Deerhound (Scottish Deerhound)

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dark blue-grey, darker and lighter greys or brindles and yellows, sandy-red or red fawns with black points
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Pros Cons
  • forms strong bonds with its family
  • easy to groom
  • great hunter
  • spectacular appearance
  • independent-minded and stubborn
  • needs a lot of daily exercises
  • big size

The Deerhound is a large sporting breed that loves nothing more than to run and to be in your company. Created specifically to chase and kill the Scottish roe deer today this dog is primarily used as sweet-natured and loyal family pet. It’s an incredibly athletic animal, which requires staggering amount of exercise to feel itself fully happy.


The Deerhound is a truly ancient breed, which main quarry changed several times throughout its history. Nevertheless it’s almost certain that the breed was bred to hunt the magnificent stags of the Scottish Highlands since the XVI century. The strong probability holds that its immediate forebear was the Greyhound though the Scottish Deerhound differs from it with a rougher coat, which is particularly useful in harsh climate of Scotland.

The elegant Deerhound was of a great value for its outstanding hunting skills and reserved dignity. Actually it can be described as a royal dog since everyone who ranks below earl was prohibited to own one. This ban can also be explained by such an obvious fact that common people couldn’t afford to feed such a giant dog. Queen Victoria and Sir Walter Scott were among the most renowned fanciers of this dog. Due to the scarce number the Deerhounds has been on the brink of extinction multiple times and nearly died out when the Scottish clan system collapsed after the unsuccessful invasion of Bonnie Prince Charlie. By 1769 the number of Deerhounds fell dramatically. This breed got it second chance in the 20s of the XIX century thanks to Archibald and Duncan McNeill. At the same time it arrived to America and the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognised it in 1886. This dog was once again threatened by full extinction during World War I when many Scottish and English estates were levelled to the ground.

This tenacious dog did survive but it remains exceedingly rare outside its homeland. A few avid hunters still hunt with one or several Deerhounds. There are two ways of deer hunting that this breed was trained for. In deer coursing, the hunter with his Deerhound should steal up as close to the quarry as possible and then dogs are released to pursue and put it down. In deer stalking, the wounded stag should be run down and killed by one or two dogs. The breed is impressively swift in its pursue so it’s able to catch up with the deer in well under four minutes. Moreover along with its excellent sight, it also possesses exceptionally good nose. The Scottish Deerhound also has a notable potential of becoming a wonderful family pet, even-tempered and affectionate.

The Scottish Deerhound is known to be courageous and relentless in its hunting duties but calm, reserved and patient in a home environment. This graceful animal bears an air of royal dignity around it and it definitely has mind of its own. However it usually becomes very much attached to its family and loves to be engaged in its outdoors activities. The breed behaves forbearingly with children and can put up with much teasing from them.

The Deerhound expresses its friendly nature with unfamiliar people. Some specimens can become overly shy in the presence of strange people but it’s rather an exception than a rule. This dog may be peacefully taking a nap when you door bell is ringing so it won’t become a reasonable watchdog. It also wouldn’t be wise to make it a guard dog since it will more likely warmly greet the intruder than show any signs of aggression.

The Deerhound was occasionally used for pack hunting so it’s quite accepting of other canines. This breed would like to share its life with one or more dogs preferably of the same size. It has really strong hunting drive so almost every animal in its vicinity will be under the threat of a quick death. A home pet (including a home cat) and the dog will live in harmony if they have been brought up together. It’s worth to consider that a running animal will induce in the Deerhound a powerful urge to chase even if it treats it respectfully indoors.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• gastric torsion;
• cardiomyopathy;
• osteosarcoma;
• portosystemic shunt;
• cystinuria;
• hypothyroidism;
• inhalant allergies.

The Scottish Deerhound’s grooming won’t consume much time and efforts. Its coarse coat should be brushed a few times a week with a pin brush or a slicker brush. It’s also recommended to use a stainless steel Greyhound comb to work out any possible mats and tangles in its hair.

Bathe your dog just a few times a year and only when it’s absolutely necessary. The breed sheds moderately and more frequent brushing during shedding periods will help to reduce the amount of hair in your house.

The Deerhound is a clever but somewhat stubborn dog with strong inclination to independent thinking. That’s why it’s imperative that the trainer should always have imposing and strong personality of a leader. It won’t be satisfied just with a kind word as a single motivation to work so the training techniques should include plenty of favourite dog’s treats.

The rough-housing is by no means acceptable in a work with the Scottish Deerhound since offended and thus uncontrollable animal of its size can become a real problem.

The Scottish Deerhound exercise regimen should consist of at least two hours of physical activity each and every day. So you should rightly estimate your time resources since without large amount of exercise this breed will become extremely destructive at home. Properly socialised specimens will gladly accompany you in jogging as this dog absolutely loves running.

The Deerhound should always be kept on a leash because of its tendency to chase everything that moves. It would be optimal if you have a big, safely enclosed yard where the dog will be able to run to its heart content.