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History and Judging of the Scottish Deerhound By Allyn Babitch Scottish Deerhound
HISTORY The Scottish Deerhound is an ancient breed, whose exact origins are unknown; but clearly they are a devel- opment from the old coursing Greyhounds, and are related to the larger Irish Wolfhounds. Names for the breed in history have included Scotch Greyhound and Highland Deerhound; reference is made to their development in a passage in English Dogges (1576), referring to Greyhounds: "Some are of the greater sorte, some of a lesser; some are smoothe skynned and some curled, the bigger therefore are appointed to hunt the bigger beastes, the buck, the hart, the doe." By the 17th century the term Deerhound was applied to the type used to pursue and bring down the Scottish Red Stag, which is akin to the American Elk, so a very large deer; and from these came the Deerhound seen today, which is known as the Scottish Deerhound in America. Throughout history Deerhounds were greatly valued for their hunting prowess, and their companionable nature, and were owned primarily by the nobility, who had the large tracts of land needed for deer coursing. Legend has it that a nobleman con- demned to death could buy his free- dom with a "leash" of Deerhounds, a "leash" meaning three in number. As the Stag became rarer in England and southern Scotland, in the 1700s, the breeding of Deerhounds became more conf ined to the northern Scottish Highlands, with the smaller Greyhound being used for hare coursing in other areas. The collapse of the clan system in the mid 1700s further reduced the number of breeders, and Deerhounds; it wasn't until Archibald and Duncan McNeill (later Lord Colonsay) worked
to restore the breed in the 1820s that the numbers began to be gradually increased, and the quality regained. They started appearing at dog shows in England in the mid 1800s- Queen Victoria became a Deerhound fancier, and helped its popularity to expand, as did Sir Walter Scott, a Deerhound owner, who deemed the breed "the most perfect creature of heaven". The breed came to America original- ly for hunting purposes- General American breeders gradually increased, and Deerhounds have been exported to Austral ia (where they are used successfully on kangaroo), and mainland Europe, with a few in other areas of the world. They are still quite a rare breed, though the spectacular Best in Show win by a Deerhound at Westminster Kennel Club in 2011 has made more people aware of the breed. Custer kept Greyhounds and Deerhounds and their crosses, for instance- and was recognized by the American Kennal Club for showing pur- poses in 1886. The World Wars hurt breeders of many breeds, and the numbers of dogs being bred; during World War Two the Deerhound was precariously preserved by a few dedicated British Isles breed- ers- the kennels of Ardkinglas, Rotherwood, Ross, Enterkine, and Geltsdale, being some that worked so
hard to keep the breed alive. American breeders gradually increased, and Deerhounds have been exported to Australia (where they are used suc- cessfully on kangaroo), and mainland Europe, with a few in other areas of the world. They are still quite a rare breed, though the spectacular Best in Show win by a Deerhound at Westminster Kennel Club in 2011 has made more people aware of the breed. It is claimed that the Deerhound of today is still very similar to the Deerhounds of yesteryear, and old prints attest this to be true; though the breed standard of the later 1800s, still used today, did allow for a slight increase in size. The capability to work and do a job of hunting big deer should still be apparent when viewing a modern Deerhound. JUDGING What many judges notice when view- ing the Scottish Deerhound ring, is that the dogs, while having a certain natural presence and elegance, are often not sparkly show dogs. The han- dlers, as well, are often owners and/or amateurs, and while many of them are quite competent, a number of them are not. It is therefore incumbent upon the judge to look past handling ability to the dog itself, and judge each indi- vidual on its relative merits, rather than just their presentation, and to be helpful to handlers still learning the ropes. That said, the dog should be imme- diately identifiable as a Deerhound, that is to say a larger rough coated coursing type Greyhound; with no con- fusion as to whether it's a Wolfhound. One should get a strong impression of a good blend of ruggedness and ele- gance, of strength and speed, of digni-
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History and Judging of the Scottish Deerhound
By Allyn Babitch
