The crisply coated Scottish Deerhound, ‘Royal Dog of Scotland,’ is a majestically large coursing hound struck from the ancient Greyhound template. Among the tallest of dog breeds, the Deerhound was bred to stalk the giant wild red deer.
Stand back: You need a little distance to fully appreciate the majesty of this ancient beast. In silhouette we see a noble coursing hound struck from the classic Greyhound template. Deerhounds are, though, much larger and more substantial than Greyhounds, a good-size male can stand 32 inches at the shoulder and weigh 110 pounds. The crisp coat is seen in several colors; breed aficionados prefer the dark blue-gray coat. The tapered head and long neck add extra lift to an already stately hound.
The breed is so old, we can’t separate the Deerhound’s true origin from myth and legend. Evidence suggests that large deerstalking hounds were in Scotland before the Scots themselves got there in the ninth century. As far back as anyone knows, clan chieftans used packs of huge, shaggy hounds to pursue and bring down the wild red deer: swift 400-pounders with punishing antlers. The breed’s home turf—the rocky, rain-swept Highlands—was remote, but Deerhound courage became proverbial in all of Britain.
Temperament: Dignified / Gentle / Polite
Height: 28 to 32 inches
Weight: 75-110 pounds
Life Expectancy: 8-11 years
Although a giant breed, a significant percentage of Scottish Deerhounds live to old age. While the breed does have some genetic health issues, the good news is many of the problems can be avoided, prevented, or treated successfully if the owner is proactive. Puppy buyers should buy a puppy from a responsible breeder who does the breed¿s recommended health tests and will be a resource for the dog¿s entire life. Another key to Deerhound health (in addition to good genes) is for the dog to be happy and well exercised. Deerhounds need a lot of exercise daily throughout their lives. For dogs under 18 months, the exercise needs to be age-appropriate; owners should consult with their dog¿s breeder and veterinarian for exercise recommendations for youngsters. Also, they are devoted family dogs that are happiest when their owners include them into their lives as much as possible. Finally, owners can educate themselves about the breed’s problems such as osteosarcoma, dilated cardiomyopathy, cystinuria, surgery-related issues (Factor VII deficiency, slow drug metabolism, delayed bleeding, and hyperthermia), liver shunt, and GDV/gastric or splenic torsion/bloat so problems can be avoided or identified and treated as early as possible, which greatly improves outcomes, in many cases. Detailed information on the breed’s health and research can be found on the Scottish Deerhound Club of America¿s Deerhound Health website at https://deerhoundhealth.org/.
Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
- Cardiac Exam
- Factor VII DNA Test
- Bile Acid Test
The Scottish Deerhound’s harsh, somewhat wiry coat is very easy to care for, requiring only an all-over brushing and combing every week or so. He will also need a trim of his nails every few weeks if they aren’t worn down naturally. Grooming tools to have on hand include a slicker brush, a fine-toothed metal dog comb, and an electric nail grinder or a pair of heavy-duty dog nail clippers. A occasional bath will help to reduce any doggy odor. Grooming sessions are a good time to inspect the dog all over for any new lumps or skin problems, and to check that the eyes and ears are healthy and trouble free.
Deerhound puppies are difficult to raise to their potential without a companion playmate and a large, securely fenced play area. This breed cannot be left crated in the house while the owner is at work all day if it is to develop properly to adulthood, both physically and mentally. Both puppies and adults need to be able to exercise freely on a daily basis and do what Deerhounds were bred to do’¿run for the sheer joy of running. Destructive puppies are generally not getting enough exercise. Forced exercise, such as running with a bike, should be avoided with immature hounds. Older Deerhounds are hard to pry off your couch, but they do require regular daily exercise regardless. While nutrition and exercise are key to raising a puppy into a fit, well-muscled adult, the secret to a healthy, long-lived Deerhound (in addition to good genes) is being happy and well exercised. This is not a breed that handles stress well, nor is it a breed that will thrive with just a daily leash-walk around the city block. Fitness should be maintained throughout old age.
The most beautiful Deerhound puppy in the world will turn into a wonderful adult only if given lots of gentle human companionship, exercise, and proper nutrition. Deerhounds are sensitive and respond best to positive training methods. They won’t do well in a kennel or left in a crate while their people go to work. While he possesses a quiet and dignified personality in the home, the Scottish Deerhound may try to chase any furry animals that run past him. For that reason, the breed should be exercised on leash or in a fenced area. Although he enjoys his family, his size may be intimidating to smaller children.
he Scottish Deerhound should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times. Because of the risk of bloat, several smaller meals per day are preferable to one large meal, and strenuous exercise is not recommended before or after feeding time.