One of the most commonly asked questions in the Catahoula world is -
“Why own a Catahoula if you are not working or hunting with it?”
There is no question that a Catahoula is a working and hunting breed first and foremost, and every breeding program should concentrate on these traits, but for the history of the breed they have been cherished for their versatility. I have my own reasons for having this breed and I would never be happy with another now, but on this page, I have decided to let other Catahoula owners answer this question.
If you’d like to add your own reason please feel free to send me an email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Jessie James - They are so smart, loyal, trusting. They live to please, not only are they versatile - being able to work cows, hunt, watch the family or curl up in the bed - they are very soulful dogs, with the ability to read our moods and emotions, They are a low maintenance dog, a light brushing to get the dirt off and good to go, with the raw diet their teeth, skin and general heath is excellent. Catahoulas are a great family dog. I could go on but why, I have a true love for the breed.
Jenny Sanders - My old Catahoula has been a hunting dog through her years, but her main "purpose" now is a companion just for trips into town (no one messes with the truck with her in it), working the trapline, ranch duties like spraying weeds and fixing fences, etc. Compared to other "pet' dogs she is much more "catlike"- more independent, not needy for attention, and does her own thing, but is also very protective and has zero interest or affection for strangers. Compared to my hunting hound dogs, she is much more personable and sticks by my side, more intelligent, and more adaptable to situations like going to town. I think my all-round companion dog will always be a Catahoula, even when Tiger Lily passes on.
Lola Alstrin - My dog is not a cattle dog, a hunting dog, a "bay pen dog", or a show stud. He is my best buddy. We occasionally use him for chasing cows, or take him to a pen, but his "job" mainly consists of laying on the living room floor and babysitting my kids. He is also very helpful in ridding our house of flies, evil vacuum cleaners, crumbs that
keep appearing out of nowhere, and obnoxious squirrels who seem to be hell bent on destroying our house. I love my Catahoula because I know that he will protect myself and my kids. I know that if someone tries to come onto my property, they better run fast, or he will get them. I have seen him do it. I have no doubt in my mind that my dog would take a bullet for me and be happy doing it. He is also friendly enough to be safe in public around kids and strangers. He seems to sense when something is amiss and he has never steered me wrong on who he thinks is a bad person. You don't get that kind of versatility with most breeds. I train dogs for a living and have never seen another breed that can compare to the Catahoula. Their health is overall better than most "purebreds", they are less likely to be aggressive towards their owners, but will almost always protect their home. Their beauty is unmatched, and they have the personality to go with it.
D Wiese - Catahoulas have the potential to be one of the most enjoyable, brave, funny, and loyal companions you may ever have in your life...ever. As with any dog what you bring to the table is extremely important. Catahoulas suffer from Old School Dominance training. You never need to dominate any dog. Dogs do not need to submit to shape behaviors. Houlas blossom when exposed to calm leadership. Finding what motivates them to work will likely lead you down a different path than if you are shaping a Golden or Border Collie as they are neither one, but, once you begin to unlock their intelligence, step back for a wonderful ride.
Catahoulas do need both physical and mental stimulation. They are born to do work so you must provide a job. That job may be ranch work, tracking/treeing critters, helping you keep track of your kid, agility, frisbee (yes it is possible to have a frisbee Catahoula), search and rescue, keeping a job site in "order", or keeping your home safe from any 2 or 4 legged invaders. As a vet, I always tell clients that it takes AT LEAST 2 YEARS to make a responsible canine citizen. This is the minimum time you should expect to need to shape any dog. This time gets them through puppyhood and those pesky teenage years. For me this is time spent laughing at myself and my puppy or young dog. What did I leave in the prime target zone? How big is the target zone? What will motivate my dog(..food..food...food..tug-of-war...food..food) to work? How do I improve my timing to better shape my dogs behavior? Believe me that this time is so worth it!! Working in 2 to 3 minuet sessions through the day..in different settings give your dog the tools it needs, and allows you to build street credit as a good canine leader.
Side note: The average age of dogs in shelters is about 15 months to 3 years. Why this age? Because most folks stop working with their dogs after one or 2 puppy classes. They think that they are done. They make the assumption that their 6 month old puppy has all the "basics" it will need for life. So when they have a 2 year old, hyper, poorly mannered dog the dog gets taken to the shelter for being a Bad dog. Hmmm.... Are children ready to GO after first grade? Do they have all the skills they need for the physical and emotional challenges they will meet in their lives?
Life with my Catahoulas is never boring. It is such a kick to watch them problem solve, for problem solve they will. I have been surprised to have my potted flowers re-arranged, (not destroyed, just moved from one place to another), the location of the dog beds moved about, the hose hunted down, Quail herded, and of course my cats herded. Fetch, as defined by a Catahoula includes chase and catch..the return is open for discussion. Home is well defined by a Catahoula and all who reside there are cared for and protected. The cats do not always enjoy the Extra Large pillow buddy but once they recognize the heat source inter-species cuddling is to be expected. Morning "conversation" begins at about 7am and involves a series of moaning, mooing, and yawing sounds that one would expect from a whale.. it's just Catahoula for "Good-Mornin' ". People will ask you if your dog is a hound mix, lab mix, Aussie, mix ect. so be ready for a few minutes of conversation with curious dog people. "Cat-a What?"
