Scottish Deerhound

This breed has had many names over the centuries, including Fleethound, Rough Greyhound, Scotch Greyhound and Scotch Deerhound. It was originally employed to hunt wolves hut, when the wolves began to disappear, it was later developed as a deer-coursing breed.


Early in its history, the breed now known as the Deerhound was essentially the same as the Irish Wolfhound, and was then called the Scottish Wolfhound. But over a period of time it grew slightly smaller, as its main quarry changed from the (now vanishing) wolf to the (still plentiful) deer.

The great, gangling, wire-haired Deerhound was immensely popular as a deer-courser in Scotland up until the 18th century, but when efficient firearms arrived in the Highlands, its usefulness was greatly diminished. It was kept on as a prized possession in some regions, but its numbers inevitably began to dwindle. Then, at the beginning of the Victorian period, in the early 19th century, it returned to favour with a number of breeders. Although it has never again been particularly common (because of its huge size and need for great running spaces), it is now safely preserved for the future by devoted enthusiasts and remains one of the most dramatic of all dog breeds.


The Scottish Deerhound, with the graceful outline of the Greyhound and its rough coat, immediately gives the impression of power and speed. With its height ranging from 28-32 inches/71-81 cm, coupled with graceful curves and a powerful overlay of muscles, this breed presents the picture of a formidable adversary in the hunt. Its strong neck and powerful jaw are those of an effective hunter, while its keen eye gives the impression of being good at searching out its quarry. On the hearth all this power is transformed into the picture of domesticity and its expression becomes soft and gentle.

The Scottish Deerhound ranges from dark blue-gray to sandy red in color. White on the toes, on the tip of tail, or a small patch on the chest are all accepted. Well-sloped shoulders, a well-muscled loin, and powerful drooping hindquarters complete the image of power and grace of the Deerhound. The tail of the breed should be dropped down or slightly curved, but never lifted out of line with the back.


Scottish Deerhounds are unique in the contradictory terms that can be used to describe them, such as gentleness, staying power, strength, sensitivity, indomitable courage and docility. Yet all of these are key to the breed that exists for its family and the chase, with the former always the more important. Known for its docility in the home as much as for its courage in the field, the Scottish Deerhound makes a superb pet for adults and children who recognize this unique and interesting blend of characteristics.


The Scottish Deerhound is relatively unaffected by specific genetic health problems but does share some of the health problems common to larger dogs. Included in these must be gastric torsion (bloat) and bursa. Owners must always be on guard for broken toes and damaged tails which both may result from its desire to course freely.

Special Care and Training

Because the Scottish Deerhound is a very large hound that grows very quickly, care should be taken in many ways. From the age of six weeks, a puppy should be given at least fifteen minutes of undivided attention away from its siblings. The young hound will have coordination problems during its physical growth. It should not be allowed to overextend itself in running or play and although it can be left to exercise itself in an enclosed yard, it should be taken out for walks of fifteen to twenty minutes daily.

The Scottish Deerhound that is to become a house dog, show dog or a companion should have early training that exposes it to all sorts of outside stimuli. Ten weeks is not too early an age to begin housetraining the young dog, to walk it on a lead, to take it on trips in the car, to begin to clip its nails and to check its teeth for proper shedding. Talking to the young dog will teach it the sound of its owner’s voice and the young Deerhound will quickly learn the meaning of often-repeated words.

Gallery of Scottish Deerhound