Dating back as early as the 16th century, the true origin of the Deerhound, or Scottish Deerhound as it was formerly known, is subject to conjecture. Primarily bred to hunt and bring down the large Scottish stag and red deer, the Deerhound evolved an acute sense of sight and smell. During the Middle Ages, such versatile hunting breeds were utilised by Scottish tribes in tracking, sighting and racing, until the advancement of firearms reduced their demand. The Deerhound eventually became known as the Royal Dog of Scotland, owned by Queen Victoria and forbidden from ownership by anyone ranking below an earl. Due to this restriction, the Deerhound population diminished, continuing to fluctuate throughout its history. It was commonly thought that a lord or noble accused of a capital offence could exchange their death sentence for a simple leash of Deerhounds.
Easily identifiable for its rustic-looking appearance, the Deerhound features in many literative pictorials, positioned beside the hearth of a Highland manor. The Deerhound is further characterised by a lean, athletic build, dark eyes, deep chest and a tapered muzzle. A cousin of the Greyhound, the Scottish Deerhound shares many of its characteristic traits. The coarse, wiry coat present in the breed was originally bred into it as camouflage, for functionality purposes when hunting in the rural Highlands. Typically affectionate, loyal and obedient, the Deerhound is compatible with children that do expect great playfulness from it, but rather, respect its impressive size and stature. Notoriously unsuited to co-habitation with non-canine pets.
Not a watch or guard dog due to its inherent love of people, the Deerhound is best suited to a countryside setting where there is ample space for exercise and play. Despite looking unmanageable, the Deerhound's coat is easy to groom and maintain and irregular bathing is adequate. The average Deerhound weighs 35-50 kg depending on its gender, with a life expectancy of 7-10 years of age.
Prone to bloat, the Deerhound is generally a healthy and resilient breed, susceptible to a select few genetic complaints. One of the more serious afflictions specific to the breed is bone cancer (osteosarcoma), which is significantly more threatening in the Deerhound than other breeds. Due to its large proportions, the Deerhound is also at higher risk of developing cardiac disease, joint stiffness and associated complaints, bladder stones and liver failure.