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The Catahoula Cur (C. l. familiaris,) is an American dog breed named after Catahoula Parish, in the state of Louisiana, in the United States. After becoming the state dog of Louisiana in 1979, its name was officially changed to Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog. The breed is sometimes referred to as the "Catahoula Hound" or "Catahoula Leopard Hound", although it is not a true hound, but a cur. It is also called the "Catahoula Hog Dog", reflecting its traditional use in hunting wild boar.
The Catahoula Leopard Dog is the only breed of dog native to Louisiana. This hound is a cross of a domestic dog the Indians of the Catahoula Lake region raised and a Spanish "war dog" that came through the area in the early 1500's. The dog has glassy eyes, webbed feet, and spotted coat and is gentle with children, loyal to family, and aggressive to strangers, making it a good pet and guard dog. As a hunting dog the animal is diligent, dependable, efficient and especially good at tracking deer, coons and squirrels.
(Catahoula Hound), (Catahoula Leopard Hound), (Catahoula Leopard Dog), (Catahoula Hog Dog), (Catahoula Cur), (Louisiana Catahoula Cur), or (Leopard Dogs)
The origins of the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog are unknown but it is believed to be descended from crosses between Native American dogs, Red Wolves (some of whom lived as pariahs on the outskirts of Indian villages), and the dogs brought to the New World by Spanish conquistadors, probably mastiff-types and sighthounds. Some experts believe Beaucerons were added to the mix when the area was settled by the French. White settlers in Louisiana found the Native Americans using these unusual-looking dogs to hunt a variety of wild game, including deer, bobcat, wild hog, and bear. The new arrivals soon came to appreciate this versatile breed that was equally capable of scenting, trailing and treeing game, or baying and herding feral hogs and cattle.
There are many stories regarding the origin of the breed's exotic name: Catahoula. The most likely is that it is a corruption of the Indian word that meant "Choctaw," the name of a local tribe.
The only thing certain is that the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is an all-American multi-purpose working dog. On July 9, 1979, the governor of Louisiana signed a bill making this breed the official State Dog of Louisiana.
The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is a medium to medium-large, short-coated dog with a broad head, small-to-medium drop ears, and an undocked tail set on as a natural extension of the topline. The Catahoula is well muscled and powerful but not bulky, giving the impression of agility and endurance. The Catahoula is a moderate breed and should not resemble either a sighthound or a bulldog in appearance. The body is just slightly longer than tall and the distance from the elbow to the ground should equal 50-60% of the dog's height from the withers to the ground. The Catahoula should be evaluated as a multi-purpose working dog, and exaggerations or faults should be penalized in proportion to how much they interfere with the dog's ability to work.
Because of the breed's name, many people assume that all Catahoulas have the so-called "leopard" markings and blue eyes. In fact, the breed is noted for its many and unusual coat colors and patterns, as well as varied eye color.
Catahoula temperament ranges from serious and business-like when working to clownish at home, with varying levels of energy. It is not uncommon for Catahoulas to be aloof with strangers, which often results in a lack of animation when showing and may cause some to draw away from judges when being examined. Catahoulas should never be excessively aggressive or shy. They can be independent, protective and territorial so they require firm guidance and a clear understanding of their place in the family unit. Catahoulas are affectionate, gentle and loyal family companions.
The law designating the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog as the official Louisiana state dog is found in the Louisiana Revised Statutes, Title 49, Section RS 49:165.
TITLE 49 - State administration
RS 49:165 - State dog
§165. State dog
There shall be an official state dog. The official state dog shall be the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog, as registered by the National Association of Louisiana Catahoulas. Its use on official documents of the state and with the insignia of the state is hereby authorized.
Added by Acts 1979, No. 239, §1.
Taxonomic Hierarchy: Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog
Species: C. lupus
Subspecies: C. l. familiaris