Brindle Catahoula: All the Things You Need to Know!

The Brindle Catahoula, also referred to as Catahoula Leopard Dogs, are well-known for their unique spotted or tiger-striped coats and striking “glass eyes”. They’re a special breed that isn’t only great for work but also affectionate at home with their families.

Below are the most important things to know about the breed if you’re considering bringing one home.

What Is a Brindle Catahoula?

Catahoulas come in brindle and leopard patterns

Brindle breeds are highly desirable based on their unique fur patterns. Brindle Catahoulas are characterized by a tan coat that has darker tiger-like stripes overlaying it, with these stripes varying between these colors:

  • Blue
  • Black
  • Silver
  • Red

Although brindle is described as tiger-like stripes, this breed shares more of a resemblance with a leopard, which is why they’re also referred to as Catahoula Leopard Dogs. 

This unique color pattern is caused by a recessive gene in the dog’s DNA. This gene mutation is the reason their coats come in a multitude of shades and patterns.  

If you love this breed’s coloring and coat, check out more brindle breeds in our Best Brindle Dog Breeds guide!

Lineage Lines of the Catahoula

Originally, there were 3 lines of Catahoulas, listed from largest to smallest in terms of size:

  • Wright
  • Fairbanks
  • McMilin 

These breeding lines were established over time to fit the needs of different owners. For people looking for smaller, leaner dogs the McMillin line was appropriate, and for a larger stockier version the Wright line would’ve been desirable. 

These lines are almost impossible to distinguish between today, because they have been crossed over so many times. It’s believed that Brindle Catahoulas specifically descended from the Fairbanks and McMillin lines.

the Origin of the Brindle Catahoula

Originating in Louisiana, the Brindle Catahoula became the official state dog in 1979, and, as of today, is the only known breed to originate from the state. It wasn’t until 1995 that the Brindle Catahoula officially became a recognized breed by the United Kennel Club.

Although the exact origin of the Brindle Catahoula is unknown, it’s speculated that somewhere along the way, the “wolf dogs” of the American Indians were crossbred with a smaller European dog. Because of this breed’s kinship to “wolf-dogs”, they have historically been used for many different purposes:

  • Hunting
  • Herding
  • Various farm tasks

To this day, Brindle Catahoulas make great work dogs because of their special blend of discipline and energy.

How Much Do They Cost?

Brindle Catahoulas are purebred dogs that are specifically meant to work and hunt. If you’re looking to purchase a Brindle Catahoula, a purebred will cost you between $600-$900. This range in pricing is usually determined based on the dog’s coloring, bloodline, and breeder experience.

As far as purebred dogs go, this breed is definitely on the cheaper end of the spectrum!

If you’re looking to take the adoption route, prices are usually cheaper. These can range between $100-$300 depending on which adoption agency you choose and if the dog is spayed/neutered, microchipped, and vaccinated prior to adoption.

How can you find a Brindle Catahoula?

Finding a Brindle Catahoula can sometimes be tricky as they aren’t as popular as other breeds.

Your options include:

  • Buying one from a reputable breeder
  • Adopting one from a shelter
  • Word of mouth

They’re not an overly-common breed, but there are always so many dogs that need homes, so rescuing can be a wonderful option. PetFinder can help you easily search your area to find this breed within a radius of your choosing.

If you’re looking specifically for a purebred pooch, the AKC marketplace has options to adopt Brindle Catahoulas. The AKC has set strict breeding standards and each breeder must meet all regulations and rules established by them. This way, you can be confident you’re purchasing a quality pet.

Otherwise, you may be able to find Brindle Catahoula pups by asking people you know or searching social media.

What to Know Before Committing to a Brindle Catahoula

Choosing a dog can be a difficult task because there are so many different breeds to choose from and each comes with its own set of traits and quirks. Overall, the Brindle Catahoula is a high-energy working dog that shows affection towards its trusted family.

There are a number of important traits to consider when committing to a Brindle Catahoula.

They include:

  • The amount of exercise needed
  • Their temperament
  • Whether they’re the right fit for your family
  • Whether they’re a good choice if you’re a first-time dog owner
  • What their grooming needs are

All of these traits will be discussed in detail below.

What Level of Exercise Do They Need?

According to the AKC, Brindle Catahoulas do best with lots of activity and exercise to keep them happy. Because Brindle Catahoulas were bred to be working dogs, it’s no surprise they have high energy levels and a need to be physically and mentally stimulated. 

If not properly exercised, their pent-up energy can turn destructive. So if you don’t want them to tear up your couch or get into things they aren’t supposed to, it’s critical that they get at least one hour of exercise per day.

This can come in the form of running, walking, or playing fetch. Shorter periods of exercise should be high intensity.

Because of the exercise requirements for this breed, they do best in homes with lots of indoor and outdoor space for them to roam. Unfortunately, this breed wouldn’t do well in apartment living.

Temperament

Although Brindle Catahoulas make affectionate, loyal companions to their family, it’s important to train and socialize this breed from when they’re young, or they could become overly cautious of strangers. Because they’re natural-born leaders, if they’re not properly trained, this could turn into aggression. 

Luckily, training a Brindle Catahoula isn’t hard to do. According to the UKC, they’re known to be a trainable breed that isn’t generally aggressive, but because of their independent streak require firm guidance to thrive.

As mentioned, the Brindle Catahoula can be independent and will most likely assert their dominance if threatened. This is why they can make great watchdogs, but also why socialization is crucial so they don’t become hostile.

