Both the Catahoula lineage and the origins of the name "Catahoula" are uncertain, but there are various theories.
One theory posits that the Catahoula is the result of Native Americans having bred their own dogs with molossers and greyhounds brought to Louisiana by Hernando de Soto in the 16th century. As for the aforementioned Native American dog breeds, for a time it was believed that they were bred with or from red wolves, but this idea is not supported by modern DNA analysis. Several recent studies have looked at the remains of prehistoric dogs from American archaeological sites and each has indicated that the genetics of prehistoric American dogs are similar to European and Asian domestic dogs rather than wild New World canids. In fact, these studies indicate that Native Americans brought several lines (breeds) of already domesticated dogs with them on their journeys from Asia to North America.
Another theory suggests that the breed originated three centuries later, some time in the 19th century, after French settlers introduced the Beauceron to the North American continent. The French told of strange-looking dogs with haunting glass eyes that were used by the Indians to hunt game in the swamp, and the theory states that the Beauceron and the Red Wolf/war dog were interbred to produce the Catahoula.
Catahoula Leopard Dog
The texture of a Catahoula's coat may show some variance, being slick/painted-on, spotted, coarse, or woolly/shaggy. However, while other coat types may not be penalized, several registering bodies that recognize the Catahoula specify a short or slick-coated dog.
Slick coat: This is the most common coat type, featuring fur that is very short and lies close to the body. Such coats dry very rapidly, and because of this, the dog can be cleaned and ready in a matter of minutes. It is often referred to as a "Wash n' Wear" coat.
Red Leopard Catahoula Eyes-
The breed may have "cracked glass" or "marbled glass" eyes (heterochromia) and occurs when both colored and glass portions are present in the same eye. Cracked or marbled eyes are blue or blue-white in color. Catahoulas with two cracked or marble glass eyes are often referred to as having double glass eyes. In some cases, a glass eye will have darker colored sections in it, and vice versa. Cracked eyes may be half of one color and half of another. They may just have a streak or spot of another color. Gray eyes are usually cracked eyes, made of blue and green, giving them their grayish appearance. The eyes may be of the same color or each of a different color. Eye color can also be ice blue, brown, green, gray, or amber. No particular eye color is typical of Catahoulas. Some have been known to have half of one eye marbled.
The tail of the Catahoula may be long and whip-like, reaching past the hocks of the back legs, or else bobtail, which is a tail that ranges from one vertebra shorter than full length to only one vertebra in total length. The question mark tail is a common tail trait, often with a white tip. The bobtail is a rare but natural part of the Catahoula heritage.
Though most dogs have webbing between the toes, Catahoulas' feet have more prominent webbing which extends almost to the ends of the toes. This foot gives the Catahoula the ability to work marshy areas and gives them great swimming ability.
Catahoulas are highly intelligent and energetic. They are assertive but not aggressive by nature. Catahoulas in general are very even tempered. Males tend to be more obnoxious than females, but Catahoulas are very serious about their job if they are working dogs. They make a good family dog but will not tolerate being isolated, so interaction with the dog is a daily requirement. When a Catahoula is raised with children, the dog believes that it is his or her responsibility to look after and protect those children. Many owners will say that the Catahoula owns them and they can be insistent when it's time to eat or do other activities. Catahoulas are protective and a natural alarm dog. They will alert one to anything out of the ordinary.
The breed is recognized by the United Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club under the "herding dog" breed group.