Are you in the middle of choosing between an American Leopard Hound vs. a Catahoula Leopard Dog?
Both canine breeds look majestic and regal and may make you want to take one or both home. But if you only have room for one and are having a hard time making a decision, knowing how they differ may help.
This post will tell you all about each beautiful breed so you can make the right choice based on your lifestyle and other needs. Let’s get started.
The American Leopard Hound, also called the “American Leopard Cur,” “American Leopard,” or “Leopard Cur,” is one of the oldest tree dog breeds in the Americas.
However, its exact origins are not well-documented, causing mixed opinions about the breed’s history.
Most say the dogs that traveled to the New World with their Spanish conquistador owners contributed to the birth and evolution of American Leopard Hounds. However, it is unclear which exact breeds played a role in their development.
Those who researched the history and evolution of American Leopard Hounds say the dogs that came with the Spanish conquistadors crossbred with Mexican native dogs. These dogs then traveled from Mexico to the U.S. as the conquistadors’ hunting companions. They continued to evolve into the breed we know today—the American Leopard Hound.
Other researchers suggest American Leopard Hounds are natives of the southern part of the U.S. The breed combines the European Hound and a herding dog bloodline, such as those from Spain, France, England, Ireland, and Scotland.
In the 18th century, the breed was established in eastern North Carolina. Its ilk soon traveled west to Tennessee and Kentucky and later made its way south into Texas and Oklahoma. By the early 20th century, American Leopard Hounds were on the decline, and owners began to crossbreed them. So, by the 1950s, only a handful of purebred dogs remained.
To prevent the further deterioration of this all-purpose tree dog breed, three men, Leroy E. Smith, J. Richard McDuffie, and A.W. Carter, began looking for purebred American Leopard Hounds. In 1960, they founded the American Leopard Cur Breeders Association (ALCBA) to protect and promote this breed.
In 1539, Spanish explorer and conquistador Hernando de Soto disembarked in Florida and made his way through the southeastern part of the U.S.
At this time, his scribes observed that only one domestic animal species existed in North America—a type of dog that belonged to the Choctaws and other indigenous tribes.
This particular canine breed resembled a wolf but barked like a dog. It was crossbred with the bloodhounds, greyhounds, and mastiffs then traveled across the country with their Spanish conquistador owners. In Northern Louisiana, the Native American tribes called this new crossbreed “Wolf Dogs.”
When the French came to the U.S., they brought along their hounds. The Wolf Dogs were mixed again with these hounds, giving birth to the Catahoula Leopard Dog as we know it today. Also known as the “Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog,” “Catahoula Hound,” “Catahoula Cur,” and “Catahoula Hog Dog,” the Catahoula Leopard Dog is a multipurpose working dog.
But how this breed got its working instincts is another interesting story. The early settlers of Central Louisiana, particularly in the area surrounding Catahoula Lake, employed these dogs to catch and herd wild hogs and cows. Soon, Catahoula Leopard Dogs came to be specifically used to manage wild herds.
The local tribes came up with a unique method of working the stock that made these dogs different from other herding and working canines. The tribes would form a “canine fence” around the herd. The dog’s owner would direct the wild herd within this fence.
Modern Catahoula Leopard Dog breeders prize this breed’s natural working instincts. The dogs’ looks don’t matter as much as their working instincts to be considered a pure Catahoula.
Catahoula Leopard Dogs and American Leopard Hounds are somewhat similar in terms of size. Both range from medium-sized to large dogs with a muscular, robust build, which is why many people confuse them for each other.
But Catahoula Leopard Dogs weigh slightly more than American Leopard Hounds. Male American Leopard Hounds typically weigh 45–75 pounds and females 35–65 pounds, whereas Catahoula Leopard Dogs, regardless of gender, usually weigh 50–95 pounds.
However, American Leopard Hounds can grow slightly taller than Catahoula Leopard Dogs. Male American Leopard Hounds have an average height of 22–27 inches, while females generally measure 21–25 inches tall. Meanwhile, Catahoula Leopard Dogs, again regardless of gender, usually grow up to 22–24 inches at most.
The American Leopard Hound is a unique tree dog in that it is always eager to please its owner. So it is easier to train than most other breeds, including Catahoula Leopard Dogs.
American Leopard Hounds also have a strong prey drive. They possess a remarkable ability to corner prey and prevent them from escaping without getting injured, making the dogs excellent hunting companions. They are also tough and can withstand different weather conditions with ease.
On the other hand, a Catahoula Leopard Dog is not known for its hunting abilities but rather for herding, as it is considered a herding dog. It is territorial and can be highly protective of its owner’s property.
Catahoula Leopard Dogs also have a more independent and assertive streak than American Leopard Hounds. So you can be sure it won’t tolerate any maltreatment or abuse.
Despite being different breeds, both American Leopard Hounds and Catahoula Leopard Dogs have slight similarities in temperament and behavior. They are intelligent and adaptable. So they can quickly learn new tricks and easily adjust to different environments. However, American Leopard Hounds are more intelligent and adaptable than Catahoula Leopard Dogs.
