Scottish Deerhound

Check out our guide on the amazing Scottish Deerhound. Learn all about one of the largest dog breeds around today!

Scottish Deerhound, Dog Laying on Grass

Height: Male 30-32 inches, female 28-30 inches
Weight: Male 39-50 kilos, female 34-43 kilos
Scottish Deerhound Lifespan: 8-11 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club.

Positives and Negatives

Find out the pros and cons of the Scottish Deerhound below:

Pros:

  • Very affectionate, loyal, and gentle
  • Generally a healthy breed type
  • Able to live in an apartment
  • Good family dog

Cons:

  • Not good for those who suffer from allergies
  • Prone to separation anxiety
  • Can be nippy compared to other breeds
  • Not a great watchdog

Overview

The Scottish Deerhound is a member of the sighthound family. They share the same tall, slender features as the Greyhound but are often confused with the Irish Wolfhound. Both look strikingly similar and are two of the biggest breeds of dogs.

The Irish Wolfhound is taller and more muscular, the Deerhound however has a more athletic body. Unlike the Greyhound, Deerhounds are heavy boned with a rougher, longer coat. They’ve developed to withstand the harsh weather and working life of the Scottish Highlands.

Scottish Deerhound Dogs sitting on Grass near Lake

Gentle, calm, and friendly by nature, this canine is a very relaxed pet to have in the home. Their favorite thing to do is snooze! The breed is friendly and tolerant of children and other dogs, but do remember they still have a high prey drive. For this reason, they should only be exercised off-leash in an enclosed area.

Don’t underestimate this dog’s strength. If they want to chase something, they will! You can’t take your eye off the ball when walking this pooch. Deerhounds need firm leadership and someone with a bit of arm strength!

Scottish Deerhounds are less popular than their cousins the Greyhounds. Yet many feel the Deerhounds temperament is much better to have in a family environment. Greyhounds are more prone to aggression, the Deerhound however is not known to hold aggressive traits. A much safer choice if you have any children in the home.

History

A Deerhound is the Scottish development of the Greyhound. Deerhounds can be traced back to the 16th century although they are thought to have existed right back to the 9th century. Scottish Chieftains (tribe/clan leaders) bred these dogs in the Middle Ages.

The harsh weather in the Scottish Highlands created the need to develop the Deerhound. A rough wiry coat provided the protection they needed to work efficiently. They were bred to hunt and take down the Scottish Roe Deer. An animal that is double the size of this canine.

The Deerhound was so popular it was once known as The Royal Dog of Scotland. The nobility were so mesmerized and at one stage anybody with a title less than an Earl was not allowed to own one!

There were multiple times throughout history that almost saw this breed become extinct. A change in agriculture and the fall of the Scottish clans in 1745 saw a huge decline in breed numbers. It was thanks to two brothers Archibald and Duncan Mcneil, breed enthusiasts, that helped support a rise in numbers.

Even Queen Victoria was a proud owner of a Deerhound named Hector! Yet unfortunately in World War I numbers began to dwindle. People just couldn’t afford to feed and meet the needs of the Deerhound at that time.

Recommended: Don’t miss our guide to Harrier dogs to learn more about their personality, background, and history.

Personality

Scottish Deerhound Temperament:

This pooch is known for its elegance. They are very gentle, laid back, and won’t show aggression which confuses many as they are often thought of as fearless. After all, they are deer hunters, with the strength to drag a stag to the ground! Yet there is nothing this dog likes more than to snuggle up and snooze on the sofa.

Some feel this pooch can live in an apartment as they are calm and lazy by nature. Devotion and loyalty come naturally to this breed. So much so, they can’t be left alone regularly as separation anxiety is something they are prone to.

Are Scottish Deerhounds Good With Strangers?

Scottish Deerhounds are hopeless watch and guard dogs, so they will be friendly towards strangers. Yet they won’t be excitable and eager to meet someone they don’t know.

Scottish Deerhound Dogs sitting on Grass near Lake

Are Scottish Deerhounds Good With Children?

