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This week's featured breed: Catahoulas

Although I have been writing for the Examiner for a long time, this is my first week as the East Bay Dog Examiner. Every Thursday, I'm going to feature a different breed. Some of them will be common, some of them not. Today, I will start with one of my personal favorites, Catahoula Leopard Dogs. I have to admit, I'm a little biased toward the breed. My precious 10 year old girl Sage is a Catahoula.

Catahoulas are an American breed. Most people haven't heard of them, but they are fairly common in their home state of Louisiana. In fact, they were named after the Catahoula Parish in Louisiana. It's believed that they are descended from Molossers and Greyhounds. There is also rumor that they were descended from Grey Wolves, but DNA hasn't backed up that theory.

They are not recognized by the American Kennel Club but they are recognized by the United Kennel Club as a herding dog. They primarily herd pigs and cattle. Some herd wild boars. Some hunt. Their webbed feet make them great for trudging through swampland. They are excellent all around sporting dogs.

They are a fairly large dog, usually weighing between 50 and 90 pounds. They have floppy ears, big eyes, a deep chest and exceptionally strong hind quarters. They are relatively short haired. When most people think of Catahoulas, they think of a spotted dogs. Many are, but some aren't. Sage is a red and liver colored dog without spots. Many have light eyes and some have two different colored eyes. Some people are under the belief that the Catahoulas with spots and two different colored eyes are the only true Catahoulas. There is no truth to that. Sage's litter had puppies of all colors, markings and eye colors. I just happened to choose one of the plainer ones.

Catahoulas are very smart and very loyal. Young Catahoulas are also very energetic. I've often said that if Sage could use her powers for good, the world would be a much better place. However, Catahoulas are also very strong willed. Ideally, they should have a strong and confident owner.

Owning a Catahoula has been a challenge for me. She, like most Catahoulas, is very smart. She loves to open doors just because they are closed. She learned to open the refrigerator door, car windows, cabinet doors, bathroom doors, gates, etc. Nothing was safe from the Sage. She is very protective of me, although she is much friendlier than the typical Catahoula. Catahoulas are not known to be friendly to strangers. She was very energetic, needing at least 4 miles of good old fashioned running a day. For a while we lived in an apartment and that running had to be done at dog parks.

If you have room, a lot of energy and know how to exhibit authority with a dog, a Catahoula can be a wonderful choice. They are great family dogs. They are very protective of children. Many people are drawn to Catahoulas for their unique looks, but they find them difficult to handle in real life. Once you get past the first five years or so, they settle down. When you get a Catahoula, you are in it for the long haul. They live to about 12 or 13 years old, typically and have few medical problems.

If you would like more information on Catahoulas, please feel free to comment.

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