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Do you like the idea of a friendly and intelligent Labrador retriever but would also like a dog with more of a guarding instinct and a lower-shedding coat?
Meet the Labahoula, a mix of a Labrador retriever and a Catahoula Leopard dog. This unique crossbreed may be exactly the canine companion you are looking for! Highly intelligent, friendly, and protective, the Labahoula is a wonderful dog that is becoming increasingly more popular in recent years.
These rather large dogs make excellent and energetic family pets, but they also need lots of love and care. Read on as we take a closer look to help you decide whether they would make a good fit for you!
Labahoula Main Characteristics
- 21 to 26 inches
- 55 to 95 pounds
- 10 to 14 year life expectancy
- Short, low-shedding coat
- High energy levels
- Friendly and family-oriented
History Of The Labahoula’s Parent Breeds
Labrador retrievers are retriever gun dogs that were originally bred in the United Kingdom. They are highly intelligent and excellent working dogs, so they have also become popular modern workers in roles such as disability assistance.
Labs are naturally friendly dogs as well, which is one of the main reasons why they have become one of the most popular household dogs in the world.
The Catahoula, or Catahoula Leopard Dog, is an American dog named after Catahoula Parish in Louisiana. It is also the representative dog of that state. The breed is thought to have been initially created by French settlers from working dogs that they brought with them.
They interbred their dogs with swamp hunting wolf dogs owned by the Native Americans to develop a better working dog.
The result is a talented working dog good at hunting and guarding. At the same time, though, the Catahoula is also a friendly family-oriented dog that is well-suited to spending time with children of all ages.
The crossbreed Catahoula Lab mix started to become popular in the 1980s. It combines the fearlessness and loyalty of a Catahoula with the intelligence and friendly nature of a Labrador.
Of course, as is true with all crossbreed dogs, while we can predict the characteristics of puppies, they are not always “true to breed.” This means crossbred Labahoula pups can often be born with unexpected physical and personality traits. You won’t know what you get until you meet the dog. This is the principal reason that purebred dogs are often preferred.
Thankfully, both of the Labahoula’s parent breeds have a variety of delightful traits, so in the end, you’re likely to end up with a smart, friendly, and handsome dog.
Both of the Labahoula’s parent breeds are of a similar size, so the size of their pups is also fairly predictable. You can expect Labrador Catahoula mixes to be between 21 and 26 inches tall and between 55 and 95 pounds. The males are usually slightly larger than the females.
While Labradors tend to have a thick double coat, Catahoulas have a single coat that is short or medium in length. Their offspring usually inherit this shorter coat, but there are always exceptions to the rule.
So, while your Labahoula will probably have the low-shedding coat of a Catahoula, you may also take home a puppy only to find that they are high-shedding. It takes a few months to see how their coat will turn out.
Labradors are traditionally black, chocolate, or yellow, while Catahoulas come in a wide range of colors and patterns. As a result, it is highly unpredictable what colors and patterns their mixed breed pups will end up with.
Labahoula puppies tend to have a medium-length muzzle and floppy ears, but outside of this, it can be difficult to predict which parent they will take after. Some pups favor their father’s or mother’s traits, while others are a unique blend of both.
Labrador retrievers tend to be naturally social animals that love being around people and other animals and are more likely to make friends than engage in aggressive behaviors. Catahoulas, on the other hand, have more protective and guarding instincts.
While they will bond quickly with their family, they can display wariness towards strangers and other animals.
For this reason, it is important to socialize your Catahoula Lab mix properly from a young age so they know how to behave around strangers and other animals. When training is done properly early on, Labahoulas generally don’t display aggressive or excessively territorial behavior as adults, but they still make great guard dogs.
Labahoulas are safe to have in the house with kids of all ages, as they are innately protective and gentle with young ones. Still, though, you should never leave young children unsupervised with a dog, no matter how familiar they are with each other, as accidents can always happen.
Overall, these dogs also do better with older children as their high energy can be a little overwhelming for toddlers. Slightly older and more independent kids will enjoy playing with them more and can also help use up the dog’s excess energy.
