Home|About Boardogs|Contact Me|What's New

:: Photo Galleries

:: Video Galleries

:: Classifieds

:: Breed Information

:: Hunting Tips

:: Stories

:: Advertisers

:: Monthly Photos

:: Forum

:: Competitions

:: Events


Kindly submitted by James Callan

The history of the Deerhound starts around 2000 years ago when the Celtic people came to Britain and Ireland. Large Greyhound type dogs accompanied these travellers. These strong and fast hunting dogs eventually made their way to Scotland, and evolved into the Deerhound that we know today.

The Deerhound can best be described as a taller, larger boned Greyhound with a shaggy coat. The main use for this breed was to chase down and kill the red deer. Deer hunting with the dogs was carried out on foot, stalking in close to the quarry and when the right moment presented itself the hounds were released towards the deer. To hunt the red deer in the Scottish Highlands meant these dogs had to have plenty of speed, endurance, strength and courage as well as excellent eyesight as these dogs hunt primarily by sight.

Early settlers brought the Deerhound to Australia and used them to hunt Dingoes, Emus and Kangaroos. They also crossed these dogs with Greyhounds to produce the Kangaroo Dog and the Staghound. The Deerhound was also used in the development of the American Staghound (Coyote Hound), some strains of British Lurcher and also the Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Suitability As Hunting Dogs:
Deerhounds have been used on many game species such as Deer, Hare, Fox, Wolf, Gazelle, Antelope and Coyote. They are still used in some parts of Africa by farmers for hunting gazelle, antelope and jackal. They are used in Britain for Fox, Hare and Rabbit and some Deerhounds are used to hunt Coyote and Rabbits in Canada and America. In Australia they are mainly used for Fox, Hare, Rabbit, Pig and Dingo.
Hunting in Australia:
I started hunting with dogs for around 30 years ago and have used many different types of dogs. Some of the best were the Deerhound and Sight Hound Breeds like the Kangaroo Dog and the Staghound.

I bought my first pure Deerhound 17 years ago and have had them ever since. I have hunted many types of game with the Deerhound and they have proven themselves extremely capable showing great speed, stamina and courage.

Pig Hunting:
It should be remembered that in the past Deerhounds were usually hunted in pairs and if you don't have two Deerhounds they should be teamed with another breed when out hunting. We have had great success using the Deerhound and Rhodesian Ridgeback together. The Ridgeback would find the pigs then both dogs would chase and hold. Deerhounds don't use their nose much when hunting, they rely on their excellent vision and speed. These hounds are good to have when out spotlighting on open ground or grain stubble as it is rare that a pig would out run a Deerhound. A simple voice command is all that is needed and these dogs will let go of a caught pig and go chase another one.


For a few years we caught wild goats for live export, the goats had to be healthy and free from bite wounds. Nannies and young goats were easily rounded up with sheep and cattle dogs but the large billies would break away from the mob and defy the working dogs. We used Ridgebacks and deerhounds to catch these billies. The dogs would grab the goats by the ears, applying only a small amount of pressure. The goats were then loaded into vehicles and transported to the holding yards.

It is exciting to watch the Deerhound in full flight after a fox, especially in open
country such as the rice fields in southern NSW and the wide open spaces of central
Queensland and NSW. Because of their size they can't turn as quick as a smaller dog but they more than make up the difference with their excellent speed and stamina.
When hunting in heavy cover it might be advisable to hunt with other breeds to flush foxes and use the Deerhound for the chase.

In some states of Australia it is illegal to chase Deer with dogs however we have hunted
Deer on private land where these animals were causing damage to vegetation and fences. The Deerhounds true colours shone when they were in pursuit of a Deer, not only covering great distances in a short time but showing awesome courage in pulling down and dispatching anything from Hinds to fully grown stags.

The Deerhound has an excellent temperament. They are trustworthy with children, pets and livestock. These are the type of dog that can go out and catch and kill foxes, than come home and share its food with the family cat. They are obedient and intelligent and make excellent pets although they do not make good guard dogs. Purebred Deerhounds have a few faults as pig dogs as they hunt mainly by sight not smell and their long coat is not suitable for burr invested country. The ideal height and weight of the Deerhound should be:-

Dogs - Minimum Height 76cm and Bitches - 71cm

Dogs - Minimum Weight 45kg and Bitches from 36kg

Acceptable colours include dark blue/grey, darker and lighter greys or brindles. The yellow and red colours died out many years ago.

Choosing a Pup:
When choosing a pup of this type it is important to remember that they grow very rapidly and need plenty of high quality food to maintain strong bone growth. It should also be remembered that these puppies, although large in size do not mature mentally until they are 12 months to two years old and should not be expected to start hunting as early as smaller dog breeds.

Exercise is very important for the growing pup but it is not a good idea to over do it in the first ten or eleven months as over exercise could lead to bone deformities in the young pup.

Difference between the Deerhound and Irish Wolfhound:
The large hunting dogs of the Celts found their way across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland and were used to hunt deer, wolf and wild boar. The dogs of Scotland (later to become the Scottish Deerhound) and the dogs of Ireland (later to become the Irish Wolfhound) were originally the same type, but were gradually modified to suit the
different needs of their owners. The Scots needed a lighter, faster hound to catch and kill red deer, while the Irish wanted a stronger, heavier dog better suited to killing

Today the Deerhound and Wolfhound are still confused with each other by some people. The main physical differences are Irish Wolfhounds have larger, heavier heads and body than the deerhounds. The hunting styles are also different. A Wolfhound uses its nose when hunting and the Deerhound uses mostly eyesight.

The pure Irish Wolfhound makes a better pig dog than the pure Deerhound although the Deerhound is better on all other game being faster and more agile.

I owned Wolfhound/Greyhound crosses for approximately 10 years and found them excellent but I now use pure Deerhounds as I hunt a larger variety of game.

It is also very hard to find pure Irish Wolfhounds which come from hunting kennels and most hunting Wolfhounds that are advertised aren't pure bred.

I find the Deerhound to be an excellent alternative to the Wolfhound in regard to cross breeding for different types of pig dogs. Most pig dogs already have a good sense of smell, the deerhounds are certainly a lot faster, cheaper and more easy to obtain than the Irish Wolfhound.

Our aim is to breed quality Deerhounds which excel on the hunting fields.


Back to Breed Information.



 Copyright 1998-2013 by Ian Colley