Deerhound Breeders, Breed Clubs and Rescue
The Scottish Deerhound is synonymous with Baronial Halls and the Highlands of Scotland. The origins of the Deerhound are unclear, but there were running hounds when the Romans invaded. Possibly they were bred as a result of hounds introduced by Phoenician traders; these hounds would have been smooth coated and, like the Borzoi in Russia, would have been bred to local, coated breeds to improve their hardiness. Latest research suggests that the Afghan and Saluki are behind all the sighthounds, so this would seem reasonably likely. However, the Deerhound, used to hunt deer in the Highlands of Scotland for very many years, and in that time have remained recognisable as the dog we know today, though the colouring of today’s Deerhound is farily uniformly grey, the reds and fawns having disappeared.
With the introduction of the flintlock and then the Clearances the Deerhound became redundant as a working hound and did not become popular again until the 1830s. Sir Walter Scott had a Deerhound cross, Maida, who is commemorated by a statue at his home, Abbotsford.
Deerhounds are very much easier than their fellow sighthounds. They can forget themselves on occasion and chase, but generally the Deerhound is highly biddable and eager to please. The high-security fencing required for the other sighthounds is not necessary, though they do need a secure area to exercise. The Deerhound is excellent with all members of the family and will mix quite happily with cats and other dogs, as long as they are introduced at an early age. Aggression in any form is extremely rare and is viewed with great disfavour by those in the breed. They are also sociable with strangers, so would probably show the burglar where the silver is kept, after having let him in. They are amongst the quietest of the hounds so really offer no deterrent to unwanted visitors apart from their size.
Although the Deerhound is a large breed – dogs up to 76cm and 100lbs, bitches somewhat smaller, they are built quite lightly and can curl up into a surprisingly small space. The coat which is almost always shades of grey, though other colours are allowed, is slightly shaggy but very easy to keep as the old coat is easily stripped out.
As a large breed, good advice should be taken from the breeder regarding feeding and rearing; undue exertion by the young Deerhound can easily damage joints so exercise until 18 months or so should be controlled. He should not be allowed to jump from cars as a youngster as the concussion is damaging to developing joints.
The Deerhound is an easy, dignified and sensitive hound who, given a reasonable amount of exercise, will fit in well with a family who have time for him.
Rescue and Rehoming
In the unfortunate event you need to re-home your dog, or you are looking to give a home to an older dog, contact the Breed Club for their assistance. It is always wise to speak to people who are expert in the breed so you can get the best possible help.