Louisiana is a state in the southern United States. The state covers an area of 52,378 square miles and had a population of approximately 4,684,333 in 2017. Louisiana is one of thirteen American states that have officially chosen a breed of dog as a state symbol. Other official state symbols of Louisiana include the crawfish (state crustacean) and the brown pelican (state bird). The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog was chosen as the official state dog in 1979 through a bill passed by Governor Edwin Edwards.
History of the Catahoula
The exact origins of the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog breed are unknown, but several theories have been proposed to try and explain its origin. Several breeds have been cited as possible ancestors of the Catahoula, such as the Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican hairless dog) or the Carolina dog. One theory suggests that the Catahoula is the result of interbreeding between dogs bred by the indigenous population and either Molossers or greyhounds introduced to Louisiana by Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto in the sixteenth century. Another theory suggests that the Catahoula breed originated after the arrival of French settlers and the subsequent introduction of the Beauceron breed into the region. The theory suggests that the Catahoula was a result of interbreeding between the Beauceron and the Red war dog. The origin of the Catahoula name is also unknown, although one theory suggests it originated from the indigenous Choctaw language. Another hypothesis claims it originated from the French language.
Appearance of the Catahoula
The Catahoula has a unique appearance since its color can vary significantly. This variation in color is attributed to it breeding as a working dog rather than a show dog. Some common colors of the Catahoula include brown, tan, white, and grey. The Catahoula's size also varies greatly, with some weighing as little as 40 pounds and others weighing up to 112 pounds. The texture of the Catahoula's coat has two main types: a slick coat, which is more common, and a coarse coat. The eyes of the Catahoula have a unique marbled glass appearance, and their feet have webbing that developed primarily because they were bred to work in marshy areas.
Behavior of the Catahoula
The Catahoula has several well-known traits, including high intelligence and high energy levels. These characteristics are the result of the Catahoula being bred as a dog to hunt as well as herd cattle. They are also known to be aggressive and are therefore considered by some to not be good family dogs.
Prominent Owners of Catahoula Dogs
Some of the prominent owners of the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog include former US President Theodore Roosevelt during the early 20th century. Roosevelt was a prolific hunter and used Catahoulas during his hunts. Former Louisiana Governor Earl K. Long was also well known for having an interest in breeding the Catahoula.