Do They Make Good Family Dogs?

Brindle Catahoulas are considered moderately good with young children if they’re properly trained and socialized from a young age. The main issue is that they’re high-energy and this might cause hazards for small children. 

Since this breed isn’t considered aggressive, they usually won’t have issues. Even so, it’s always best to monitor interactions between children and any dog. 

Because this breed can become territorial when not trained, it’s crucial to start from a young age to avoid the possibility of them being hostile with other dogs. They’re known to be a little above average when it comes to their interactions with other dogs, but this can vary on a case-by-case basis.

If you’re a multi-pet household looking to bring in a Brindle Catahoula, it’s best to either get them as a puppy so they acclimate to the other animals or slowly introduce the adult Catahoula to your other pets to see if they tolerate each other.

Are They Good for First-Time Dog Owners?

Generally, Brindle Catahoulas aren’t regarded as a good breed for first-time dog owners.

This is for several reasons: 

  • They require a high level of exercise
  • They can get lonely easily and need regular mental stimulation
  • They need strict and consistent training

If you’re a first-time dog owner it’s not impossible to successfully raise a Brindle Catahoula, but it would require a good amount of research and a strong commitment to meeting their needs.

What Are Their Grooming Needs?

The Brindle Catahoulas’ short, smooth coat has an average level of shedding. 

Because their hair is short and they don’t shed excessively, they don’t require high maintenance grooming but should be brushed a couple of times a month. As with all dog breeds, they require regular nail trimming.

How Long do Brindle Catahoulas Live?

Catahoulas are energetic and friendly work and family dogs

The average lifespan of a Brindle Catahoula is between 10-14 years. With a high-quality diet and proper exercise, they may end up living longer.

By scheduling annual checkups with your vet, providing good dental care, and avoiding obesity, you can ensure your dog stays healthy and has a long and happy life.

What’s Their Average Height and Weight?

While they’re bigger dogs, they aren’t considered bulky, which gives them a good level of agility and endurance. They usually measure between 22-24 inches and weigh anywhere between 50-95 pounds.

The physical traits that you can expect from Brindle Catahoulas are below:

  • They’re medium to large dogs
  • They have a muscular and powerful frame
  • They have broad, flat heads

These traits make them wonderful work dogs who can handle, and even enjoy, a bigger workload. You should still be careful not to overwork them, but you’ll still be pleasantly surprised by their strength and endurance.

Common Health Issues Brindle Catahoulas Experience

Brindle Catahoulas are generally regarded as a healthy dog breed, but they still have conditions that they’re more likely to get.

These include:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Deafness
  • Eye conditions

Like many large dog breeds, they can become prone to hip dysplasia as they age. According to PetMD, hip dysplasia is the loosening of the hip joint when the bone and cartilage break down over time. 

This can limit their mobility and cause them chronic pain. Catching this issue early gives the best results, as they can undergo surgery or take routine medication to control the issue.

Other problems they can experience include deafness and some eye conditions that can cause blindness.

If your dog happens to go deaf, you can always teach him sign language. Check out our short guide, How to Teach Your Dog Sign Language!

What Diet Do They Require?

This breed does well with most diets, as long as the food is high-quality and they have access to clean water at all times. This breed is high-energy and active, so they do best when given a high-protein diet. This will help them maintain their energy levels and keep their bodies lean and muscular.

It’s best to feed them twice daily for a total of 3 ⅜ and 5 ⅛ cups, to meet their nutrition needs. Exact food portions should be based on their ideal weight for their size.

Treats can be given, especially when trying to train, but as with most things should only be enjoyed by them in moderation to avoid obesity and illness.

What We Like About Brindle Catahoulas

There are a lot of great qualities that Brindle Catahoulas have that make them a joy to love and own:

  • They’re great working dogs for farms or hunting. 
  • They make loyal and affectionate companions when at home. 
  • Because they’re loyal and protective of the ones they love, they can be effective guard dogs if that’s what you need. Be sure that your guard dog is trained properly so that they don’t become aggressive when they shouldn’t be.

You’ll find that Catahoulas can be the perfect balance between farmhand and family pet!

Potential Drawbacks of Having a Brindle Catahoula

Although this breed has many wonderful traits, there are also drawbacks:

  • They require a high level of mental and physical stimulation, so if you’re not able to give them that, they wouldn’t be a great fit.
  • They do best when they’re given firm guidance and training, which can be a lot, especially for an inexperienced owner.
  • If you’re adopting an adult Brindle Catahoula that wasn’t properly trained and socialized, they can become too independent and hostile towards strangers and other animals. 

These potential issues aside, you’ll likely find that having a Catahoula is a rewarding experience with a four-legged friend for life.

How Fast Do They Grow?

Brindle Catahoulas are a rare breed that continues to grow well past their first year. While most breeds are considered full-grown at this point, Brindle Catahoulas will continue to grow until they reach full maturity around 2 years of age.

Lifespan10-14 years
Weight50-95 pounds
Height22-24 inches
Suitable ForWorking, Hunting, Experienced Owners
Grooming RequirementsMinimal except for nail trimming and teeth brushing
Health ConcernsHip Dysplasia, Deafness, Blindness
TemperamentsHigh-energy, Playful, Loyal, Affectionate

Even though this breed continues to grow after their first-year mark, they’re ready to start working at 10 months of age.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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