The Scottish deerhound is an interesting breed of dog for numerous reasons. The obvious one being its rather large size, of course, but it does also have some unique personality traits that make it appealing to many people on the lookout for a new member for their family.
With many dogs, you would be pretty safe if you brought one into the family but with the Scottish deerhound, you need to do a bit of extra due diligence. There are many things to consider as this dog will impact your family. Most of the time, these impacts will be positive but it’s not the positive things you need to worry about, it’s the potential negative side of owning one of these that you need to consider.
This is the purpose of this article, to help you come to the right decision as to whether the deerhound is right for you and whether you are right for the deerhound!
Do Scottish deerhounds make good pets? The Scottish deerhound makes a terrific pet for a family. They are typically loving, gentle and intelligent. However, their size can present problems and they can also be quite stubborn!
I would say that the ‘Royal Dog of Scotland’, as it is known, has a larger-than-life personality but probably this isn’t the most appropriate saying for this particular breed of dog, right?
The Scottish deerhound is a gentle giant, without doubt. It is rare that this breed displays outward signs of aggression, but do remember that there are always exceptions.
I have based the content of this article on my own personal experience as my father has had a deerhound for the last seven years and I have spent a considerable amount of time with them. I was keen to understand whether the personality of this particular dog (his name is ‘Willoughby’) was normal or perhaps an exception, so I performed research online to confirm some points, where required.
I have seen quite a difference over the years in his personality – from his boisterous youth to his more sedentary lifestyle in recent times. This shouldn’t be unexpected though of course, as when the deerhound is 7, this is technical getting quite old…and we all slow down as we get older!
The deerhound needs to be exercised, particularly when young. It will not develop into its full potential without this. Not only will this regular, vigorous exercise help to keep the breed healthy – it will, of course, keep you fit too!
In older years though, they will have less appetite to go outside for so long and it can be usually during this time that another one of its strong personality traits can be seen quite clearly. It can be stubborn! Whereas smaller dogs can be encouraged to do what they are asked – the deerhound, as it is somewhat large, may provide a little more resistance. It is at this time that you may wish you had undertaken proper, formal training for the dog at an early age as it’s not as if you’re going to be able to pick them up!
A good fit for a family?
The deerhound does like attention, well most of the time. I say most of the time as it can be a little fickle as to who it chooses as its friends! Sometimes, when out exercising, dogs that are off-leash (it is recommended you keep your deerhound on a leash when in public) will approach (as well as people). This particular dog gets a lot of attention due to its size.
There are some people though (and some dogs) that they seem to prefer over others! I could never work out why this might be or whether there was any pattern but eventually you just end up accepting it and dealing with it. When the deerhound doesn’t like someone, it can be a bit intimidating! They don’t usually try and bite but they might growl, which is enough to put many off coming any closer. Whether this behavior is a consequence of inadequate socialization or training is hard to tell but it is quite rare. Although, perhaps many don’t get trained as it can be a real challenge! Sometimes, they just aren’t in the mood to have any lessons so they might just lie down for a nap.
Usually, the deerhound is extremely friendly. They will greet you by licking you, pushing their face into yours and jumping around all excitedly. They love children and can be happily introduced into a family with them but again, socialization is important and the children need to understand how to behave around them. Because of the large size of this dog, obvious care needs to be taken around kids. This is a strong animal and although, yes, it is typically very gentle and loving, children do still need to be reminded that it is an animal and can act unpredictably from time to time!
The Scottish deerhound is a laid-back breed of dog – usually. It enjoys curling up on the sofa with you. Or should I say, without you as there may not be enough room for you both. When it gets tired it will take itself off to bed and if it gets a bit bored or tired during a walk, it will just turn around and head home. You may not have much choice but to tag along!
They certainly do feel the heat, which could be another reason for this lackadaisical mentality. They don’t really like hot weather and will always try and find somewhere cool to crash out when appropriate. Therefore, care needs to be taken when transporting them in a vehicle. It needs to be big enough to get them in (which rules most cars out) and it must have air-conditioning to keep them cool.
The Size of the Deerhound
It’s an obvious one but is something you must consider when looking at acquiring one. If you live in a small house, apartment or any dwelling with no outside space or limited area for them to move around in – this may not be the best breed of dog for you. They are a big dog which needs exercise, particularly when young. They will not develop properly without this.
Their size, as I’ve mentioned earlier, must also be considered when introducing them into a family environment where kids will be present also. They can reach around 50 kg (110 lbs) and also reach a height of around 2.5 feet – this is a considerable amount of naughty-based mass!
Children need to be taught how to play with (and respect) dogs and especially dogs like the deerhound. If a tiny Chihuahua gave you a nip you might not notice but if the deerhound became so scared it decided it needed to protect itself by biting, you might be going to the hospital.
Children at a young age and of course, babies can be at risk with a dog of this size and should never be left alone in a room with the animal – however gentle and loving it may seem.
Overall though – the Scottish deerhound makes a tremendous family pet and will become part of your family unit in no time. Owners of them often say that once you’ve owned one, you can never own a different breed and I totally understand this now.
Pros For Owning a Deerhound
There are several good reasons for owning a deerhound:
- They are typically a very loving breed of dog.
- They are usually very gentle, although sometimes they can be quite clumsy!
- They can be very good in a family environment.
- They have a unique personality, almost human-like. In fact, I’m sure they actually think they are human.
- They can be very affectionate – well, as affectionate at a 110 lb, bony lump of moving madness can be.
Cons for Owning a Deerhound
There are also things that one should consider that might not be so positive:
- They can be stubborn and difficult to train.
- Their sheer size can be intimidating.
- They are known to suffer from several health problems throughout their life.
- Their life expectancy is relatively short, at about 8 to 9 years of age.
- They are expensive to buy and maintain.
The Expense of Owning a Deerhound
This is something that you must consider when looking at a deerhound as unless you have a lot of money, you are going to be impacted financially by this dog throughout its life.
Firstly, there is the initial cost that can easily set you back anywhere between $1000 and $2000 for a puppy and sometimes even more, depending on the breeder you choose to purchase from. With a breed like this, you need to do everything you can to give yourself an advantage and the advantage of buying through a decent breed is that you should know that at least they haven’t inherited any serious genetic problems.
As already discussed, the deerhound can suffer from health problems throughout its life. In my opinion, it should be mandatory for owners to have insurance but I know that doesn’t really work in the real world. Insurance is going to be expensive as insurers know that there’s going to be a good chance they are going to be paying out!
The insurance cost is going to be considerably more than whatever you pay for your car. Even if you’ve got a Ferrari you’re going to think the car insurance is cheap compared to what you might be paying for the deerhound! So, just factor this in at the outset and I hope it isn’t a reason why you wouldn’t go ahead.
Is Someone Going to Be Around All Day?
Although not ideal, there are some dogs who do okay being crated for several hours a day. The Scottish deerhound is not one of these dogs. They want and need (ideally) human interaction and if you’re not in a position to be able to provide this and can’t get someone to dog-sit whilst you’re away, please consider another breed.
There are two main problems with crating the deerhound and the first one is the obvious one – its size. You just don’t get crates big enough to cater for them. Secondly though is its personality. It’s just not a dog that does well being left alone for long periods of time.
The Scottish deerhound is a complex, remarkable, loving, beautiful breed of dog. It is a dog that you can’t forget and one that will truly change your life for the better.
This article wasn’t intended to scare anyone off and I apologize if this is how it sounded. It was only meant to provide the facts, to let you know what you’re letting yourself in for. Not only is it important that you buy the right dog for you but also that the gorgeous deerhound has an owner that is right for them.