by Marylane Brett
When you picture a track and field competitor, do you envision a strong, well-muscled body propelled by long, lean legs capable of great speed? With their Greyhound-type build, Scottish Deerhounds have a lot in common with human athletes.
Deerhounds can run great distances effortlessly; they enjoy any opportunity to stretch their legs. That's why they make great jogging or hiking companions and thrive on other fast-paced athletic challenges, such as agility trails and lure coursing. If regular exercise is already your habit, a Scottish Deerhound may be the perfect dog for you.
A Wee Bit of Advice
There are a few things you should know about the Great Hound of Scotland, as the Scottish Deerhound is known. First, it's important to introduce exercise gradually to puppies for proper bone and joint development. Let them play at will and off-leash in a safely fenced space. At 8 weeks of age, start leash-walking short distances, working up to running and jumping when their bodies are more mature.
A few other breed-specific care factors to consider:
Fence them in.
Scottish Deerhounds need physical fencing to prevent them from leaving the yard. The sighthounds will chase anything they see as “game” -- and they're not deterred by underground electric barriers.
Provide plenty of space.
These big dogs do best in a home with a large yard or access to open acreage. They are not recommended for apartment living or for those who have a sedentary lifestyle.
Protect them from cars.
Scottish Deerhounds love running free in open space, but make sure the area is safe, as they have keen eyesight but no car sense and may not respond to commands to stop if their prey drive kicks in.
Make sure walkers can handle your dog.
A Scottish Deerhound can be walked by older children, but a younger one will not be able to hang on to the leash of a 32-inch-tall, 75- to 115-pound dog if he decides to chase after something.
Give them plenty of rest too.
This breed's need for daily exercise is balanced by its tendency to be a total couch potato when at rest. Like children, they run hard and sleep equally well.
Make sure you get your Scottish Deerhound puppy from a reputable breeder. Ask to see the pup's parents. And don't hesitate to ask the breeder for advice throughout the dog's lifetime, including tips about clubs and activities that cater to Scottish Deerhound devotees. Like any dog breed, the Scottish Deerhound will mature into an exceptional canine with early socialization and consistent training.
Photo: Getty Images
Exceptional Canine expert Marylane Brett owns Windmoor Deerhounds in Coventryville, Pa. She hasowned, bred and shown Scottish Deerhounds for 30 years. Her dogs have won championships in both field trial events and in the conformation show ring.
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Pets | Dogs: Scottish Deerhound: The Ideal Exercise Buddy