Scottish Deerhound – General Description
The Scottish Deerhound, or simply the Deerhound, is a breed of hound (a sighthound), bred to hunt the Red Deer by coursing.
Classification and Standards
- FCI Group 10, Section 2, #164
- AKC Hound
- ANKC Group 4 (Hounds)rd
- CKC Group 2 – Hounds
- KC (UK) Hound
- NZKC Hounds
- UKC Sighthounds & Pariahs
Character & Temperament
The Scottish Deerhound is gentle and extremely friendly. The breed is famed for being docile and eager to please, with a bearing of gentle dignity. It is however a true sighthound which has been selected for generations to pursue game; consequently, most Deerhounds will be eager to chase. The Deerhound needs considerable exercise when young to develop properly and to maintain its health and condition. That does not mean it needs a large house to live in; however it should have regular access to free exercise in a fenced or otherwise “safe” area. Deerhounds should not be raised with access only to leash walking or a small yard, this would be detrimental to their health and development . City dwellers with conviction, however, can keep the dog both healthy and happy, as long as they are willing to take their Deerhounds to nearby parks for lengthy runs and rigorous fetching sessions within these wider running courses. Young Deerhounds can sometimes, depending on the individual, be quite destructive especially when they are not given sufficient exercise; however, the average adult Deerhound may want to spend most of the day stretched out on the floor or a couch sleeping. They do require a stimulus, preferably another Deerhound, and a large area to exercise properly and frequently  . They are gentle and docile indoors and are generally good around company and children (however they require supervision with young children due to their size).
The Scottish Deerhound’s antecedents will have existed back to a time before recorded history. They would have been kept by the Scots and Picts, and used to help in providing part of their diet, mainly hoofed game (archaeological evidence likely supports this in the form of Roman pottery from around 1st Century AD found in Argyll which depicts the deerhunt using large rough hounds (these can be viewed at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh). Other similar evidence can be found on standing stones from around the 7th century AD reflecting a hunt using hounds, such as the Hilton of Cadboll Stone). In outward appearance, the Scottish Deerhound is similar to the Greyhound, but larger and more heavily boned. However, Deerhounds have a number of characteristics that set them apart. While not as fast as a Greyhound on a smooth, firm surface, once the going gets rough or heavy they can outrun a Greyhound. The environment in which they worked, the cool, often wet, and hilly Scottish Highland glens, contributed to the larger, rough-coated appearance of the breed. The Deerhound is closely related to the Irish Wolfhound and was the main contributor to the recovery of that breed when it was re-created at the end of the 19th century.
The Deerhound was bred to hunt red deer by “coursing”, and also “deer-stalking” until the end of the 19th century. With modern rifles and smaller deer-forests, slower tracking dogs were preferred to fast and far-running Deerhounds.
In coursing deer, a single Deerhound or a pair was brought as close as possible to red deer, then released to run one of them down by speed, which if successful would happen within a few minutes – rarely were there sustained chases.
With the eventual demise of the clan systems in Scotland, these hunting dogs became sporting animals for landowners and the nobility, but were also bred and hunted by common folk when feasible. As fast and silent hunters they made quick work of any game the size of a hare or larger and were highly regarded by nobility and poachers alike. One of the most precarious times in the breed’s history seems to have been towards the end of the nineteenth century, when many of the large Scottish estates were split into small estates for sporting purposes, and few then kept Deerhounds. The new fashion was for stalking and shooting, which required only a tracking dog to follow the wounded animal, using a collie or similar breed. Although a few estates still employed Deerhounds for their original work, the breed was left in the hands of a few enthusiasts who made them a show breed.
In Australia, Deerhounds have been used to hunt the kangaroo and wild boar. In North America they were also used to hunt wolves. 
Size & Appearance
The Scottish Deerhound resembles a rough-coated Greyhound. It is however, larger in size and bone. Height of males from 30 to 32 inches (75-80cm) or more, weight 85 to 110 pounds (40-50kg); height of females from 28 inches (70cm) upwards, weight from 75 to 95 pounds (35-43kg). It is one of the tallest sighthounds, with a harsh 3-4 inch long coat and mane, somewhat softer beard and mustache, and softer hair on breast and belly. It has small, dark “rose” ears which are soft and folded back against the head unless held semi-erect in excitement. The harsh, wiry coat in modern dogs is only seen in self-colored various shades of gray (blue-gray is preferred). Historically, Deerhounds also could be seen with true brindle, yellow, and red fawn coats, or combinations. 19th century Scottish paintings tend to indicate these colors were associated with a wire haired coat, but, with show breeders preferring a longer coat, these genes now appear to be lost. A white chest and toes are allowed, and a slight white tip to the tail; a white blaze on the head or a white collar are not accepted. The head is long, skull flat, with little stop and a tapering muzzle. The eyes are dark, dark brown or hazel in color. The teeth should form a level, complete scissor bite. The long straight or curved tail, well covered with hair, should almost reach the ground.
Health & Maintenance
Scottish Deerhounds can be expected to live an average of 8 to 9 years. The serious health issues in the breed include cardiomyopathy, osteosarcoma (bone cancer), bloat and torsion (GDV).
Work & Activities
Scottish Deerhounds compete in conformation, lure coursing, for some states of the USA, in hare coursing and coyote hunting, where it is still legal. A few are trained to succeed in obedience competition but few excel in it, and fewer still excel in dog agility or flyball because the courses and activities are generally designed for smaller dogs with lower body weight and a much shorter stride.
