Scottish Deerhound

"Hound of the Highlands"

Photo of Scottish Deerhound


The Scottish Deerhound undoubtedly springs from Greyhound roots, but nobody knows exactly what lies behind this large, rough-coated version. During the Age of Chivalry, Deerhounds could not be owned by anyone ranked lower than an Earl. They probably co-existed with Greyhounds, specializing in larger game, but as the stag population declined in England, so did the Deerhound. Instead, Deerhounds became concentrated in the Scottish Highlands, where stag were still plentiful. Hoarding by Highland chieftains ultimately almost led to the breed's demise when the clan system collapsed in the mid 1700s. The use of breech-loading rifles for hunting deer further pushed Deerhounds to the background. But by the mid 1800s, efforts to save the breed succeeded and the first Deerhound club was formed in 1860. The Deerhound still remained favored by people who owned large estates, however. This practice threatened the breed's future once again because few such estates survived World War II intact. Now Scottish Deerhounds are found in a variety of homes, but still remain more popular with people who have lots of room. They rank 135th out of 155 AKC breeds.


The Scottish Deerhound is among the most easy-going of dogs. He likes to spread out and lounge around the house, occasionally getting up, stretching, and finding another comfortable position. He turns into another animal when given the chance to run, however, as he can gallop with astounding speed. He likes to chase small animals and deer, but he's friendly to other dogs. He's very sweet and he's good with children. The Deerhound is neither particularly demonstrative nor playful. He is not much of a watchdog and doesn't bark much, but that's just fine because one look at his imposing size and most burglars will move along.


Built like a large Greyhound, Deerhounds have long legs, a deep chest, tucked-up waist, slightly arched loin, and fairly narrow body. They are taller and larger-boned than a Greyhound, however, and covered by a medium-length wiry coat. The Deerhound's narrow head is adorned with a mustache and beard of silky hair. The ears are small and folded back on the head. The tail is long and carried low. Scottish Deerhounds come in all shades of gray and gray brindle, but most are dark gray.


If you want a dog that will snap to your commands, that's just not going to happen here. Deerhounds do things on Deerhound time, and unless it involves chasing something, Deerhound time is slower than the time the rest of us live by. They are independent by nature, and although willing to please, they seem to find humor in misinterpreting your commands: “'Come?' I thought you said ‘Lie down.' No really!” Training must be done in short sessions, with lots of fun and treats, and mostly, with lots of patience!

Grooming & Care

The Deerhound's wiry coat needs combing once or twice weekly. It may need stripping around the face every few months (pulling out dead hairs by hand). Keep the deerhound's ears and teeth clean and trim those big nails every few weeks. Deerhounds need a chance to stretch their legs once a day, whether with a fast off-leash run in a large fenced area or a longer walk or trot on a leash. They're not much for fetching, so that doesn't generally work to exercise them.

Health Concerns

The Scottish Deerhound's major health concerns are gastric torsion, bone cancer, and a heart condition called cardiomyopathy . Ask your breeder and your veterinarian about these issues.

Famous Scottish Deerhound

King Robert the Bruce (known to most of us from the movie 'Braveheart,') kept Deerhounds.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 3
Schedule 5
Home 9
Children 48
Experience 11
Quick Facts
Grooming 13
Exercise 61
Challenges Can't be trusted off-leash.
Height 27 to 32 inches
Weight 75 to 110 pounds
Life 8 to 11 years
Home Alone 83
With Kids 114
With Strangers 22
Availability 95

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

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