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
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
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
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
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.
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.