About Scottish Deerhounds

Scottish deerhounds are tall, elegant dogs, looking like oversized rough coated greyhounds. They are grey in color, varying from silver to black, some solid and some brindled. Conservative white markings on feet and chests are often seen, but no blazes or collars. Deerhounds are sighthounds, meaning that they spot their prey and follow it by keeping it in sight. Therefore, their vision is excellent.

Deerhounds emerged as a distinct type during the middle ages in the Highlands of Scotland. They were developed to have the size, strength, stamina, and speed necessary for a single hound to bring down a Scottish Red Deer. They also developed a dignified, amiable personality, casual at home in the castle, but intense on the hunt. They were highly valued by their aristocratic owners. At one time in history, no one of lower rank than an earl was allowed to posses a Deerhound. A noble who was condemned to die could buy his release with three Deerhounds. With the breakdown of clan structure, the break up of large landholdings, and the use of the gun to bring down deer, the breed suffered a decline until the advent of dog shows. More people became interested in Deerhounds as companions and show dogs, so the breed was saved, but still remains rare.

In our time, Deerhounds do a variety of things. First and foremost, they are members of the family and couch potatoes. They are also show dogs, they lure course (a "hunting" experience where they course an artificial lure), they race, they hunt live game such as jack rabbits in open field coursing, and some compete in performance events such as obedience and agility. Since they are not retrievers or herding dogs, they don't enjoy many of the throw and fetch type games that other dogs love. They do love to play hard with each other in running and bumping games that can intimidate other breeds.

The typical personality of a Deerhound is reserved, dignified, loving, and silly. As youngsters they can be rambunctious, but adults are gentle enough to be companions for children. They are notoriously poor watchdogs, wanting to be everyone's friend, even the burglar. They need to be exercised regularly, as they can be lazy as adults. A large yard along with daily outings where he can run and play help keep a Deerhound happy and healthy. Deerhounds have been bred for centuries to chase down game, so they will instinctively go after anything that runs. However with sufficient training, they can learn to be recalled, and to leave family cats alone.

For more about Deerhounds, follow the link to the Scottish Deerhound Club of America.