This magnificent breed of dogs has occupied a prominent place in the romantic history of Scotland, and looks well the part they have played as companion to Highland Chieftains. They have a most noble presence, and are at once docile, sagacious, and undeniably courageous. As companions and guards they are unsurpassed, for they never forget their friends, and their attachment for their owners is a blind devotion that will lead them to fight for their protection with the utmost desperation.
In the field the Deerhound not only has a very keen nose, but can run down the deer, jackrabbit, coyote, or wolf, and can kill them alone and unaided. He will tree a mountain lion or a black bear, and would not hesitate to fight a grizzly if in protection of his master. No dog combines more beauty, strength, and utility than these aristocrats of the canine world.
The chief points to look for in the selection of Deerhound puppies at from two to four months old and after, are: A long, level head, dark eye, long neck, well-placed shoulders, great bone, deep chest, well-sprung ribs, big hindquarters, short body.
The Scottish Deerhound standard and description is as follows:
HEAD.-The head should be broadest at the ears, tapering slightly to the eyes, with the muzzle tapering more decidedly to the nose. The muzzle should be pointed, but the teeth and lips level. The head should be long, the skull flat rather than round, with a very slight rise over the eyes, but with nothing approaching a stop. The skull should be coated with moderately long hair, which is softer than the rest of the coat. The nose should be black (though in some blue-fawns the color is blue), and slightly aquiline. In the lighter colored dogs a black muzzle is preferred. There should be a good mustache of rather silky hair, and a fair beard.
EARS.-The ears should be set on high, and, in repose, folded back like the Greyhound’s, though raised above the head in excitement without losing the fold, and even in some cases semi-erect. A prick ear is bad. A big, thick ear, hanging flat to the head or heavily coated with long hair is the worst of faults. The ear should be soft, glossy, and like a mouse’s coat to the touch, and the smaller it is the better. It should have no long coat or long fringe, but there is often a silky, silvery coat on the body of the ear and the tip. Whatever the general color, the ears should be black or dark-colored.
NECK AND SHOULDERS.-The neck should be long-that is, of the length that befits the Greyhound character of the dog. An over long neck is not necessary nor desirable, for the dog is not required to stoop to his work like a Greyhound, and it must be remembered that the mane, which every good specimen should have, detracts from the apparent length of neck. Moreover, a Deerhound requires a very strong neck to hold a stag. The nape of the neck should be very prominent where the head is set on, and the throat should be cleancut at the angle and prominent. The shoulders should be well sloped, the blades well back, and not too much width between them. Loaded and straight shoulders are very bad faults.
STERN.-Stern should be tolerably long, tapering, and reaching to within 1 I2 inches of the ground and about 1 1/2 inches below the hocks. When the dog is still, dropped perfectly straight down or curved. When in motion it should be curved, when excited in no case to be lifted out of the line of the back. It should be well covered with hair, on the inside thick and wiry; underside longer, and toward the end a slight fringe not objectionable. A curl or ring tail very undesirable.
EYES.-The eyes should be dark; generally they are dark brown or hazel. A very light eye is not liked. The eye is moderately full, with a soft look in repose, but a keen, far-away look when the dog is aroused. The rims of the eyelids should be black.
Bony.-The body and general formation is that of a Greyhound of larger size and bone. Chest deep rather than broad, but not too narrow and flatsided. The loin well arched and drooping to the tail. A straight back is not desirable, this formation being unsuitable for going uphill, and very unsightly.
LEGS AND FEET.-The legs should be broad and flat, a good broad forearm and elbow being desirable. Forelegs, of course, as straight as possible. Feet close and compact, with well-arched toes. The hindquarters drooping and as broad and powerful as possible, the hips being set wide apart. The hindlegs should be well bent at the stifle, with great length from the hip to the hock, which should be broad and flat. Cow hocks, weak pasterns, straight stifles, and splay feet very bad faults.
COAT.-The hair on the body, neck, and quarters should be harsh and wiry, and about three or four inches long; that on the head, breast, and belly is much softer. There should be a slight hairy fringe on the inside of the fore and hind legs, but nothing approaching “the feather” of a Collie. The Deerhound should be a shaggy dog, but not overcoated. A woolly coat is bad. Some good strains have a slight mixture of silky coat with the hard, which is preferable to a woolly coat, but the proper coat is a thick, close-lying, ragged coat, harsh or crisp to the touch.
COLOR.-Color is much a matter of fancy. But there is no manner of doubt that the dark-blue-grey is the most preferred. Next come the darker and lighter greys or brindles, the darkest being generally preferred. Yellow and sandy-red or red-fawn, especially with black points-i. e., ears and muzzlesare also in equal estimation, this being the color of the oldest known strains, the McNeil and the Chesthill Menzies. White is condemned by all the old authorities, but a white chest and white toes, occurring as they do in a great many of the darkestcolored dogs, are not so greatly objected to, but the less the better, as the Deerhound is a self-colored dog. A white blaze on the head or a white collar should entirely disqualify. In other cases, though passable, yet an attempt should be made to get rid of white markings. The less white the better, but a slight white tip to the stern occurs in the best strains.
HEIGHT OF Docs.-From 28 inches to 30 inches, or even more if there be symmetry without coarseness, which is rare.
HEIGHT OF BITCHES.-From 26 inches upwards. There can be no objection to a bitch being large, unless too coarse, as even at her greatest height she does not approach that of the dog, and therefore could not have been too big for work, as over-big dogs are. Besides, a big bitch is good for breeding and keeping up the size.
WEIGHT.-From 85 pounds to 105 pounds in dogs; from 65 pounds to 80 pounds in bitches.