RSM Profile: A Real Southern Dog

Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog - Red Leopard ...

Image via Wikipedia

What is arguably the most American of all dog breeds is not recognized as a show-worthy breed by the American Kennel Club. True story. Why? We have no idea what motivates snooty dog show organizations. Perhaps it’s the fact that the most American of all dog breeds is also undeniably Southern. That breed is the Catahoula Leopard Dog.

As the story goes, the Catahoula, named for a lake and a parish in Louisiana, can trace its origins back to the conquistador Hernando deSoto. DeSoto and his men brought with them a good many dogs: mastiffs, bloodhounds and greyhounds, according to reports. These “war dogs” were used to combat the native tribes as the Spanish explored the Southeast.

Injured and abandoned dogs were cared for by locals, such as the Choctaw. In time, they were bred with the native “Indian dogs” which were described as looking very much like wolves. Some historians speculate that red wolves, grey wolves and other native canids became part of the Catahoula gumbo. Later, French settlers arrived, and the Beauceron was added to the mix.

The result was a highly intelligent dog bred for hunting wild pigs in the swamps of Louisiana and adapted for herding livestock. The dogs would sniff out a single wild hog, pick a fight with it and draw other pigs to the fray with all the noise. Vastly outnumbered, the Catahoula would then lead the hogs on a chase back to his homestead … and directly into a pen constructed by its owner. The hogs would be captured, and the Catahoula would simply scale the fence to safety.

Did we mention that Catahoulas are known for their penchant for scaling trees? Check it out:

Cathoulas are known as the heartiest of stock dogs, out-working other, more well-known breeds. Apart from their brindled coat from whence they get the Leopard part of their name, their most striking physical characteristics are their clear, haunting eyes. They are also fiercely loyal and sometimes referred to as “cat dogs” for their sixth sense and ability to comprehend instruction. But it’s their ability to work wild herds that is the true test of a Catahoula.

Hard-working, under-appreciated, loyal and intelligent? Sounds like a Real Southern Dog to us!

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