Catahoula Leopard Dog vs Australian Cattle Dog: What Are Their Differences?

Written by Jeremiah Wright
Published: May 9, 2022
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The Catahoula Leopard dog is a breed native to Louisiana. It has its origins in crosses between wolf-like dogs that Native Americans owned and dogs that Spanish and French settlers brought between the 16th and 18th centuries. These dogs demonstrate guarding and hunting abilities, although their initial use was for rounding up feral cattle and pigs. The Australian Cattle Dog breed was first bred in Australia in the 1800s. They are herding dogs, and they are the result of breeding a blue merle collie with a dingo. They were bred to herd livestock.

Names and pictures will not do a proper job of telling them apart. But with thorough physical observation, we can tell which is which and what to expect. We can spot the differences between these dog breeds using weight, size, coat, temperament, and trainability.

Let’s take a detailed look at these differences, which help you as a pet enthusiast or pet owner.

Comparing a Catahoula Leopard Dog vs an Australian Cattle Dog

Catahoula Leopard Dogs and Australian Cattle Dogs differ in size, coat, temperament, health issues, and training.
Catahoula Leopard DogAustralian Cattle Dog
Size20” – 24”17” – 20”
Weight65lbs – 90lbs45lbs on average
CoatShort, smooth coatShort hair
TemperamentProtective, loyal, and adventurousFriendly and responsible.
ColorsYellow, Red, Black, BrindleGrey, Red, Black
TrainabilityHard to train; requires short training sessionsEasy to train, quick learner,
ExerciseRequires one or more walks a day and vigorous play in the yard.Requires at least an hour of play a day.
Health IssuesDeafness, eye problem, cancerHip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, Progressive retinal atrophy
Life Expectancy 12-14 years13-15 years
Energy levelsLow energy level as petsHigh energy level

The Key Differences Between a Catahoula Leopard Dog and an Australian Cattle Dog

The key differences between a Catahoula Leopard Dog and an Australian Cattle Dog are size, coat, temperament, health issues, and training.

Both dog breeds are herding dogs, so we expect them to share some similarities, like independence and intelligence. However, the Catahoula Leopard has an adventurous personality that makes it more independent than the Australian Cattle Dog, which occasionally breaks out on its independent streak.

Read along as we give better focus to the differences between these charming breeds of dogs.

Catahoula Leopard Dog vs Australian Cattle Dog: Size

Catahoula leopard standing in garden

At maturity, a Catahoula Leopard male weighs an average of 90 pounds.


At maturity, a Catahoula Leopard male weighs an average of 90 pounds, while the average female weighs 65 pounds. This breed is a lot bigger than the Australian Cattle Dog, which weighs 45 pounds on average for males and females at full maturity. For their heights, the Catahoula Leopard averages 24 inches for the male and 20 inches for the female, while the Australian Cattle Dog averages 19 inches for the male and 18 inches for the female.

Catahoula Leopard Dog vs Australian Cattle Dog: Coat

The Catahoula has a merle coat with minimal grooming requirements. It is enough to brush it weekly outside of the regular shedding season that occurs in early spring. Catahoulas are not as susceptible to skin problems as some other breeds but may experience allergic dermatitis due to flea bites or other stimuli. Because Catahoula dogs shed very little, their coats are largely hassle-free. Their colors include yellow, red, black, and brindle.

The Australian Cattle Dog has a short-haired coat, which makes grooming easier and rarer. An Australian Cattle Dog can be either a Blue Heeler or a Red Heeler. The Red Heeler is a variation that has brown hairs among the white hairs, which gives the coat a reddish appearance. Its colors include grey, red, and black.

Catahoula Leopard Dog vs Australian Cattle Dog: Temperament

Australian cattle dog laying in leaves

The Australian Cattle Dog is a very intelligent breed.


Catahoula Leopards are intelligent, energetic, protective, and loyal dogs. As herding dogs, they demonstrate perfect behavior for their working background. However, they can adapt to family life. Catahoula Leopards have a lot of personalities and are sure to delight everyone they meet.

For Australian Cattle Dogs, we describe their behavior best as energetic. This behavior suits their bred nature to herd cattle, sheep, or any other livestock. They are also loyal dogs and fit well into family life. These dogs have a friendly personality and love to be around humans and other pets. One of the most notable traits of Australian Cattle Dogs is their intelligence. They were bred to handle herding responsibilities.

Catahoula Leopard Dog vs Australian Cattle Dog: Health issues

These two breeds of dogs are different – almost entirely in the aspect of the health issues they face.

Catahoula Leopard Dogs are usually healthy, for the most part, but they have a few issues. These dogs are susceptible to hip dysplasia later in their lifespan. They may also experience deafness, which is common in dogs with merle coats and blue eyes, thereby increasing their susceptibility. Also, they tend to have cancer – skin cancer being the most common – and eye problems.

The Australian Cattle Dog, on the other hand, has progressive retinal atrophy as a common health issue. This is a degenerative disease that affects the photoreceptor cells in the eye. It is a genetic condition and can lead to blindness. The Australian Cattle Dog also suffers from hip dysplasia, and a third health issue is elbow dysplasia. This causes malfunction of the elbow joint.

Catahoula Leopard Dog vs Australian Cattle Dog: Exercise

Australian cattle dog in field at sunset

Australian Cattle Dogs are very energetic dogs.


Catahoula Leopards have a high exercise level. They need to live in a house that has a large enough yard for regular exercise. They don’t like apartments and small spaces and usually become destructive when bored. These dogs require one or more walks a day or vigorous play in the yard for at least an hour daily. Fetch with balls or frisbees is perfect for them. Hiking and swimming are also excellent ways of keeping them stimulated.

Australian Cattle Dogs are an energetic breed. They are working dogs that were bred to run through acres of fields following herds of sheep or cattle. They need space to stretch their legs. It is important that they get at least an hour of exercise daily. Their high energy level makes them unsuitable for apartments. They need yards and lots of outdoor spaces.

Catahoula Leopard Dog vs Australian Cattle Dog: Training

Catahoula Leopard Dogs are independent dogs, making them harder to train than other breeds of dogs. Socialization efforts make their training more effective. Training sessions should be short to reduce the risk of the dogs getting bored. They reach full maturity at two years; this information is important to the owner.

Australian Cattle Dogs are quick learners. Hence, training is easier than most. However, they have independence streaks. Watch out for them and establish your dominance as owners when they go too far with their independent streaks during training. Using treats makes training them easier.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Eudyptula/

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About the Author

I hold seven years of professional experience in the content world, focusing on nature, and wildlife. Asides from writing, I enjoy surfing the internet and listening to music.

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