These breeds can also be serious and reserved and tend to bark, howl, and wander off. American Leopard Hounds are particularly known for being more vocal than Catahoula Leopard Dogs. Both breeds thus need to be trained and socialized early on to curb unwanted behaviors later on.
But they are not always serious, fierce, and formidable. The dogs can turn into sweet goofballs at home and are incredibly loving, loyal, and protective of their families.
American Leopard Hounds are, however, known for getting along better with people and other pets than Catahoula Leopard Dogs. They are also great with children because of their highly protective nature. They are also more playful and slightly more sensitive than Catahoula Leopard Dogs.
Both breeds have similar levels of energy and stamina. So they need a lot of exercises to stay healthy and happy.
They also need a lot of space to run around and play in. They can get bored and become destructive if not given sufficient exercise and mental stimulation. This energy makes them well-suited for active, rural households instead of small urban apartments.
These dogs do well with many playtime sessions spaced out during the day. Allow them to play and run in a fenced backyard or take them for frequent walks. You can also train them to participate in dog sports that require agility, obedience, and rally to help them stay active and fit.
They also enjoy hiking, swimming, and playing fetch. Catahoula Leopard Dogs are particularly known for their swimming skill.
Both breeds have short, smooth coats. But Catahoula Leopard Dogs’ coats can grow slightly longer and can be coarser. They also have a single coat, whereas American Leopard Hounds have a double coat. The outer coat of American Leopard Hounds has a rough texture, while their undercoat is fine and wooly.
Both breeds do shed. But American Leopard Hounds shed only seasonally, while Catahoula Leopard Dogs experience light to moderate shedding year-round.
American Leopard Hounds and Catahoula Leopard Dogs are mostly healthy breeds, especially those raised by reliable, responsible dog breeders and came from good stock.
Reputable breeders also ensure that their breeding stock undergoes genetic testing, so the pups they sire are healthy and disease-free.
That doesn’t mean these breeds don’t suffer from health issues. In fact, they are prone to eye problems, deafness, and hip dysplasia as they age. Catahoula Leopard Dogs may additionally suffer from elbow and shoulder dysplasia. Meanwhile, American Leopard Hounds may suffer from cryptorchidism.
American Leopard Hounds and Catahoula Leopard Dogs share the same grooming needs. They require a moderate level of maintenance and are relatively fuss-free. They need only weekly brushing and occasional baths to stay clean.
They have strong nails that grow pretty fast. So you need to trim them frequently using a nail clipper or grinder to prevent overgrowth, cracks, and splits.
Their ears require regular checks to prevent infections caused by wax and dirt buildup. Like other dogs, their teeth need regular brushing, say, about two times a week.
American Leopard Hounds have a longer lifespan than Catahoula Leopard Dogs. The former can live up to 12–15 years, whereas the latter lives for only 10–14 years.
American Leopard Hound puppies cost around $800–1,000 if you get one from a reliable, certified breeder. Puppies with proven pedigrees can cost more, of course.
On the other hand, Catahoula Leopard Dogs bought from a good dog breeder will cost around $300–500.
So, as you can see, American Leopard Hounds cost more than Catahoula Leopard Dogs.
If you have to choose between an American Leopard Hound vs. a Catahoula Leopard Dog, it depends on your and the dog’s needs.
You’ll have to factor in your lifestyle, experience with pets, amount of free time to train and care for a dog, budget, and so on.
American Leopard Hounds are eager to please their owners, making them easier to train and less likely to exhibit aggressive behaviors than Catahoula Leopard Dogs.
Given their double coat, American Leopard Hounds can also adapt to different temperatures and weather conditions more easily.
But both breeds are relatively healthy, highly energetic, and not suitable for families that live in apartments or homes with small backyards. They need plenty of space to run around and play in. As such, they may and do well with active owners.
These breeds are also affectionate toward their families, including kids and other pets. But American Leopard Hounds rank higher on the social quotient and are especially protective of children. In contrast, Catahoula Leopard Dogs are more protective of house property and more territorial, independent, and assertive.
American Leopard Hounds are more vocal and live longer but are costlier. They also grow taller, while Catahoula Leopard Dogs weigh more.
If you’re a first-time or relatively new dog owner and have a bigger budget, an American Leopard Hound will suit you better. It is also best for people who are sociable and need a more playful pet or who are into hunting. Moreover, if you need a dog that sheds less, this breed is good for you.
Meanwhile, Catahoula Leopard Dogs are best for families with slightly more experience with pets or who are more reserved. Also, if you live with other animals that need herding, you will do well with a Catahoula Leopard Dog. It is also more affordable.
We hope our article helped you choose between an American Leopard Hound vs. a Catahoula Leopard Dog.
Whichever breed you select, make sure that you get your dog only from a credible breeder. That will help you bring home a healthy, happy dog. Happy pet parenting!
Dan is a well respected content researcher who has vast experience working projects in the pets niche. He is a frequent contributor to dogtemperament.com and loves delivering numerous helpful dog articles like this one that are read by thousands of our readers monthly.