My first Catahoula was rescued from the local Humane Society. Louie came to us extremely ill, physically abused, and under socialized. Given time Louie recovered fully and became my heart's protector. He was also a clown, an athlete, and an excellent K9 professor teaching other dogs how to just chill out and hang. He protected my other dogs from 2 vicious dog attacks and saved my house from a fire during a dry wind storm. Hiking, camping, beach walks, keeping my work under control and the staff happy were all in his skill set. He was ON when he needed to be and OFF when
My second Catahoula is from Cats Cradle Catahoulas. Tuli is currently learning a wide range of rural, suburban, and urban skills. Doggie day care burns off some of her young dog energy and works to keep her broadly social with other dogs. We have completed several Puppy and Young dog training classes. In every class the other folks start leery of this large slab of a dog. Each and every time Tuli wins over the owners and their dogs. They see that although she is big AND puts out BIG energy we have worked with her to dial it down, sideways, or up. I have started her in agility and she is fantastic at it!! Our trainer was very impressed that Tuli was both looking down the line and checking in with us by the second class. We have a long way to go before we are skilled enough to compete, but Tuli has the focus, energy, and humor to the job. Tuli's most recent skill is tracking dolphins in the surf zone. I worked this ONCE (Watch Tuli..Dolphin...good dog..dolphin.. Watch Tuli). Two weeks later she not only remembered the scent, she took it upon herself to alert and direct my gaze to the pod of dolphins over 20 yards off shore!! All of this AND she is a cuddle bug too!
So why a Catahoula? For the humor, adventure, and years of wonderful canine journey.
Sarah Greer - I wanted an intelligent, loyal dog that would keep me safe. Absolutely gorgeous to boot - I wanted personality, a challenge, a character, and a love that was all mine. I wanted a short-haired dog that was a DOG. One that could do whatever job I gave him and boy did I ever love hunting with my two. But obedience is a job. And fostering impeccable household manners is a job. And Olive will work the cattle while Grif eats the grass. Two different jobs! I wanted critters out of my yard, and everyone to know I had a dog that meant business just from hearing their bark from the window. I wanted a dog that would safely take care of the youngest members of my family, and one that would gently cuddle with the elders. I have learned soooo much about dogs in general, and Houlas particularly.. They are an instinctual and sensitive breed and one that has truly left a mark on my heart. When I would take mine on the subway, people would ask: are they friendly? I'd say yes, but they aren't Goldens. They do not care about you. They are with ME!!
Claudia Griffiths Marsh - Because you have to earn their respect and affection, they don't just hand it out to any yokel they encounter. Because they have a depth of personality not found in other breeds. Because whatever you decide you want to do with them, be it hunting, S&R, agility, whatever, they'll be able to do it. And oh yeah, because you can get ones without tails.
Mike Speyer - I am gonna take a different swing at this. Because I do hunt and I do hog trial my Catahoulas. Yes my Catahoulas have the instinct and the drive to do these things. Other breeds can do these things though. Most are not a versatile in their abilities though. Unlike most owners that hunt/compete in hog trials though my reason for owning a Catahoula is that not only can it do all the working jobs they KNOW when they are working and they KNOW when they are a companion at home in your bed, on your lap riding in the cab of your truck and playing with your children. They are a partner in the hunt and with the character and intelligence that is not found in most hounds. Do I think they make great pets in non/never-working home? Probably but I don't know that I would be up for the challenge of finding other ways of relieving the dog's tension or managing its energy. My hat's off to those that can. Would I recommend a Catahoula to everyone as a pet/companion...... NO. Would I recommend one to every working home... NO. But to the right home there is nothing better.
Terri Lynn Blizman - The Catahoula forces you to be a better, healthier human. They don't care that it's cold out or early Saturday morning... you will be told that a brisk walk is still in order. And you will feel great after!
Sandy McMillan - Why a Catahoula as a companion? For me it is the fact I was raised with them and they were the breed of dog that was responsible for helping to put food on our table.
I remember us having a few other types such as walker hounds, plott hounds and even a couple labs along the way but the houlas were a "staple" regardless of what else we had. We didn't have dogs as pets. We had dogs as working companions. They were in the woods with us and they were in the pasture with us but they always had a purpose for being there and they served their purpose very well. Soooo.....for me it is the fact they are a working breed who is independent and strong willed and I like that in a dog because that's what I've been conditioned to. I've owned other breeds but I always find myself comparing them to the houla and I always find that they NEVER "match up". I certainly don't depend on my dogs now in the ways that I did growing up and my grandfather would roll over in his grave if he saw how I treated my dogs today but I believe for a person with the proper knowledge and self discipline they can be the perfect fit.
