The Scottish deerhound, also sometimes referred to as simply the deerhound, is a large dog from the sighthound grouping, and is of course native to Scotland. Originally bred to hunt for red deer by means of coursing, the Scottish deerhound is a tall, large and very workmanlike sighthound, which roughly resembles the greyhound in terms of their height and build. However, the deerhound is both taller and more heavily boned, and also has a rather different style of coat. They can stand up to 32” tall at the shoulder, and weigh up to 95lb, making them one of the tallest of all of the sighthound breeds.
Their coats are medium to long in length, and are harsh and broken, with rather softer hair on the beard, belly and chest. They are today only seen in grey or grey-blue colours, but historically, could be found in a much wider range of colours.
While the Scottish deerhound was once a common sight among hunting and shooting parties in Scotland and around the borders, as hunting of deer in particular and the red deer in particular has fallen further and further out of popularity, so too has the popularity of the Scottish deerhound, due to the erosion of its traditional working role.
Today, the Scottish deerhound is registered as one of the UK Kennel Club’s vulnerable native dog breeds, with less than 300 new puppies of the breed registered with The Kennel Club each year.
If you are wondering if the Scottish deerhound might be the right choice of pet for you and want to help to increase awareness and ownership of the breed in order to keep it viable in perpetuity, in this article, we will look at the temperament and core traits of the Scottish deerhound in more detail. Read on to learn more.
Like most dogs of the sighthound type, the Scottish deerhound is a quiet, gentle and very personable dog, which is very sedentary within the home and likes to get plenty of sleep!
They are dignified, loving and aside from when running flat out, slow moving and peaceful, and are happiest when in the company of their favourite people having a hug or cuddling up on the sofa for the evening. When young, the deerhound puppy may have a propensity to chew things, get into mischief and potentially be destructive, particularly if they are bored, but when mature, they are generally happy when left to their own devices for a couple of hours, and are not prone to ripping up the home!
The deerhound needs to be given the opportunity to run and properly stretch their legs at least twice a day, permitting them to attain their top flat-out speed. This means that access to a safe, enclosed dog park or other space where the dogs will not pose a hazard to cats or other pets is essential, but assuming that this basic need for exercise is met, the breed is fairly sedentary the rest of the time, and will be happy spending most of their day asleep on the sofa!
The Scottish deerhound is perfectly capable of being trained to accept basic commands such as sit and stay, and they are generally responsive and not prone to being naughty. However, it can be incredibly difficult to train the breed for good recall when they are in full flight or pursuing potential prey, due to the breed’s incredibly pronounced prey drive.
The Scottish deerhound is one of the most personable of dogs when it comes to getting on with others, and they actually greatly benefit from having a companion, and are keen to make and retain friends. They are social but not overbearing with other dogs that they meet at the dog park, and are generally interested and inquisitive with strangers but not prone to aggression or unruly behaviour.
Like all breeds and types of dog, early socialisation with others is vital, in order to teach the dog the kind of canine communication skills and good manners that the dog will retain for the rest of their lives.
Providing that the dog has enough room to move around freely, the Scottish deerhound does not need a particularly large home, despite being a large dog. They do need good access to the outdoors and enclosed running areas, and a family that enjoys their company and that enjoys spending plenty of time with them.
The Scottish deerhound is reputed to be excellent with children of all ages, and not prone to being grumpy or pushy, however, due to their large size they may inadvertently manage to knock smaller children over!