Catahoula Leopard Dog Lifespan: How Long Do These Dogs Live?

An adorable Catahoula Leopard puppy lying on the lush green grass of an outdoor yard *labraheeler
© iStock.com/Wirestock

Written by Jennifer Magid

Published: December 31, 2023

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The Catahoula Leopard Dog is an independent, unique-looking dog that loves hard work. The breed’s origins are traceable to Catahoula Parish in the state of Louisiana. Catahoula is a Choctaw Nation word that means “sacred lake”. The breed is thought to be the culmination of early French settlers’ hounds mixed with the wolf-hybrid dogs owned by Native Americans in the area. These dogs are also called Catahoula Hog Dogs and Catahoula Curs, and are the state dog of Louisiana.

Catahoulas were bred to hunt and herd hogs and cattle from the Louisiana swamps. But these versatile dogs can hold any number of jobs, and excel at all types of herding, hunting, and guarding, according to the National Association of Louisiana Catahoulas. However, if there’s anything you truly need to know about this breed, it’s that they live to work. They’re not the dog to bring home if you live in an apartment or aren’t highly active. Here’s what else to know about the Catahoula Leopard Dog lifespan and how to keep them healthy.

Catahoula Leopard Dog Lifespan and Health

American Leopard Hound

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a hard-working breed with a mid-length lifespan.

©Eudyptula/Shutterstock.com

The breed typically has a lifespan of between 10 to 14 years. But their health can depend on any number of factors. 

Catahoulas are very high-energy and require a lot of exercise. They are extremely independent and require ample training since they have a tendency to act territorial and protective. However, they are loving and affectionate with their owners.

What also makes Catahoula Leopard Dogs stand out is their striking coloring. They usually have brindle or merle coats that look almost leopard-like, hence the name. They may have as many as five different colors in their coat! Their eyes are equally mesmerizing. Catahoulas often have what’s called “glass” colored eyes, which are light in color to the point of looking almost white. Their eyes may also be a combination of colors, known as “cracks”.

Adult Catahoula Leopard Dogs are strong, muscular dogs. They are typically between 22 and 24 inches tall and weigh between 50 and 95 pounds. 

Common Health Issues for Catahoula Leopard Dogs

Catahoula leopard standing in garden

The Catahoula Leopard Dog should stay a healthy weight for optimal health.

©Eudyptula/Shutterstock.com

Hip Dysplasia
For dogs who experience this condition, the ball and socket in the hip joint don’t fit properly. They rub and grind instead of sliding in a smooth motion. Eventually, this problem leads to joint deterioration and loss of function. Hip Dysplasia is common in larger dogs, including the Catahoula Leopard Dog. It’s usually genetic, but some conditions can exacerbate it. Over-exercising when a puppy is young, poor nutrition, and being overweight can all lead to hip dysplasia.

Deafness
Some Catahoula Leopard Dog puppies are born with inherited deafness. And some other dogs may develop deafness as they get older. There may be a correlation between the dog’s coloring and the probability of deafness, with dogs that are predominantly white or merle (a mottled-looking coat) more predisposed to deafness.

Eye Problems
Catahoula Leopard Dogs can be prone to various eye problems, which if left untreated can lead to blindness. A couple of the common conditions include cataracts and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). With this condition, the rods and cones in the eye’s retina fail to develop shortly after birth or begin to atrophy later on in life.

How To Give Your Catahoula Leopard Dog a Healthy and Happy Life

Catahoula leopard laying in leaves on steps

Catahoula Leopard Dogs love and need plenty of exercise.

©Eudyptula/Shutterstock.com

Exercise
One of the most important ways to keep this breed happy and healthy is to honor their need for an abundance of exercise and activity. After all, they were bred to work hard, and it’s in their genetics to be extremely active. Otherwise, the breed is likely to become destructive. They simply are not meant to be confined or be couch potatoes!

Additionally, it’s good to know that this breed allegedly doesn’t do well with electric fences. They are likely to ignore the boundaries due to their strong prey drive. They are truly best for lifestyles on the farm or on the hunt, where they can honor their nature. A daily walk is unlikely to cut it for the Catahoula Leopard Dog. 

Catahoula Leopard Dogs are good swimmers, so making water a part of their lifestyle is a wonderful way for them to exercise. A little-known fact is that they have webbed toes! This helped them more easily navigate the mud of the swamplands where they originated from.

Diet
Catahoula Leopard Dog puppies should be fed large-breed puppy food. This can help prevent conditions like hip dysplasia. The reason is that the food is designed to prevent excessive quick growth, which can lead to joint strain. The breed can also benefit from joint supplements at the discretion of your veterinarian. Additionally, keeping the dog at a healthy weight is vitally important for their well-being.

Training
A Catahoula Leopard Dog will live its best life with proper training. The breed is stubborn, but extremely intelligent. They need to be given opportunities to learn. With consistency and positive reinforcement, these dogs make a wonderfully versatile pet that can greatly enhance an active lifestyle. These energetic dogs make ideal companions to train for sports like agility, obedience, and rally.

With proper exercise, diet, and purpose through a job, Catahoula Leopard Dogs can live a long, healthy life, and make wonderful companions.

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About the Author

Jennifer is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on dogs, travel, and gardening. She holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from New York University. A resident of Connecticut who has lived all over the country, Jennifer enjoys working on trick training with her standard poodle, and spending time with her family outdoors.

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