5 Things to Know About Scottish Deerhounds

1. Key Characteristics

  • AKC Group: Hound
  • Height: 28–32 inches
  • Weight: 75–110 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: Around 10 years

The Scottish deerhound looks similar to a greyhound with a coat. These sight hounds are one of the oldest breeds of dog. They are tall, large dogs with big bones.

Their noses can be blue or black, and the eyes are either brown or hazel. The ears are set high and folded, and the long tail hangs close to the ground. The coat — which comes in black, brindle, gray, blue gray, sandy red or fawn, with possible white coloring on some areas — is harsh and wiry with a softer coat on the head, belly and chest.

2. Where They Came From

According to the American Kennel Club, historically, breeds were listed according to their purposes as “Irish wolf dog, Scotch greyhound, rough greyhound and Highland deerhound.” But the breed was specifically identified in the 16th century, with the term “deerhound” added because the breed excelled at hunting and killing deer.

At one time, the Scottish deerhound was so treasured that anyone with a rank lower than earl was prohibited from having one. The exclusivity of the breed may have almost cause its extinction. The breed became rare in England and Scotland when the greyhound gained favor.

Archibald and Duncan McNeill set out to restore the breed and successfully increased the number of Scottish deerhounds. The breed we see today closely resembles that found in records from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Scottish deerhounds fell out of favor in the 1700s when greyhounds became popular. By: Eric Isselee (Top: adamnsinger)

3. How Friendly Are They?

The breed is gentle, affectionate, loving and loyal. The dogs are close to their families and are usually friendly with everyone they meet.

They are great with children and other dogs but should not be around non-canine animals because of their strong hunting instincts. They are quiet dogs who rarely bark.

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs

MEDIUM: Scottish deerhounds should have a long, daily walk. These active hunters may enjoy being jogging companions. While outdoors, keep them on a leash or exercise them in an enclosed or secure area because of their hunting instincts.

A yard would be appreciated by these dogs but is not required. As long as their exercise needs are met, they can do well in apartments.

Grooming Needs

MEDIUM: As with all dogs, a regular routine of trimming the nails, brushing the teeth and cleaning the ears should be maintained.

The ear hair should be removed as needed, and the crisp, wiry hair should be brushed a few times per week with a steel comb, slicker brush or both (the steel comb would be more comfortable in sensitive areas).

Bathing can be done as needed but not too frequently because it can significantly soften the coat. For pets, this is fine, but Scottish deerhounds participating in dog shows are expected to have the breed’s standard wiry coat texture.

Health Problems

MEDIUM: Some health problems seen in this breed are:

  • Liver shunt
  • Tick-borne diseases: Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Addison’s disease
  • Inherited heart defects (rare)
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Post-operative bleeding
  • Bloat 

Keeping regular veterinary appointments and feeding a quality diet complemented with exercise will keep your dog healthy.

Watch these Scottish deerhounds frolic happily:

5. Where to Adopt One?

Scottish deerhounds can end up in shelters and rescues. Start your search with our adoptable dog finder or contact local shelters and rescues in your area.

If you decide to contact breeders, ensure they are reputable, get to know them and make sure you don’t observe any warning signs indicating your chosen breeder is operating a puppy mill.

Ask about health clearances; there are tests for many of the common health problems associated with Scottish deerhounds.

Additional Resources

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