Did You Know?
Traditionally, no one of rank lower than an 'Earl' could own a Scottish Deerhound. This desire for exclusive ownership has, at many times, led the breed almost towards extinction. The brothers Archibald and Duncan McNeill started a breeding program and saved the breed in the 1800s.
Evidence shows that the breed 'Scottish Deerhound' dates back to the 3rd century, and it is one of the few breeds that has changed very little in the last few centuries. In the middle ages, Scottish tribes used these dogs for deer, wolves, and wild boar hunting. In ancient times, these dogs were known by different names; for example, Scotch Greyhound, Rough Greyhound, and Highland Deerhound. The breed was once known as the 'royal dog of Scotland'. Queen Victoria and Sir Walter Scott owned Scottish Deerhounds. As the dogs were developed and used for the pursuit and killing of the deer, the breed must have finally got the name 'Scottish Deerhound.' When guns were invented, demand for chasing or hunting dogs decreased considerably. Scottish Deerhound was first recognized by the AKC in 1886.
These dogs are known for their sharp sight and acute sense of smell. These days, in the U.S., they are used in conformation (breed show) and lure coursing (a dog sport that involves chasing a mechanically operated lure). In some states, wherever it is legal, they are used in hare coursing and for coyote hunting. Being large in size, these dogs need a large space to move around; however, they are not good watchdogs. They may not bark or growl on a stranger's entry into your yard. As a responsible owner of a Scottish Deerhound, if you are interested in knowing the personality traits, grooming and training requirements, living and eating habits, and common health problems of the breed, here is the information.
- Male: 30 to 32 inches (75-80 cm) or more
- Female: 28 inches (70 cm) or more
- Male: 85 to 110 pounds (40-50 kg)
- Female: 75 to 95 pounds (35-43 kg)
- It is available in various colors and markings. Various shades of gray; for example, blue gray, brindle, gray, gray brindle, dark gray, and black brindle are characteristic of this breed. Some may have white patches on their chest, feet, and tail.
(III) Characteristic Features
- Like other giant dogs, these dogs need a large yard to run around and plenty of food.
- With their impressive, tall, slender stature, and greyhound-like curves, Scottish Deerhounds look like rough-coated Greyhounds, but they are larger and heavier than the latter.
- Their coat is about 3-4 inch long, harsh, and wiry. Somewhat shaggy but softer beard, brows, mane, and mustache help reflect their intelligence. The coat is shorter and softer on the head, breast, and belly.
- The dark-colored, soft, glossy ears are relatively small. Usually they are folded back against the head. They are half-perked when these dogs are excited.
- With an easy but speedy gait, they are always eager to run and chase. Their thighs are muscular and legs are quite strong and straight. To take care of a Scottish Deerhound, you will need at least six-feet high fencing for your yard.
- Their tail is quite long (almost reaching the ground) and tapering. They have a deep chest, strong neck, long head, and pointed muzzle. The skull is flat, and not round.
- The eyes are dark, dark brown, or hazel in color. The teeth and lips level.
(IV) Litter Size
- The average litter size of this breed is 4 - 15 puppies.
(V) Life Span
- The average lifespan is 8 - 9 years.
- The harsh, wiry coat needs regular grooming. The coat can be easily trimmed and stripped. No great skill is required. The breed is an average shedder.
- Even if you don't get time for combing or brushing for a few days, the long neglected coat can be set right in 10-15 minutes. An occasional bath can help remove the dust, dirt, and the 'doggy odor' from the coat.
- With a sturdy pair of nail clippers, a slicker brush, and a good quality steel comb with close-set teeth, you will be able to maintain the coat. Occasionally, you can pull out the long and/or light colored hair from the ears.
- It is a slow learning breed and can be somewhat difficult to train. A consistent approach and patience play an important role in training.
- Puppies are very active and need early training and socialization. You need to develop their instinct to chase. Full of boundless energy, they like to chase every moving object. Short training sessions which would involve fun and excitement are recommended. You may often have to offer them treats to motivate them. If you wish, you may join a lure coursing club. To be a member of Scottish Deerhound Club of America (SDCA), you will need two sponsors who are already SDCA club members.
- While practicing lure coursing, if you are sure that the puppy can handle the full course alone, introduce him to another dog of comparable speed. Do not over-exercise a puppy.
- Although Deerhounds love to spend time inside the house with family members, they need access to a large fenced yard for free exercise.
- These dogs are known for their hunting, sighting, tracking, and racing skills, especially for lure coursing skills. They are very active and agile.
- With early training, they can travel comfortably with you. They love to ride in cars. They would want to go with you, wherever you may go. They are very graceful, affectionate, kind, friendly, and gentle.
- They are known for keenness, great speed, and exceptional endurance. They have a pleasing personality, and they adjust well with other dogs, pets, and children.
- Scottish Deerhounds are very active, wise, and smart. They come with strong instincts of chasing and pursuing games. So, they need to be supervised. You cannot leave them on their own on roads or in dog parks.
- A laid-back adult needs about an hour of daily exercise. They needs some motivation for exercise. They would be happy if they are allowed to play with another dog freely in the yard. You can take them for long walks, or jogging, or cycling, twice a day. Exercise is crucial for the health and well-being of Deerhounds.
- They cannot tolerate excessive heat. You may reduce the duration and intensity of your walks during summer. Early morning exercise or exercise late in the evening would help avoid health complications.
Common Health Problems
- Scottish Deerhounds are particularly prone to bloating and gastric torsion which require immediate medical attention. It can be a life-threatening condition. Feed them 2 or 3 small meals a day rather than one big one. Avoid vigorous exercise right after a meal.
- The serious health problems in the breed include cardiomyopathy (gradual weakening of heart muscles), osteosarcoma (bone cancer), bloating, hypothyroidism, stomach or splenic torsion, and cystinuria (bladder stones -cystine stones - are formed).
- If you find a homeless Deerhound, please check rescue organizations in your area and call one for help. Rescue and placement volunteers would be happy to help you if you want to adopt it. Otherwise, they would take care of the dog until they find a genuine dog lover who would be ready to adopt it.
If your stamina matches the dog's need for exercise and if you have a secured, large yard or farm, you may bring home a Scottish Deerhound puppy. The dog should be provided quality food to ensure optimal bone growth and should be exercised daily. Regular visits to the vet can help maintain the overall health of the dog. This is not a breed for everyone. One should think about the safety, health, control, and behavioral pattern of the dog before bringing it home.