Scottish Deerhound

AKC Hound Group


Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Scottish Deerhound was a deer hunting dog of the Scottish chieftains in the Middle Ages. The Deerhound was once so popular with Scottish high nobility, that the breed became known as the royal dog of Scotland. No one ranking below an earl was permitted to own one. The advent of gun hunting, development of fenced agriculture (which cut up the wide open spaces needed for such deer hunts), and the fall of the Scottish clan system resulted in the decline of the Scottish Deerhound. The breed almost became extinct. However, interest revived in the 1800s, and the breed was saved, largely due to the efforts of two brothers, Archibald and Duncan McNeill. Queen Victoria became a Deerhound fancier, and Sir Walter Scott also owned one. Though it was very difficult to feed these large dogs during World War II in Britain, and many people destroyed their dogs for lack of food, some dedicated Deerhound owners held out and saved their dogs. Today, this agile sight hound is primarily a companion, though he is sometimes still used to hunt rabbits and coyotes and for lure coursing.


The Scottish Deerhound is a tall, slim sight hound, resembling a large Greyhound with a shaggy 3- to 4-in. long coat, beard, mustache, and mane. The harsh, wiry coat comes in various shades of gray (blue-gray preferred), gray brindle, or, rarely, red or fawn, all with dark ears and tapering dark muzzle. A little white is allowed on the chest, feet, and tail. The hair is softer on the underparts and head. The eyes are either chestnut or hazel, and the nose is a dark color. There is little stop. The teeth should form a level bite. The soft ears lie back against the head unless the dog is excited, in which case, they become half-pricked. The body closely approximates that of a large Greyhound, with straight forelegs, powerful arched loin, and tucked-up abdomen. The long straight or curved tail nearly reaches the ground.

Key Facts

  • Height:  30 to 32 in. (male); over 28 in. (female)
  • Size:  Large
  • Weight:  85 to 110 lbs. (male); 75 to 95 lbs. (female)
  • Availability:  Difficult to find
  • Talents:  Hunting by sight, tracking, racing, agility, and lure coursing


Might be subject to bloat. Needs a great deal of exercise, but do not let off leash except in a secure area. This breed is incredibly fast and likes to chase. Best with a large yard or acreage so he has room to run. Mature Deerhounds can do well in apartments if given sufficient exercise. Though classified as a sight hound, the Scottish Deerhound also has a very fine sense of smell.


A very gentle and amiable breed. Quiet, loving, and peaceable. Very courageous and dignified. Devoted and loyal. Somewhat willful—can be slow to obey commands, but generally naturally well-behaved. Excellent with considerate children. Not a watchdog or a guard.


  • Children:  Excellent with children
  • Friendliness:  Loves everyone
  • Trainability:  Somewhat difficult to train
  • Independence:  Moderately dependent on people
  • Dominance:  Low
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other dogs; do not trust with non-canine pets
  • Combativeness:  Friendly with other dogs
  • Noise:  Not a barker
  • Indoors:  Relatively inactive indoors
  • Owner:  Good for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Moderate grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  Some trimming or stripping (little skill required)
  • Coat:  Wiry coat
  • Shedding:  Average shedder
  • Exercise:  Needs lots of exercise
  • Jogging:  A good jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Not recommended for apartments
  • Outdoor Space:  Best with a large yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Short (under 10 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Scottish Deerhound Breed Standard

Scottish Deerhound Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Scottish Deerhound

Scottish Deerhound Gifts