ty with a sense of humor. The dog should be temperamentally stable, friendly enough without necessarily being effusive, and not offering aggres- sion towards other dogs (or humans, naturally, but that is rare). It has been said that the Deerhound, while sweet and gentle, should still own the ground it stands on. The Standard outlines the various important features of the breed, and should be closely studied by anyone looking to judge the breed. The stan- dard was not reformatted, and is the same as it's been for many many years, so some references are historic and spe- cif ic to the breed. The size of Deerhounds was raised by a couple of inches with the current Standard, but it is cautioned that very large Deerhounds may not be functional; and excessive size is generally not championed in the breed, unless it is accompanied by great quality, which it only sometimes is. Balance is greatly valued, though it also offers a quandry- if a dog is balanced because it is lack- ing on both ends, is that better than a dog who is correct on one end but not the same on the other? As a breeder, I would personally rather only have one end to fix genetically- obviously having both ends match and be proper is ideal. Most often an unbalanced dog has more rear than front angulation, though occasionally it's the other way around. How the dog puts its various parts together on the move can be the deciding factor. Many judges will have the dogs go around the ring together first, to help settle them, and get an idea of how they handle themselves. In the exam functional aspects should be consid- ered more important than cosmetic ones, though of course the best dogs have both. The judges who consider the whole dog, mentally adding up the virtues and then subtracting the faults, and giving those with the high- est "score" the nod, are better; rather than eliminating a dog from considera-
tion just because of a particular fault (being a "fault judge"), unless that fault is excessive shyness or aggressiveness. Puppies and newcomer dogs obviously should be forgiven some nerves or hijinks, and should be be judged com- passionately and patiently. Movement- the standard gives it just three words, but they are telling ones- it says that the Deerhound's movement should be "easy, active, and true". Easy and true are fairly self evident- the easy meaning a nice f lowing side gait, and the true meaning sound com- ing and going. The active is more open to interpretation, but the typical Deerhound trot has a lovely, and rather unique, "lilt" and suspension, covering a little extra ground in the air with each stride, without being extreme or too bouncy. This trait may have descended from ones needed for the rough terrain the Deerhound used to hunt on, in the Scottish moors; where having a certain tendinous and ligamentous elasticity allowed the dog to spring over heather and gorse in the pursuit of its quarry. Active should NOT be interpreted to mean hackneyed gait at the trot- this seems to be one trotting trait that does translate to the gallop, and negatively so; a hackneyed gallop is energy wast- ing, and not fast and ground covering, or especially agile. Hackneyed gait is not often seen in Deerhounds, happily, but should be appropriately faulted when it is seen. It's unknown whether the order of the movement traits (easy side gait, active side gait, and true coming and going) were meant to be put in descending order of importance, but many fanciers consider that a typical side gait is most highly important in a quality Deerhound. Sound coming and going is also important, but if it's at the expense of side gait may not be quite as much so. Deerhounds in gen- eral are sounder now than they were many years ago; but again, it should not be at the expense of the typical way
of moving from the side. For those into horses, a Deerhound's typical trot can perhaps be compared to a Third Level dressage horse doing a working or medium trot- big and open and f low- ing but not excessively fast or f lashy. Other aspects to consider- condi- tioning and musculature are very important in any sighthound, but this can also present another quandry- how to compare a well made but "soft" or underconditioned dog to one who is less well made but well conditioned? Again remember genetics, and value inherent genetic traits more than developed ones, and functional traits more than cosmetic ones. If possible, knowing which traits are easier to fix genetically can help- the more geneti- cally persistent bad traits should per- haps be faulted more heavily than oth- ers which are known to be faster to change. In the case of a good dog with less good developed traits (condition- ing, grooming, show manners, etc.), a brief polite discussion with the han- dler might alert them to what they could do to present their dog better in the