Lorie Warren - Like everything in my life, I was tardy to the party. I'd never heard of a Catahoula until I was 50 years old! I saw his picture on Petfinder through a local rescue and started doing my research. I don't think the research did any good, because I knew I had found my first dog! I've had others cast-offs over my adult life, but this was the first dog I chose to bring into my life, the one meant to be by my side. After spending time with him and really learning more about the breed, I was entranced, so much so that we adopted a second. Why a Catahoula? They're wicked smart, comedic, sensitive beyond measure. Many people who have spent time with Marmaduke tell me they swear he understands what they're saying. I've never had an animal companion make me a better human being, which is what they forced me to be. I've met many new and wonderful people because of them. I've embarked on a journey of enlightenment that I never expected a dog to lead me on. There's something very unique and special about the bond they form with their humans. They test me daily and there's no slacking off, but I wouldn't trade the life we have with them for anything else. We had felines for many years, and there are times when I feel they are cats in dog bodies. They're extremely athletic creatures! I often tell people that animals are Angels sent to us from God to teach us important
lessons, if we're open to learning them. When you live with a walking, breathing piece of art, you feel that God has touched these beautiful souls and given you a gift to be cherished.
Sonja Döring - Over here in Europe they are not well known. When I first heard about Catahoulas I fell in love with the colors they come with I have to admit. I read a lot about that breed and also, without knowing one in real life, I really liked the idea of having a dog with a strong mind who is intelligent, although I had NO IDEA... I met somebody with 3 Catahoulas and from minute one I was lost - I knew I would own one. Then a few months later I heard about that little black deaf girl in search for a home. It wasn't the the right time, it wasn't the color I wanted but I got her. And boy is she a Catahoula! We had rough times and she was the first dog in my life who made me cry because she kept on testing me and tested me and tested me... now she is 2.5 and she is the sweetest family dog (but very suspicious when it comes to strangers). She is sweet to our baby, she is even playing with her (8 months old), she is caring, she is projective, she is a cuddle monster up to the point that we have to tell her to stop because it is getting too much. Sure a Catahoula isn't "made" for everybody and one should definitely keep that in mind when thinking of getting one, but if you are capable of living with one - life will be perfect. You'll never forget that you have a Catahoula on your side.
Lori Leonhardt - I do not work cattle or hunt, but will always have a Catahoula. I love the independence, intelligence and the versatility of the breed. I have become a much better trainer and have learned how to partner with my dog instead of being the "boss". I do performance with my dogs and they are usually the only Catahoulas doing obedience and agility. I also laugh a lot with my Catahoulas which is one of the most important qualities in a friend. Owning Catahoulas has also taught me how to be humble. They will bring you down a notch real quick. I would not recommend them to everyone by any means, but they can make awesome companions to the right home
Diana Burkart - We have Catahoulas because my husband is from New Orleans LA. We got our first one from a shelter here in IL. Really surprised we found one in such a short time and that was 15 yrs. ago. We have had at least one since. We now just have one (Autumn) a brindle mix and she was rescued from AR. What a personality!! We are getting another one in about 3 weeks. She is only 5 weeks right now. What can I say, love the houlas
Ross Norris - Reasons for owning a Catahoula ...MINE??? When I was just a small boy I heard lots about the Catahoulas. ( and curs in general) I always liked their look but did not set much store by a LOOK! I owned one or two but was not much impressed by them. Later I was given an outstanding Catahoula female by a great friend of mine and that did it for me! This dog was a perfect lady around the house...or in the truck or boat! She would mind like robot. Well she would mind till she smelled GAME and then her hearing all shut down. She would bark a time or two and if you did not aim the boat toward where she was pointing, she’d jumped in and swim! NO use yelling SET DOWN..she was gone! She would tree squirrels and loved it, but if you walked by and said "in a hole" or just said "we are hunting hogs...suwee!!!" that was it for treeing squirrels for that day! She would find and bay hogs all day or night and you did not have to run to the bay, he would be there for hours and hours! She treed coons at night and she helped Santa Clause put presents under the tree that would not have been there otherwise. She would help gather cattle or put an ornery horse in the lot! She would lay down her life for any member of the family and was gentle to everyone as long as I said " They are ok" . My kids never minded as good! What more could you ask for? That is why I own a Catahoula!
Emily Hales - Come across them by accident. Now I won't have anything else. Pure or crossbreed. The two I currently have have been impeccably mannered and easy to train, loyal and great guard dogs. They love any job you give them and try their hardest to be good at that job. I use them for guard, hunting hogs and trail riding buddies with horses. They are my family members. I'm getting another in a few weeks!
Catherine Slane - they are so smart, and very protective, they will do anything you ask of them, and they look good doing it!