American Leopard Hound

Canis lupus

Last updated: May 27, 2024
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Dee Dalasio/

This breed is also known as the American Leopard Cur. The name was formally changed to American Leopard Hound in 2008.


American Leopard Hound Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Canis lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

American Leopard Hound Conservation Status

American Leopard Hound Locations

American Leopard Hound Locations

American Leopard Hound Facts

Name Of Young
Fun Fact
This breed is also known as the American Leopard Cur. The name was formally changed to American Leopard Hound in 2008.
Other Name(s)
American Leopard Cur
Intelligent, athletic, and friendly
Litter Size
5-8 puppies
United States

American Leopard Hound Physical Characteristics

  • Yellow
  • Blue
  • Black
  • Tan
  • Brindle
Skin Type
Top Speed
42 mph
12-15 years

American Leopard Hound as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Tendency to Chew
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
Separation Anxiety
Preferred Temperature
Average climate
Exercise Needs
Friendly With Other Dogs
Pure bred cost to own
Dog group
Male weight
- lbs
Female weight
- lbs

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One of the most interesting facts about the American Leopard Hound is its diverse repertoire of different game animals. It can hunt raccoons, bears, bobcats, cougars, squirrels, and anything else that climbs into a tree.

The American Leopard Hound is an old breed of tree and hunting dog with an excellent sense of smell and speed. When out on the hunt, they have the ability to stay close to their quarry and avoid injury by ducking and dodging. The purpose for which they’re ultimately bred is to chase animals up a tree and alert the owner to its presence by barking. The dog’s true origins remain shrouded in mystery. One theory is that it descended from dogs brought to the Americas by Spanish conquistadors and possibly mixed with native dogs. Another theory is that was developed entirely within the southern United States from a mixture of French, English, Irish, Scottish, and Spanish breeds.

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Despite its venerable status in the American South, this breed was neglected for decades. By the middle of the 20th century, significant interbreeding with other dogs threatened to destroy what was unique about the American Leopard Hound. Only the efforts of a few dedicated breeders saved it from dilution. Since 2012, it has been classified by the American Kennel Club in its Foundation Stock Service, which works with breeders to provide help and establish standards. The stock service is a level short of full recognition.

The American Leopard Hound is characterized by an athletic body, built mostly for speed and agility, with a long, thin tail, slender legs, and drooping ears. The dense but short double coat, which consists of a rough outer layer and fine wooly underlayer, is some combination of black, blue, brown, gray, red, yellow, or merle colors. Around 60% of all dogs are solid in color; the rest are either leopard-spotted or brindle.

3 Pros And Cons Of Owning An American Leopard Hound

Loyal and Protective: The American Leopard Hound is very sociable; it’s especially protective of children.Strong Prey Drive: As a scent hound, this breed quite literally follows its nose everywhere.
Intelligent and Easy to Train: Owners should have few problems with teaching this breed commands.High Mental and Physical Needs: This breed will need lots of activities to remain occupied.
Athletic: This is a good choice for active owners.Not Very Suitable for Apartments: This dog needs plenty of space to run and play.

History Of The Breed

The American Leopard Hound is believed to be one of the oldest of the tree dog breeds in the Americas and while its exact origins are not known, it is reputed that they descended from dogs that were brought to the New World, specifically Mexico, by Spanish conquistadors during the Spanish Inquisition. This hound was then brought to the United States by the settlers who would use it as a hog-hunting dog. Records indicate that the American Leopard Hound was established in North Carolina around the early 1700s.

Types Of

American Leopard dogs are only one specific breed but they do come in a variety of colors which is in a leopard or spotted pattern. There are nine different colors – black, brown, grey, blue, red, yellow, brindle, merle, and white.

Size and Weight

The American Leopard is a medium to large-sized dog. However, there is a fairly large range of different sizes.

Health and Entertainment for your American Leopard Hound

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Weight (Male):45-70 pounds
Weight (Female):45-70 pounds
Height (Male:):21-27 inches
Height (Female): 21-27 inches

Common Health Issues

American Leopard Hound puppy

American Leopard Hounds are generally healthy but may be prone to several health issues.

