Scottish Deerhound Guide

Hound Dog Breeds

The Scottish deerhound has a body like that of a greyhound but is of larger size and bone, enabling it to run at great speed using the double-suspension gallop without sacrificing strength and endurance. Its trotting gait is easy and true. Its hair is harsh and crisp, about 3 to 4 inches long on the body, ideally close-lying. Such a coat imparts a weather- (and dirt-) resistant quality, an essential asset in cold, damp climates.

The Scottish deerhound is mellow, low-key and easygoing — a gracious and well-mannered addition to the home. Outdoors, it loves to run and chase anything that moves. Indoors, it needs plenty of room to stretch on a soft surface. The deerhound is independent but willing to please; it is extremely sensitive. It is amiable toward, but often reserved with, strangers. This breed is good with children, other dogs and usually other pets, although it may give chase to strange animals.

AKC RANKING 127

FAMILY sighthound, Southern (sighthound)

AREA OF ORIGIN Scotland

DATE OF ORIGIN Middle Ages

ORIGINAL FUNCTION coursing stag

TODAY'S FUNCTION lure coursing

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 30-32 Weight: 85-110

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: >28 Weight: 75-95

OTHER NAME deerhound

Energy level Low energy

Exercise needs Medium

Playfullness Not very playful

Affection level Moderately affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Very friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Friendly

Friendliness toward strangers Friendly

Ease of training Easy to train

Watchdog ability Low

Protection ability Not very protective

Grooming needs Moderate maintenance

Cold tolerance Medium tolerance

Heat tolerance Low tolerance

The deerhound needs a good amount of daily exercise, either a long walk or a romp in a safe area. Although physically suited to outdoor living in temperate or cool climates, it prefers to live inside with its family and needs human companionship. Regardless, it needs soft bedding to avoid callouses. The crisp coat needs combing one or two times weekly. Some scissoring is optional to neaten up straggling hair, plus minimal stripping around the face and ears.
• Major concerns: gastric torsion, osteosarcoma
• Minor concerns: cardiomyopathy
• Occasionally seen: none
• Suggested tests: cardiac
• Life span: 8 – 11 years
• Note: sensitive to anesthesia
Among the most aristocratic of breeds, the Scottish deerhound has been valued by nobility for its prowess in running down deer at least since the 16th century. Confusion regarding names makes tracing its exact history before that time difficult, but it is probably a very ancient breed, deriving from ancestral greyhound roots. Like its smooth-coated greyhound relative, the rough-coated deerhound could not be owned by anyone ranked lower than an earl during the age of chivalry. As the stag population declined in England, the larger, rough-coated dogs suited for hunting stag became concentrated where the stag remained plentiful — namely, the Scottish Highlands — where they were valued and hoarded by Highland chieftains. This hoarding resulted in the decline of the breed in the mid-1700s following the collapse of the clan system of Culloden. Further decline occurred with the advent of breech-loading rifles in the 1800s, because hunting deer with guns supplanted coursing in popularity. By the mid-1800s, however, a concerted effort to restore the breed had proved successful, and although its numbers were never great, the quality of the dogs was high. The first deerhound club was formed in England in the 1860s, around the same time the first deerhounds were exhibited in dog shows. The First World War again decimated the breed's numbers because most of the dogs had been the property of a limited number of large estates, most of which did not survive the war intact. Since then, the deerhound has remained low in number but high in quality — a classic in every sense.