Danish owned "Kamante" resting  
A beautiful Scottish Deerhound owned by Amelia Brock, Denmark.
Visually, the Scottish Deerhound can be likened to a large, strong boned Greyhound with a very rough hair coat. Just a little stronger built, this "gentle giant", (because as pets around the house, they are quiet, sweet and loving, good with children and looking and acting as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouths), has been bred for running down and killing the large and fearsome stags that still abound in Scotland to this day. They are built for hard work, running up and down steep mountain sides in rough, stony terrain, often in cold, bad weather snow and sleet. Hence the touch rough haired coat. A practiced Deerhound knows how to chase, run alongside and then to leap up and take a hold of a running deer by the throat pulling it off balance and bringing it down at full speed. A heavy stag most often breaks its neck. This seems wild, but you would never guess to look at them.
My thanks to Amelia Brock, Denmark, for all the lovely photos of her Swedish bred dog and best friend "Kamante"!
Deerhounds are one of the few breeds that have changed very little in the last few hundred years.
Anyone who reads old history books will find references to: "Rough or wire haired Greyhound", "Irish Greyhound", "Scottish Greyhound", "Scottish Deerhound", "Highland Deerhound" and many other variations of the name. Alone it's appearance conjures up visions of the Scottish Highland's mountainous and rugged landscape dotted with villages, castles, heather clad hillsides, and of course the magnificent stags.
With this backcloth, one can easily visualize a deerhound with it's strong feet placed firmly, standing well balanced on a rough stony mountainside, while the gusty windy blows its eyebrows back revealing dark eyes burning with tension and excitement. Its dense and tufted wirehair coat a perfect protection against the wind and rain.

As far back as the 3rd century one can find descriptions of Greyhound like dogs like these that were used for hunting game. In the 15 th. century one can read references to, and see pictures of both the English Greyhound, Highland Deerhound and the Irish Wolfhound - which shows that these breeds were already developed to definite types, yet had similarities. Yet to this day is has not been possible to find a clear detailed description of where they came from. Maybe they were brought over to the British Isles by the Celts or others who emigrated to Scotland and Ireland from somewhere else in Europe. We can only record, that in the North of Scotland there seems to always have been a type of dog that was used for hunting the highland deer. We can't even be quite sure of the appearance before the 18th century, but we know they were there and must have had a certain size and strength, speed and bravery.

Greeting after not seeing each other for a long time!

In the beginning of the 19th century, the breed was down to only a few dozen.
The main factors playing a role in the falling popularity, was the development of guns and sportsrifles coupled with the fact that the land was being increasingly turned into farmland where more and more people had sheep and this lead to a rapid decrease and spliting up of the old forrest areas into many smaller areas. Fewer Deerhounds were bred.
The new form of hunting was now with rifles where one followed the deer trails stalked and shot the animals when they fled. So one only needed a tracking dog for aid with finding the scent trails and to find injured animals. Collies and other similar breeds were used which were more obedient and could better follow the scent trails.

However, Deerhounds succeeded in doing a "come back" at the end of the Napolionic wars in 1815 which brought a period of peace. Those officers who came home again saught a more exciting sport and found tracking down the deer much more to their taste. The owners of the many smaller forrest areas made a great living from renting them out to all the "well off" hunters and hunting sport supporters.

The oldest breed of Deerhounds is probably "Chesterhill", established by Menzies in the beginning of the 19 th century. Others were Morrison of Glenelg, M'niel of Colonsay and Bateson of Combusmere. The latter owned many of the models used by painter Edwin Landseers pictured in many famous paintings, because he reckoned them to be the finest examples of the breed he ever had seen.

A lovely portrait of two friends!

But, alas, fate was again against the Deerhounds and their coursing form, as many now fell victim to the illness "distemper" which ended the life of many a good dog.

However, yet again luck turned and in the south of England, a certain Major James Robertson managed to preserve the bloodlines from his uncle Colonel David Ross. Amongst other breeders was the poet Sidney Dobell, Captain Graham of Dursley, (later re-creater of the Irish Wolfhound as we know it today, only at this moment in time he was devoted to the cause of the Deerhound), Mr. Wright-Osmaston in Derbyshire, Mr. Barr of Manchester, Mr. Hickman in London and Mr. Parsons in Nottingham. We owe these breeders a great deal for their hard work in preserving the breed

The Deerhounds natural prey is of course the stag, but unfortunately or luckily - depending on how you look at it, it is not permitted to hunt them any more. The deer are more than 130 cm high at the shoulders and weigh over 125 kilos. They are incredibly fast and strong and a deerhound must also be very fast and strong to overtake and bring it down by leaping up and biting at the neck, thereby bringing it down and often breaking it's neck in the fall. Not only this but the stags have the most impressive defense: the antlers. Although they bear these with an aristocratic arrogance, they are not merely for decoration but extremely dangerous weapons against all rivals and enemies. Many a deerhound has felt these in its body and how effectively they can be used!

