Catahoula Leopard Dog Pitbull Mix Guide: 29 Things to Know Before Getting One

A striking, athletic, courageous dog, with a gracefully arched neck, ready to take on the world. Answer these questions: Do I understand “pack mentality”? Do I lead an active life? Am I a committed dog owner? If you answered “Yes” to all three, this might be the dog for you.


The appearance of this mixed breed ends up being some combination of its parents and difficult to predict. It can be like the stocky, bulky, wide-mouthed Pitbull or the long-legged, compact, leaner Catahoula. You can expect a well-muscled, medium to large dog with an alert and confident demeanor.


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Weight & Height
This mix, sometimes called a Pitahoula, will be 50 – 90 pounds (22.6 kg – 40.8 kg). It should be kept on the lighter side as both parents have a propensity for dysplasia. It will be 20 – 26 inches (51 cm – 66 cm) tall. Females tend to be smaller and lighter.

If you choose a dog where the width of the shoulders is the same as the width of the hips, it will likely not have the Pitbull “waddle.” If the Catahoula genes come through, your dog should have a fluid, vigorous gait, with a drive from behind.

Coat Color
Both parents are known for interestingly coat colors. The Catahoula often has a striking “leopard” pattern and the merle gene, which produces solid or piebald coats with red and blue patches. With this mix, not only its coat but even it nose can be any color or combination.


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Coat Length & Thickness
The coat of the Pitahoula will be short to medium, smooth to coarse, but well-fitting, not disturbing the outline of the dog. This mix is expected to have a single coat, but a renegade gene might produce an undercoat (a double coat) or a light neck and tail ruff.

The Pitbull parent should not have blue eyes, but the Catahoula has the merle gene, which means the Catahoula Leopard Dog Pitbull mix can have blue, green, brown, or amber eyes — or even two different colored eyes. They will probably be moderately widely set and slightly rounded or almond-shaped.


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The Pitahoula is intense, high-energy, and prey-driven. It is intelligent, has good hunting instincts, and tends to be wary of other dogs. You will also definitely have a playful, family dog that likes to cuddle. If the Pitbull genes dominate, it will also tend to be more laid back.

Does Not Like Being Alone
A Pitahoula can be left alone for short periods (2 to 3 hours) after it has had vigorous exercise or play. If left alone, it is best if you leave the TV on, give it a chew toy and leave a t-shirt in its bed that smells like you.


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Could Bark and Chew if Bored
Both parents are vocal, and the Catahoula is particularly talkative. Your Catahoula Leopard Dog Pitbull mix will bark, howl and be destructive if it is lonely. This mix will certainly irritate your neighbors, eat shoes, and kill your television remotes.

Strong Personality and Needs Training
With the Catahoula Leopard Dog Pitbull mix, you will need to establish yourself as the pack leader and teach your dog what you want. This because both parents are strong “pack leaders.” Also, while its Catahoula bloodline is anxious to do a good job, its Pitbull bloodline is more relaxed.

Tends to Be Aggressive and Unruly If Untrained
Check if there are laws against keeping Pitbulls in your area. The Pitbull has a poor reputation, which is undeserved, and both parents of this mix are suspicious of other dogs. You will have to work at “fight proofing” your Pitahoula. Socialization classes will help it relax with other animals.

Prefers a Temperate Climate
When the Catahoula Leopard Dog Pitbull mix inherits the Pitbull’s breed standard muzzle, it should be able to handle hot weather pretty well. When your Pitahoula has the Catahoula’s muzzle, it will be comfortable anywhere it is working, even as a sled dog in the snow.

Companion or Suitability Factor

If your Pitahoula had the best genes from both parents, it would be a strong, versatile, active, loyal protector, and a good family pet. It would also make an intelligent, assertive, and independent companion dog. Pitahoulas are very beautiful, but time-consuming to care for and train.


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Better with Older Kids
How your Pitahoula interacts with children will depend on its specific genes, but it will likely be better with older children who know how to appropriately behave around dogs. If you chose to bring your Pitahoula to a home with children, make sure to always supervise, primarily for the children’safety.

It Is Not Apartment Friendly
The Pitahoula is likely to be super active, will need vigorous exercise, and it will be underfoot in an apartment as it constantly craves attention, unless it is working. Of course, with patience, any dog can be trained to do anything, but that does not mean it will be happy.

Can Be Trained to Be a Watchdog
The Catahoula parent needs to work and is an excellent watchdog, but the Pitbull parent is too friendly to be a good guard dog. The Pitahoula is territorial, and reportedly adaptable and protective of its family, so it is possible that training could make it into a decent guard dog.

Not Suitable for Senior Citizens
The Catahoula Leopard Dog Pitbull mix is high-energy, a big dog that requires a lot of exercise and constant attention, and is quite expensive to feed. For these reasons, it is not ideal for anyone on a fixed budget or with a less active lifestyle.

Tends to Get Along with Other Pets if Trained Properly
If your Pitahoula has been well socialized since a puppy and its dog friends let it be the Alpha in the group, it will do well with them. If cats have always been part of the household, it will likely be comfortable with them, but will chase foreign cats.

A Great Search and Rescue Dog
Your Pitahoula will enjoy being trained for any kind of search and rescue duties, and you and your dog will become the pride of any group. The Pitahoula can also work underwater. If the Pitbull genes dominate, it could also work well as a therapy and emotional support animal.

