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The Scottish Deerhound





Scottish Deerhound

The Scottish sighthound – the Deerhound – is of ancient origins, at a very remote period he intermixed with his cousin, the Irish sighthound (Wolfhound).

In order to adjust him to a land that presents a rugged surface for which a robust hound was needed, imposing but much more agile and lithe than the Irish Wolfhound, he has been selected over centuries… and conceived in coupling, probably with Greyhounds, the existing rough-haired sighthounds choosing them lighter but still tall, while using also other “bloods” without knowing precisely which ones.

Nevertheless, his roots certainly descend in a prestigious past! Many ancient writings have reached us, in particular some anecdotes by a chronicler living in the 15th century who relates a quarrel between two populations of that time, the Scots and the Picts, about the robbery of a Deerhound of great value by the latter. That was enough, according to the manners of that era, to provoke a pitched battle in which « several warriors perished »...

Another story by the same author tells that Mary, then Queen of Scotland, loved hunting like all lords of that time. In 1563, the Count of Athol organised a great beat in her honour for which the Deerhounds were only used as drivers. At the end of the beat, Queen Mary, enthusiastic about the high spirits and the nobleness of these sighthounds, gave orders to slip the very best in pursuit of the deer… the supreme reward....



In a more recent past, around the middle of the last century, the breed had been perfectly fixed and was used by Capt. Graham to outcross with his Irish Wolfhounds.

As already mentioned, the Deerhound was conceived to hunt a particular game: the red deer which populate the Highlands. A male deer being quite a big animal to catch, a fast sighthound, fearless and strong was required. Considering that the quarry has at its disposal a deadly arm, his antlers, which very often wounds the young sighthounds lacking experience, it was certainly necessary to use a fast, ardent, strong and fearless hound to hunt it...

Today the Deerhound is a first-rate sporting breed which holds its own on a racing-track and it excels in lure coursing where the atavism of the hunter may be revived.

At home he is a calm hound, obedient, barking quite seldom. He is very devoted to his owners and is fond of children becoming rapidly their playmate.

The breed is still quite scarce in France, the number of hounds is actually stable over the years. It’s a real pity that the « pearl of the sighthounds » which certainly could interest lots of fanciers of physical performances as well as the lovers of elegant lines is so unappreciated in this country.