​T Bar S Catahoulas


Catahoulas are black, red or chocolate based.  Red and chocolate are used interchangeably but technically they are different.  Unless you’re a breeder that’s in this for the long haul it won’t matter if it’s red, chocolate or brown, it’s red.  The merle gene, piebald and other genetic modifiers change the base coat and get you the variety of colors and patterns seen in Catahoulas.

Merle is a gene not a pattern.  The gene dilutes the base coat creating the leopard pattern.

Single merle dogs have one copy of the merle gene.  Double merle dogs have two copies of the merle gene.  Solids have two copies of the solid gene.  Merle is dominant, solid is recessive.  This means to have a leopard you only need one copy of the merle gene.  For a solid you must have two copies of the solid gene.

Piebald is a modifier that causes the patchwork pattern.

Trim is typically buff, tan, rust, white, or brindle but can also be Irish spotting or ticking. Some dogs have no trim.  White and brindle on the body are not the same as in the trim areas.

Black, red, chocolate, liver, tan, blue, white and gray are dominate colors.   Red and chocolate remain recessive.  In order to see a dominate color only one copy of the gene is necessary.  To see a recessive color there must be two copies of the gene.  Some dogs also carry another dilute for yellow, fawn and silver.  These colors are not common in Catahoulas.  Occasionally a dog will look black but in some light it appears brown.   That color is sable and is not a preferred Catahoula color.

The importance of identifying the number of merle genes each dog carries is only important when breeding Catahoulas.  There should never be more than two merle genes introduced into any breeding.  If more than two merle genes are introduced it becomes more likely that there will be excessive white puppies.  Puppies that are excessive white are usually deaf and/or blind.  There is testing available to determine if a puppy has a sight or hearing deficit.  The hearing test is a BAER test and can be done by a veterinary neurologist.  The sight testing is called a CERF test and can be performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist.  Sight testing can also be done through the OFA.   

Catahoulas cannot be identified as double, single or solid based on appearance.  There are genetic tests available to determine what genetic markers each dog carries.  A simple DNA swab is all that is necessary to identify genetic markers.  Currently we are using IDEXX Labs in Canada. 

The information regarding color was provided by Phyllis Bennett-Lee of White Rock and Lee Catahoulas.

Eye color has always been a challenge.  All puppies start out blue then change as the pup ages.

The most frequent colors seen in Catahoulas are blue, brown, amber, and cracked eyes that are usually amber or brown with blue ​

Color and Merle Genetics