May Be Comfortable Around Water
Your Pitahoula will likely be comfortable around water if its body is well proportioned, but not if it has a disproportionally large head and short snout. Regardless of its physical dimensions, it should wear a life jacket when near water.


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Intelligence & Training

The Catahoula Leopard Dog Pitbull mix can inherit its Pitbull parent’s “fight intelligence” and survivor instinct, and its Catahoula parent’s herding instinct and independent decision-making intelligence. Regardless of the dominance of its parent’s genes, your Pitahoula will have great service dog potential.

Has Average Intelligence
According to Stanley Coren, an authority on canine intelligence, the size, and shape of the head can be intelligence indicators, where you have little else to go on. This mix is mesocephalic, which means neither longheaded nor broadly wide-skulled and, thus, averagely intelligent.

Training Could Be Challenging
Your Catahoula Leopard Dog Pitbull mix is going to challenge you for the spot as the Alpha in your pack, and training it will not be for the beginner. You must establish yourself as the pack leader and constantly reinforce your position, likely training it three times per day.


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Physical Needs

Early socialization is the key to a happy life with your Pitahoula. You are going to need to keep it leashed in public and reward it with treats for its good behavior. Your Pitahoula will feel the need to work, so find innovative ways to meet this need.

Adults Eat 2½ to 3½ Cups of Dry Food a Day
Your Pitahoula will need a diet high in protein, with high-quality kibble. You should be careful to avoid any obesity as there is a propensity for dysplasia in both of its parental bloodlines. Ask your vet about supplements, especially to support the growth and maintenance of strong bones.

Needs At Least 90 Minutes Exercise Per Day
Your Catahoula Leopard Dog Pitbull mix should have 90 minutes of exercise per day, in two 45-minute sessions, for example, a short training session followed by free-running or jumping time. Over the weekends, hiking, jogging, or horse riding with you would be ideal. Its lifespan is 10 – 16 years.


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Needs Moderate Regular Grooming
You should brush your Pitahoula with a stiff brush at least twice a week, three times if it is double-coated. Check its ears for mites, eyes for redness, and examine its webbed feet for injury as you groom. Teach it to enjoy having its teeth brushed regularly.

Shedding & Bathing
Your Pitahoula will shed moderately, so have a vacuum ready. Use a shampoo for sensitive skin and bathe it when it is dirty. Its nails will grow quickly, so check them often and clip them carefully. Ask the vet to teach you how to do clean its webbed feet.

Background & Pricing for a Puppy

Pitbulls have a ferocious ancestry in blood sports, but the dogs that belonged to the early farmers became stock, hunting, and homestead guard dogs.

Spanish explorers, coming ashore in Louisiana, had found Native American “dogs who looked like wolves but barked like dogs.” These powerful dogs managed the vast herds of wild hogs and cows. They developed webbed feet to cope with the marshy lands surrounding the sacred Lake Choctaw. The 19th century brought the French settlers and their Greyhounds and Beaucerons with their ancestral merle genetics. The resulting crosses created the Catahoulas.

The Catahoula bloodline is determined to work hard and work seriously. This designer mix with the Pitbull kept the strong work ethic, but created a more adaptable, affectionate, and less needy animal. The Catahoula Leopard Dog Pitbull mix is also called the Pitahoula, the Catahoula Bulldog, and the Louisiana Catahoula.

Price for a Puppy
The Pitahoula is not popular, and you will have difficulty finding a reputable breeder. It is misleading to supply even a ballpark figure because of the lack of information out there. There are many young dogs in rescues and in shelters, giving you the opportunity to assess their personality, find the right fit for your lifestyle, and save a dog’s life.


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Health Issues

Your Pitahoula should be a hardy, healthy dog. Supply the correct age-specific nutrition, keep it at an appropriate weight, and provide regular exercise, including mental stimulation, and you should have an active, happy partner for years. It’s a good idea to invest in a dog treadmill for this dog.


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Hip Dysplasia
Hip and sometimes elbow dysplasia occur in much larger, highly active breeds, and you should always pay attention to any signs of discomfort in the joints. If you ignore the signs, your dog may incur a torn cranial cruciate ligament (torn CCL), which might require surgery.

You should ask the breeder for a copy of the parents’ OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certificates. Feeding your Pitahoula the correct food with suitable levels of calcium and phosphorus and maintaining a regular exercise regime will go a long way in supporting your dog’s health.

Deafness can be acquired by accident, but more often, it is inherited, and you will notice it quickly. The breeder will be aware of it and must disclose it. A dog will compensate for some hearing loss, but it will double the time you need to spend with your puppy.

The Pitahoula has merle and piebald genes for the multicolored coats and blue and green eyes. These genes are also associated with congenital deafness. The breeder should do a DNA test for the merle gene and supply a BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) evaluation for the offspring.

Eye Problems
The merle gene can indicate several eye problems: small eyes, thin iris, cleft or notched iris, off-center pupil, cataracts, defective optic nerve, and abnormal retina. These conditions can range from insignificant to serious enough to cause blindness. These congenital abnormalities can be diagnosed when the pup is six weeks old.

By insisting on a CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) certificate issued by a registered ophthalmic veterinarian, the buyer can at least be prepared for facing one of these eventualities. Your request will encourage more breeders to do this test and help to improve the breeding stock of this beautiful dog.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.