Hunting & Working Style
by Mary Langevin | Cat`s Cradle Catahoulas
Terminology Of How A Catahoula Hunts
The best hunting dog is driven by: – a natural game instinct which must be bred into the dog – it can not be taught or learned from other dogs. – the desire to please his owner – this takes a sound temperament which also must be bred into the dog.
“Hot-nosed” Hunter – Catahoulas will track scents that have recently been laid, approximately within the last hour or so, sometimes as long as 2 hours before. If they are working an older track they will however leave it if they find a scent more recent and continue to track that, or if they air scent a critter that is near-by. In other words, they will track the hottest scent they can find to the closest critter!!(This is very different to many hounds, who are “cold-nosed” hunters, tracking scents that may be many, many hours old.)
“Closed” On Trail – Or silent. They do not have a continuous bark while tracking, but may give off an excited bark or two upon hitting a track and then are silent until the prey is bayed-up or treed, when they will start to bark.(Some hunters do prefer a dog that is open on track, so that they can follow the sound and know which direction the dog has headed)
“Short Ranged” – Catahoulas will stay within a reasonably close proximity to their owners while they are hunting. My dogs are rarely gone for more then 10 minutes without checking back in with me…..one of the traits that I love about them.
“Ground Scenting or Air Scenting” – a Catahoula is quite adept at either following scents on the ground and following scents on air currents.
“Large or Small Game” – They will hunt any type of game – squirrel, coon, bobcat, bear, hog, cougar, deer….etc. With some training they can be “trash broke” to hunt mainly what the hunter wants to and not the nearest game in sight!
“Hog Dog” – they make an excellent hog baying dog in the woods. Baying a hog to a stand still and holding them there until their owner arrives. A dog that “bays loose” or gives the hog room is less likely to be injured then a dog that “bays tight”. The “tight baying” is looked for more in the bay pen at shows.
“Tree Dog” – Catahoulas are excellent treeing dogs. After treeing a squirrel or coon, they will “bay treed” until their owner arrives.
Catahoulas, being a Cur breed, have a very distinctive style of working cattle. Different from the other breeds that we think of when thinking of a cattle or stock dog –
Australian Cattle Dog
These breeds are “heelers”, they will move cattle in the general direction indicated, working from behind the cattle, “driving” them forward.
The Catahoula, being a “bay” dog, their natural instinct is to stop the cattle and hold them in a group or bunch. To keep them from moving, holding them at “bay”, until the owner arrives. In order to accomplish this, a Catahoula will work from the front, in “header” fashion, barking and moving in a semi-circle face to face with the animal. If there is a need to put pressure on an animal to stop, the dog may bite at the nose area quickly, for a split second, but should never “hang” on. The true Catahoula style is not that of a “catch” dog.
A Catahoula will naturally make a wide circle around any cattle in sight to gather them into a herd. After the cattle have settled, the owner can then start to push or move the cattle from behind, while the dogs cover the area in front of the herd to quell any thoughts of escape.
It’s truly amazing to watch a Catahoula work in this fashion and more amazing when they will do this by instinct with the only intervention from their owner being basic commands.
Although an excellant cattle dog, Catahoulas are not a herding breed. A Catahoula is a hunting dog at heart and their working ability is an offshoot of that instinct.