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Are Catahoula Leopard Dogs Rare

The short answer is yes, Catahoula Leopard Dogs are rare. That’s if you live far from Louisiana and other parts of the southeastern US.

Catahoula Leopard Dogs are a breed that originated in Louisiana. In fact, the breed was declared Louisiana’s official state dog in 1979.

While they’re fairly common in surrounding areas of the south, they’re rarely seen in any other place. Only a handful exist outside of the state, and even fewer outside of the US.

Why Are Catahoulas a Rare Breed?

Catahoula Leopard standing in front of a white background

Catahoulas are focused, cheerful, and affectionate dogs bred for hunting and herding. So, what makes this breed so rare in places outside of Louisiana and the southeastern US?

Breed Origins

There’s still a lot of mystery surrounding what breeds are in a Catahoula’s ancestry.

Some say that they were a result of the mid-1700s settlers breeding wolf dogs and Beauceron dogs. Some say they’re from the Spanish colonizers’ mastiffs and Greyhounds that bred with Native American dogs.

One thing’s for sure; they were bred to adapt to Louisiana’s swamps and forests. Their leopard-like coat coloration helps with camouflage, and their big, muscular build helps with running and hunting.

Because they have been bred so fittingly to their environment, the breed has since stayed close to its origins.

While Catahoulas are gaining more popularity, most of the breeders are still from the southeastern US. The breed hasn’t had the chance yet to expand out of its original breeding ground.

They’re a Relatively New Breed

Unlike the Mastiffs and Poodles — breeds that can be dated back hundreds of years ago — Catahoulas are a relatively new breed.

It was only in 1995 that the United Kennel Club (UKC) formally recognized Catahoulas as a breed. Compare this to the Poodles, which were recognized in 1914, and the Mastiffs in 1948.

Catahoula Leopard standing in the sun in a garden

Breeding Challenges

Unlike a lot of popular dog breeds around the world, it can be difficult to breed true Catahoulas. There are certain breeding challenges; take their coat pattern and eye color, for example.

The gene for their merle coat pattern is closely associated with deafness. In relation to this, the breed is also known to have different eye colors — one of which is blue.

The merle coat pattern is most often associated with the gene for blue eyes. Catahoulas, along with Siberian Huskies and Border Collies, are some of the few dog breeds that can possess naturally blue eyes.

Unfortunately, dogs with blue eyes are at a greater risk for conditions that lead to blindness.

To breed a true Catahoula, you need to have a pedigree dog that completely satisfies the breed standards and is healthy at the same time. This can be difficult to find outside of the southeastern US, hence contributing to their rarity.

Their Breed Status Isn’t 100% Clear (Yet)

While the UKC recognizes Catahoula as a breed, the American Kennel Club (AKC) lists them as “Foundation Stock.” This means that the breed hasn’t achieved full AKC recognition yet.

This also means that the breed standards for Catahoulas aren’t as formalized and standardized as other AKC-recognized breeds. This makes it a little challenging to identify true Catahoulas.

However, the good