Leopard Hog Mutt of Louisiana

By: Emily Kubick

The time has come! I get to talk about my favorite topic, my Maxy! Mad Max is an incredibly handsome 3ish-year-old Catahoula Leopard Dog Mix who I adopted Max about a year and a half ago (*insert sappy comment on how he changed my life and he rescued me*).  Although he is a mix (not sure with what) he is definitely mostly Catahoula. I want to share a little about the breed and their history because it’s pretty badass (the theories at least).

Warning: I love telling people about Max and about the breed, so bear with me if I ramble. I will try my hardest not be bias and stay professional, but no promises!

What’s in a Name?
The Catahoula Leopard dog has lots of nicknames centralizing around a few common themes: Catahoula Cur, Louisiana Leopard Dog, Hog-Dog, and other similar variations.

Why “Leopard”? The most obvious physical attribute of the breed is their spotted leopard-like coat. Many Catahoulas have a beautiful merle coloring of all different colors, including red, blue, and black. Their coats are easy to groom and only moderate shedding.

Why Louisiana?  It is theorized that they were originated in Northern Louisiana, in Catahoula Parish. Fun fact: They are held in such high esteem in Louisiana that in 1979, Governor Edwin Edwards declared the Catahoula the official state dog of Louisiana.

Why Catahoula? Many people believe the name “Catahoula” came from the Catahoula Indian Tribe, but such tribe did not technically exist. Following the aggressive colonization of the Americas, four tribes inhabited land together where the Red, Black, and Little Rivers joined, called Catahoula Lake. That area is now referred to as the Catahoula Parish.

Why Hog Dog? They were purposely bred to hunt and herd large game, especially boars. I go more in depth below.

Why Cur? I believe the most influential name and the key to this breed’s history is in its original name, the Catahoula Cur. Cur simply means mixed breed. And as you’ll learn below, they are a badass melting pot of several breeds.

Some Badass Mutts
Due to a lack of detailed breeding records, there is some debate on their origin and what breeds they actually descend from. The following is one theory that is commonly shared.

Around 1541, Hernando DeSoto, a Spanish explorer traveled from Florida to Louisiana. Similar to many “explorers” of the time, it was all about conquering the “New World.” Alongside these explorers, were Spanish “War Dogs”, mostly Greyhounds and Alano Mastiffs (now extinct). Desoto didn’t last long, and his invasion was defeated by the Native Americans. Fleeing Louisiana, the Spanish troops left their dogs behind.

The Native American’s had already built a bond with the local red wolves, using them as companions and workers. Sound familiar? Remember when I discussed proto-dogs in an earlier post on domestication(insert link). With the “War Dogs” abandoned, the Native Americans began to welcome them, and through some accidental as well as planned breeding, wolf-dog mixtures were born.

Years later, In the 1700s, French explorers came-a-knockin’. And guess what?! They brought some of their own canine pals too! One breed they brought over was the “Bas Rouge” (Red Stocking), also known as the Berger de Beauce, aka the Beauceron. And guess what happened next?! They bred their French dogs with the Native American’s “Wolf dogs”. And boom! There you have the Catahoula Cur.

So here we have a mutt bred from wolves, Spanish war dogs, and hunting French dogs. Basically, one badass mutt.

There are a few variations of the theory above, but the Catahoula real origin story is still a mystery. They were eventually bred into three lineages: The Wright line, Fairbanks line, and the McMillin line. These lines have been interbred to bring us the diverse and beautiful Catahoula dogs we have today.

Give Me a Job: Bay Dogs
Catahoulas can technically be classified as Herding dogs, but they do not herd in the typical sense. Instead of being a boundary-marker, as cattle dogs do with sheep, Catahoula use their annoying personality to antagonize their target (I can totally attest to the breed’s “antagonizing ” behavior).

Catahoulas were and still are, used for hunting large game such as the aggressive boar. Today the process is much safer (at least as safe as sending a dog after a vicious boar can be). They silently find, herd, and then bay (bark/howl) from a safe distance at the large prey. They keep the boar at “bay,” commonly circling a boar to keep it in place until the humans arrive to finish the job, usually with a gunshot.

Historically (also still used for traditional purposes) this form of hunting was much more intense, using primitive methods such as a knife. One set of dogs were baying dogs, the find and bark guys. Then there were the next set of dogs: catch-dogs, the catch and hold guys. These catch dogs would detain the game until the human could hog tie or kill.

Catahoulas were and are still used as the bay dog, while dogs such as the Bulldog, Mastiff, etc, are used as catch dogs.

Fun fact: Teddy Roosevelt actually used Catahoulas as hunting dogs!

Another fun fact: They also have the ability to climb trees to catch raccoons and other critters!

Owning a Catahoula
I could write a whole sappy blog post about how amazing and handsome Max is and what it’s like owning the best dog in the world, but I should probably (at least attempt to) be professional.

Catahoulas are assertive, annoying, energetic, agile, and brilliant. They require a ton of mental and physical exercise. They are known to constantly test their boundaries (very true!) and require continuous training. Not sure if other Catahoulas do this, but Max will actually sass talk me! It’s hilarious but also similar to dealing with a teenage boy. I can tell you, owning a Catahoula isn’t easy. They will walk all over you if you let them. Channeling their energy and focus into productive and exciting outlets is key. They love to work, making them a very versatile dog used as working, herding, and hunting dogs.

My Maxwell is lucky enough to spend his days at Beast Masters. He spends most of his time attached to my hip or watching me through my office window (he’s sort of a creepy stalker). The socialization he learned here has helped him so much and I am so grateful to provide such a great life for him. On his downtime, he loves to go hiking!  He is happiest when he is running free in the woods doing training drills. He can climb these insane rock walls on our hikes, then gracefully come back down into a heel. It is just so amazing to watch.

Long story short,  I am a total advocate of the breed and think they one badass dog. Max and I are madly in love with each other and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Sources

985-892-8922, Compusoar Services -. “Breed Standard.” Catahoula Owners, Breeders & Research Association, www.cobradog.com/breed-standard.html.

985-892-8922, Compusoar Services -. “History of the Catahoula  .” Catahoula History, A Factual Account Of the Louisiana Catahoula Origin., www.donabney.com/history.php.

“Catahoula Leopard Dog (Catahoula Cur).” Catahoula Leopard Dog (Catahoula Cur), www.bulldoginformation.com/catahoula-leopard.html.

One Commment

  1. Bonnie says:

    You described Max perfectly.

Leave a Comment

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 618 other subscribers

FacebookTwitter