future. In conclusion, when judging the Scottish Deerhound, think “Big Deer"- the Deerhound's original prey, the Scottish Red Stag, is like our American Elk, so a formidable foe; requiring enough speed and endurance to catch up to, and enough strength and persis- tence to bring to bay or bring down. This royal hunter also had to be a great companion in the manor or castle, to adult, child, and other animals; and be stable, quiet, and dignified, while still fun to be around. The "fun" part of a Deerhound's personality may not be readily apparent at the show grounds, but at least the dignity, and the look of the original purpose, can be. And finally, thank you for judging our Deerhounds fairly and kindly, we do appreciate it! ■ Allyn Babitch, Sindar Scottish Deerhounds and SkyHorse Sport Curly Horses, San Jose, CA
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The Scottish Deerhound A History of the Breed and Its Standard By Rusty Kingery Scottish Deerhound
The Standard: Deerhounders are very protective of our breed Standard and Point s. Changed only once (in 1935) since it was written in the late 1900s, we fought the AKC’s move to reformat our breed standard in 1985 when they were convincing other Breed clubs to do so. In partnership with the IWCA’s Sam Ewing, we threat- ened to sue the AKC if they tried to alter our Standards without our con- sent. We made it very clear that our Breed Clubs were the exclusive own- ers of their Standards, evidently a fact that the AKC had never consid- ered. Within the year the AKC [grudgingly] agreed that this was so and that changing the Standards could only be done if the Breed Clubs deemed it necessary.
weight. The height was raised to 30- 32, from 28-30 for males, 28 min for females from 26. The writers did not put an upper limit on females feeling it was unnecessary as they could not imagine a bitch ever reaching a dog’s height. As the Clans broke up, many Scots emigrated to Canada, US, and Australia, taking their dogs with them. The elk on the Nor th American continent provided great hunts, as did the “Roo” in Australia. There is a painting of General Custer sitting outside his tent with a brace of fawn Deerhounds lolling next to him. There were six Deerhounds entered at the f irst Westminster Kennel Club: two from Custer’s ken- nel, one from the British Prince Consort’s kennel, and three local dogs. Custer’s kennel was kept up by an Aide to the General after his death at Little Big Horn. The AKC formed shortly after the Show and records show that Bonnie Robin #4345 was registered in 1886.
country rather than always holding them in one place as many other par- ent clubs do. The west coast Specialty has been held as far east as Denver but mostly takes place in California or Oregon. The mid west and east coast Specialties have been held in many different locations in those regions. From that f irst entry of 68 Deerhounds, our Nat ional Specialty entries range from over 100 in the west to well over 200 in the midwest and east. In addition to the National, there is also an Eastern Regional held in the Mid Atlant ic States and a Western Regional in southern California each year. ■
History of the Deerhound and the Standard:
The use of the Deerhound for hunt- ing was pretty much a thing of the past after the break up of the Clans and their lands during the late 1800s. Because the dogs did not respect the borders of the now small- er forests and the landowners did not want to have their herds run into the neighboring forests, the use of rif les and tracking dogs became the hunting norm. Now without a “job,” the breed would have died out had it not been for some devoted Englishmen and the development of the Dog Show. A Standard was writ- ten with the help of those who still hunted with the breed. Their input is ref lected in the picturesque lan- guage, for example, describing the back as “this formation being unsuit- ed for uphill work”. The change made in 1935 was to the height and
The Scot t ish Deerhound Club of Amer ica:
There had been other clubs formed over the years, but the SDCA, formed in the early 60s, has been in exis- tence continuously since that time. The SDCA is an AKC member club. The SDCA is proud to still have two of the original charter members still with us: Gayle Bontecou, Gayleward, and Kate Lyons, Lyonhill Kennels. Prior to 1976, Specialties were held mainly in the east with entries of about 16 dogs. The SDCA’s f irst independent Specialty was held in St. Louis in 1976 with an entry of 68 Deerhounds. It was decided to rotate the National Specialties around the
"Q" Ch. Jaraluv's Quite the One at 2 years old with Rusty Kingery.
Rusty Kingery SDCA Judges Education Coordinator
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