Catahoula Leopard Dog vs German Shepherd: What Are Their Differences?

German Shepherd with peanut butter on its nose
© Sharon Snider/Shutterstock.com

Written by Jeremiah Wright

Published: May 13, 2022

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The Catahoula Leopard dog is native to Louisiana. It originated in crosses between wolf-like dogs that Native Americans owned and dogs that Spanish and French settlers brought between the 16th and 18th centuries. Although their initial use was for rounding up feral cattle and pigs, these dogs demonstrate guarding and hunting abilities. 

The German Shepherd is the second most popular dog breed in the United States. The British call it Alsatian. German Shepherds show exceptional intelligence and abilities that make them adaptable and suitable for various jobs, including police work, service training, and companionship.

First-hand observation is sometimes enough to spot the differences between these dog breeds. But it is not a bad idea to go into detail to learn the differences between these dog breeds using different factors.

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

Comparing Catahoula Leopard Dogs vs German Shepherds

Catahoula Leopard Dogs and German Shepherds differ in appearance, coat, temperament, health issues, exercise, and training.
Catahoula Leopard DogGerman Shepherd
Size22 to 26 inches
40-110 pounds
24 – 26 inches
66-88 pounds
CoatShort, smooth coatThick double coat
TemperamentProtective and adventurousAloof, sensitive.
ColorsYellow, Red, Black, BrindleGrey, Red, Black
TrainabilityHard to train; requires short training sessionsEasy to train.
ExerciseRequires one or more walks a day and vigorous play in the yard.Requires much exercise, intellectual activity, and agility-based activities.
Health IssuesDeafness, eye problem, cancerDegenerative Myelopathy, Lupus, Epilepsy, Thyroid disorders, Skin allergies, and Pannus
Life Expectancy 10-14 years9-13 years
Energy levelsLow energy level as petsMaximum energy level

The Key Differences Between Catahoula Leopard Dogs and German Shepherds

The key differences between Catahoula Leopard Dogs and German Shepherds are appearance, coat, temperament, health issues, exercise, and training.

The Catahoula Leopard is generally smaller than the German Shepherd, and the German Shepherd exhibits higher energy levels than the Catahoula Leopard Dog.

Both dog breeds are herding dogs, although the German Shepherd is better referred to as a working dog, so we expect them to share some similarities, like independence and intelligence. However, the Catahoula Leopard has an adventurous personality. At the same time, the German Shepherd is well-suited for a vast array of jobs.

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

Catahoula Leopard Dog vs German Shepherd: Size and Height

Catahoula leopard standing in garden

The average height of a male Catahoula Leopard is 24 inches, and the average height of a female Catahoula Leopard is 20 inches.

©Eudyptula/Shutterstock.com

At maturity, a Catahoula Leopard male weighs an average of 90 pounds, and the average female weighs 65 pounds. This is quite close to the German Shepherd, which weighs 90 pounds on average for males and 75 pounds for females at full maturity. The average height of a male Catahoula Leopard is 24 inches, and the average height of a female Catahoula Leopard is 20 inches. The average height of a male German Shepherd is 26 inches, and the average height of a female German Shepherd is 22 inches.

Catahoula Leopard Dog vs German Shepherd: Coat

German Shepherd playing with blue ball

The German Shepherd has a luxurious double coat.

©iStock.com/jentakespictures

The Catahoula Leopard Dog has a merle coat with minimal grooming requirements. It is enough if you brush it weekly outside of the regular shedding season in early spring. Catahoulas are not as susceptible to skin problems as other breeds but may experience allergic dermatitis due to flea bites or other stimuli. 

The German Shepherd has a luxurious double coat anywhere from medium to long and comes in various colors such as the traditional black and tan, solid white, or solid black. 

Catahoula Leopard Dog vs German Shepherd: Temperament

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. These dogs have personalities that will delight everyone they meet.

German Shepherds, in terms of temperament, get a bad reputation. One myth about their reputation is aggression. Contrary to popular belief, these are not aggressive dogs. The myth about aggression flies because of their intelligence, making them well-suited for service jobs. You should know that training is the most important thing in determining their temperament.

Their most notable trait is intelligence. But they possess a certain level of dignity, which means that you have to earn their friendship. They take longer to bond and make friendships than other dogs, but that friendship, once forged, becomes unbreakable.

Catahoula Leopard Dog vs German Shepherd: Health issues

taste of the wild high prairie puppy

The German Shepherd is prone to several serious health concerns.

©Tap10/Shutterstock.com

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, common in dogs with merle coats and blue eyes, thereby increasing their susceptibility. And they tend to have cancer – skin cancer being the most common, and eye problems.

German Shepherds are prone to several serious health concerns for the precise reason that they are purebred. One such condition, degenerative myelopathy, a neurological disease, targets the spinal cord. It tends to come on later in life and leads to reduced mobility. Other health issues include lupus, epilepsy, thyroid disorders, skin allergies, and pannus. These are just some of their more serious health issues.

Catahoula Leopard Dog vs German Shepherd: Exercise

Catahoula leopard playing ball in the water

Catahoula Leopard Dogs don’t like apartments and small spaces; they become destructive when bored.

©otsphoto/Shutterstock.com

Catahoula Leopard Dogs need to exercise well. They need to live in a house that has a large space for regular exercise. These dogs don’t like apartments and small spaces; they become destructive when bored. They need 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 this breed. Hiking and swimming are also excellent ways of keeping them stimulated.

German Shepherds are an active breed. They require high levels of exercise to keep them happy and healthy. Owing to their intelligence, yard play is not enough. You need to engage them in intellectual and agility-based activities like herding and tracking. This creates an unbreakable bond between the dog and the owner.

Catahoula Leopard Dog vs German Shepherd: Training

Catahoula Leopard Dogs are independent. It thus makes them harder to train than other breeds of dogs. Socialization efforts make their training more effective. To reduce the risk of the dogs getting bored, we recommend that training sessions be short. Since they reach full maturity at two, owners must begin training and socialization efforts early.

Unlike many intelligent breeds, German Shepherds are eager to please their owners. This makes them delightful to train. But as is with all herding dogs, they demonstrate high levels of protectiveness, which means that their training and socialization must begin early to show them that not all strangers mean harm.

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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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