©Dee Dalasio/

The American Leopard Hound is a healthy breed with a typical lifespan of 12 to 15 years, but they do suffer from several problems, including deafness, cancer, and a developmental disorder called hip dysplasia, in which the joint can become loose in its socket, causing lameness and pain. Serious health problems can also result from the mating of two merle-colored parents. The double merle puppies are much more likely to suffer from deafness and blindness. Good breeders will generally test their stock for common inheritable issues. You can ask them to provide proof that their dogs have received a positive health assessment. You should also keep up regular appointments at the vet to catch health problems early. In summation, these are the biggest issues with this breed:

  • Deafness
  • Cancer
  • Blindness or eye disorders
  • Hip dysplasia


The American Leopard Hound is a highly intelligent breed, both in terms of social IQ and tracking ability. While it was originally bred to be a hunting dog, it also does exceptionally well as a member of the family. This breed is highly loyal and affectionate toward people of all ages; it seems to be particularly protective of children. Don’t expect to treat it like a simple companion though. This breed has a very high-energy, purposeful, work-oriented personality; both its mental and physical needs should be met with games, toys, sports, exercise, and social interactions throughout the entire day. If it doesn’t obtain enough activity time, then it might channel some of its energy into destructive behavior.

How To Take Care Of The American Leopard Hound

The American Leopard Hound is a good choice for owners across the entire spectrum of experience levels. They’re fairly easy to train, easy to groom, and easy to feed. However, they do require an owner who’s heavily invested in their lives. Don’t expect to buy one and ignore it for half the day. They also need plenty of space for their physical activity.

The Best Dog Food For American Leopard Hounds

The American Leopard Hound will need around three cups of high-quality dog food per day, or at least enough to satisfy its immense activity level. You should watch its calorie intake and limit treats to prevent obesity.

To fuel this breed’s relentless energy and constant exercise, A-Z Animals says the best dog food for American Leopard Hounds is Purina Pro Plan Sport Performance 30/20 Salmon & Cod Formula Dry Dog Food.

With 30% protein and 20% fat, this dog food is balanced to develop and maintain lean muscle for dogs on the move. There’s plenty of glucosamine from natural animal ingredients to support strong joints and help prevent hip dysplasia. The probiotics help build a healthy immune system from the digestive system while antioxidants provide additional immune health.

You can purchase Purina Pro Plan Sport Energy and Vitality Support High Protein Dog Food on amazon.

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Purina Pro Plan Sport Performance 30/20 Salmon & Cod Formula Dry Dog Food
  • Purina Pro Plan Sport Performance 30/20 Salmon & Cod Recipe
  • High protein dog food contains 30% protein and 20% fat for lean muscle and metabolism needs
  • Glucosamine and EPA for joint health and mobility

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Maintenance And Grooming

The American Leopard Hound should be fairly easy to groom; weekly brushing, combined with the occasional bath, should be sufficient to remove loose hairs and keep it looking clean and healthy. Owners will also need to trim their fast-growing nails with a clipper or grinder to prevent them from splitting or cracking. Clean out their ears on a regular basis to prevent infections and obstructions. Finally, you should devise a suitable dental hygiene plan with your vet to prevent teeth and gum disease.


As a scent hound, this breed has a tendency to follow its nose and get into trouble.

©Randy Oller, American Leopard Cur Breeders Association. Originally uploaded by DTabCam; border trimmed by SMcCandlish, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

The American Leopard Hound is intelligent, eager to please, and capable of accomplishing the task at hand. Owners should have little trouble teaching this breed proper boundaries, etiquette, and commands. Clear, consistent directions and the occasional treat-inducements should be effective. Just keep in mind that its training should never be neglected, because as a scent hound, it does have the tendency to follow its nose and get into trouble. Encouraging eye contact and distracting its attention from prey can help focus its mind on your commands.


The American Leopard Hound will need at least an hour of exercise every single day. This should ideally come in the form of multiple walks, hide and seek, ball games, fetching, tricks, and free running in a fenced yard. This breed also excels at dog sports and agility challenges. You should be careful about letting it run free in the open because it does have a strong prey drive.


