Deerhound - General Features, Temperament, Health problems

deerhound face

FCI # 164, Origin: Great Britain, Group 10.2 Rough-haired Sighthounds.

Height: 28-32 in, Weight: 75-110 pounds

Grooming: Low, Shedding: Medium, Coat: dense and wiry.

Color: blue, black, grey, fawn and red.

Ease of training: Medium, Energy level: Medium, Span of life: 8-10 years.

Breed: The origin of this breed goes back to such an old times, and the earliest descriptions of the breed's name are so entwined together, that it is not easy to understand whether the breed of the Deerhound, which was once known as the Irish Wolfhound, transformed over the centuries into the type most suited for hunting deer, or, as some authors are saying, it comes from the hunting dogs of Picts.

Once the dogs names were only reflecting their purposes, but did not specify particular breed. We find such names as "Irish Wolfhound", "Scottish Greyhound," "Shaggy Greyhound", "Mountain Deerhound", "Wire-haired Greyhound". Dr. Caius, in his book "About the English dogs" (1576) tells of the Deerhound the following way: "Some of them are larger, some smaller, some have a smooth hair, some have it curly, those that are larger are used for hunting big game, ducks and deer."

All this is not so important, because starting from the XVI-XVII centuries, we can clearly identify the breed as a Deerhound. Since then, with the word "Deerhound," was called a breed that was better than the other dogs suited to catch up with the deer and to kill him.

Deerhound was always very much appreciated and valued. History of this breed is full of the most romantic scenes - one better than the other - dating back to the chivalrous days when such dogs could be kept only by the noblemen not lower than a peer. If the nobleman had been sentenced to death, then the only way to postpone the execution was for him to give away a fine pack of his Deerhounds.

The written sources of the Middle Ages were repeatedly mentioning the wonderful qualities of this beautiful Sighthound - the  extraordinary courage in pursuit of game and the gentle dignity of behavior in the house. The Deerhound was valued so highly that the desire to be the only owner of this dog more than once posed a threat to his existence.

As a big game disappeared or became rare in England and Southern Scotland, to replace the large Deerhound there came more light and fragile, smooth-coated English Greyhounds. The mountainous part of Scotland was the last area, where were still found pretty much of a wild deer, and it has become the last bastion of the breed. In addition, the leaders of the mountain clans has usurped the exclusive ownership of the Deerhound, so to the south of the River Forth there could be rarely met a good dog.

Deerhound dog breed

This policy was so strict that in 1769 the breed was on the verge of physical extinction. It was also determined by the collapse of the clan system after Kalloden in 1745. Only around 1825, when the restoration of the breed came from Archibald and Duncan McNeill (the latter later became Lord Colonelcy) Deerhound regained his former glory and perfection.

The First World War had a detrimental impact on the breed, because during the war many large estates in Scotland and England have fallen into decay.

Although this "royal dog of Scotland" is presented at the British dog shows in large numbers, in the U.S. the Deerhound remains rare breed of historical interest, so every owner of a Deerhound there can be really proud of his dog.

The real value of a Deerhound lies less in his rarity, and more in the fact that he has an outstanding hunting abilities, combined with many other qualities. Deerhound nas a good sense of smell, that might be useful in tracking, but the most valuable is a combination of strength and speed required to hunt the big Scottish deer (which often weights a lot). On the hunt, these dogs usually work alone or in pairs.

For centuries the Deerhound was hunting with the leaders of clans and guarding them, and therefore he requires a constant contact with his owner. Therefore, it is difficult to keep this dogs in the kennel. By his nature the Deerhound is calm and full of dignity, energetic, intelligent and, although he is not aggressive, if necessary, he will be brave and courageous.

While some people still question the similarity of the modern Deerhound with his ancestors, who's descriptions are covered with legends, however in type, size and character he corresponds to the real records of XVIII-XIX centuries.

In the United States hunting with the dogs on the horned game is prohibited, but the Deerhound is very successfully used there for hunting wolves, coyotes and rabbits, he is playfully chasing any running animals. Deerhound is a perfect companion - obedient, easy to train, loyal to his master, and you can absolutely rely on this dog.