Yes, this breed gets along well with children. They like to play and can tolerate the unpredictability of a child’s behaviour. The Scottish Deerhounds size means they are probably best off with older children. Gentle by nature, they make a fantastic companion for kids.

Don’t let a child walk this dog on a leash! Scottish Deerhounds still have a strong prey drive! If something catches their eye, they won’t hesitate to run after it.

Are Scottish Deerhounds Ok With Other Dogs?

Scottish Deerhounds are generally friendly with other dogs but if a tiny one runs past, it will most likely see this as prey. Always keep your dog on a leash for that reason. Cats are also a big no-no, this breed will not tolerate a cat in the home.

Exercise

Deerhounds will need over 2 hours of exercise each day. It is best to have a garden to accommodate this breed. Due to their strong prey drive, high fences will be necessary. Do be aware and alert when holding onto the leash. The Deerhound is big and if this dog decides to take off, you could be going along with him!

The breed can make an excellent jogging partner, but a Scottish Deerhound puppy is too young, so you must wait until adulthood. They have a massive passion for the outdoors and is a breed that will definitely keep you fit and healthy!

Scottish Deerhound, Dog leaping on Grass

Involve your dog in some games. Fetch and frisbee is a good way to get them running! Children are a great help with this! Interactive games help build a bond between you and your dog. Exercise is extremely important especially for large breeds. It helps to keep them healthy and prevents them from picking up bad habits through boredom.

Recommended Next: Are Podenco Canarios good with strangers? How about with children and other dogs? Find out in our latest guide.

Health

Find out the breed-related health conditions of the Deerhound below:

  • Gastric Dilatation Volvulus- The stomach twists trapping the food and gases inside the stomach. Immediate veterinary attention is required. Chance of fatality.
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy- Progressive heart muscle malfunction will result in eventual congestive heart failure or possibly death.
  • Portosystemic Shunt- An abnormal connection will see blood bypass or shunt around the liver. Normally related to a birth defect.
  • Osteosarcoma This condition is the most common form of bone tumors in dogs. Generally targets the limbs but also the spine, skull, and ribs.

Intelligence & Training

Scottish Deerhound puppies are known to be troublesome growing up! Yet it is all worthwhile for the calm, elegant, and well-natured pooch you end up with in adulthood! A behaved, respectable and well-mannered pooch is what you should receive at the end of your training.

The breed is somewhat intelligent, they can learn quickly, but their attention span isn’t that great. Reduce your training sessions to around 10 minutes and keep them interested with food rewards and praise.

As a large dog, respect training is slightly more important than obedience. If your dog doesn’t respect you and your boundaries, behavior can quickly turn into a downwards spiral. Set your house rules and stick to them!

Once you have begun developing respect, you can factor in obedience into your training routine. Never allow your dog to cross boundaries stay firm and consistent. They’ll quickly understand your leadership.

Socialization is highly important for this dog, especially around smaller canines. Their prey drive is very strong so socializing needs to start from as early as possible. It’s a difficult task so you may want to attend a training group instead where your pooch will be surrounded by other dogs of all sizes.

Recommended: Check out our guide to Bearded Collies here at Woof Bark Growl!

Grooming

Scottish Deerhounds have a wiry, thick coat that’s been developed to protect them from the harsh weather in the Scottish Highlands. The breed is an average shedder so will need a brush once or twice a week. The best tools to use is a slicker brush and a strong pin brush.

Scissors will be needed to trim the fur from their eyes and face. Generally, the fur is left to grow but some owners do opt for a shorter cut. The back end is also trimmed for hygiene purposes, as is any excess fur in the paw pads. Ears should be hand stripped.

Scottish Deerhound looking at the camera, isolated on white

Bathe them every couple of months or when they begin to smell. Be sure to remove any shampoo residue before drying your dog with a towel. A professional groomer may be useful every once in a while if you feel you need the help.

Ears will need to be cleaned weekly with fur strands removed from the entrance of the canal. Check and clean your dog’s teeth weekly for any plaque and debris. Vets do, however, recommend this is done daily. Introduce your grooming methods from as early as possible. Make the bonding experience relaxing for your dog!

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