Labrador Catahoula mixes tend to suffer from separation anxiety when left alone, so they won’t be happy to watch over the house while everyone is out and about at work. They do best in homes when there is someone around most of the time.
Even if they aren’t actively playing with whoever happens to be at home, they feel more comfortable just knowing that there is someone around.
Intelligence & Trainability
Labrador Catahoulas are intelligent dogs born from two highly intelligent parents, so they have the ability to learn commands quickly. They also have a talent for picking up what is wanted from them in new situations.
Keep in mind, though, that just because they are one of the most cooperative dogs, this doesn’t mean they don’t need proper training. Good socialization and obedience training as a puppy is essential for a happy and controllable adult dog, regardless of the breed.
When it comes to socialization, prioritize socializing them with smaller animals first, as their Catahoula parentage means they can have a tendency to hunt them. Thankfully, they can easily learn not to engage in this behavior.
Teach your dog to swim early on, as these dogs love the water. While they will know how to swim instinctively, you will need to teach them safety rules and the kind of behavior you want to see from them in the water.
In addition, take the time to teach your dog a variety of tricks and other tasks. This provides them with both mental and physical stimulation and will greatly contribute to their happiness. Learning to collect the paper for you or play fetch will feel like a game to them, not hard work.
Use positive reinforcement training to show your dog the behaviors you would like to see. Never punish your Labahoula or use harsh training methods, as these dogs tend to be very sensitive, which can lead to unwanted behavior.
Harsh punishment overall is not a good training technique for any dog, as it can be difficult to ensure they fully understand what they are being punished for.
For example, if you come home to discover your Labahoula pup has peed in the house, punishing them can confuse them. The act may be too far removed for them to know that peeing on the floor is the cause of the punishment.
If you catch them in the act, punishment might just teach them not to pee when you are around as opposed to not peeing in the house.
If you know your dog will be home alone often, use crate training rather than chaining your dog up, as being kept on a chain will cause this type of dog great distress. You can read our complete guide to crate training here.
While Lab Catahoula mixes are medium-sized dogs, they still tend to need quite a lot of space to thrive. This is because they are high-energy dogs and tend to always be “doing something.” If they are trapped in an apartment, this is challenging for them.
They tend to thrive if they have at least a little bit of outside space that they can call their own.
Labahoulas have lots of physical and mental energy, so they need regular exercise and training sessions to maintain a happy equilibrium. If you don’t tire them out, you can expect them to become insomniacs and keep everyone else in the house awake with their destructive boredom.
They need at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day, and the more active they are, the better. A slow stroll probably won’t wear them out, but joining you for a jog or an intense game of fetch will satisfy them. Look for off-leash dog parks to give them a chance to run.
These dogs have a big appetite to match their big energy levels, and they do need a lot of calories to stay healthy. Unfortunately, they aren’t very good at knowing when they are full, which means they can have a tendency to overeat or develop bloat in severe cases.
Never leave food out for a Lab Catahoula mix; instead, give them small, evenly-spaced, calorie balanced meals.
Never feed dogs with a tendency to overeat human food or food off your own plate. This can exacerbate their tendency to overeat, make it more difficult to track their calories and give them a tendency to beg for food.
Health Risks And Concerns
Labahoulas are generally pretty healthy dogs, but they can still inherit some of the health problems common to their purebred parents.
A particularly common health complaint is hip and elbow dysplasia. This is a condition that develops while your pup is growing and gives them pain and mobility issues later in life. The best way to avoid the problem altogether is with a healthy diet and appropriate exercise while the dog is still growing.
One of the biggest risk factors in developing this condition is over-exercising puppies. Despite their energy levels, Labahoula pups should have less exercise than adults, since their bones are still developing.
As a general rule, give them five minutes of exercise each day for every month of their age until they are fully grown. So, according to this rule, a six-month-old pup needs about 30 minutes of exercise per day.
Another condition that Catahoula Lab mixes are more likely to develop than other dogs is known as cold tail syndrome. This is when the tail of the dog appears to be broken as it hangs down from its base.
Again, too much exercise as a pup can make this condition more likely to occur. This is especially true for activities like swimming, which uses lots of tail action.