The best description of this breed can be found in the British books of the XIX century. Elegance, grace and beauty of the Deerhound was truthfully depicted in many paintings and drawings of Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, and Sir Walter Scott, who owned the famous Deerhound named Maida, often with admiration mentioned this breed, which he called "the most perfect creation of the heavens."

General Features: Deerhound is a large wire-haired Scottish Sighthound - big in size, but very elegant dog, which is believed to be able to catch a deer alone. Deerhound looks like a shaggy English Greyhound, but larger, with much stronger bones.

The head of a Deerhound is long, of straight lines, carried high, proportioned to the dog's body. A bit broad between the ears, tapering to the nose. Nose in the dogs of the blue-fawn color is blue, with the rest of the colors it must be black. Skull of a Deerhound is fairly flat, covered with relatively soft hair of medium length. The transition from forehead to the muzzle is slightly pronounced. Jaws are strong. Lips are tight.

Eyes of a Deerhound are oval. Dark or dark brown, or hazel color. Eyelids are always black.

Ears are small, soft, high set in a calm state laid back or to the sides of the head.

Derrhound's body is of a square format or a bit longer. By the shape of the body the Deerhound and the English Greyhound are very similar to each other, but the Deerhound is larger. The neck is very strong. Depth of the chest is greater than the width that determines the endurance of the dog. The loin is strongly convex. The croup is broad and powerful. Limbs are long, muscular. Paws are tight.

Tail is long, tapering, almost touching the ground. In the calm state the tail is dropped almost vertically down or bent slightly, in the motion - raised, but not higher than the line of the back.

The coat of a Deerhound is harsh, bristly, wiry, shaggy, relatively long (7.5-10 cm). On the chest, head and abdomen it is softer, on the muzzle it forms a silky mustache and beard.

Colors are different, most common is bluish-gray, various shades of gray and brindle, yellow, reddish fawn. Sometimes on the chest and toes there are white markings, and in the representatives of the best lines one can meet a white tip on the tail.

Deerhound breed

Temperament: Some people say that all Deerhounds are born under the sign of Gemini and they all have a dual nature, combining luck and passion for hunting with calmness and devotion in the house beside his family. Wide distribution of this large dog is affected by it's size - not much people can really afford such a huge pet.

Through his whole history the Deerhound was living and working side by side with people, so this dog naturally needs a constant communication with "his" family and especially his owner. Therefore, it is difficult and not recommended to raise up the Deerhound puppy and to keep an adult Deerhound outside of the house. Which is actually not a difficult task, because the Deerhound is naturally very calm, dignified and intelligent - although quite energetic.

This dog is a born hunter, he has a terrific flair and lightning-fast reaction, but not as fast as the English Greyhound. Deerhound is extremely hardy, capable of a long and hard work. These dogs are very active, they are constantly in motion and those motion they need necessarily to maintain a good physical shape and health. They are very balanced, rarely show aggression, and virtually do not bark. Living in a family, Deerhounds are very sensitive to the mood of the owners, they love children and always try to patronize them. With the outsiders most of the Deerhounds are very trusting, so these dogs usually do not make a good guards. Most of the Deerhounds (if raised up properly) are perfectly manageable and easy to memorize even the most difficult commands.

Although it is quite possible to keep a Deerhound in the city apartment, still this dog will always feel better in the countryside. Despite their docile nature, it is better to start the education of your Deerhound at an early age.

Deerhound's coat successfully defends them from the bad weather, but needs a regular brushing.

Curiously, at home, in Scotland, the number of Deerhounds is rapidly shrinking, but in the South Africa this breed is extremely prevalent. If you desire so, you can easily have more than one Deerhound in the house - individuals of this breed can live together peacefully and they get along with each other pretty well. Deerhounds are very sociable: they even can let a complete stranger to stroke them. With the Deerhound you can get involved in the coursing competitions or just enjoy this dog as a perfect companion for the long walks.

Health problems: Some Deerhounds are prone to bloat, so it is better to feed them 2-3 times a day with the smaller portions of food and avoid any exercises at least one hour after meal.

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