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National Catahoula Leopard Dog Day 2024: What & When Is It?

Lindsey Lawson

By Lindsey Lawson

Catahoula Leopard Dog

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a working dog that was developed in Louisiana during the 1800s and named after the parish of Catahoula in the eastern part of the state. National Catahoula Leopard Dog Day is celebrated each year on April 8th and was declared to honor the only dog breed that originated in the state.

Since the breed is not as well-known and remains quite rare,  there may not be large numbers of people that celebrate the breed’s special day. But those that have the pleasure of owning these stunning dogs not only spoil their pups on April 8th but know this is a breed worth being grateful for all year round.

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How to Celebrate National Catahoula Leopard Dog Day

If you’re lucky enough to have a Catahoula Leopard Dog, what better way to celebrate than spending all day doing the things your dog loves. Go to the dog park, go pick out a few new toys, or make your dog some homemade dog treats. People can also consider donating to local animal shelters and rescues.

Whether you’re a Louisianan, the owner of a Catahoula Leopard Dog, or just love the breed in general, you may be wondering how you can celebrate this amazing breed. The best way to celebrate is to learn all about the Catahoula Leopard Dog and share information with your friends to make this rare breed more well-known. Here’s some information to help you learn more about this breed.

Catahoula leopard dog standing on the grass
Photo Credit: Aneta Jungerova, Shutterstock

Overview of the Catahoula Leopard Dog

From the Catahoula Lake area in Louisiana’s Catahoula Parish, these dogs are believed to be descended from both local dogs and those that were brought into the area by both the French and the Spanish.

Though the exact details of their origin remain a mystery, these dogs were bred to track and herd the wild hogs that are found throughout the southern United States.

Bred for a hard-working nature and excellent hunting abilities, these dogs make excellent all-purpose workers that can also double as great companions.

Catahoulas are athletic, active, and have an independent streak that helps them excel at their job as hunters and herders. The breed is intelligent, confident, loyal, and thrives the most when they can be active and put all their energy to use. They can be rather aloof with strangers but will form very strong bonds with their human family members.

catahoula leopard hound dog
Photo Credit: B Young, Shutterstock

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Top 7 Facts About the Catahoula Leopard Dog

1. They Are the Official State Dog of Louisiana

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a Louisiana native, hence the namesake parish. Since the breed is the only one to originate in the state, and it holds a special place in the hearts of Louisianians, Governor Edwin Edwards named them the official state dog in 1979.

2. They Are Known by Several Names

It took a little time before fanciers of the breed were able to finalize the name of Catahoula Leopard Dog. Because of this, these dogs are referred to by several other names including the Catahoula Hound, Catahoula Hog Dog, the Leopard Dog, and the Leopard Cur.

Catahoula Leopard Dog
Photo Credit: SarahBriley, Pixabay

3. The Word “Catahoula” is of Choctaw Origin

The Choctaw’s homeland stretched across central and southern Mississippi into parts of eastern Louisiana and western Alabama. The name Catahoula came from the word in the Choctaw language meaning “sacred lake.” The Catahoula parish was established in 1808 and named after Catahoula Lake, which was formerly within the parish but now is part of both LaSalle and Rapides parishes.

4. Catahoulas Have Webbed Feet

Catahoulas have very uniquely colored coats that come in a wide variety of colors. That coupled with their captivating eyes are the two things people notice first about the breed. One physical attribute that often goes unnoticed is their webbed feet. Similar to the Labrador Retriever, these webbed feet allow them to excel at swimming through the vast Louisiana swamps and waterways.

5. The Breed Was Developed to Hunt Hogs

The Catahoula Leopard Dog was originally bred to hunt hogs. This is because when the settlers made their way into the southern United States and the territory we now know as Louisiana, it was incredibly overrun with wild hogs.

To deal with the issue, this new breed was developed by crossbreeding local dogs with others that were brought from Europe to create one that would excel at hunting these hogs. To this day, the Catahoula Leopard Dog is still used for this purpose.

Catahoula leopard dog running in the sand
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

6. They Are Not Recognized by the AKC

The Catahoula Leopard Dog has yet to be officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. They are, however, part of the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service and have been since 1996. The FSS allows the breed to continue to develop with records kept, but they remain ineligible for recognition and championship status.

7. The Breed Is Relatively Rare

This is not a very common breed and while most may have heard of the name, the Catahoula Leopard Dog is very rare outside of Louisiana and the southeastern region of the United States. Anyone interested in the breed would likely have to travel to this area to find a breeder or search extensively for the few that may be scattered in other areas of the country. Outside of the United States, they are nearly impossible to find.

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Final Thoughts

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a Louisiana native that was named the official state dog back in 1979. While they may not be officially recognized by the American Kennel Club, they are a beloved, rare breed that is often only found in their home state and across the southeastern Gulf Coast.

National Catahoula Leopard Dog Day is celebrated on April 8th and is a great way for owners and breed enthusiasts to spread awareness for the breed and spoil their precious pups with some extra love and treats.

Featured Image Credit: Eudyptula, Shutterstock

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