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The Deerhound - A Guide to Ownership



Living with a deerhound

Although like so many other breeds they have lost their real work, this does not mean they have declined nor lost their proud and loveable characteristics. The advent of shows probably saved the breed and many faithful enthusiasts kept them going through the years. Once one has deerhounds, one does not easily give them up and the breed has been lucky to have such devoted owners who have weathered two World Wars, with all their difficulties, and brought the breed through remarkably well. Entries at shows are consistently good and there is a flourishing Club to foster the interests of the breed. Coursing is organised by enthusiasts to give the hounds some work. There is also a Club Newsletter to keep members in touch.

Deerhounds are adaptable to all sorts of lives and conditions and have many points in their favour. Though large, they are neat and many live in small houses with no trouble. Being tall and having little feathering on the legs, they do not bring in much wet or mud. Their grey colour does not show the dirt and their coat is long enough to keep them warm in the coldest weather. Many hounds live out in kennels all the year round, others bask by the fire-side.

Contrary to casual opinion, they are not large or greedy eaters. Like all big breeds they must be well reared. If you do not have the experience needed to rear well, do not buy a very young puppy. They are slow developers and are still very puppyish at 9-10 months or older, when many breeds would be full-grown and developed, so you can still buy a puppy and be past the worst rearing stage. However, most breeders would want to sell puppies to new homes at about 3 months of age. This does not mean that deerhounds are delicate or difficult to rear, for they are not, but they must be "well done" and they take time to develop.

Though deerhounds like the open spaces and can take all the exercise they are given when adult, they can equally well live and be very happy in more cramped conditions provided you take the trouble to take them out for exercise, and give them free galloping - especially once they are past puppy age. When considering buying a Deerhound puppy, make sure you purchase it from a reputable breeder. You can check with the Club Secretary or others members of the Deerhound Club.

General Notes for the new Deerhound owner

When you bring your new puppy home, he may not be used to an indoor environment so introduce him to noisy appliances gently. He should have a quiet place of his own to go to for rest and sleep - even if he does then choose your best sofa!

He will probably not be used to a collar and lead so should gradually be accustomed to them during the period when he cannot go out in public. It is a good idea at this time to teach him to have his coat brushed, teeth examined, and mails trimmed. If you insist on these things while he is small they should never be a problem.

Exercise should be restricted during the first few months. Playing in the garden and a short amount of walking on a lead is more than adequate after vaccinations are completed. This can be gradually increased to accustom him to traffic etc. And by about 12 months your pup can do more or less as much as you wish. However, do remember that Deerhounds (like all the large breeds) do not mature as early as smaller dogs so can get very tired. Too much unrestricted running too young can cause problems. The breeder of your puppy should always be willing to advise you.

Deerhounds are friendly and gentle (but they can be a bit rough when they are young) and are usually willing to please, but do need training as to what is acceptable behaviour. BE CONSISTENT. Decide what you will allow and what you will not, and stick to it. A cross voice is often enough but sometimes a shake by the scruff of the neck will be necessary to get your message across. Remember that Deerhounds are SIGHT HOUNDS, so the sight of something moving in the distance invites investigation. Be prepared. Keep your dog on the lead if you have any doubts - a very large and enthusiastic young dog bounding up to people can cause alarm. Sadly, these days, many people are not used to dogs, especially large ones.

The Dangerous Dogs Act

Please be aware that this affects all dogs. If someone is frightened by your dog, they are legally entitled to report that fact to the Police. The Police can then remove and detain your dog (without your knowing his whereabouts) until the case comes to Court. PLEASE ensure that you do not give anybody cause to feel threatened by your Deerhound.

House Training

Deerhounds are naturally clean dogs and usually learn very quickly, but remember that a young pup needs to 'go' very frequently, Try to be fairly regular in your timing until the pup is a little older as this will make training much easier. Golden Rules - if the pup has eaten or drunk - straight outside. Woken from sleep - straight outside, and watch for signs of sniffing or looking slightly uneasy - straight outside. Lots of praise should follow a 'successful' trip, and you may like to use a command such as 'be quick' or 'be clean'.


Ask your Vet what his programme is as these can very slightly. Do not take a puppy out in public places until the course of vaccinations is complete.


Your puppy should have been wormed several times before coming to you, and will need regular worming throughout his life.


There are many ways of correctly feeding a puppy. ALWAYS stick to the diet sheet which should have been given to you by the breeder. Do not be tempted to over-supplement as this can cause harm. Deerhounds are best fed from a raised dish. When small a cardboard box upside down with a hole cut to fit your bowl works very well. For the adult dog, there are ready made stands available, or you may have a suitable step or stool. If your puppy does have any feeding problems, always consult the breeder.

A period of rest should always follow exercise and before and after feeding. In an adult hound it is thought this is helpful in an attempt to prevent bloat.

Symptoms of bloat

If you suspect your dog may have bloat you MUST ACT QUICKLY. The look looks uncomfortable and acts strangely, He may try to eat a lot of grass, or vomit or drink a lot of water. He may look round at his stomach. CALL THE VET. Do not wait and see. It is better to make an unnecessary visit to the Vet than risk losing your dog. Bloat is a life threatening condition. This is not intended to upset you, but if you have never seen a case of bloat you may not be aware of the dangers.

Your responsibilities

By law your hound must wear a collar when in a public place, bearing your name and address. Remember to check regularly that the tag is still in place and clearly readable, and change the address if you are away on holiday.

The Animals Act places responsibility for any accident or damage caused by your hound firmly on you. Check your household insurance policy, or take out a special dog insurance with one of the specialist companies. The breeder may give you an address, or you can obtain advice from your Vet. Special insurance facilities are offered by the Deerhound Club.
Do not play into the hands of the anti-dog lobby so train your hound not to foul in public places, and always carry a plastic bag to clean up any mistakes. Please be a responsible dog owner and never allow your hound to annoy others.