- Dog suitable for owners with some experience
- Basic training required
- Generally healthy breed
- Enjoys active walks
- Enjoys more than two hours of walking a day
- Giant dog
- Some drool
- Requires grooming every other day
- Quiet dog
- Welcomes everyone happily
- Generally friendly with other dogs
- May need additional training to live with other pets
- May need additional supervision to live with children
- Needs a large garden
- Can live in semi-rural areas
- Can be left alone with training
|Lifespan:||8 – 11 years|
|Weight:||34 – 50kg|
|Height:||70 – 82cm|
|Colours:||A variety of colours are known, including dark blue-grey, darker or lighter greys, brindles, yellows and red or red fawn with black points, however it is now unusual to find adults in any other colour than grey. Small white patches on toes, chest and tail tip are accepted|
|UK Kennel Club Groups:||Hound|
|Easy to train:||2/5|
|Tolerates being alone:||2/5|
|Likes other pets:||2/5|
Gentle and unassumingly friendly, the Deerhound can make an excellent pet if their instincts to chase and hunt are taken into account. Typically a quiet and reserved hound, Deerhounds can be very demonstrative in their affections with family and friends, but not overwhelming or outrageously rude. A gentle sense of humour is to be expected, and adult Deerhounds normally seem to be aware of their size around smaller animals or children and act carefully, although every dog’s personality will be different. As with all large or giant breeds, Deerhounds take several years to mature into calm adults.
History and Origins
Country of Origin: Scotland
Rough coated or shaggy, tall sighthounds have existed in Scotland for over 500 years, and their original purpose was hunting wolves, rather than deer. As the wolf population reduced, deer became the chosen quarry and the early ancestors were refined into the smaller, more elegant yet still rough coated and robust Deerhound we know today.
Whilst deer hunting with hounds slowly fell out of popularity and more recently became illegal, the Deerhounds laid-back but noble nature meant they still appealed as pets for those who had the space, and the Victorians were in particular responsible for their survival.
The most serious health problems that the Deerhound breed is predisposed to are an aggressive type of bone cancer and heart disease. Recognised inherited disorders include liver and eye conditions, but due to routine screening and careful breeding programmes these are relatively rare.
The breed club monitor the health of the breed carefully and should be contacted for the most up-to-date information and details of any DNA or additional testing they recommend. Breed Clubs can be found on the Kennel Club website.
As puppies Deerhounds should be restricted in their activities. Adult Deerhounds are energetic and athletic and require lots of exercise – two-plus hours a day - and love to run free.
As puppies and juveniles, this is a breed who should be managed carefully around stairs, steps and steep inclines.
Although not a dog to enjoy repetitive training, mental stimulation in the form of interaction with owners, investigating new objects or smells will be appreciated, this is a curious hound particularly when young.
Deerhounds can take up surprisingly little indoor space, as they are a tall rather than bulky dog, however they are long backed, and may find turning in tight spaces awkward, and will need large beds and crates to stretch out properly.
Large gardens are a must but otherwise this is a breed who can live happily in town or country, as long as secure space for free running is available.
This is a very tall dog who can reach counter tops and tables, and will require their size to be taken into consideration when purchasing beds, equipment and vehicles, though they can curl up remarkably small when they wish to do so.
Large breed dogs, as well as having large appetites, benefit from a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins compared to smaller-breed dogs. Deerhounds are prone to bloating and stomach problems; smaller, more frequent meals can help minimise this risk.
Deerhounds do need regular grooming – about two or three times a week. The coat may need to be hand plucked once or twice a year depending on its condition. Due to their size, professional bathing may be required, and it is sensible to start this from a young age.
Training must be kept fun and engaging, Deerhounds have a short attention span and little desire to repeat tasks they deem pointless. Focus on the important basics such as recall, lying down when asked and walking on a loose lead and avoid teaching them to jump up as their size can intimidate others easily. Use play and the opportunity to chase appropriate toys alongside traditional food reward methods. Few Deerhounds can sit comfortably, if this is the case teach a down or a stand as an alternative.
Deerhounds are excellent with their own families and close friends, but may be initially reserved with strangers. Normally quietly curious about visitors rather than wildly over-enthusiastic, given respectful space the Deerhound makes new friends easily. Much as they are generally good with children, they may be too big for very young ones, especially when slightly clumsy puppies and adolescents.
While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.
Did You Know?
- Often mistaken for the Irish Wolfhound, in fact the Deerhound is one of the breeds used to recreate the Irish Wolfhound, along with several other breeds.
- A Deerhound named Cleod played the role of Padfoot, Sirius Blacks Animagus form in two Harry Potter films, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2005) and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007).
- The Deerhound is an extremely old breed and can be definitively traced back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
- Sir Walter Scott owned a Deerhound called Maida who he referred to as “a most perfect creature of heaven”.
- Deerhound’s are incredibly skilled at lure coursing and in 1994, a 14-month-old Scottish Deerhound won the inaugural National Lure Coursing Championship.