The ancestral parentage used in developing the Deerhound is somewhat speculative but there are suggestions that they evolved from a Greyhound type dog going back to the thirteenth century. Throughout the fifteenth century, writings and art seem to show that there were three hounds of very similar appearance, the English Greyhound, Irish Wolfhound and the Highland Deerhound. Then, throughout the eighteenth century there seems to have been a gradual diversity leaving two distinct types, the lowland and the highland, the latter being taller, stronger and with a heavier, rougher, coat than the former. During this time they were both used in tracking down deer, how the decision was made to refer one of these the Deerhound is not known. In 1886 the Deerhound Club was formed followed in 1892 with an official breed standard being accepted. The breed standard was once again amended in 1948 to renew the height requirements which still holds to date.
The Deerhound’s appearance is similar to a rough-coated Greyhound, although he is larger and has more bone. He is perhaps the tallest of the sight-hound group; his coat is longish, fairly harsh to the touch but with a softer textured beard, moustache, breast and belly. His ears are moderately small, ‘rose’-like, high-set, half perked and darker in colour to that of general coat colour.. His back-skull is somewhat broad and flat; muzzle tapers towards point of nose. His nose is black but can be dark blue on blue-fawn coloured dogs. Eyes are dark brown, or can be dark hazel with black eye-rims. The Deerhound has a deep chest, neither too broad or too narrow; tail is long, carried low, almost touching the ground. He comes in colours of various shades of blue-grey or black Brindle, some with slight white on feet and chest.
Scottish Deerhounds live an average of 8 1/2 to 9 years. The serious health issues in the breed include cardiomyopathy; osteosarcoma; bloat; stomach or splenic torsion, called Gastric dilatation volvulus; and cystinuria.
Cardiomyopathy (literally “heart muscle disease”) is the measurable deterioration for any reason of the ability of the myocardium (the heart muscle) to contract, usually leading to heart failure. Common symptoms include dyspnea (breathlessness) and peripheral edema (swelling of the legs). Those with cardiomyopathy are often at risk of dangerous forms of irregular heart rate and sudden cardiac death.
The most common form of cardiomyopathy is dilated cardiomyopathy. Although the term “cardiomyopathy” could theoretically apply to almost any disease affecting the heart, it is usually reserved for “severe myocardial disease leading to heart failure”.
Osteosarcoma is a cancerous tumor in a bone. Specifically, it is an aggressive malignant neoplasm that arises from primitive transformed cells of mesenchymal origin (and thus a sarcoma) and that exhibits osteoblastic differentiation and produces malignant osteoid.