The Deerhound, also known as the Scottish Deerhound or Scottish Wolfdog, is a very large dog breed. They are closely related to the Irish Wolfhound and, over rough, boggy terrain, have the running skills to outpace a Greyhound! They love going for long walks, chasing things and relaxing with their people.
If you’d like to learn more about these gentle giants, we’ve gathered lots of information with some extra help from the BorrowMyDoggy community.
Nick says his Deerhound, Rufus is a
giant dog with a heart of gold and a gentle disposition.
What is a Deerhound?
They are a type of sighthound, historically used to hunt wolves and later to coarse red deer in Scotland. Selective breeding for this purpose has led to a breed that is sturdy, fast and wiry-coated. Deerhounds also have better stamina than some of the other sighthounds as they were expected to run over large estates. Males can grow up to around 80 cm in height and weigh up to 50 kg. Though often seen with a grey coat, Deerhounds can be blue, brindle, fawn, grey, red or yellow.
Deerhounds - or perhaps their similar ancestors - have been depicted as hunting dogs since the 1st century AD. In the late nineteenth century, the division of Scottish estates into smaller deer forests and the rise in hunting with rifles removed the breed’s main purpose and so numbers naturally dropped. The Scottish breed was maintained by enthusiasts who enjoyed their athleticism and good nature. Deerhounds are now more often used for showing and as a gentle family pet than for tearing around the Scottish countryside. However, they’re still most suited to life in the country as they remain a very high energy breed.
They were once called the Royal Dog of Scotland as, at one point in time, only royals and nobles were allowed to own them.
How much exercise do they need?
A lot! The Kennel Club recommend more than two hours of exercise per day. Running off the lead in a secure place will be appreciated by these hounds - however, with their affinity for chasing things, care should always be taken to ensure they come back when called. They also require a lot of mental stimulation so will be happiest with varied walks and a garden to explore throughout the day.
For example, Glenis, who owns two Deerhounds, says:
They love long country walks - these guys are sighthounds and are gentle giants but must be kept on leads. They are very good with children!
What about temperament?
Deerhounds are known to be gentle giants. They are very quiet and have laid-back natures. This makes them a perfect family dog as they are very good with children and rarely show any sign of aggression.
They are not recommended for first-time owners and are likely to settle better with people who have a good understanding of the breed and what it takes to own one.
As much as they love to keep their owners entertained whilst out and about, they are rather lazy and love nothing more than to curl up in bed at home and sleep.
Doggy member, Sadie is:
“a timid, lovable but very friendly large dog who walks well on the lead but will not chase a ball nor play much with toys. She has a reasonably high prey drive due to her breeding, although this is not a problem in our large garden...if she sees a squirrel or rabbit on walks a firm, ‘no Sadie’ suffices but sometimes she is keen to try to chase cats. Sadie loves to play with my dog but has short bursts of energy.”
Are they easy to train?
With the right owners who understand the breed, these sighthounds can be relatively easy to train: they are very intelligent and eager to please. If you have a Deerhound puppy, training should be mastered early to avoid any control issues when they get bigger and stronger.
Puppy classes are a great place to start training and will also help with socialisation. Recall should be a top priority as these hounds have a very high prey drive. This will need consistent work in lots of different environments - make it a game in a secure place and you both might enjoy it! There are lots of resources for training online, including our Dog Training section of Doggypedia.
Owner, Joanne, gives a great overview of her rescued hound, Alfie:
“[Alfie] is a big boy, very long legs and tail! He is very gentle once he has got over the excitement of meeting you. He is very good with children, he adores being stroked and loved and will push his body into you for more loves. He is a sighthound, which means when he is off the lead and sees something, he goes completely deaf to recalling! He has seen a deer and chased after it only to turn round and be chased by the deer.....he is a big baby! He has a loving nature. He loves being chased and especially loves small dogs.”
If you want to share a story about your Deerhound, we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch through the Contact Us button below. This Waggy Tale testimonial centres on Irish Wolfhound cross Labrador, Rufus - an absolute delight for his owners and borrowers:
Thanks to the BorrowMyDoggy community for sharing their wooftastic photos and quotes.
- Owners - if you’re looking to find your sighthound a new friend to help with dog care, why not contact borrowers from the community who would love to help you out?
- Borrowers - if you’re looking to learn more about different dog breeds, why not message local owners looking for help with extra dog walks and cuddles for their dog?
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