Hunting with a Catahoula Leopard Dog


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Bruce & IThe Catahoula Leopard Dog is a working and hunting dog at heart.  Bred from a combination of Mastiff, Greyhound, Beauceron and American Red Wolf, Catahoulas have been selectively bred to incorporate the best traits needed to be effective hunting and working dogs. 


Catahoulas can be introduced to hunting quite early on.  There is no need to wait until they are a couple of years old.  Do basic obedience for the first 6 months or so and then take them out to get used to the ute, quad, sound of a gun shot, how you use your dogs etc.  Catahoulas are very quick learners and will get the gist of hunting very early on.  However, it is important that the dog is not worked too hard in the first 12 months as they are still growing and developing.     


Training your Catahoula Leopard Dog is to be done very carefully.  Because of the loyal and gentle nature of the dogs, they respond best to gentle and assertive training.  Being heavy-handed with a Catahoula will do more harm than good and produce a very scared and timid dog. 


Dogs on the uteThe most significant trait about using Catahoulas to hunt with is that they are predominantly finder-bailers.  This is because their nose is their best asset and they can bail a pig up for a longer period of time.  Catahoulas will only run a hot trail of no more than one to two hours old and they will do this off the back of the ute, quad, walking, you name it.  Catahoulas will hang if they are taken out with other hanging dogs, but their instinct is to bail.  The advantages of using Catahoulas as bailing dogs is that they can find pigs better with their nose, and the dogs rarely get injured.  However, it is still important to use breast plates or T-plates for better protection for your dog.  We use and recommend breast plates and t-plates from Tuskproof Protective Accessories at  


Pig at shedWhen I first took my dogs out west I got some tracking collars but this wasn’t very necessary due to the nature of the dog.  Catahoulas are, by nature, very loyal to their master and will always come back to your side.  It helps that they only track fresh scents too, so there is little worry that your dog will not return.  I have never lost a dog yet as they always come back.  However, Catahoulas are a working dog and have a high level of energy which needs to be expended on a regular basis otherwise your backyard will suffer, they will try to escape or they may be more unruly when out hunting as any dog is when they havnt been exercised sufficiently.


Catahoulas are good in any type of terrain whether it be open scrubs or stubble, mountain terrain, or sugar cane.  I use a combination of the ute, quad and walking when I go out depending on the type of ground and coverage.  Out here in the sugar cane I mostly walk with the dogs once I’ve found tracks.  I know that if they leave my sight that they have a scent and that it must be close. 


Mini & PigsPhysically, Catahoulas have webbed feet which helps them to navigate swampy areas or muddy ground.  Because of this they are also good swimmers and love being in the water.  Their pads can be any combination of pink and/or black.  However, contrary to popular belief, pink pads are no softer or less durable than black ones.  Their coat is a short, single coat, which requires little to no grooming.  This means that their short coat is good in the hot of summer but they can suffer in the cold and should be kept in warm shelter during this time.


My bucks partyAlthough I do hunt out west as often as I can, I find it much more convenient and I prefer the challenge that it provides me and my dogs with.  Cane fields give the pig more of an advantage than the hunter.  Some blocks are between 10 to 30 acres big giving the pig plenty of room to run in and they have more areas to hide in.  The cane is also noisy which reduces the element of surprise.  In the cane where I am on the Gold Coast, the pigs don’t tend to smell as much as they do out west which really puts my dogs’ nose to the test.  They also tend to be bigger because there is more quality feed around.  Overall, I find that having finder-bailers is completely suitable to hunting in the cane as it is much harder to hang when you also have to wrestle with the cane rather than occasional trees and scrubs.