Both sight and hearing problems are also relatively common in Lab Catahoula mixes, and many dogs will lose at least some of their sight and hearing as they age.
When their sight is affected, night blindness is often the first symptom. If you notice this, take your dog to the vet to see if they are suffering from retinal atrophy, cataracts, or another eye disorder so they can receive appropriate treatment.
If hearing becomes a problem, your dog may be more likely to misbehave, both because they cannot hear you and out of frustration. Teaching your dog hand signals from a young age can be useful if this occurs (learn about hand signals for dogs here). This condition tends to be more common with dogs with white in their coats.
While this might seem like a long list of potential medical concerns for your dog, don’t confuse predisposition with the assumption that they will develop these problems. It is a good idea to keep these conditions in mind, but it is equally likely that your dog will live a long and healthy life with no serious health issues.
Should I Get A Labahoula?
Are you thinking about adopting a Lab Catahoula mix into your family? If so, ask yourself the following questions to decide whether you are a good fit for this particular crossbreed.
What Is Your Home Like?
These high-energy dogs tend to be constantly active, so they will feel stifled in a small apartment. They tend to do best when they have a bit of space at home to keep themselves entertained.
Is There Usually Someone Home?
Labahoulas are highly companionable dogs, but they don’t only like human companionship. They need it to stay happy. In fact, they can develop severe separation anxiety if they are left alone for extended periods of time. Is there usually someone home at your house to keep your pup occupied?
Do You Have An Active Lifestyle?
These energetic dogs need lots of exercise. They need a chance to run for at least around an hour every day, and they will be happiest if they can accompany you on outdoor adventures on the weekend. Does that suit your lifestyle? If you prefer to sit on the couch on the weekend, they might not leave you in peace.
Are You Confident With Dogs?
Catahoula Lab mixes are pretty easy to train, so even first-time owners should be able to take on the challenge with little difficulty. However, due to their rather boisterous and independent nature, they also need a firm hand. They might not listen if you aren’t firm and direct enough with them. Are you confident in taking on the role of an Alpha?
Do You Have Other Small Animals At Home?
Because of their Catahoula parentage, these dogs can have a tendency to want to chase and hunt smaller animals. If you have small animals at home, bear in mind that this will need to be a training priority from an early age.
FAQs About Labahoulas
Are Labahoulas aggressive?
No, Labahoulas do not tend to be naturally aggressive, thanks to the calm and friendly temperament of their Lab parent. However, Catahoulas can have a drive to chase and hunt smaller animals, so their mixed-breed pups might give your cat a run for their money. Proper training and socialization early on can effectively curb this urge.
Do Labahoulas bark a lot?
Labahoulas don’t tend to bark very much, and you should only expect to hear them bark when they want to get your attention for something. If they seem to start barking excessively for no reason, this can be a sign of a problem. They tend to bark when they are feeling stressed from spending too much time alone or are not getting enough exercise.
Can Catahoula Lab mixes climb trees?
Yes! Catahoulas are known to be among the best tree climbers, often heading up a trunk after prey. This is a skill that their mixed breed puppies also tend to inherit.
How much do Catahoula Lab mixes cost?
If you are buying from a reputable breeder, expect to pay between $500 and $1,200 for a Labahoula puppy depending on your location and the demand in your area. They are still a relatively new breed, which means there are fewer breeders working with them. This can also push prices up.
Labahoula dogs often mix the best traits of their purebred parents. They have the friendly temperament of a Labrador and also their intelligence and eagerness to learn. They can also have the loyalty and guarding instinct of a Catahoula, which can help you feel like you have a bit more protection at home.
Regardless of how their characteristics mix, you can expect these dogs to be highly energetic and have a great love for running, playing, and swimming. They thrive when they are kept mentally and physically active, and they can easily become frustrated if they are left alone for extended periods of time.
Labrador Catahoula mixes need lots of love and attention, but they will repay you with their friendly, loyal, and intelligent natures. This is why they make fantastic family pets.
Do you have experience with Labrador Catahoula mixes?
Share your thoughts with the community in the comments section below.
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