On the subject of high-maintenance dogs, the German Shepherd might not be among the first breeds…
German Shepherds are one of the most reliable breeds, especially among working dogs. For this reason, they are commonly crossed with other breeds to create offspring with unique characteristics. Among the most interesting GSD crosses is the German Shepherd-Catahoula mix.
This article will discuss the German Shepherd Catahoula mix and talk about the general characteristics of this mixed breed.
About The German Shepherd Breed
German Shepherds are all-purpose working dogs best known for their roles in personal protection and police work. They are also beloved family dogs that co-exist very well even with small children and other pets.
As the breed’s name suggests, however, these dogs actually got their start in pastures of sheep.
The dogs that eventually became the foundation stock of the modern German Shepherd were specifically chosen for their athletic bodies and their ability to herd sheep by instinct rather than by intensive training.
Among their most notable characteristics was an ability to make independent decisions on the fly.
Today, the German Shepherd is ranked the 2nd most popular dog breed not just in the United States but also across the world. This is undoubtedly because of their even temperament and affectionate nature combined with their confidence and love for work.
About The Catahoula Breed
The Catahoula goes by many different names, including the Catahoula Hound and the Catahoula Cur. However, the official name of the breed—that which is registered with the American Kennel Club—is Catahoula Leopard Dog.
As you may have guessed, the breed originated from Louisiana’s Catahoula Lake area. Their ancestry includes Native American Wolf Dogs that were crossed with Spanish hounds (likely greyhounds and bloodhounds).
Those dogs were then crossed with the hounds brought by the French, which resulted in the ancestors of today’s Catahoula.
Like the German Shepherd, Catahoulas are known for their natural working instinct.
Although they are bred as multipurpose working dogs, they have a long history as herders of wild hog and cattle. Although they are still used for various types of work, they have also proven to be loyal household companions.
Why Cross A Catahoula With A German Shepherd?
Crossing a German Shepherd with a Catahoula will still result in a high-drive working dog. This mix will have the same energy level and exercise requirements as their purebred peers.
However, this mix might have a toned-down barking frequency, intensely protective nature, and mental stimulation requirements of the typical purebred GSD.
Additionally, mixing some Catahoula genes into the German Shepherd breed might result in offspring that are more trainable, adaptable, and playful than the average purebred Catahoula. These mixes are also more likely to be affectionate with their family and better able to socialize with children.
Another benefit of the Catahoula-German Shepherd mix is having a superior working dog without the excessive shedding associated with purebred GSDs. Many of these crossbreeds inherit the short and smooth coat of the Catahoula parent rather than the medium-to-long double-coat of the GSD.
General Characteristics Of A Catahoula – German Shepherd Mix
Catahoulas and German Shepherds are very similar in terms of working ability, but also have many differing traits. When crossed, their puppies could be vastly different from one another.
However, you can expect these general traits of a Catahoula – German Shepherd mix:
Although they might differ in physical appearance, German Shepherds and Catahoulas are similar in build. Here’s how they compare in terms of height and weight:
|Breed||Height (in.)||Weight (lbs.)|
|German Shepherd Dog||24 – 26||22 – 24||65 – 90||50 - 70|
|Catahoula Leopard Dog||22 -24||50 - 95|
Given these figures, you can expect the German Shepherd – Catahoula mix to grow to a final adult height of 22 to 25 inches. They will also weigh anywhere from 50 to 95 pounds.
The coat of the GSD-Catahoula mix will depend on which parent it takes after. If it inherits a Catahoula coat, you can expect a short-coated merle. They can also be brindle or solid-colored with some white trim or tan markings.
In contrast, the Catahoula-GSD mix that takes after the German Shepherd parent will most likely have medium-to-long hair with a thick undercoat. They are typically tan with black saddles but can also don several different colors like black, sable, or blue.
The grooming requirements of the Catahoula-German Shepherd mix will mostly depend on the type of coat it inherits. If they take on the GSD coat, they will need more frequent brushing, especially during the heavy shedding seasons that occur twice a year.
On the other hand, the Catahoula coat is easier to keep properly groomed. However, these dogs might need more frequent bathing as their skin might develop the smell commonly associated with hounds. A frequent once-over with a hound brush should also help with the distinctive smell.
The ears of the Catahoula-GSD mix might also need plenty of attention. Dogs that inherit the Catahoula’s large, floppy ears will be more prone to ear infections and infestations. It’s essential to check their ears frequently and keep them dry, especially after a bath.
All other grooming needs are the same as every other dog. They need regular nail clippings if their daily activities don’t keep them naturally filed down. They also need frequent tooth brushing for optimal oral care.
No matter which parent it takes its physique after, a GSD-Catahoula mix will be a strong dog. It will have a muscular, athletic body that will make it capable of doing various types of physically demanding work.