American Leopard Hound dog puppy

American Leopard Hound dog puppies should be socialized and trained almost immediately, which will be a great benefit to them.

©Dee Dalasio/

American Leopard Hound puppies will benefit from early socialization and training from the moment they’re brought home. While naturally friendly and loyal, this breed can develop some bad behavior like any other dog if its training is neglected. Training should focus on dissuading some of the breed’s natural prey drive and hunting instincts. Besides at-home training, classes can offer additional support to really get the most out of the dog’s malleable early months. Crate training, while not mandatory, can help with housebreaking and behavioral issues. Consult your vet for other issues such as vaccines, neutering/spaying, and microchipping.

The American Leopard Hound And Children

This sociable, protective, and gentle breed will get along very well with children of all ages. However, it is important to teach younger children in particular how to approach and handle this dog, and even then, adults should be present to supervise all interactions in case something negative occurs.

Dogs Similar To The American Leopard Hound

  • Treeing Tennessee Brindle: The name tells you what you need to know about this breed. It’s a treeing hound from Tennessee with a brindle coat of fur. With its remarkable intelligence and keen sense of smell, it is an excellent hunting dog.
  • Treeing Walker Coonhound: A descendant of the American Foxhound, this breed of hunting dog was primarily designed to hunt raccoons; it can also chase after larger quarries such as deer and bobcats. An affectionate, confident, and intelligent breed, this medium-sized coonhound is characterized by a short and dense coat of black, white, and brown markings.
  • Treeing Cur: This is a medium-sized breed with excellent speed in rough terrain. Because it served multiple purposes on the farm, including hunter, guardian, and herder, appearance wasn’t a huge concern for its breeders. As the name suggests, it does have the ability to tree both large and small prey

If you’re still struggling to come up with an appropriate name, you should think about adopting one of these suggestions:

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What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


If you have kids or existing dogs select:

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About the Author

Melissa Bauernfeind was born in NYC and got her degree in Journalism from Boston University. She lived in San Diego for 10 years and is now back in NYC. She loves adventure and traveling the world with her husband but always misses her favorite little man, "P", half Chihuahua/half Jack Russell, all trouble. She got dive-certified so she could dive with the Great White Sharks someday and is hoping to swim with the Orcas as well.

American Leopard Hound FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How much is an American Leopard Hound?

The price of a new puppy from a high-quality breeder is usually somewhere north of $1,000. Good breeders are usually worth the extra cost of doing business. They will only breed their dogs from high-quality stock and perform their own health evaluations. While it might be tempting to go with a cheaper breeder, you might end up paying more in the long run with health and behavioral issues. However, if you can’t afford this price, then a cheaper alternative is adoption. The price of adoption usually runs no more than a few hundred dollars.

Is an American Leopard Hound the same as a Catahoula?

The Catahoula Leopard Dog (named after Catahoula Parish in Louisiana) is actually a different breed entirely. While they do share some similarities in appearance and temperament (even their ambiguous origins, possibly from Spanish conquistadors, is similar), the Catahoula is actually more of an all-purpose working dog, currently classified in the herding group. This breed comes in both short hair and a medium-haired variant with featherings on the legs, tail, and chest.

Are American Leopard Hounds good family dogs?

Yes, the American Leopard Hound is very affectionate and protective toward children. It also gets along fairly well with other dogs in the family, but it might have the tendency to chase after smaller animals.

Are American Leopard Hounds rare?

The American Leopard Hound is uncommon and might be difficult to find. The American Kennel Club or some breed-specific clubs will sometimes maintain a list of registered breeders and rescues. It might be worth checking out a local shelter or rescue in your area, but unless they’re specifically tailored for breeds of this type, they’re unlikely to have one available.

Do American Leopard Hounds shed a lot?

The coat will do a fair amount of shedding, but it’s quite manageable and only requires the occasional brushing.

What are the key differences between Catahoula Leopard Dogs and American Leopard Hounds?

The key differences between Catahoula Leopard Dogs and American Leopard Hounds are appearance, temperament, training, and lifespan.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.


  1. American Kennel Club / Accessed October 8, 2021
  2. Petful / Published January 6, 2016 / Accessed May 5, 2023