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Welcome back for another breed spotlight! Lately I’ve been thinking about hound dogs, and the many breeds of hound that aren’t as popular here in the states as they are in Europe or other parts of the world. The Scottish Deerhound, also just called the Deerhound, is one dog that I think deserves a little more recognition.
Last update on 2018-11-20 at 16:25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
As far as I remember, we’ve only mentioned this dog once on the website, when talking about larger dogs that don’t tend to live as long. And it’s true that Deerhounds aren’t the longest lived pet there is. But there are many great things about this breed. Let’s dive into what makes this breed so unique, and why they aren’t as common for American owners.
The Scottish Deerhound has existed in some form or another for centuries in the highlands of Scotland. We don’t actually know their exact origin, but we do know that they are related to a rough-coated version of Greyhounds. As far back as the 16th century, we have written record of these dogs being used to hunt stag, as well as other bigger game in very harsh conditions.
During this time in history, Scotland was ruled by clan leaders, or chieftains, each in charge of protecting and caring for their clan –anywhere from a basic family group to a town’s worth of people or even more. Being able to hunt all year round, and consistently bring in meat to feed the clan, was a huge deal.So, when a Deerhound showed the ability to hunt, they were highly prized. Clan leaders would actually hoard these dogs, keeping as many as they could so that they could get a leg up on the meat market.
When the clan system in Scotland was replaced by royal hierarchy, and the industrial revolution hit, these dogs actually became nearly extinct. It wasn’t until dog shows became popular that they started to make a comeback as a very noble and aristocratic hunting companion. Now these dogs are mostly companions, though many do still hunt for sport.
Consider the way a Greyhound looks, with their thin, gangly bodies, and long, graceful snouts. Then add a coarse, wiry coat that looks a little scruffy, and you have a Scottish Deerhound. These dogs have slender legs, narrow bodies, and long tails. Their coats do look a lot like the Irish Wolfhound, but the Scottish Deerhound isn’t nearly as stocky. These dogs stand about 32 inches tall, and weigh between 85 and 110 pounds fully grown. That weight is all lean muscle. The coat isn’t very long, and the curl makes it appear even shorter. It clings close to the body because the dog was bred to handle cold, wet weather in the highlands. This dog’s coat also doesn’t tend to shed very much. Finally, it has bushy eyebrows that are very expressive.
This breed comes in gray, blue gray, gray brindle, and standard brindle – however, the ears are usually always black or dark colored regardless of the rest of the coat. Often the eyebrows and facial hair will be lighter than the coat, appearing gray or white even in the dog’s early years.
Just like the Greyhound, this dog is a couch potato for most of the day. Historically, this breed would be kept quiet and rested until the hunt, to ensure they had optimal energy. That lifestyle seems to have carried over today. They are so laid back that they could be considered lazy – until there is something to chase. This dog absolutely is a runner and will chase anything that they consider prey. Squirrels, rabbits, cats, dogs, cattle, cars – nothing is too big or off limits unless you teach your Deerhound what to not chase.
They also tend to have a bit of a sly humor when it comes to training. They are good dogs that like to please, but they are more laid back and sassy about it than, say, a Labrador might be. While this breed is very affectionate, and does need to have their person around, they are likely going to be interested in pleasing themselves more often than not.Luckily that usually just means taking a lot of naps, so long as you are careful when outdoors.
These dogs are not really suited to living with multiple other pets, and they don’t tend to be overly friendly with strangers. That being said, they aren’t great watchdogs because they don’t tend to want to alert you to anyone’s presence – they are just too busy lounging around. They aren’t barkers and they aren’t vocal in other ways, usually. They also don’t tend to drool, snore, or dig.
Having a Deerhound around means that you’ll need to give them room. These dogs need a big bed to stretch out on, and plenty of room to run outdoors. They tend to do better in colder environments, but they can thrive in warm weather if you keep your home air conditioned.
The Scottish Deerhound doesn’t require a lot of specific care, but they aren’t great dogs to choose if you have to leave your dog alone often. They prefer to be hanging out with you more often than not, even if all they are doing is napping nearby.
