Scottish Deerhound

Friendly Demeanor, This Obedient Dog is an Excellent Companion

Scottish Deerhound

With a Sweet Disposition and Friendly Demeanor, This Obedient Dog is an Excellent Companion

Tall and slim, the Scottish Deerhound looks like a greyhound but is bigger-boned and somewhat larger. Polite, affectionate, gentle and well-mannered, this breed is dignified and courageous – much like any aristocrat. Although loyal and devoted, the Scottish Deerhound does not qualify as a good watchdog, just an excellent companion. It's no surprise that the Scottish Deerhound is the "Royal Dog of Scotland," given its temperament and bearing. In fact, Sir Walter Scott was enamored of the breed and owned his own Deerhound, named Maida. He called the Scottish Deerhound "the most perfect creature of heaven."

The origin of the Scottish Deerhound is enshrouded in mystery. The breed has been known as the Irish Wolf Dog, the Scottish Greyhound, the Rough Greyhound, and the Highland Deerhound. It's also not known whether they first hunted wolves and then stags as they appeared on the Highlands, but it is an ancient breed, to be sure. The breed dates back at least to the 16th century, when these dogs were used to bring down deer, hence the name. Dignified, courageous, and gentle, these dogs were prized by noblemen – so much so that if a nobleman was condemned to death, he could purchase his life by presenting Scottish Deerhounds as a gift. Only noblemen, it should be noted, could do this. No one who held a rank of less than earl could even own the Scottish Deerhound. This is why it became known as the Royal Dog of Scotland.

However, this limited ownership also caused the breed to become nearly extinct many times. The most dire time was when Scotland's clan system collapsed in 1745 after the Battle of Culloden, which happened when the Jacobites rebelled against English rule. By 1789, Scottish Deerhounds were nearly extinct. In the 1820s, Archibald and Duncan McNeill attempted to restore the breed. Around that time, the Scottish Deerhound also came to America, with the first Scottish Deerhound registered by the American Kennel Club in 1886.

World War I saw another decline in the breed, with many estates in England and Scotland broken up. At that time, only a few still owned it.

Today, the Scottish Deerhound is still pretty uncommon, but is beloved by those who love sight hounds or who have an interest in the breed because they are Scots themselves. Many are becoming enamored of this breed because of its temperament and physicality, as well as its innate poise and exceptional nature. It currently belongs to the American Kennel Club’s Hound Group and ranks as one of its rarest breeds.

Tall, slim, and "aristocratic," the Scottish Deerhound resembles the Greyhound but it has a rough coat and is bigger and larger-boned. Flat and broad between the ears, with a muzzle that tapers to a point, the nose is black or blue on fawn-blue dogs, with dark brown or hazel eyes. The Scottish Deerhound has high set ears just like the Greyhound, and it has a deep chest that is neither too broad nor too narrow.

The coat is wiry rather than sleek, and is 3 to 4 inches long. There is a beard, mustache, and mane that are rather harshly textured. However, the fur is softer and shorter on the chest, head, and belly. Colors can be brindle and black, gray, blue gray, sandy red and yellow or red fawn, with or without black muzzle and ears. In some cases, the Scottish Deerhound has some white on the tail, feet and chest. In adulthood, Scottish Deerhounds stand 28 to 32 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 75 and 110 pounds.

Gentle, noble, friendly, and extremely courageous, this docile dog is very eager to please and exudes quiet dignity. As a true sight hound, however, the Scottish Deerhound will manifest the absolute need to pursue. That is, if you're not careful to watch this dog, it will simply take off on you to trail a keen interest – whatever that may be. Because of that, be careful to keep your pet on leash at all times unless you're in a safe place where it can run without fear of traffic.

Although sweet, well-behaved and very friendly, the Scottish Deerhound puppy should be socialized as soon as possible. Early socialization and exposure to different sounds, sights, people, experiences – a variety of situations – is essential to a well-rounded, happy dog. Training school for puppies, also known as "puppy kindergarten," is a great way to socialize your pet.

This dog gets along well with just about anyone, from children to other animals. However, be careful not to keep prey animals in the house (especially mice, rabbits or gerbils), as even this gentle pet will not be above following true instinct.

Proper Environment
You might be surprised to know that this dog doesn't need a lot of room inside to be happy. As a very relaxed, obedient and devoted dog, it is anything but aggressive but is unendingly courageous and loyal. Give your pet a soft surface to sprawl out on after a long day of activity – especially including a daily walk or two – and it should be perfectly happy. If possible, give your pet access to at least a medium-size yard to get out and run in.

That said, your dog wants to be with you at all times. This is not a dog to be kept on a leash outside. Be your dog’s best friend at all times, whether playing and being physically active, or sprawled out on the couch or floor together after a long day of enjoying each other’s company.

Although the Scottish Deerhound is generally healthy, this breed is still prone to certain health problems. Perhaps the most dangerous and prevalent is bloat. Bloat happens suddenly and is common in large, deep chested dogs. Also known as gastric torsion, this is life-threatening and is especially prevalent in dogs fed one large meal a day. It can also happen if your pet exercises vigorously after eating, drinks large amounts of water rapidly, or eats too fast. Get to a vet immediately if you notice that your dog is restless, depressed, trying to vomit but failing, drooling excessively, or has a hard, distended abdomen. Time is of the essence, as this can be deadly very quickly.

You should have gotten health clearances from your breeder for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand disease, as well as thrombopathia.

Another serious problem is sensitivity to anesthesia, an affliction common among all sight hounds. Your vet should know not to administer the "average dose" of any strong drug because of this dog’s lower percentage of body fat as compared with other breeds.

Dilated cardiomyopathy, or an enlarged heart characterized by a failure to function properly, and cystinurea, a congenital affliction which can lead to urinary/kidney stones, can also be problems for this breed. There is no cure for these disorders, but they can be controlled somewhat with diet and medication. Dogs with cystinurea should not be bred.

Finally, osteosarcoma is an aggressive bone cancer that affects large breeds. Limb amputation and chemotherapy are the standard treatments.

Average life expectancy for the breed, as with many large breeds, is under 10 years.

The wiry coat will need to be trimmed and stripped; weekly combing is necessary. Bathe as needed. You can cut or trim straggling hairs, and strip minimally around the face and ears for a neater look. Scottish Deerhounds shed throughout the year steadily, but regular brushing and combing will keep this down. Brush teeth at least three times a week with a doggie toothpaste, or daily for even better results. Trim nails if they're not worn down naturally and keep ears clean by checking them weekly and wiping them out with a cotton ball moistened with a vet-recommended cleaning solution. Getting your puppy started on a grooming ritual will make sure that your dog grows up looking forward to these sessions.

Scottish Deerhound.
Retrieved August 9, 2015.

Scottish Deerhound.
Retrieved August 9, 2015.

Scottish Deerhound (Deerhound).
Retrieved August 9, 2015.

The Scottish Deerhound.
Retrieved August 9, 2015.

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