American Leopard Hound

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult American Leopard Hound
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A hound that was developed in America from a mixture of Spanish and Mexican dogs, the American Leopard Hound likely originated in the state of North Carolina. Despite their hunting prowess, their diligent working nature and their loving personality, this breed is a rare breed today that is rarely, if ever, seen outside the USA.

The American Leopard Hound is well-muscled and built in good proportion. They carry themselves proudly and have an effortless gait, covering a great deal of ground with ease. While their first love will always be hunting, they are happy to carry out just about any task set to them and will do so with flair.

About & History

The American Leopard Hound is also known as the Leopard Cur and is a dog that it is native to the United States. It is widely believed that this hound is a result of crossing dogs that were imported from Spain in the 1700s with native Mexican dogs.

A treeing hunter, the American Leopard Hound has traditionally been used to flush its prey up trees and keep them there while they wait for the hunter to arrive. They have musical barks when working and are adept at pursuing a variety of game, both big and small, from boar to bear. As well as their undeniable hunting abilities, this breed would have been used as farm hands and property guardians; a multi-purpose family member that truly earnt its keep. These dogs are well-respected for being able to live and work in extreme weather conditions.

The American Leopard Hound is thought to have originated in North Carolina, then to have moved east to Tennessee and Kentucky, finally travelling south to Texas. Despite their versatile abilities, the American Leopard Hound remains quite a rare dog in the United States and is even less popular internationally. This breed is recognised by the AKC within their Foundation Stock Service, and by the UKC within their Scent Hound group.


A medium to large-sized dog, American Leopard Hounds should be agile and quick in spite of their strong, muscular physique. While their head is big, it does not look out of place on their large body. Their muzzle is a fraction shorter than their skull and they have an obvious stop.

Their dark lips fit tightly over their mouth, which contains teeth that must meet in a scissors bite. While their nose is often black, it may be liver or brown in merle dogs. Their beautiful eyes are set far apart and are round and quite small. Though they are typically brown or yellow, they may be blue or ‘wall’ (one eye blue and one eye brown). Their pendulous ears are not overly long and originate high up on the face.

Their thick neck is wide and evidently well-muscled, merging gracefully into long and straight forelegs that end in ‘cat-like’ feet with thick pads. The body of the American Leopard Hound is almost imperceptibly rectangular in shape and they have a sturdy, level back with a reasonable abdominal tuck-up. While many know the American Leopard Hound to have a bob-tail, their tail may actually be any length.

Possibly best known for their attractive coat, the straight fur of the American Leopard Hound consists of a rough outer-coat and a light under-coat. It is their outer coat that offers them such substantial protection from external elements when working outdoors. Their fur is leopard-spotted (‘blotched’) and may be black, brindle, red, yellow, blue or mouse in colour. While white markings are permissible, a dog must never be more than 33% white.

The female will reach heights of 53cm to 63cm while the male dog will measure roughly 56cm to 68.5cm. Females will weigh form 16kg to 30kg once fully grown, while the males are heavier, weighing in at anything from 20.5kg to 34kg.

Character & Temperament

The American Leopard Hound is probably best known for its outstanding hunting abilities, though it is undoubtedly a multi-talented pooch. A natural treeing-dog, this breed can follow cold scents, takes good direction from the huntsman and has a strong yearning to do well at its job. All of these characteristics make it a desirable hunting companion. Once on the hunt, this dog will stop at nothing until it has found its prey and has very good endurance, regardless of weather or temperature. They also have a good knack for not getting injured after cornering their quarry, as they have quick reflexes and a sensible nature. Most commonly used in the pursuit of raccoons and wild boar, this superstar breed is even happy to track larger animals, including cougars and bears.

Both sociable and smart, this dog adapts well to life in the family home once their hunting day or work on the farm is over. They bond closely with all of the family, particularly with the children, of whom they can often be protective. An easy-going pet, the American Leopard Hound makes a relaxed and considerate house guest, that tends to have good manners.

Most breed members get along well with other dogs and enjoy having the company of at least one other canine. They should not be asked to live in harmony with smaller pets, who will inevitably be seen as prey.


Many breed fanciers claim that the American Leopard Hound is one of the easiest hounds to train. This opinion is likely accurate given their superior intelligence and eagerness to please. Given that this dog can be trained to track, tree, round-up and guard, among a variety of jobs, it is evident that they are happy to try just about any task set to them.

Owners should be cognizant of the fact that these dogs are primarily scent hounds so can find it near to impossible to ignore the scents around them and their instinct to go explore. Recall can pose a challenge in a public area where prey is nearby.


While this robust breed is usually quite healthy, there are a few health conditions to be on the lookout for:

Double Merle

When two Merle dogs are mated together, this can cause genetic issues and should always be avoided. Double Merle pups are more prone to congenital deafness and blindness.


This is a breed that is anecdotally more prone to a condition whereby one or both of the testicles fail to descend in to the male’s scrotum. By six months, testicles should have descended, and if they have not, surgical exploration is indicated to find and remove the hidden testicle(s). Failure to remove an internal testicle can result in testicular cancer in later life.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Certainly a breed with very high exercise requirements, the American Leopard Hound is not a slacker and loves to be running about in the great outdoors. Their ideal home would be on a rural property where they have acres to roam, and with a family that actively hunt. If this is not possible, they benefit from long walks, hikes and jogs each day to burn off their substantial energy. Once they have been adequately exercised, they are quite happy to relax in the home. Without an outlet for their energy that may become destructive when in the house and can develop nuisance, repetitive barking patterns.

An apartment or small home would likely not be appropriate for this breed as they are quite large and need a lot of space. Wherever they are homed, they should have a substantial garden that is securely fenced to prevent potential break-outs if they catch the scent of something nearby.


This breed manages to keep itself relatively clean with little input from their owner. They need infrequent baths and should just be brushed once weekly to remove dead fur and spread their natural skin oils along their fur.

The floppy ears of the American Leopard Hound must be checked regularly and will likely need to be cleaned out every one to two weeks. For owners that are unsure as to how to adequate clean the inside of a dog’s ear, a groomer or veterinarian will always be happy to perform a demonstration.

Famous American Leopard Hounds

While these dogs are not lacking in star quality, there are currently no famous American Leopard Hounds.


Quite a rare breed, there are no established American Leopard Hound cross-breeds.

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