The Versatile Catahoula
by Mary Langevin | Cat`s Cradle Catahoulas
The Catahoula has been bred for decades as an all-around hunting/treeing dog and farm/working stock dog.
They will work/bay cattle, guard, and hunt – everything from squirrel and coons to bear and wild boar. There are not many other breeds that can be utilized as both a stock dog and a hunting/treeing dog. This is unquestionably the most remarkable characteristic of the breed.
Along with these achievements, they are also being used in the Search and Rescue fields and as Service dogs; although it is my personal opinion that there are many other breeds much more suited to these tasks then the Catahoula is, especially the Service Dog aspect.
As a breed trait, the Catahoula is much too reactionary to stimuli due to their working and hunting instinct. It can be VERY difficult to overcome this natural prey drive which is hard-wired into the breed. They are independent, high-prey-driven, powerful and sometimes stubborn; these qualities are a deterrent for the owner to manage in a public setting where a dog should remain calm and composed when carrying out his duties as a service dog. It’s not fair to ask the dog to modify their whole personality and conform to the type of dog that is really needed and much easier on the handler/owner to work with a different breed more suited to the tasks at hand.
Catahoulas have also made an appearance in the agility ring, and well some do well and progress, it is again my personal opinion that there are many other breeds more suited to this venue. Most Catahoulas would much rather be trailing a scent in the woods then walking a dog walk.
As for a Catahoulas personality, here they excel as a breed. They are affectionate, extremely intelligent, and faithful. They are very devoted to and protective of their families, especially children. Any child who is owned by a Catahoula, can be assured of a lifelong companion and guardian. Catahoulas are also inclined to be clowns and will quickly catch on to any game that you may initiate. If it is possible for a dog to possess a sense of humor, then this breed definitely has just that. (Be forewarned – don’t teach a Catahoula anything that you are not willing to live with later, for these dogs have an incredible memory.)
These dogs are not for everyone though. If you are keeping a Catahoula as a family pet, it is important to note, that because of their working background, they possess an unwavering energy level, which makes them a high-spirited, lively and energetic animal that requires a good deal of exercise and stimulation. Without this attention, they can easily become bored, troublesome and destructive. A good run through the woods and interaction with his family will keep your Catahoula sound in mind, body, and spirit.
Also, because they are a working breed, Catahoulas are by nature a confident and assertive dog. You must always maintain the self-assurance of being in control of your dog/owner relationship. Fair authority, consistency and abundant praise for a task well done will provide your dog with the guidance he needs. Add to this, some basic obedience and your Catahoula will possess a well rounded disposition. Catahoulas live to please their owners. Patience during the developing years is essential and will be rewarded by endless years of loyalty and enjoyment.