For the last 6-8 years, I have spent a lot of time on the phone talking to people who want to buy dogs. Most of my satisfied customers are the ones who buy puppies and raise 'em and 'train' em themselves, but about 95% of the calls I have gotten are from people wanting to buy a 'finished' dog.
Now, I am sure many of the finished dog shoppers believe that they can take a shortcut to owning a great Catahoula finished dog by buying it already finished, and that seems perfectly reasonable until you realize that you can't make a dog do what it doesn't want to do, especially if it is a well bred Catahoula. For the inexperienced, a Catahoula will not hunt for anyone, anywhere, and anytime as other breeds do, and if you buy a Catahoula as a finished dog, chances are you need to give them a few weeks or months to warm up to you. It is one of the peculiarties of the breed and it is often blamed on the dog being no good, or the seller sold me a dog that wont hunt. But frankly if you are patient and work with me, it is worth your while. It took me 10 years to find those right genetics. I had to find out the hard way by breeding Maurice to many females, that the right stuff genetically is only in about 5-10% of Catahoulas out there. I am talking about the color of the coat, and especially the performance. And I don't care if it has papers, or not, the large majority of dogs called Catahoulas today are dogs that should not be bred or called Catahoula, because the heart and soul of the breed is based on performance and not blue eyes, or spotted coats.
There are many qualities in a well bred Catahoula that set them over and above the rest, such as grit, endurance, devotion, speed, agility, and intelligence. Put all of that together in a puppy, and you are gonna have problems, until they grow out of being a puppy, and settle down like these in the photo above and below. On the right is Jesse, out of Angel and Bob, and on the left is Scarlet out of Alida(a daughter of Maurice) and Riley.
I never bred Jesse to Scarlet because he had too much white for her, and instead she was crossed with a solid black stud named Cutty Dark, and you can see what that produced below.
Notice in spite of the stud being solid black, every one of his puppies came out as a blue leopard. Just like the momma in color, but that was not my goal, it was performance, and Cutty Dark being a grandson of 2 Diamonds Cutter, he like Cutter, produced nothing but magnificent, elite, high performance, offspring. Look at the attitude in this dogs eyes below.
Above and below is Valyrie, out of Scarlet and Cutty Dark, and I am giving you a close up of her, so you can see her attitude. And this my friends is a photo(below) of her at 6 months old! She came out of the litter in the 2nd photo above and is the puppy on the far right.
Valyrie as you can see as an adult in the photo below, is a great grandaughter of Diamond Cutter, AND Maurice. A blue leopard, with mostly black, tan trim, and virtually no white. And I don't care if she has blue eyes or not! Her momma had a glass eye and so do her offspring.
Here is one of Vals pups on the beach in San Diego
Now so much for proof that we got the breeding right colorwise, lets get back to performance, and consider what I hunt in here in south Louisiana. It is very flat here and it rains a lot which means that often times we are tracking through a swamp with water everywhere.
It is in these flooded situations where it becomes evident that my well bred dogs do not quit. And typically, it is brought to my attention by the hunters who have to follow me and my dogs like the 2 archers below who were tracking this 8 point in Thistlewaite and couldn't follow the blood because of too much water.
They called me in to advance the track past the 100 yards they had established on their own, and couldn't believe that my dogs were in 6" to a foot of water most of the time and were constantly keeping us on the move and showing us blood all along the way for the next 1200 yards or so...
And what really blew their mind was the bayous we had to cross... 3 of them, and all of this in about 40 degree's farenheit!
This track went far beyond the hunters expectations of how far this deer went because it looked like a good shot with lots of blood, but with water everywhere, it was near impossible to stay on this swamp donkeys trail, and once we got behind him with the dogs, it seemed to go on for about a half a mile before the hunters confessed that they may have to give up because of a time constraint. Somebody needed to pick up the kids after school, and we were at about 1 pm at that point.
But we pressed on for as long as we had time and all learned how far a really big buck can go even after you stick him in a vital organ, and in this case a liver shot.
With water everywhere this big boy tried to put as much distance as possible between him and the archers, but I believe he ran out of blood after he crossed the 4th bayou and settled into a safe thicket with a little dry land.
So lets get back to the first photos at the top of this post, and consider who is training who.
In the photo above is Jesse and Scarlet who are already on the other side and are waiting for us to cross the bayou behind them. Not only were these dogs going through water most of the way and showing us blood all along the way, they knew to wait for us after crossing the bayou because we had to find a shallow crossing and couldn't pass where the deer and dogs crossed without flooding our hip boots as seen below.
So while waiting for us to find a fallen tree trunk, or a shallow to cross the bayou, the dogs got out of the water and set up in sunshine to warm up and could also keep an eye on us and the surrounding woods.
The title is; Who Is Training Who? because these dogs are so smart, they will make you a better deer hunter and teach you how to track given enough opportunity to get through a few seasons with you behind them. And by the way, these dogs were never raised and trained to track wounded deer. Jesse and Scarlet were raised and trained to hunt wild hogs, and along the way I got too old to run with 'em, and they slowed down(for my benefit) and became very patient tracking dogs as you can see above.
I am getting a lot of calls from people needing a dog that will go the distance, through water, and on wounded deer that are not mortally wounded, even pursuing a slightly wounded, and highly mobilized deer that the dogs need to overtake and stop 'em. I have hunting guides tell me that as a rule about 1/2 the tracks that they need a dog on are gut shot, or have a low shot with a leg blown off, and are thus needing the speed and endurance of a Catahoula to kick in, and allow the dogs to stop 'em and bay and fight with the deer to buy them time to catch up and end the deers suffering. Another way to benefit from a Catahoula as a tracking dog for wounded deer is because of its speed, endurance, and persistance, it can keep the deer moving and thus it bleeds out and dies and is recovered. Hunting guides are telling me they need a dog that is adaptable to all the complexities of tracking wounded and dead deer and doing it for several deer a day. They need a dog that won't quit for any reason. and advances the track in any climate or geographical extreme, and perhaps this is not you, but if it sounds like what you need, maybe I have what you are looking for in a de la Houssaye's Catahoula if you are one of those people...
Here is a one year old son of Cutty Dark and Curly Tail as an example of what is in my yard as puppies now. And if you are shopping for a tracking dog, and want to start with a puppy, maybe you need to consider getting a dog as a puppy that is genetically predisposed to hunt rather than trying to train one that isn't BRED to hunt.