Secret Haven Kennel

Health and Grooming of the Scottish Deerhound 

Health and Grooming

The Deerhound has a life expectancy of about 9 to 11 years.

The young Deerhound must be provided with ample opportunity to exercise in order to develop correctly and to be in good health. This does not imply that the Deerhound requires a large home to live in but rather they must have access to a large area in order to run and romp around on a regular basis in order to use up the puppy energy.

The three main health issues in Deerhounds are the same as in most large breeds: heart disease, bone cancer, and bloat/torsion. All tend to run in families, but are thought to be more or less a combination of genetic tendency and environmental factors. Dilated cardiomyopathy appears at midlife, and can respond well to medication for many years after diagnosis. Osteosarcoma also appears midlife, usually as a lameness which leads to discovery of a lesion. Chemotherapy and amputation are both used and can add time to a dog's life, but generally the prognosis is poor. Bloat/torsion is when the stomach fills with air that can't be released, often rotating and cutting off the circulation. It is fatal if not treated immediately, and can happen any time in a dog's life. Studies show that predisposing factors include a narrow deep chest, an easily stressed disposition, feeding of dry kibble only, feeding once per day, eating too quickly, and a family history of bloat. The study recommends feeding a kibble which does not have fat as one of it's first three ingredients and does not contain citric acid, and, contrary to previous belief, not feeding out of a raised dish.

Recently, it has been discovered that a genetic condition called cystinuria exists in the Deerhound breed. The amino acid cystine appears in the urine because the kidneys do not return all of it to the blood during filtration. It can crystallize and form bladder stones. Urine testing has shown it to exist in much of the breed, but only a few cystinuric dogs develop stones. Ongoing research is looking for other factors which are involved in the stone forming process.

Skin allergies to insects, pollen, dust, and stickery plants can occur in Deerhounds, as can strains and sprains in youngsters who are still gangly. As with most sighthounds, Deerhounds can be sensitive to drugs, and should not have sulfa drugs or be sedated with barbiturates. Procedures requiring general anesthesia should be undertaken with caution.


Grooming a Deerhound is simple. A proper wiry coat sheds burrs easily, so a quick brushing weekly or after outings in the field is all that is necessary. For showing, most Deerhounds only need some trimming to accentuate a pretty face or shapely outline, and some brushing out of undercoat for those with a softer coat. As with all dogs, they benefit from routine ear cleaning and toenail clipping.


Freedom from external and internal parasites are essential to a good, healthy coat and a healthy, happy Deerhound.


Deerhounds should be brushed before bathing to avoid the occurrence of mats. Bathing the Deerhound is not as onerous as it might seem, they usually learn to accept bathing quickly, and even like it in the summer months. Use a dog shampoo, as it is pH balanced for a canine coat.


After bathing, you can towel dry the coat of the Deerhound and that is sufficient.


About once a week, and after bathing and drying, the Deerhound’s coat should be brushed. When the Deerhound is blowing coat (shedding) you will need to brush more often to keep up with the falling hair. Pin brushes work well for the Deerhound’s coat. Nails
Long nails on the Deerhound are unsightly and unhealthy. Nails should be clipped regularly with canine nail clippers, or ground down with a special grinder.

Dirty teeth can mar the elegance of the Deerhound's good looks, and cause health problems for your Deerhound. Tartar should be scraped carefully from the teeth with a scaler. If the tarter has built up it may be necessary to have a veterinarian remove it.

Ear wax can be softened with a mineral oil before cleaning. Insert a few drops of oil and gently massage the ear, then swab with cotton tipped applicators.
Grooming is not only for show dogs. Regular brushing; with coat, foot and nail, ear, and tooth care can ensure that your Deerhound continues to be healthy and happy, and is a credit to the breed both at home and while enjoying activities away from home.


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