The deerhound dog breed

The origins of the deerhound dog breed are Scottish. It is thought to have come to Scotland, like all greyhounds, from the central Asian plains, following Indo-European migratory flows. This dog is also called the Scottish Greyhound because of its tall, long and elegant build. It is thought that this breed is very old, even dating back to the first century AD and in any case it has been ascertained that the Scottish people hunted deer and fallow deer using large, rough-coated dogs.

In ancient Scotland these dogs were the exclusive property of the nobility and were capable of spotting and directly pursuing deer or fallow deer and even killing them. Consequently, we can imagine how aggressive the deerhounds were in order to do their job, an aggression which was diluted in later centuries when the breed gave way to firearms used for deer hunting.

This breed suffered a drastic contraction in Scotland when in the second half of the eighteenth century, after the Battle of Culloden in 1745, the system of clans and the old Scottish nobility collapsed.  Fortunately, the intervention of Duncan McNeill, Baron of Colonsay, ensured the full survival of the breed.

Its name deer means fallow deer, because this dog was mainly used for hunting fallow deer. It is not clear where its rough coat comes from. It is thought that one of its ancestors might be the Rampur greyhound, which in fact has a semi-long and rough coat.

An interesting fact about this breed is that it is almost unknown today in Great Britain and even in Scotland and Ireland, while it is bred in Australia for hunting kangaroo and wild boar and in North America where it is used for hunting wolves and coyotes. Breeding farms can also be found in Denmark and Sweden. Today, it is still used as a hunting dog, but also as a companion dog, although it needs space due to its size, a lot of exercise and very early obedience training.

Character of the deerhound dog breed

The Deerhound is a calm and thoughtful dog, very sweet and friendly with its owner, while it is rather aloof with people it does not know, not aggressive at all, but certainly not sociable and expansive. He gets on well with children, provided they treat him respectfully, and generally gets on well with other dogs, even those much smaller than his own. As regards cats and other domestic animals, it tends to see them as prey and therefore any introduction into the home environment is necessary at a very early stage.

It is not suitable as a guard dog as this breed barks very little. It is a very lively dog that needs exercise and to let off steam, especially running in open and possibly green spaces. It is not suitable for living in a flat due to its size and character. The ideal is a house in the country with a large garden, where they can spend many hours a day, as they are not at all affected by adverse weather conditions. However, it likes to laze around with its owner on the sofa and take part in the family’s daily activities.

The deerhound is able to sense its owner’s moods and should be expected to be friendly and loyal rather than submissive. It is therefore not suitable for inexperienced people as this dog must be trained very early in obedience as it is rather stubborn, although much less so than its greyhound cousins. If taken in the right way it turns out to be quite obedient because it tends to please its master. It is important that it is neither suspicious nor aggressive. It has elegant and composed manners.

Appearance of the Deerhound dog breed

The Deerhound is a large dog. The height at the withers of a male is at least 76 centimetres for a weight of almost 50 kilograms, females are at least 70 centimetres for a weight of around 36 to 38 kilograms. It is morphologically indicated in the graioid category.

It has a perfect physique, a harmonious and well-proportioned body, it is fast, powerful and resistant. Very suitable for dog shows where it can be admired in all its elegance and dignity. It is one of the most beautiful greyhounds. The limbs are very long, powerful and muscular, the tail is long, attached very low and goes down almost to the ground. It is covered with a thick, hard coat.

The head is wide between the ears but then narrows slightly to the eyes, the skull is flat. The head is covered with rather long and very soft fur, which is also the softest point to stroke and in the light-haired specimens the muzzle is often black, sharp, with beard and moustache. The deerhound’s truffle is distinctive, still black but slightly aquiline, the ears are small, covered with soft fur, and tend to straighten when the dog is excited. The eyes are generally dark brown or hazel, with a very sweet look.

The coat of the Scottish Deerhound is very distinctive. The entire body, including the limbs and neck, is covered in a coat several centimetres long, which is very rough and hard, so much so that it is also called wire, and was intended to protect the dog when hunting on rough terrain in the Scottish Highlands. Only on the head, belly and chest are they usually quite soft. The climate has a great influence on the texture of the coat. The colours range from light grey to dark blue grey, sandy red, fawn, fawn and can be brindled. Specimens with a black mask on the muzzle, ears and tail ends are also found.

Health and care of the deerhound dog breed

The Deerhound is an all-weather dog. Its health is generally good but it can suffer from some problems including some forms of cancer, heart disease, hypothyroidism, enlarged liver and bone problems. However, thanks to targeted screening and careful breeding programmes, these diseases are relatively rare.  It grows very quickly, so the supply of calcium and phosphorus to the body is important. It has a life expectancy of 9 to 12 years. It tolerates the cold very well, although it should be kept indoors at night, as it is rather uncomfortable with excessive heat.

As a large dog, it needs a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins than smaller dogs. Their diet must be controlled and balanced, as they tend to eat more than they need. Smaller, more frequent meals are advisable to avoid stomach twisting problems.

With regard to coat care, the coat should be brushed at least two or three times a week to avoid knots and the coat may need to be trimmed by hand once or twice a year depending on its condition. Bathing a couple of times a year or when it is particularly dirty.

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