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Scottish Deerhound

The Scottish Deerhound, or simply the Deerhound, is a breed of hound (a sighthound), bred to hunt the Red Deer by coursing.

The Scottish Deerhound resembles a rough-coated Greyhound. It is however, larger in size and bone. It is one of the tallest sighthounds, with a harsh 3-4 inch long coat and mane, with somewhat softer beard and mustache, and softer hair on breast and belly. It has small, dark "rose" ears which are soft and folded back against the head unless held semi-erect in excitement. The harsh, wiry coat in modern dogs is only seen in self-coloured various shades of gray (blue-gray is preferred). Historically Deerhounds also could be seen with true brindle, yellow, and red fawn coats, or combinations, but these genes now appear to be lost. A white chest and toes are allowed, and a slight white tip to the tail; a white blaze on the head or a white collar are not accepted. The head is long, skull flat, with little stop and a tapering muzzle. The eyes are dark, dark brown or hazel in colour. The teeth should form a level, complete scissor bite. The long straight or curved tail, well covered with hair, should almost reach the ground.

The Scottish Deerhound is gentle and extremely friendly. The breed is famed for being docile and eager to please, with a bearing of gentle dignity. It is however a true sighthound which has been selected for generations to pursue game, consequently most Deerhounds will be eager to chase. The Deerhound needs considerable exercise when young to develop properly and to maintain its health and condition. That does not mean it needs a large house to live in, however it should have regular access to free exercise in a fenced or otherwise "safe" area. Deerhounds should not be raised with access only to leash walking or a small yard, this would be detrimental to their health and development."Deerhound Character"

Young Deerhounds can sometimes, depending on the individual, be quite destructive especially when they are not given sufficient exercise; however, the average adult Deerhound may want to spend most of the day stretched out on the floor or a couch sleeping. They do require a stimulus, preferably another Deerhound, and a large area to exercise properly and frequently. They are gentle and docile indoors and are generally good around company and children (however they require supervision with young children due to their size).

Barring major medical emergencies, Deerhounds can be expected to live to approximately 9-11 years of age. The serious health issues in the breed include cardiomyopathy, osteosarcoma (bone cancer), bloat and torsion (GDV).


Scottish DeerhoundOther names:Deerhound
Country of origin: Scotland

The Scottish Deerhound is believed by some to have existed back to a time before recorded history. Its antecedents were kept by the Scots, and would have been used to provide part of their dietary requirements, namely from hoofed game (archaeological evidence supports this in the form of standing stones and excavations reflecting the hunt using hounds, such as the Hilton of Cadboll Stone). In appearance the Scottish Deerhound is very similar to the Greyhound and may have been closely related to the "Highland Greyhound". The environment in which it worked, the Scottish Highland moors, likely contributed to the larger, rough-coated appearance of the breed. The Deerhound was developed to hunt red deer by “coursing”, and by “deer-stalking”. In coursing deer, a single Deerhound or more likely a pair of Deerhounds, would be brought as close as possible to red deer, then slipped to run one of them down by speed, which if successful would happen within a few minutes - rarely were there sustained chases. With the eventual demise of the clan systems in Scotland, these hunting dogs became sporting animals for landowners and the nobility, but when possible continued to be bred and hunted by common folk. Fast and silent hunters they made quick work of any game from a hare up and were highly regarded by the nobility and poachers alike. One of the most precarious times in the breed’s history seems to have been towards the end of the nineteenth century, when many of the large Scottish estates were split into small estates for sporting purposes, and few then kept Deerhounds for hunting deer. The new fashion was for stalking and shooting, which required only a tracking dog to follow the line of a wounded animal, and for which purpose a collie or similar breed was found to be more suitable. Although a few estates still employed Deerhounds for their original work, on most estates they became obsolete and the breed was left in the hands of a few enthusiasts, at which time they became a show breed. The Deerhound is closely related to the Irish Wolfhound and was the main contributor to the recovery of that breed at the end of the 19th century.

Scottish Deerhounds compete in conformation, lure coursing, and where it is still legal, in some states of the USA, in hare coursing. A few are trained to succeed in obedience competition but few excel in it, fewer still excel in dog agility or flyball because the courses and activities are generally designed for smaller dogs, with lower body weight and a much shorter stride.