(from the NALC information sheet)
The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog evolved in the swamps of central Louisiana, around the Catahoula Lakes. Legend says their ancestors were the results of the Indian dogs, or red wolf found in the area at that time, mating with the surviving "war dogs" or mastiff used by the Spaniards in battle and then left behind, either wounded or captured by the Indians. The first settlers to the Catahoula Lakes area found this strange breed of dog with mottled spots and blue eyes, and called them Catahoula, meaning "beautiful clear water". The dogs were used for hunting deer, bobcat, and wild hogs, and the settlers appreciated their technique in trailing or winding, baying, herding and soon had the dogs working their cattle.
Interesting slideshow on the history of the Catahoula by Reneé Jackson of Tuska Homma Catahoulas
The Louisiana Catahoula is a medium to tall "rangy" dog, with broad chest, strong legs, and a wide head. It has slick, short hair, and the average adult size ranges between 20-26 inches at the withers, and the average weight between 50 - 90 pounds. Most Catahoulas are spotted up, with 2 to 5 different colors in their coat, having a base color of black, blue, brown, liver or white, with contrasting spots of any, or all, of these colors. A few may be almost solids but have a white spot on the chest or trim on the legs and face. There are two types of ears : folded-over like a hound, but much shorter is preferred, or the "crinkled", and laid back is permissible. The webbed toes of these dogs help them walk easily in swampland as well as over snow, and make them excellent swimmers. The Catahoula keeps growing until about 2 years old, but work like an adult at 8 or 9 months. Females come in heat between 8 1/2 months to a year and wean their pups at 4 weeks.
A characteristic of the breed are the unusual eyes, the most striking and preferred eye color is the unique "double glass eyes" (blue). Other colors can be brown, green, amber, or one colored eye with one glass eye; or eyes with "glass cracks", spots of blue in one or both eyes.
This versatile dog can be trained for almost any purpose. Performance in obedience training, as well as the ability to master and perform difficult tricks, amaze and amuse owners of this dog. Basically, the dog wants to please its master, and this, together with their natural instincts, make training a matter of getting the pup's attention, then teaching them basic obedience. They develop their own style of working and strive to help and defend their master. They work on both sight and sound signals and are excellent obedience and field trial dogs. A kind word and a pat on the head will be enough for the Catahoula to try his best for his master.
This dog is second to none as a stockdog, having the guts and inbred desire to work wild Brahma cows or hogs, but still working well with gentle stock. Lead dogs bark to aggravate the cows from the front; herd or drive dogs circle, give voice and keep the cows bunched; or there is a combination dog that works all positions. The Catahoula can out work and out last any other breed. It is strong, active, and has natural instinct and working style all its own. A Catahoula is affectionate, intelligent and faithful. It makes a wonderful pet or guard dog, a stock dog, hunting dog or show dog. They are fearless in nature and can be fighters yet gentle with their family.
Hog dogs work well in swampy areas, bark, snap and run, working in pairs or threes to circle and bunch. Cow dogs tease, circle and bay until the herd calms and bunches, then they help pen. Coon hunters like the keen eyesight at night of these dogs and a Catahoula-coon fight is something to see! Squirrel hunters use the sharp eyesight, keen sense of hearing and smell. They are good deer hunters as they are short range dog, silent trailer and bay dogs.