Feeding is one of the things that the owner of a big dog like this needs to get right. It takes a lot of energy to maintain a big body for a dog, even when they aren’t super active. They should be eating a food designed for large breeds, especially in the puppy stage. Large breed dogs like this are often prone to bloat, so grab a slow-feed bowl, or feed a Deerhound in small amounts to prevent this dangerous condition.
Training is the next thing you’ll need to consider with this breed. Remember when I said that the Deerhound isn’t necessarily the easiest dog to train? They are smart, but they just want to do what they want to do. Well, here’s a trick: this dog is very motivated by food. Unfortunately, they often want people food, which can be dangerous for them. Snacks are good but be sure to choose a low-calorie training snack to keep them from gaining weight. Another thing you can try is the right type of squeaky toy that mimics prey. Have more than option on hand, as Deerhounds get bored fast.
Deerhounds don’t require a long of exercise, but they do need some, and they need it to be intense. Rather than needing a long walk every day, a Deerhound will be healthier with 20 minutes of hard, intense running. If you don’t have a safe fenced-in yard, look for a very secure dog park or another place where you can keep your Deerhound secured while they run. You might even consider setting up a dog run in your back yard if you can’t put up a fence.
If you do take your Deerhound on a walk, be sure you are physically capable of restraining this big dog. If something unexpected runs by, it will be hard for them to resist running after it. They aren’t afraid of traffic and a spirited chase is one of their favorite things.
Grooming is an easy task with a Deerhound. They don’t tend to shed, their coats are good at keeping dirt off, and they do not drool. Generally, they need their coat brushed about once a week, and they may need their beard cleaned a few times a week if they tend to get it in water when drinking. Otherwise, just be sure to brush their teeth and trim their nails about once a week as well, and your Deerhound will be in good shape.
While all dogs have the potential to be perfectly healthy, or unhealthy, regardless of their breed, some breeds do have a tendency to be prone to certain health problems. As a large breed, Deerhounds are prone to things such as:
Deerhounds are often not able to have certain anesthetic drugs, and don’t react well to extreme stress, such as being hospitalized overnight.
The best thing you can do for a dog of this breed is to get them screened early and often for the common health issues that they face. It is important to keep an eye on growing puppies for any sign of discomfort or pain that could signal a bone issue. Adult Deerhounds should be screened for heart problems. And if your Deerhound shows any signs of distress or discomfort, don’t wait in taking them to the vet.
Like most large breeds, Deerhound don’t tend to live beyond around 11 or 12 years at the most. The average lifespan is probably around 10 years. This means that Deerhound mature a little faster than other dogs, so adult screenings for health concerns should begin earlier than you think.
Deerhounds aren’t the best dog to have with other pets. They are a bit sensitive to stress and excitement, and other dogs can cause them to be overly anxious. Other pets like cats, birds, rodents, and so on, will likely just been seen as prey to chase.
With kids, a Deerhound could probably take it or leave it. They will be friendly and play with a kid, and they aren’t prone to aggression, but they don’t want their naps interrupted, and they aren’t likely to listen to a kid’s direction (in other words, don’t let your kid take your Deerhound for a walk!).
So, let’s sum up this breed in a few short points. A Deerhound:
Last update on 2018-11-20 at 16:25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
So, would a Deerhound be the right dog for you? Are you someone that wants a companion that is content to just chill out while you go about your day? Are you someone that also gets out for one intense session of exercise, before spending the rest of the day lounging? Are you someone that wants a dog that doesn’t take a lot of grooming? Do you like big dogs, and can you handle a big dog?
If all of that sounded like you, then a Deerhound could be a great dog for you. These noble hunting dogs are ideal for someone that has a fenced-in yard or can get to the park quickly every day. They are great for single people, married couples, or families with older children, who don’t have any other pets. If you love the idea of a dog curled up by the fireplace on a winter’s eve, with cocoa in your hand, Netflix on, and the snow falling outside, then this dog fits your idea of dog ownership perfectly.
Be sure to check that the breeder you buy from has a certification of the health of the parents and grandparents of the puppy. This will help you avoid the most common diseases as much as you can. If you are adopting from a shelter, be sure to have a good relationship with your vet, because you’ll be visiting them often for screenings and checkups.