The Catahoula Leopard Dog temperament is well suited to active families who are used to owning a dog.
This breed makes a great working companion, but may be too demanding for a novice owner!
Although it is friendly, affectionate and loyal to its family, the Catahoula Leopard Dog personality can include some challenging natural instincts.
Read on to find out whether this breed will suit your home.
What is a Catahoula Leopard Dog?
Before we jump into the Catahoula Leopard Dog temperament, let’s take a closer look at where this breed comes from.
Since 1979 this breed has been the state dog of Louisiana.
It has its history deeply rooted in America. A large number of breeds were mixed to create the Catahoula Leopard Dog we know today, including those brought across by Spanish and French explorers in the 16th Century.
The modern Catahoula Leopard Dog has a variety of roles. From a faithful companion, to a guard dog or herding dog.
In Canada, this breed has even been used in sled dog competitions! So they’re a very versatile dog.
Catahoula Leopard Dog Personality
It’s important to make sure any new dog matches your own personality well. So, you’ll need to learn about the Catahoula’s personality if you’re considering this breed.
The Catahoula Leopard Dog is known for being affectionate, loyal, and gentle when they are settled in a family.
This loyalty is great if you’re looking for a guard dog or watchful breed. But, it can pose problems if you don’t socialize them properly.
They will love spending time around you, especially if this involves doing something active to burn off energy.
If you enjoy leading an active lifestyle, and are experienced in training and socializing dogs, you could be a perfect match for the Catahoula.
Catahoula Leopard Dog Temperament – Energy
The major point to consider when looking at this breed is the amount of energy they have. Catahoulas are not suited to living in apartments.
They are intelligent dogs that can get bored very easily. So, these pups will always need a job to do.
Training is a great way to keep them entertained, but they will also need a lot of exercise.
So, this is a breed to consider if you’re looking for a dog to accompany you on outdoor activities like hiking or swimming.
They would also be great candidates for dog sports, such as agility and rally.
Catahoula Leopard Dog Temperament – Natural Instincts
Every dog breed has a level of natural instincts that can come up in daily life – such as chase instincts, herding instincts, and more.
The Catahoula Leopard Dog has had many roles in its history, but above all is classed as a herding dog.
In their early herding days, this breed would herd wild hogs and cattle by working with their owner.
This natural herding instinct is found in most modern Catahoulas. So, this breed is likely to attempt to herd other animals, or even people and children.
This is something to consider if you have small children in your household.
As well as this herding instinct, you may find a guarding instinct in the Catahoula Leopard Dog temperament.
This breed is very loyal to its family. But this means it can show signs of being territorial.
A Catahoula is likely to guard his home and his family against anything he sees as a threat.
You can combat this with socialization, but we will take a closer look at this later.
Catahoula Leopard Dog Temperament – Trainability
The Catahoula Leopard Dog breed has worked alongside humans for generations. But, it is also known for being quite independent.
In other words, it can be hard to find a treat or reward to offer during training which is more satisfying to them than just wandering off and doing their own thing.
This means Catahoula Leopard Dogs trainers need to be patient and consistent.
Lots of very brief training sessions a day might be more successful than one or two protracted ones.
If you have never owned or trained a dog before, you may struggle to keep the Catahoula under control.
Catahoula Leopard Dogs have very active minds. But, frequent training games can be a great way to keep them entertained, as well as to keep them out of trouble.
Consistency and positive reinforcement will help you get the best results.
Catahoula Leopard Dog Temperament – Aggression
One thing people are always wary of with strong, loyal dogs like the Catahoula Leopard Dog is aggression.
Loyalty can be a great trait, but it can result in territorial and guarding instincts. These can often be expressed as aggression.
In fact, one study found that herding breeds, including the Catahoula, had the third lowest pass rate to a series of ‘temperament tests’.
This included reacting to aggressive and non-aggressive strangers, and recovering from loud, sudden noises.
Not all Catahoulas will be aggressive. The best way to combat potential aggression in any breed, including this one, is to socialize them well from a young age.
Socialization involves introducing a puppy to as many new environments and stimuli as possible while they are young.
One great way to do this is puppy training or socialization classes. One study has even found a link between puppy classes and retention at home.
A well socialized Catahoula Leopard Dog is more likely to be friendly and social. If you socialize your dog well, you are less likely to see any forms of aggression.
A lot of aggression is fear-based, so socialization can help to solve this problem before it occurs.
Are Catahoula Leopard Dogs Good With Children?
If you have young children, you need to make sure you’re bringing home a dog breed that is happy and reacts well around young kids.
Catahoulas are often friendly, gentle, and affectionate towards their close families.
But the main problem with this breed and young children is the natural herding instinct.
When a herding dog like the Catahoula Leopard Dog sees kids running around, natural instincts can kick in. So, your dog may try to start herding the young kids.
If you are worried about this, you might want to choose another breed.
Are Catahoula Leopard Dogs Good With Other Animals?
Most dog lovers have plenty of other animals in their homes too. Whether this is other dogs, or animals like cats and small pets.
If a Catahoula is raised with other animals, it is likely to get along with them.
However, these herding instincts apply to smaller animals too. So, you may find that your Catahoula tries to herd other pets – even other dogs.
Catahoulas will be okay with other pets as long as they are socialized well and raised alongside them. But be aware of the risk of their natural instincts showing.
Is the Catahoula Leopard Dog Right for Me?
The Catahoula Leopard Dog temperament is a good match for active families that have plenty of time to dedicate to their dog.
This breed can show destructive tendencies if they aren’t physically or mentally stimulated enough.
Catahoula Leopard Dogs may not suit homes with other small pets or young children. This is because they will have natural herding instincts, so they may try to herd your family members!
These dogs need owners who have plenty of time to dedicate to their training and daily needs. They may not suit owners who have never owned a dog before, because they are a lot to handle!
Catahoula Leopard Dog Temperament
Do you think that the Catahoula Leopard Dog temperament is right for you? We would love to hear your favorite things about this dog.
So be sure to let us know what you think in the comments!
References and Resources
- Dowd, S. ‘Assessment of Canine Temperament in Relation to Breed Groups’, Matrix Canine Research Institute (2006)
- Duffy, D. (et al), ‘Breed Differences in Canine Aggression’, Applied Animal Behavior Science (2008)
- Duxbury, M. (et al), ‘Evaluation of Association Between Retention in the Home and Attendance at Puppy Socialization Classes’, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (2003)
- Howell, T. (et al), ‘Puppy Parties and Beyond: The Role of Early Age Socialization Practices on Adult Dog Behavior’, Veterinary Medicine: Research and Reports (2015)
- Kutsumi, A. (et al), ‘Importance of Puppy Training for Future Behavior of the Dog’, Journal of Veterinary Medical Science (2013)