As for bite strength, Catahoulas are not known to bite. However, if it takes after its German Shepherd parent, it will not hesitate to use its 238 psi bite force if provoked or trained to do so.
The Catahoula-GSD mix might not be among the world’s fastest dogs, but it’s not one to be left behind. Its heritage in herding makes it not only fast but also agile.
Additionally, German Shepherds can run as fast as 30 miles per hour—a speed their offspring might inherit.
German Shepherd – Catahoula crosses are extremely energetic. They need plenty of exercise or opportunities for rigorous play on a daily basis.
Additionally, they thrive best when they have access to a large open space where they can run, play, and explore independently.
Apart from physical exercise, the Catahoula-GSD cross requires plenty of mental stimulation. Otherwise, they might use their will and intelligence on destructive activities.
Giving them a job to do and keeping them busy will work wonders in keeping them on their best behavior and making sure they’re happy and well-adjusted dogs.
Because of their intelligence, work drive, athleticism, and copious amounts of energy, Catahoula-German Shepherd crosses often excel at canine sports. They perform wonderfully at rally, agility, and dock diving and they are especially good swimmers.
The German Shepherd is ranked one of the world’s most intelligent dog breeds. In fact, they rank at #3, which means they possess elite-level intelligence.
Dogs at this level are impressively obedient, following commands at least 95% of the time. Additionally, they are so smart that they only need fewer than 5 exposures to master a new command.
Although Catahoulas have not been evaluated for the dog intelligence rankings, their superior intelligence is undeniable. One only has to observe them at work to realize just how smart these dogs are.
Given the intellectual capacity and work drive of both breeds, it shouldn’t be a surprise that GSD-Catahoula mixes are a delight to train. Teaching them new commands or training them to fulfill new roles can be incredibly fulfilling.
Catahoula-German Shepherds are generally even-tempered. They are wary of strangers but can be playful and even affectionate with family and others they are already familiar with.
When given ample physical and mental exercise, Catahoula-GSDs are happy to switch off and relax at home. Nevertheless, they have a protective nature and are likely to react to anything they might perceive as a threat.
Early and proper socialization is essential to making sure GSD-Catahoulas are well-behaved companions. They can be excellent with kids and other animals, but it’s always better to keep them supervised.
As with other large dogs, Catahoula-GSDs are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. Genetic testing of breeding stock should reduce the risk of these painful conditions.
Additionally, GSD-Catahoula mixes can be prone to bloat—a potentially fatal condition that is relatively common to the German Shepherd breed. On the Catahoula’s side, these crosses can inherit eye problems, recurring ear infections, and deafness.
The Catahoula-German Shepherd mix has a life expectancy of 10 to 14 years. They generally enjoy long and healthy lives as long as they’re fed a high-quality diet and receive regular veterinary attention. Keeping them at a healthy weight throughout their lifetime will also help improve longevity.
German Shepherd-Catahoulas are not recognized by the American Kennel Club because they are mixed breeds and the AKC is a purebred registry. Additionally, the Catahoula itself is not yet recognized as its own breed.
At present, Catahoula Leopard Dogs can be registered with the AKC but only through the Foundation Stock Service. This is the club’s record-keeping service for new breeds that still need time to develop and create their own standards.
Nevertheless, Catahoulas and their offspring with GSDs can participate in a number of AKC events, especially canine sports where they often excel.
How Popular Is The German Shepherd – Catahoula Mix?
The German Shepherd – Catahoula mix is quite rare because the Catahoulas themselves are not very popular dogs. They are well-loved by breed enthusiasts and you may find several breeders that specialize in producing high-quality Catahoula puppies.
As for mixes, the commercial value of Catahoula-GSD mixes is quite low. This is especially true when compared with purebred puppies. So, it’s no surprise that breeders would prefer to keep their pedigrees pure rather than cross these two dogs together.
If you do find GSD-Catahoula puppies from breeders that don’t really specialize in crossbreeding, they may likely be a product of accidental mating. Nevertheless, you can expect these dogs to be healthy as long as both parents are in good condition.
Crossing a Catahoula with a German Shepherd will undoubtedly result in a beautiful, multipurpose working dog. They can be taught to fulfill various roles and could also be loyal companions.
Nevertheless, these dogs are not meant to be merely household pets. They require plenty of opportunities to burn up all their working dog energy. They will also need mental stimulation that will keep them from using their smarts in mischievous ways.
As long as you’re ready to fulfill their mental and physical needs as well as able to offer firm leadership, the German Shepherd-Catahoula mix could be an excellent dog for you.
If you’re interested in learning more about breeds of all sizes that are crossed with GSDs, check out this article on popular German Shepherd mixes.