Scottish Deerhounds resemble large, rough-coated Greyhounds. These giant dogs have wiry and harsh hair on their necks and bodies and softer hair on their heads, bellies, and breasts. Coat colors are varied and include gray, blue gray, brindle, black, and others. The ears are high-set, folded back in repose, and dark in color. These dogs also have dark eyes, pointed muzzles, black noses, tapered and low-hanging tails, and a beard and mustache. Scottish Deerhounds measure 28 to 32 inches tall and weigh 75 to 110 pounds.
These warm and friendly dogs are happiest when given daily exercise and a good amount of time to relax with family.
While a great choice for families, small children are sometimes intimidated by the Scottish Deerhound's very large size. These dogs are low-maintenance when it comes to grooming, and they have good manners and an even disposition. These warm and friendly dogs are happiest when given daily exercise and a good amount of time to relax with family.
Scottish Deerhounds are the second-tallest breed of dog and are known by many names, including Rough Greyhound, Highland Deerhound, Scotch Greyhound, and the Royal Dog of Scotland.
Generally mellow, quiet, and low-key, Scottish Deerhounds make good family pets and get along well with children and other animals in the home. The breed is reserved around strangers, but is not unfriendly or aggressive. While these dogs do best in a single family home with a large, fenced yard, older Scottish Deerhounds can be comfortable in larger apartments. Don't depend on this breed to guard your home, though. Scottish Deerhounds are too friendly to be useful as watchdogs or guard dogs, although their size can be intimidating.
Scottish Deerhounds are highly active as puppies and need to be cared for by someone with a lot of patience and a good sense of humor. These dogs crave affection and attention and may whine or become depressed or destructive if neglected or ignored.
Because of their tendency to chase any and all furry creatures they see or smell, the Scottish Deerhound should be kept in a securely fenced area or exercised on a leash. These dogs need a long daily walk to remain physically and mentally healthy, and they benefit from free play in an open space, as well. As much as this breed enjoys time outside, Scottish Deerhounds should live inside with their human family members and should sleep on a soft bed.
Free of most life-threatening genetic diseases, Scottish Deerhounds are a generally healthy breed. Of course, this does not guarantee that any individual dog will be free of serious health problems or genetic illness. To help ensure a healthy dog, it's important to acquire Scottish Deerhounds only from a reputable source.
These dogs are more likely than some other breeds to develop cardiomyopathy and some forms of cancer, such as osteosarcoma. Bone problems, including hypertrophy osteodystrophy, osteochondrosis, and panosteitis, are also seen in this breed. Additionally, Scottish Deerhounds are prone to hypothyroidism, the liver condition portosystemic shunt, and cystinuria, a genetic kidney problem that leads to bladder stones. Bloat and gastric torsion are other problems, but the risk of these can be minimized by feeding the breed smaller meals throughout the day. Scottish Deerhounds are sensitive to anesthesia.
Routine veterinary care, regular exercise, timely vaccinations, and a healthy diet all help Scottish Deerhounds live a full life of up to 10 years.
Scottish Deerhounds are easy to train if you can figure out what motivates them. All respond well to positive reinforcement, but it may take some trial and error to determine if food rewards, new toys, or abundant praise provides the most motivation for a specific dog. To be most effective, training sessions should be kept fun and short; this breed bores easily and will tune out repetition or act out due to restlessness.
Although these dogs tend to be calm and quiet adults, they don't start out in life that way. Scottish Deerhounds are known for their boundless energy and rambunctiousness as puppies and adolescents. While this generally makes training more difficult and time-consuming, it is important not to wait to introduce commands and rules. If these dogs become comfortable with ruling the house, they will continue to do so no matter how much training is provided later in life.
Generally well behaved, the Scottish Deerhound may only act out when feeling ignored or otherwise unhappy. The breed does have a great fondness for food, though, so it's best to keep food far out of reach at all times. The temptation to steal a steak from your plate or a cooling roast from the counter may be too great for these dogs to resist.
Scottish Deerhounds may look high-maintenance, but their coat is actually very easy to groom. These dogs only need a brushing every couple of days and an occasional trim. A pin brush or slicker brush will remove more tangles, but dogs with longer hair may need a combing with a Greyhound comb. These dogs shed moderately, but most hair loss is controlled through regular brushing.
Bathing is only necessary every few months unless the dog rolls around in something stinky, harmful, or hard to remove from the coat. Shampoo should always be pH-balanced, gentle, and approved for use on dogs. A thorough rinsing will remove soap residue to prevent skin irritation or dryness.
The nails need clipping every couple of weeks. Otherwise, the nails will click against the floor, leading to pain, snagging, and breaking. The teeth should be brushed daily with a canine toothbrush and toothpaste, and the ears need weekly checks for signs of infection or ear wax accumulation. Dirt and debris can be washed from the outer ears with cotton balls and a veterinarian-approved otic cleanser.
Although going by many names over the years makes it difficult to trace the breed's exact history, Scottish Deerhounds are believed to be one of the oldest dog breeds and are derived from Greyhounds. They have been known as Rough Greyhounds, Scotch Greyhounds, and Highland Deerhounds. The breed became clearly identified in the 16th century and was then given the name Scottish Deerhound.
Scottish Deerhounds were primarily used for chasing and killing deer. They were considered an exclusive pet of the aristocracy and could not be owned by anyone ranking lower than an earl. These strict ownership rules nearly led to the breed's extinction. Fortunately, breeders revived the breed's numbers during the early 1800s. Later, World War I reduced the breed's numbers again, because most Scottish Deerhounds were located on only a few large estates, many of which were not left intact after the war.
Today, the breed's numbers remain low, but its value is high. In some parts of the world, a few people still use the dogs for hunting. In the United States, it is illegal to use dogs to hunt deer, and so the dogs are instead used to chase rabbits, coyotes, and wolves. Most Scottish Deerhounds are kept as companion animals.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Scottish Deerhound in 1886.