The Scottish Deerhound is friendly, gentle, and intelligent, strongly resembling a rough-coated Greyhound, just larger and more heavily boned.
Some believe that that the Scottish Deerhound breed predates recorded history. Some evidence of that can be found on stones from around the 7th century AD, depicting hunting with hounds.
While not as fast as a Greyhound on flat terrain, they can outperform a Greyhound on hills and rough ground. The cool, damp, and hilly Scottish Highland Glens, where they were bred to hunt, contributed to the larger, rough-coated appearance of the breed. The Deerhound is closely related to the Irish Wolfhound and was the main contributor to that breed’s recovery in the 19th century.
The Scottish Deerhound was bred to hunt red deer, until the end of the 19th century, when modern rifles and slower tracking dogs became the hunting preference. In coursing deer, one or two Deerhounds were brought as close to the deer as possible & then released to run one of them down by speed.
Although some still employed Deerhounds for their original intention, the majority of its remaining enthusiasts made them into a show breed. Many Deerhound owners also involve their dogs in coursing, a sport that lends itself to the dog’s desire to run and chase.
The Scottish Deerhound is gregarious and gentle in nature. The breed is known for being dignified, docile and eager to please. They are affectionate, charming and intelligent. If socialized appropriately, the Deerhound makes an outstanding and stable companion.
One mustn’t forget, though, that the Deerhound is a Sighthound, bred over generations to pursue game; and as a result, most Deerhounds are eager to chase.
- Mature families, in peaceful homes with fenced yards.
- Families willing to spare no expense when it comes to dog food, as the breed requires the highest quality food.
- An owner that has researched and understands Sighthounds (hounds that hunt using sight).
- Owners using harsh training methods, as they will be met with fear and resistance.
- Outside living, nor should they be let off leash when not in a securely fenced area.
- Strict obedience. While highly intelligent, this is not an ideal obedience dog, as they are quite willful and do not see the point in repeat performances.
- Loyal to their families.
- Witty and comical.
- Beautiful, graceful, and kind-natured.
- Easy to maintain, if you are familiar with their requirements.
- Wonderfully individual personalities.
- Cannot be trusted off-leash.
- Puppies are expensive.
- Large food and vet bills for this giant breed.
- Larger messes to pick up.
- Needs large fenced areas to run.
- Needs a large car for transporting.
Females: The breed standard calls for an average height of 28-32 inches at the shoulder, and roughly 70-95 pounds.
Males: The breed standard calls for an average height of 30-34inches at the shoulder, and roughly 85-120 pounds.
Today, the harsh, wiry coat is only seen in various shades of gray (blue-gray being preferred). Although historically, Deerhounds could be seen in brindle, yellow, and red fawn coats, these genes now appear to be lost.
A young Deerhound requires a great deal of free running exercise to develop properly and maintain a healthy condition. While they don’t necessarily require a large living space, Deerhounds should have frequent access to a large fenced or otherwise secure area. Deerhounds should not be raised in a small yard, or on just leash walking, as this would be detrimental to their health and development. Responsible apartment and city dwellers can successfully own a Deerhound, so long as they are willing to regularly venture to nearby parks for lengthy runs and exercise.
Average is 8 to 12 years.
The Deerhound is a giant breed, and therefore can accidentally knock over young children or even frail adults. Their height makes it easy for them to steal a youngster’s ice cream cone or food on tabletops and counters. As with all dogs, in respect to children – sleeping and eating times should be undisturbed. For the most part, Deerhounds love all people and to be in their company, so long as they are treated gently and with respect.
Deerhounds prefer living with other dogs, preferably another Deerhound or large Sighthound. Small critters, such as cats, rodents and even some small dogs may be seen as prey to some Deerhounds, especially if not raised with them. Therefore, proactive care must be taken when introducing a Deerhound to other dogs and pets.
Deerhounds are excellent at lure coursing and make beautiful show dogs. They are wonderful hiking companions and enjoy time with their family. With appropriate socialization, they walk calmly on leash and travel well in the car.
For an indoor pet Deerhound, weekly brushing, regular nail trimmings and the occasional bath are all that is required to keep the coat in good form. Deerhounds competing in the show ring require more regular bathing and stripping of the hair on the dog’s ears.
Despite Scottish Deerhounds’ average life expectancy of 8 to 12 years, it can be hard to find a line free of the serious health issues that affect this breed. Cardiomyopathy, osteosarcoma (bone cancer), bloat, torsion (GDV), and Factor VII (a blood clotting disorder) are all very real threats to this breed.