In Movies, TV, & Print
- Brave (2012)
- The Eagle (2011)
- Robin Hood (2010)
- Burke and Hare (2010)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) (2007)
- Out of Africa (1985)
- I Know Where I’m Going (1945)
Hound Wins Best in Show – Westminster 2011
Foxcliffe Hickory Wind
Breed: Scottish Deerhound
AKC: HP 20581907
Date of Birth: December 20, 2005
Breeder: Cecilia L Dove & Dr R Scott Dove
Sire: Thistleglen Newell
Dam: Foxcliffe Summoning Charms
Owner: Sally Sweatt & Cecilia L Dove & Dr R Scott Dove
- W. Bromley Davenport MP. “Sport”. – http://www.archive.org/details/sportbrom00bromrich
- “Report from the Kennel Club/British Small Animal Veterinary Association Scientific Committee – Summary results of the Purebred Dog Health Survey for Deerhounds” (pdf). The Kennel Club. – http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/download/1543/hsdeerhound.pdf
- “Health Problems of Scottish Deerhounds”. Scottish Deerhound Club of America. – http://www.deerhound.org/health_study.shtml#life
- Pleple2000 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- Przemysław Gil (Hanna Woźna – Gil,) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- Hawkins/Heidenreich (http://www.fernhill.com/deerhounds.htm) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
- Hanna Woźna – Gil (Hanna Woźna – Gil,) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- gailf548 (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- Saperstein (Flickr: DeerHound) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- W. E. Mason – Dogs of all Nations [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
- Dogs and All About Them” by Robert Leighton, 1910 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
- Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 8, Slice 6., available freely at Project Gutenberg (Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
FCI-Standard N° 164 / 17. 06. 1998 / GB
ORIGIN : Great Britain.
DATE OF PUBLICATION OF THE ORIGINAL VALID STANDARD : 24.06.1987.
Racing dog, hunting dog, companion.
F.C.I. CLASSIFICATION :
- Group 10 Sighthounds.
- Section 2 Rough-haired Sighthounds.
Without working trial.
GENERAL APPEARANCE :
Resembles a rough-coated greyhound of larger size and bone.
BEHAVIOR / TEMPERAMENT :
The build suggests the unique combination of speed, power and endurance necessary to pull down a stag, but general bearing is one of gentle dignity. Gentle and friendly. Obedient and easy to train because eager to please. Docile and good tempered, never suspicious, aggressive or nervous. Carries himself with quiet dignity.
CRANIAL REGION :
Skull : Flat rather than round, with very slight rise over eyes. Broadest at ears, tapering slightly to eyes. Skull coated with moderately long hair, softer than rest of coat.
Stop : No stop.
FACIAL REGION :
Nose : Slightly aquiline and black.
Muzzle : Tapering more decidedly to nose. In lighter colored dogs black muzzle preferred.
Lips : Level. Good mustache of rather silky hair and some beard.
Jaws/Teeth : Jaws strong, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. the upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to jaws.
Eyes : Dark. Generally dark brown or hazel. Light eyes undesirable. Moderately full with a soft look in repose, but keen, far-away look when dog is roused. Rims black.
Ears : Set on high and in repose folded back. In excitement raised above head without losing the fold and in some cases semi-erect. A big thick ear hanging flat to the head or a prick ear most undesirable. Ear soft, glossy and like a mouse’s coat to the touch; the smaller the better, no long coat or fringe. Ears black or dark colored.
Very strong with good reach sometimes disguised by mane. Nape of neck very prominent where head is set on, no throatiness.
Body and general formation that of a greyhound of larger size and bone.
Back : Flat topline undesirable.
Loin : Well arched and drooping to tail.
Croup : Drooping, broad and powerful.
Chest : Deep rather than broad, not too narrow and flat-sided.
Long, thick at root, tapering and reaching almost to ground. When standing dropped perfectly straight down or curved. Curved when moving, never lifted above line of back. Well covered with hair; on upper side thick and wiry, on under side longer, and towards end a slight fringe is not objectionable. A curl or ring tail undesirable.
Forelegs straight, broad and flat.
Shoulders : Well laid, not too far apart. Loaded and straight shoulders undesirable.
Elbow and Forearm : Good breadth desirable.
With great length from hip to hock. Bone broad and flat.
Hips : Set wide apart.
Stifle : Well bent.
Feet : Compact and well knuckled. Nails strong.
GAIT / MOVEMENT :
Easy, active and true, with a long stride.
Shaggy, but not over-coated. Woolly coat unacceptable. The correct coat is thick, close-lying, ragged; harsh or crisp to the touch. Hair on body, neck and quarters harsh and wiry about 7 cm (3 ins) to 10 cm (4 ins) long; that on head, breast and belly much softer. A slight hairy fringe on inside of fore- and hindlegs.
Dark blue-grey, darker and lighter greys or brindles and yellows, sandy-red or red fawns with black points. A white chest, white toes and a slight white tip to stern are permissible but the less white the better, since it is a self-colored dog. A white blaze on head or white collar unacceptable.
SIZE AND WEIGHT :
Males : minimum desirable height at withers 76 cm (30 ins).
Weight about 45.5 kg (100 lbs).
Females : minimum desirable height at withers 71 cm (28 ins).
Weight about 36.5 kg (80 lbs).
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioral abnormalities shall be disqualified.
N.B. : Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
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