport, and reduce the intensity of -R and +P accordingly. This is really greater receptivity to correction, desire to please, and resentment of ill-use, rather than lacking in heart.

If you are really interested in a cur, if you want to truly understand what a cur is and how it got that way, then by definition there is no way you want anything to do with a show line. If you want a show line, then again by definition you do not want a cur. They are complete polar opposites. Supporting breeders who in any way breed for the conformation ring only contributes to the destruction of the CLD, just like it has destroyed every other working landrace that has been assimilated by the "breed fancy" inbreeders and Kennel Club borg. Breed registry paper is not a substitute for - nor does it add anything of value to - temperament proven in the home and working ability proven in the field. If you want a cur, don't look to the show rings, look to the swamps.
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