Louis Dougherty was born on Decemmber 24, 1876, in Philadelphia, the son of Francis Carpenter and Sara Roberts Dougherty. Dougherty attended public school in Philadelphia and studied at the Drexel Institute (1893-1898), where he studied with Howard Pyle and Charles Gmfly, and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where he had a fellowship. While student at Drexel, he won top honor, in various classes and also won the Francis Drexel Paul Award in the Institute for two consecutive years (1897, 1898).

Throughout his career Dougherty resided in Philadelphia and there achieved a notable reputation in the field, of portraiture, landscape painting, etching, illustration, and sculpture. One of his best known paintings was ,The Signing of the Constitution and was shown at Independence Hall in Philadelphia during the 1936 Democratic Convention.

He executed portraits of many historical and contemporary figures, including one of Franklin D. Roosevelt, which was presented to the Mexican government, and those of five mayors of Philadelphia. His work in sculpture consisted principally of small figures, bas-reliefs and busts with , preference for virile characters.  In the field of illustration, an example of his work appears in  the book entitled White Aprons by Maud Wilder Goodwin (1897).

Dougherty exhibited regularly at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the National Sculpture Society, and the American Numismatic Society.
During the First World War, he was a member of the U.S. Shipping Board as an artist. He belonged to the Scramblers Club of Philadelphia. His favorite hobby was studying the works of Shakespeare.

Dougherty was married in Philadelphia, May 25, 1908, to Maybelle, daughter of Samuel Frank Robbins, an architect and contractor.