The Catahoula Leopard Dog is one of the few breeds of dogs to be created in the United States. Their roots in America are believed to have started around 1539 when the Spanish explorer DeSoto and his followers came to the Louisiana area in search of treasures. With the explorers were their "War Dogs", which were believed to be the Mastiff and the Greyhound. They used these dogs for protection and also for hunting.
After many hostile encounters with the local natives the Spainards vacated the area and left behind some of their sick and wounded "War Dogs". The Indians nursed some of these dogs back to health, and it is believed that these dogs mated with the Red Wolf which was native to the area at the time.
During the late 1600's and early 1700's the French arrived to claim the Louisiana area. The French told of Strange-looking dogs with haunting glass eyes that the indians were using to hunt game in the swamp. The French had brought their own dogs to the New World, the Beauceron. The Beauceron was used as a wild boar dog in France, and used to protect the French from the indians in the New World. Some believe the Beauceron was mated with the wolf-lke dog of the indians to create a better dog.
There are references to the Catahoula during the 1800's, it is said that the fomous Bowie brothers Jim and Rezin owned some of them, and that they would sleep with a Catahoula at their feet.
In the early 1900's President Theodore Roosevelt was introduced to a pair of Catahoulas while on a hunting trip to Louisiana.
Louisiana's Governor from 1948-1956, Earl K. Long, took an interest in Catahoulas and began collecting them. After Long's death the dogs were almost forgotten. Two gentlemen named Kline Rushing and Vernon Traxler Jr. along with other breeders had a vision to make the breed known and began keeping records of the matings.
After Mr. Rushings death in 1977, his daughter Ms.J.S.(Betty Ann) Eaves Carried on his endeavor and established an official registry of pure-bred Catahoulas, known as The National Association of Louisiana Catahoulas (N.A.L.C.). It is much to Ms. Eaves credit the Catahoula has achieved the status that it has today.
The Catahoula was established as Louisiana's state dog in 1977 by Governor Edwin Edwards. This was also achieved by the work of Ms. Eaves. Up until that time the Catahoula was known as the Catahoula Cur, after being named the state dog its name was changed to the Lousiana Catahoula Leopard Dog.
The Catahoula was a little known of for many years, except for some hunters and farmers in Louisiana. Even today there are people that have been brought up in Louisiana that do not know what a Catahoula is. Today the Catahoulas range is expanding as it can be found in every state of the United States, as well as other countries throughout the world.
For more information on the
Catahoula Leopard Dog, I recommend reading the books The
Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog by Don Abney, and also
The Catahoula Collection by Betty Ann Eaves.