Compared Standards

April 6th, 2012

I am often asked about what the differences are in the standard for National Association of Louisiana and the United Kennel Club.  There are small differences and it is difficult to explain without looking at them side by side.   So I have provided a side by side comparison. I hope this helps.  I also included a diagram to help with terminology that you may not know.






The Louisiana Catahoula is a medium-large dog, well muscled, yet trim, powerful, but denoting agility and great endurance. The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is a medium to medium-large, short-coated dog, with a broad head, small-to-medium drop ears, and an undocked tail set on as a natural extension of the topline. The Catahoula is well muscled and powerful, but not bulky, giving the impression of agility and endurance. The Catahoula is a moderate breed and should not resemble either a sighthound or a bulldog in appearance. The body is just slightly longer than tall and the distance from the elbow to the ground should equal 50-60 percent of the dog’s height from the withers to the ground. Because of the breed’s name, many people assume that all Catahoulas have the so-called “leopard” markings and blue eyes. In fact, the breed is noted for its many and unusual coat colors and patterns, as well as varied eye color. The Catahoula should be evaluated as a multi-purpose working dog, and exaggerations or faults should be penalized in proportion to how much they interfere with the dog’s ability to work. The essence of this is simply this. Looking at the dog, do it give you the impression that it could sufficiently perform the tasks the breed was created to do.


Powerfully built with well developed cheeks The head is powerfully built without appearing exaggerated. Viewed from the side, the length of skull and muzzle are approximately equal in length, and joined by a well-defined stop of moderate length. The planes of the top skull and the bridge of the muzzle are roughly parallel to one another. There may be a slight median furrow between the eyes and running back to the occipital bone. Gender differences should be apparent in the characteristics of the head.SKULL – The skull is broad and flat. The cheeks are well developed. Fault: Excessively broad skull; narrow skull.


The muzzle should be strong, deep and approximately equal in length to the top skull as measured from the stop to the occiput bone.  The muzzle should be broad at the base and taper towards the nose when viewed from the front. The muzzle is strong and deep. Viewed from above, the muzzle is moderately wide and tapering toward the nose. Lips may be tight or slightly pendulous with pigment of any color or combination of colors.Faults: Snipey muzzle.


The bite should be a strong scissor bite, with a level bite being acceptable. Complete dentition is greatly desired, however broken teeth are not to be faulted. SERIOUS FAULTS: Overshot or undershot bite. The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog has a complete set of evenly spaced, white teeth. A scissors bite is preferred but a level bite is acceptable. Full dentition is greatly desired but dogs are not to be penalized for worn or broken teeth. Serious Faults: Overshot or undershot bite.  


  Nose pigment may be any color or combination of colors.  


Glass eyes are preferred although the eyes may be of any color or combination of colors. The eyes do not have to be the same color and may have partial glass in one or both eyes, commonly known as “cracks”.Serious faults: Malformed or acentric formation of the eyes. Eyes are set moderately well apart, medium in size, somewhat rounded in appearance, and are set well into the skull. Eyes may be any color or combination of colors without preference. Eye rims are tight and may be any color or combination of colors. Serious faults: Malformed pupils; pupils not centered; sagging eyelids making haw visible; functional abnormality of eyelids or eyelashes. Note that there is a small but significant difference between the two versions.In my opinion, NO eye color should be preferred.


The ears should be short to medium in length with the tip of the ear being set level or slightly below the top of the head. Properly hung ears, with the inner edge of the ear lying close to the cheek are to be preferred. “Laid-Back” ears are acceptable.FAULTS: Fly-away or houndish earsDisqualification: Cropped ears. Ears are drop, short to medium in length, moderate in size, and proportionally wide at the base, gradually tapering to the slightly rounded tip. They should fold over and be generally triangular in shape. The top of the ear fold is level or just slightly below the top line of the skull. When the dog is at attention, the inner edge of the ear lies close to the cheek. Laid-back ears are acceptable but not preferred. Faults: Any ear type other than described above. Disqualification: Cropped ears.  


The neck should be muscular and of good length. The neck is muscular and of good length, without being overdone. The circumference of the neck widens from the nape to where the neck blends smoothly into the shoulders.Faults: Neck too short and thick or too thin and weak; excess skin forming dewlap.  


The length of the foreleg should be 50-60% of the total height of the dog as measured from the ground to the top of the withers. The shoulders should be well laid back with an upper arm bone of ample length. The forelegs should be set moderately far apart and the front feet should toe neither in nor out. The shoulders are strong and smoothly muscled. The shoulder blades are long, wide, flat and well laid back. The upper arm is roughly equal in length to the shoulder blade and joins it at an angle sufficient to ensure that the foot falls under the withers. The elbows are close to the body and do not turn out. The forelegs are straight, and of medium bone, indicating strength without excessive thickness. Pasterns are strong, short, and slightly sloping. The length of the forelegs should roughly equal 50-60% of the dog’s height at the withers. A dog with legs shorter than the ideal is to be more heavily penalized than a dog with longer legs. Faults: Forequarters significantly heavier than hindquarters; bone too heavy or too fine; straight shoulders; out at elbows; weak pasterns.  


