Only 11 states currently have a state dog, and Louisiana is one of them.
Our Catahoula leopard dog is believed to be the first domesticated dog breed developed in North America. The dog has been in Louisiana for centuries, but it’s still something of a mystery.
Much like Louisiana history itself, the dog’s origins are steeped in legend and folklore. The prevailing theory is that they are descendents of Native American dogs that may have been crossed with red wolves and hound-like dogs brought by Spanish settlers. Some say the breed started in the 16th century; others claim it was the 19th century. Nothing has been proven, though. What is for certain is that on July 9, 1979, then-Gov. Edwin Edwards signed a bill making these pretty pooches Louisiana’s official state dog.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
The dog originated in the area around Louisiana’s Catahoula Lake, for which it is named, according to legend. The word “Catahoula” is thought to be of Choctaw Indian descent and translated to English as “sacred lake.” Another theory is that the word is a corruption of a native word meaning “Choctaw.” Other names for the dog include Catahoula cur and Catahoula hog dog.
You can spot this dog in more than 10 color variations, including blue merle, red merle, brindle, chocolate and red. The National Association of Louisiana Catahoulas (NALC) calls the merle, spotted or patched coat “leopard.”
Their striking eyes appear in many shades, including blue, green, amber and brown. They may have two different color eyes, “glass” eyes—almost white in color—or “cracked” eyes—any color combo within the iris.
The Catahoula is one smart dog. With its intelligence and independent nature, the dog performs tasks exceptionally well. The dogs want to please their owners, and with natural instincts and some basic obedience training, they can achieve anything. Because of its energy and natural instincts, this dog needs room to run and a job to do.
DO YOUR JOB
The Catahoula is a working breed and can be trained for just about any purpose, from hunting to herding livestock, according to NALC.
NOT FOR EVERYONE
NALC founder Betty Ann Eaves says the organization spends more time talking people out of buying Catahoulas than talking people into buying them. Most people generally don’t have enough time or space to tend to such a high-energy, work-driven dog. A Louisiana Catahoula needs to have a job to make a good pet.