Scottish Deerhound Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
By Michele Welton.
Copyright © 2000-2014
Like all sighthounds, the quiet, dignified Scottish Deerhound doesn't behave like most dog breeds you may be used to, like a Golden Retriever or German Shepherd. For example, a Scottish Deerhound is unlikely to fetch a ball or play tug-of-war or protect your family.
Oh, certainly, Scottish Deerhound puppies and adolescents are as active, awkward, and mischievous as any other breed. But adults tend to be calm, graceful, and undemanding. They learn house rules well and spend much of their time sprawled blissfully on the softest sofa. Generally sighthounds do not like to be mauled or clutched at; they tend to move away from too much overt physicalness.
It is outdoors where Scottish Deerhounds have such special needs. They require space for the long strides of their floating lope (described as "poetry in motion") and their powerful, driving gallop. But it must be a safe, enclosed area, else they will be out of sight in seconds and end up dead on the road. It has happened time and time again with sighthounds.
Because of his great size, strength, and speed, the Scottish Deerhound does require early socialization, but he is almost unfailingly polite with strangers. This is not a guard dog, sometimes not even a watchdog -- some easygoing individuals will remain comatose when the doorbell rings.
Scottish Deerhounds are amiable with other dogs, but are serious chasers of anything that runs, including cats and tiny dogs.
Though mildly stubborn and independent, this is also a sweet and sensitive dog. He is willing to respond (albeit in a slow, casual way, as though humoring you) to cheerful training that includes consistent guidance, verbal praise, and food rewards.
If you want a dog who...
- Is tall, slender, and elegant, yet very powerful -- a racy athlete
- Has a short ragged coat
- Is extremely athletic and graceful -- can run swiftly and jump great heights
- Carries himself in a calm, dignified manner and is mannerly and undemanding (virtually inert!) in your house (adults only)
- Is polite with strangers and absolutely not a guard dog
- Is amiable with other dogs
- Doesn't bark much
A Scottish Deerhound may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Providing a safe enclosed area where he can gallop
- Timidity when not socialized enough
- Emotional sensitivity to stress and abrupt changes in schedule
- Strong instincts to chase other living creatures that run
- An independent "what's in it for me?" attitude toward training -- can be stubborn and strong-willed
- Slowness to housebreak
A Scottish Deerhound may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Scottish Deerhound
If I was considering a Scottish Deerhound, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing enough space and controlled exercise. Scottish Deerhounds don't need miles of running, but they MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy through all-out galloping a few times a week. Otherwise they will express their boredom through destructive chewing.
Scottish Deerhounds need access to a large fenced area -- fenced because these independent dogs are likely to take off and not come back. If there is a dog club in your area, get your Scottish Deerhound involved in lure coursing (chasing a mechanized lure around a track or across an open field). This is an appropriate outlet for the full-speed galloping behaviors that are "hardwired" into his genes.
- Providing enough socialization. Standoffish by nature, Scottish Deerhounds need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become shyness, which is difficult to live with.
- Chasing other animals. Most people do not realize just how fast and agile sighthounds are -- or how strong their instincts are to chase and seize fleeing creatures. Most Scottish Deerhounds will pursue your neighbor's cat or small dog, if given the chance. And while they will be peaceful with your own cat or small dog when indoors, if the same cat or small dog goes outside and starts to run, it becomes fair game. In today's society, the legal liabilities of owning a large hunting breed should be considered.
- The independent temperament. Like most sighthounds, Scottish Deerhounds are independent thinkers who don't particularly care about pleasing you. They can be stubborn and slow to obey. You must show them, patiently but persistently, that you mean what you say.
To teach your Deerhound to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Scottish Deerhound Training Page discusses the program you need.
- Emotional sensitivity. Be honest...is there tension in your home? Are people loud or angry or emotional? Are there arguments or fights? Scottish Deerhounds are extremely sensitive to stress and require a peaceful, harmonious home.
- Housebreaking. Expect four to six months of consistent crate training before you see results.
- Health problems. Scottish Deerhounds are extremely prone to a life-threatening digestive syndrome called bloat. In addition, an alarming number of Scottish Deerhounds are dying early of cancer and heart disease.
To keep this breed healthy, I strongly recommend following all of the advice on my Scottish Deerhound Health Page.
To learn more about training Scottish Deerhounds to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Scottish Deerhound the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Scottish Deerhound. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Scottish Deerhound might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Scottish Deerhound home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.
Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT Scottish Deerhound...
When you're acquiring a Scottish Deerhound PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Scottish Deerhounds who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
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