The back should be strong and well muscled, level and of medium, length. The chest should be deep reaching below the elbow. The chest should be fairly broad with well sprung ribs. The underline should have tuck-up in the loin area to a moderate degree. A properly proportioned Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is slightly longer than tall. The top line inclines very slightly downward from well-developed withers to a level back. The back is broad and well muscled with a short, strong, slightly arched loin. A slightly longer loin is acceptable in females. The ribs extend well back and are well sprung out from the spine. The chest is deep, reaching at least to the elbows, and moderately broad. When viewed from the side, the forechest extends in a shallow oval shape in front of the forelegs. Tuck-up is apparent but not exaggerated. Croup is medium to long and slightly sloping. A slightly elevated rear resulting from slightly straighter rear angulation should not be penalized too severely. Faults: Chest too broad, too narrow or too shallow; soft top line; exaggerated or absent tuck-up; loin too long.  


The croup should be medium to long in length and slightly sloping with the tail having a meduim to high set. The stifles should be well angulated and the hocks should be set low to the ground. The hocks should turn neither in nor out when viewed from the rear.SERIOUS FAULTS: Dogs being either natural bobtail or having the tail docked
Hindquarters are strong and smoothly muscled. Width and angulation of hindquarters are in balance with the forequarters.
HIND LEGS – The stifles are well bent, and the hocks are well let down. When the dog is standing, the short, strong rear pasterns are perpendicular to the ground and, viewed from the rear, parallel to one another.Faults: Thin, weak hindquarters; cow-hocked; open-hocked.
TAIL: The tail is a natural extension of the topline. It is thicker at the base, and tapers to the tip. Natural bob tails are permitted, but not preferred. The natural bob tail, regardless of length, will taper in width from base to tip. A full length tail may be carried upright with the tip curving forward when the dog is moving or alert. When the dog is relaxed, the tail hangs naturally, reaching to the hock joint. Catahoulas should be allowed to carry their tails naturally when being shown. Exhibitors should not hold tails upright. Fault: Ringed tail. Docked Tail Disqualification: Complete Absence of a tail ( No External coccygeal vertebrae evident).

The Bobtail controversy is a subject that will not be addressed here. Strong arguments can be found on both sides of the issue. I’m not even touching that one.The issue of a Hooked tail should be discussed in another article. Maybe I’ll get to that.


The feet should be strong and moderate in length. Good webbing between the toes should be evident. Dew claws may be present or removed but if present should be uniform.Faults: Cat-footed or Coon-footed Good feet are essential for a working dog. Feet are well knit and oval in shape. Toes are long, webbed and well arched. Pads are thick and hard. Nails are strong. Dewclaws may be removed. Fault: Cat foot.  


The coat-length should be short to medium in length. Color – Leopards to be preferred and may come in blue, grey, black, liver, red, white and patched. Trim may be black, white. tan, red or buff. Solid colors acceptable are black, yellow, red and chocolate.DISQUALIFICATION: Long or fuzzy coated dogs The Catahoula has a single coat, short to medium in length that lies flat and close to the body. Texture ranges from smooth to coarse, without preference.

Catahoulas come in an endless variety of coat colors and patterns. All color combinations and patterns can have color points or trim, which may be located on the chest, cheeks, above the eyes, on the legs, underbody or under the tail. The Leopard pattern has a base color with contrasting spots of one or more other colors. Solids have a single coat color. Brindles may have a light or dark base coat color with contrasting stripes. The Patchwork pattern may or may not have one predominant solid color with one or more different size patches of different colors and shades placed randomly on the body. Colors must be rich and deep. No coat color or pattern is preferred.

Fault: Washed out colors.

Serious fault: 70 percent or more white.

Disqualification: 90 percent or more white coat color; solid white head; albinism.

Disqualification: Long coat; fuzzy coat that obscures the outline of the dog

I agree with the UKC’s stand on coat color.Washed out colors is an ongoing issue that should be discussed in another article.


The gait should be smooth and effortless denoting agility. Single tracking at a trot is acceptable. When trotting, the gait is smooth, fluid and effortless, showing good but not exaggerated reach in front and powerful drive behind. The top line remains level with only a slight flexing to indicate suppleness. Viewed from any position, legs turn neither in nor out, nor do feet cross or interfere with each other. As speed increases, feet tend to converge toward center line of balance. Poor movement should be penalized to the degree to which it reduces the Catahoula’s ability to perform the tasks it was bred to do.  


Males should measure 22-26 inches (55.8cm – 66.0cm). Females should measure 20-24 inches (50.8cm – 60.9cm).FAULTS: Animals being oversize or undersize Ideal height at maturity for males is 24 inches and for females, 22 inches, with a variation of two inches either way acceptable. Weight may range from 50 to 95 pounds, in proportion to the dog’s height. The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog must be both powerful and agile so actual weight and height are less important than the correct proportion of weight to height. Catahoulas should always be presented in hard, working condition. Any deviation from the ideal must be judged by the extent of the deviation, and the effect it has on the dog’s ability to work.  

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