Sir Walter Scott believed the deerhound to be “a most perfect creature of heaven”. To some of us they are, but to many they are just too much dog, beautiful to look at but not the perfect canine companion. It is true that they are challenging to own. They are not a beginner’s dog. They don’t live to serve and they don’t hang off your every word, so if you can earn their adoration then it gives an enormous sense of achievement. Deerhounds are independent thinkers. Some would suggest non-thinkers but this isn’t the case. They will learn obedience and even perform occasionally but they generally don’t feel the need to exhaustively repeat the exercise, unless you make it worth their while. They have a low boredom tolerance, are determinedly single minded and hate repetition. Recall can be a hit and miss affair.
All that said they are quirky, elegant, beautiful, as fast as the wind, and have personality in abundance. Life is never dull with a deerie. They are extremely gentle, lazy dogs around the house often resembling speed bumps, once they have reached adulthood at approx two/ three although they seem to be totally unaware of their size. This is evident in their constant attempts to sit on laps and to play with small children and animals. This affinity with small animals is soon forgotten once they are loose in the countryside and their high prey drive kicks in. They will chase anything that runs and they will usually catch it.
Deerhounds are dignified and regal as is befitting their ancestry as the Royal dog of Scotland. They are an ancient breed written about as early as the sixteenth century. They, like most breeds were developed for a specific purpose. In the case of the deerhound to hunt red deer in the Scottish highlands. Their ownership was fiercely guarded by the Scottish Chieftains. In fact no one ranked lower than an Earl was allowed to own one. This and the collapse of the clan system may have contributed to it’s near extinction in the late 1700s. They faced extinction again when hunting with guns largely replaced hunting with dogs.
Physically the deerhound resembles a greyhound in shape but larger and with a shaggy “lived in looking” coat which is usually grey. Minimum acceptable height for a deerie is 28” for bitches, 30” for dogs although the trend is towards larger hounds. They weigh approx 75 - 110 lb.
Healthwise deerhounds are generally long lived for a big breed (approx 10 years). They succumb to the same problems as other large breeds - bloat, cardiomyopathy, portosystemic (liver) shunt and osteosarcoma.
Deerhounds -the most perfect creature of my sofa.