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

It is native to the United States. The breed is an old one, because it goes back to prehistoric times. Catahoula was used to hunt wild boar and other  wild animals and as head of livestock and property. The origin of the original breed is not well documented, according to one theory should arise from different types of molosses, greyhounds and Indian domestic dogs. In the area of Louisiana should these dogs have expanded in the 16th century. According to another theory, the original dogs arrived in this area together with the French settlers and were subsequently crossed with Indian domestic dogs. This breed extincted, but  later it was revived in the early 21st century. It is well suited for living in difficult terrain (swamp forests) at different weather conditions (humidity, cold). At the present time is used as hunting and family dog​​. Despite the fact that the breed is not numeric, it is also popular in Australia and New Zealand. 


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.


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 4 different alleles at M locus:

M-Merle, length between 459 and 462 bp

M(a)-Atypical Merle, length between 443 and 449 bp

M(c)-Cryptic Merle, length between 400 and 425 bp

m-non merle, length between 199 and 200 bp

* some alleles can be little longer or shorter, and lays somewhere »between«

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 most common dog`s phenotype descriptions (outlook), for easier imagine there are also picture examples. All dogs on the photos are merle tested and they proof, that phenotype is not the same as genotype.

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

*** at the following photos, you will see most commom phenotypes, but also some of examples, which are not logical (no it is not a mistake). Remember: PHENOTYPE is NOT the SAME as GENOTYPE!

M/M; Merle/Merle or Double Merle

dog usually is white coloured (with blue eyes), also known as »excessive whites«, it is known that double merle dogs have bigger chances for hearing and/or vision problems


M(a)/M; Atypical Merle/Merle

dog still have a plenty of white colour with merle pattern, which can be in two or more colours, we often call that dogs »patchworks«


M(c)/M; Cryptic Merle (hidden merle)/Merle

dog is also known as »leopard«


M/m; Merle/non-merle

dog is also known as »leopard«



M(a)/M(a); Atypical Merle/Atypical Merle

or double Atypical Merle dog is also known as "leopard", just that his colours are more diluted



M(a)/M(c); Atypical Merle/Cryptic Merle

dog looks like solid, within the age their merle pattern is more visible, but is not so noticeable like at M/m or M(a)/M(a), pattern can also be present just at minor areas of coat


M(c)/M(c); Cryptic Merle/Cryptic Merle

or double Cryptic Merle dog can looks like solid, within the age their merle pattern can be more visible, but not very noticeable, pattern can also be present just at minor areas of the coat

M(a)/m; Atypical Merle/non-merle

dog looks solid, he can have tan and/or white areas at head (line between eyes, on muzzle), chest, neck, at the end of legs and tail


M(c)/m; Cryptic Merle/non-merle

dog looks solid, he can have tan and/or white areas at head (line between eyes, on muzzle), chest, neck, at the end of legs and tail


m/m; non merle dog,

also called as »true solid« looks solid, he can have tan and/or white areas at head (line between eyes, on muzzle), chest, neck, at the end of legs and tail


If we want to be sure about genotype, it is necesarry to make merle test. For now it can be tested through Biofocus in Germany.

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. If you are interested in it, i suggest you order and read it.

Photos of dogs at this chapter are here for easyer understanding of merle  and were used with approval of their authors/owners-Many Thanks to all of them!





Kennel webdesign

© 2014 Psarna de Amica Mea - All rights reserved!   © Design by moonbarks.