A more "modern" prey for Deerhounds is the hare. Deerhounds can manage hare coursing very well, despite the fact that following the hare's sharp zigzag maneuvers requires a rather more agile, smaller body which they do not have and so they are not needed to be so large, strong and heavy, as was absolutely necessary for deer hunting.
The committee for coursing in the Deerhound Club of Great Britain holds a few meetings every year. These take place in either Scotland or east Anglia where hare can be found in suitable numbers. These meets are very popular as they are not only the way to test the dogs for their hunting instincts and abilities, but also a good excuse for getting together with other enthusiastic Deerhound owners and breeders!
Deerhounds are both larger and heavier than Greyhounds and lurchers and therefore at a disadvantage when coursing after smaller prey. However they just love to join in the fun!
So it is also no surprise to find that many Deerhounds are now being bred specially for this new (for them!) form of coursing and are therefore getting smaller and lighter than ever before and there's often a big difference between them and the other "show Deerhound" types.
However some kennels are successful at both sports. The most notable being Miss A. Noble's Ardkinglas Kennel with Show Champions for example Ch. Ardkinglas Idol, who also wins well at the coursing meets.
Miss Noble bought her first deerhound bitch, Nora of Entekerine, in 1930 from a Miss Bell after she had seen the breed so often accompanying the foresters around her home. All Ardkinglas Deerhounds come from this one dog. Through the years there has been 27 British Champions and countless Champions abroad.
One of the most successful "small" kennels, in later years has been Miss Cecily Cox's Dufault Kennel, which started in 1961. From here there has come some 10 Champions, of which 7 are from her kennel, which peaked in 1981, where there were 5 Deerhound Champions at one time at Dufault.

Without a doubt, the largest kennels with the greatest influence on the breed has been Miss Norah Hartley's "Rotherwood" Kennel and Miss Anastasia Noble's "Ardkinglas" Kennel. Miss Hartley began her dog career with an open mind, wanting to choose whatever dog that was "right" for her. One requirement was, that she could hold the collar without having to bend down! She also wanted a breed with beautiful elegant lines and agile active movement. But most of all, she wanted a breed that had an open, loving mind which one could trust through and through. There must be no nervousness, lack of trustworthiness or any aggressiveness. All these qualities are found in Deerhounds! A friend lent her a book on all dog breeds and Deerhounds kept on coming to the top of her list. Her father loved the poetry and novels of Sir Walter Scott, and said that if she was to own dogs and breed from them, then it would be lovely to have the same breed as Sir Walter Scot wrote so much about. One like Scott's much loved Deerhound called "Maida". Her father also took her to the big dog show held at Alexandra Palace in London in 1925, and they both were very attracted to the Deerhounds they saw there. Since then, Deerhounds have been the one and only breed in her life.
Through the years there have been 35 Rotherwood Champions and all from her own breeding. Paula of Rotherwood, born in 1948, wasn't in herself particularly excellent but she proved to be the most reliable and excellent brood bitch. She still holds the record of having produced the most Champions, 6 in all.

Deerhounds are once again starting to be a little more popular. Luckily they are not glamorous enough to become models in advertising, which tempts many people to react impulsively only to regret later - and may this situation last long! A breed that is suddenly in fashion attracts all sorts of persons who have no real interest for it and also many unscrupulous types who only think of the money they can earn.


Those who are new in the breed and who want to show their dog should remember the natural "tousled" look which was no doubt partly what first attracted them to the breed. Deerhounds do not need the enormous amount of combing and brushing that many other breeds with long coats have do. Just a quick brush through before going in the ring is enough. Also, they should never be dragged around "strung up" on the lead like many other breeds, but shown as naturally as possible. Keep the "natural look" all the way, as that probably was what attracted you in the first place!
Deerhounds are Sighthounds and so have the Sighthound's catlike nature. They can be independent, disobedient and also suddenly stone deaf when it suits them, but having said that, one also should add that they are one of the "easiest" to have and to train of all the Sighthounds.
Since they don't ALWAYS do what you say, but often "think for themselves", if you are the type who wants total obedience at all times and a well trained obedient dog willing to carry out your every order - well then you had best not choose a Deerhound!
Deerhounds have their own ideas and opinions about things and are perfectly willing do just as you want them to, IF they think that its amusing or something they like. It's up to you to make training as interesting and fun as possible
They are very "fine feeling" and sensitive dogs that only need a short firm reprimand as punishment for any "naughtynesses", never physical punishment and it's no good loosing your temper for hours either. Hot tempered people will only get an unnaturally nervous and frightened Deerhound as a result.
Large breeds such as the Deerhound are slow to mature and it is especially important to take care with not only a good diet to ensure optimal bone growth together with good exercise to give a well developed physique, but also to train them mentally and let them have many varied and good experiences and get to know all about the world they are living in, from earliest puppyhood.
Deerhounds do not smell unpleasantly of "dog" and their coat is very easy to keep clean in the daily run.
Deerhounds love their families and are happiest living together with them in close contact. They are good with children of all ages - though of course all children must be taught to show proper respect for any dog breed.
Deerhounds may look big, but is amazing how small they can be when curled up and often manage to squeeze into any dog bed or car seat etc.

Once a Deerhound lover, always a Deerhound lover!

Written by Joan P. Garth, Germany 1994.

My e-mail: janetfm@sighthound.net

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