Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Louisiana Cattle Dog

The article below was written by Shawn Champagne at Gretna, La. June 23, 2016 and edited by Marcus de la Houssaye

The Louisiana Cattle Dog
I haven't written an article in a while. And, against my better judgement, just awaiting the arrival of a message from someone, jumping at the chance to tell me how great their 'pot lickin pooch' is, I felt compelled to do a short write-up on this incredible Catahoula Cur breed.
I received a message from a Facebook friend in Colorado, asking me what a Catahoula Cur dog was, and, "why we used such a strange unpopular breed to herd cattle. Especially when there are so many 'better' breeds of dogs 'You Guy's' could be using." 
I couldn't help but laugh. And yes, my feathers got a little ruffled... 
But, Bless her lil ole' heart... "Forgive them Oh' Lord, for they know not what they speak." 
I've actually gotten to the age where I enjoy seeing people who "think" they know better, put their foot in their mouths. 

Probably the very reason why I don't openly give advise on Horses or Cattle, unless asked. I've learned just enough to be dangerous. So, for the record, I am by no way shape or form, a dog expert.

I am merely jotting down my personal experiences and what I've learned from men, whom are highly experienced experts. I am in NO WAY, criticizing other breeds.I have a passion for all working dogs, especially hunting class Labrador retrievers.

The Louisiana Catahoula Cur working dog is known by many names. Cur Dog, Blackmouth Cur, Catch Cur, Catahoula Leopard Cur and the list goes on.

Surprisingly, little is known about the actual breeding history and blood line of these magnificent Canines. 

Some say It dates back to when Hernando DeSoto explored Louisiana in the 1500's. That the Choctaw Indians dogs bred with DeSoto's Prized Greyhounds. I've heard tell, that it was the French explorers Beauceron (Boo-Sha-Rawn, in Cajun speak) herding dogs, bred with the-all but extinct ~ Louisiana Red Wolf.

 The modern Louisiana Catahoula Cur is a 3 way cross between Desoto's bull dogs, greyhounds and the native  Red Wolf

The word Catahoula comes from two Indian words. ("Khata", meaning Big water or Lake) and ("Hullo", meaning Loved one or Beloved) 

The average weigh of a Catahoula Cur dog varies between 50-120 lbs. Different weight are used in different applications. 

Such as hog hunting or cattle dogs. The Breed was adopted as the Louisiana State Dog in 1972. 

They are officially recognized by the AKC and can fetch quite a high price for a good proven Sire or Gyp. Either way, anybody who is really working cattle for a living in the South, gives two cow patties about what some AKC comfortable, soft shoe wearing snob, thinks anyway!
                                     My firsthand knowledge with these dog has ruined me beyond all measure. 

I have worked livestock, mostly cattle, in Europe, Mexico and all over the United States. and NEVER, have I seen the versatility, endurance, toughness and outright ballet of rampage, combined in one four legged package, as I have in the Louisiana Catahoula Cur. 

I've worked with, Austrailian Heelers, Aus Shepherds, Kelpie's, Stumpy's, Koolie's, Plot Hounds, Lancashire's, Beauceron's, McNab's, Basque's and Border Collie's. 

                         But, no herding, penning, and true warrior has blown me away, such as the Catahoula Cur. 

I will concede to the Border Collie,as being number one on my intelligence scale, and the Heeler a close second.
Each of the dogs I've listed, and had the pleasure to see work, has its geographical place. (Yes, I get it!!!) 

             A Border Collie, (which I'm passionate about) would not last ten minutes working in the alligator infested, 
                                         salt-water, coastal marsh or the dense bottom land swamp thick with trees.

                                          I could go on with the fault of each breed in the marshlands alone. 

                                      However, the Cur, it seems, was designed by God and given to the Cajun.

I've seen them pen Brahman's for six hours and never stop. 

Get gored and thrown ten feet high, climb trees to cross a creek or Bayou, (No BS) have broken legs, toes ripped off, ribs sticking out from barbed wire cuts, lips torn off from being hooked by a wild boar and still not stop.

                                     Be it ten inches of water, ten feet deep, or ten feet high, they will not quit.

In Cajun country, if a new Cur dog comes along and the rancher, cowhand or Vache Homme', (Francais) sees that he's "not cuttin da mustard," then, lets just say, he doesn't come back to the truck. 

                 A cattle man in Louisiana doesn't have time for "pet's" or mouth's to feed and play 'huggy-poo' with.  

                   Its about WORK, and work means money. So, you work, or you're gone! Same with his workmen...

There is an unexplainable magic to watching these dogs work. Almost as if watching a Gladiator within the arena.

 They have a sixth sense in a cow herd, almost a super power. And, when you see a gang of Cur's who grew up together, 

work as a team to pen-up a gaggle of swamp bulls, well, words can't describe it. To see an 85lb. dog make a 2000lb. wild, battle tested Brahman cry, is majestic beauty.

The Men who own these incredible dogs become known by reputation. 

They take so much pride in their lead dogs ability, that the Cowhand himself will risk life, limb and fortune to save that dog. 

He will not eat until his dog has eaten. He will not rest, until that Cur is tended to or doctored. His Cur's are his life blood.

From the massive cattle ranches in Florida, to the coastal plains of South Texas, the Catahoula, Blackmouth and Leopard Cur, can be found.

Though I am not an owner of one anymore, I still cherish those days when the Cajun boys showed up to pen the bad ones.

Those dead still, foggy Mississippi river mornings, 

you can hear the squeak of those axles on a stock trailer pull up, breaks squealing, horses in the back stomping that wooden trailer floor and Cur's in the front sniffing and whining, gets my blood pumping, any day of the week.

This article is dedicated to "Couilion" (Coo-Yaw'n)
RIP ole boy.
Le plus.grand chien de vache jamis.
Stay Punchy, My Friends!


 Marcus de la Houssaye, a breeder and trainer of Louisiana Catahoulas, 337 298 2630  

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I havexpect to concur with you sir. I am most proud of my girl and she does her job on the farm. Always eager to go and the kids love her. I always knew she was special, but reading this I see that she is more then I could imagine. Thanks for the great read.