The deerhound is one of those breeds of dog that really stand out from the crowd. They won’t let you forget them easily! It’s not just about their physical presence, which is undeniably a factor. It’s also about their larger than life personality, which will draw you, not very subtlety, into their world. Anyway, seeing as my Dad has one and I’ve spent a lot of time with him – I know this breed of dog very well – so if you want to know exactly what the Deerhound looks like – you’ve come to the right place!
What does a Scottish Deerhound look like? The Scottish deerhound is a very large breed of dog with features that could be compared to a greyhound – just on a much larger scale!
Scottish Deerhound – An Overview
Here is a table listing all the prominent features of the Scottish Deerhound:
|Height||Male: ~31 inches, female: ~28 inches|
|Weight||Male: ~95 lbs, female: ~85 lbs|
|Features||Wiry coat, bony large body and a large snout|
|Personality||Gentle and friendly but occasionally stubborn.|
|Original Use||Coursing and Deer Stalking|
|Colors||Brindle, blue, fawn, gray and yellow (cream)|
|Cost||High, usually around $1500-$2000|
|Lifespan||8-9 years, although many live older.|
|Health issues||Can be significant|
The Main Features of the Scottish Deerhound
There are some pretty obvious differences between the deerhound and most other breeds of dog, mostly its enormous size! But there’s a lot more to this dog than just its physical dimensions.
The Scottish deerhound is large. Usually, you’ll find the male reach a height of somewhere around 31-32 inches (about 2.5 feet) and the female won’t be far off this, maybe a couple of inches less. Where the differences in the sexes is more noticeable though is in their bulk. The adult male usually weighs in the region of 100 lbs (about 45 kg) whereas the female usually comes in around 20% less than this at about 80-85 lbs (~37 kg).
However, although this is quite a large mass for a dog – they actually seem bigger than the measurements given above! They are strong and unless you’ve got your wits about you they will pull you all over the place when you take them out for exercise. Care needs to be taken as to who has control of the leash as they will be tempted by squirrels, rabbits and other small mammals.
Whenever I go and see Willoughby (a lovely name for a deerhound I think) he usually greets me by trying to put his front paws on my shoulders. It’s a little bit unnerving to have a dog looking down at you, but fortunately, deerhounds are usually incredibly gentle and wouldn’t even think of doing you any harm.
Coat and Color
What you’ll notice when you stroke the coat of the deerhound is how rough it feels. There’s a real wiry feel to it and if you were expecting their coat to be furry and cuddly, you’d be surprised. Although I wouldn’t exactly call this dog cuddly, don’t think it won’t be wanting to share your bed with you at night!
Despite being so large, they don’t seem to have much meat on them as they feel quite bony to the touch, which again is a surprise for a dog so big.
Where you will find their fur longer than on the rest of their body is around their mane, where it can grow to around 3 to 4 inches in length. Also, on its belly, you will notice the fur a little smoother.
The most common color for a Scottish deerhound seems to be the blue/gray coat but they are also seen in brindle, red, fawn and a yellow color. Personally, I’m not sure quite why they called it this as I think it is more of a cream color.
The face of the deerhound is full of character but their eyes are usually partly masked by fur, giving the impression of eyebrows. Its ears are darker in color and surprisingly small, considering the size of the rest of the head. You will find these ears standing erect when they are excited, usually when you mention anything to do with going outside!
Its snout is large and there are similarities to the greyhound (but on a larger scale, of course). The eyes are dark and usually brown in color – these eyes will bore deep holes into your heart that will leave a gaping hole when their all-too-short lives come to an end, which brings me to the next section.
Personality and Life Expectancy of the Deerhound
The Scottish deerhound, according to the AKC (American Kennel Club) is described as “Gentle, dignified and polite” and knowing one as well as I do, it’s hard to argue strongly about this. A gentle giant? Yes, usually – but not always. The Scottish deerhound knows what it wants to do and has the strength to impose itself on owners who haven’t followed socialization techniques with it at an early age or are disciplined enough.
Unlike other breeds of dog where you can just pick them up and plop them somewhere else if they go somewhere they shouldn’t, that isn’t exactly possible with the deerhound! You see, what the AKC doesn’t mention is that they can also be quite stubborn. When you take them out for a walk they will have their preferred route and I know this is often said but they will literally take you on their favorite walk. If they want to go home because they are a bit tired they will just stop and start heading back – you will have a hard job stopping them!
This is why proper, formal training is so important when it comes to larger dogs. You won’t stand a chance if you don’t have the authority and confidence to be able to command this dog to follow your instructions! Another thing that isn’t well documented about this breed is, at least in my experience, they can get a bit grumpy – especially when they reach an older age. If they don’t want to do something, they’ll just sit there and pretend they didn’t hear you. They’ll give you a little growl if they don’t want any attention and they’ll be less tolerant of other animals (and people) when out.
By the way, the deerhound is quite well known for being a little lazy. This is quite normal and shouldn’t be confused with signs of your dog being stressed-out. I have an article that looks at common signs of this actually, so do check it out if you like (opens in a new window).
The Scottish deerhound can be quite choosy as to who it likes and who it doesn’t. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme nor reason around this. For whatever reason, with some people and some dogs, they just take an instant dislike to. Although they never usually lash out (there are always exceptions), they will growl and that is actually quite intimidating when they are so big! Overall, though – they are gentle and love our company.
The life expectancy of the Scottish deerhound is only between 8 and 9 years, which is a shame and before you know it the dog is entering old age. Unfortunately, it is a breed that is known for some health concerns and my Dad’s dog hasn’t escaped these – although fingers crossed, he’s still healthy (now 7 years of age). Fear not though if yours is fast approaching these numbers – many have lived a lot older and there are some (unconfirmed) reports of a deerhound reaching 15!
The Scottish deerhound is a stunning breed of dog that has a personality to match. It will impact your family unit for (hopefully) the next decade or more. You can not escape its size and bulk though and you need to make sure you have the space to accommodate this animal. The deerhound takes up a lot of room though and for obvious reasons, it would not be best suited for an apartment!