Louisiana’s state mammal is the Louisiana black bear. Yes, there are swamp bears.
Louisiana also has an official state dog, the Catahoula leopard dog. The breed apparently takes its name from Catahoula Lake in north-central Louisiana. It is commonly believed to be a cross between dogs owned by Indians living near the lake and war dogs that accompanied Spanish explorers and soldiers.
The Catahoula region was said to be swarming with wild “razorback” pigs. However, pigs aren’t native to the New World. Catahoula’s razorbacks were therefore either New World peccaries or descendants of pigs introduced by Spanish settlers. At any rate, Catahoula leopard dogs proved adept at working with cattle as well as pigs.
It’s common for the dogs’ eyes to be two different colors.
The Catahoula leopard dog is closely linked to Louisiana’s state sport, which is rather . . . um, interesting.
Louisiana doesn’t really have a state sport. Rather, it has an official “hog dog trial”—Uncle Earl’s Hog Dog Trials.
A hog dog is a dog that has been trained to work with pigs. Hog dogs are commonly Catahoula leopard dogs or blue lacy’s (the state dog of neighboring Texas).
The event is named in honor of Earl K. Long, Louisiana’s most colorful and well-liked governor. Long was an avid hog hunter.
Dogs are judged on their ability to control pigs. In the past, such events could be pretty gruesome, with pigs and dogs tearing each other to pieces. Today, dogs competing in hog dog trials are allowed to nip pigs but not attack them.
However, hog dog fighting, or “hog dog rodeos,” is a bloodsport still practiced in the South. Some people consider an official hog dog trial, even if sanitized, a little tacky at best. What do you think?
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