Medical Idiosyncrasies in Deerhounds Essay Mar-9-11

Forewarned is forearmed, anyone truly considering ownership of a Scottish Deerhound would do well to have a good understanding of issues that may affect the health of their future dog. Making inquiries about the genetic testing and the incidence of Health issues in the pedigree of a breeders dogs should be made a high priority when choosing a breeder and particular Kennel.

Thank you to Allyn Babitch for sharing the following Essay with us.

Scottish Deerhounds as a breed have some medical idiosyncrasies that owners and their vets should be aware of. These are not necessarily meant to indicate pathology (though some are serious conditions), but to be mostly precautionary and illuminating. Further information is available on the Scottish Deerhound Club of America website ( greyhound/sighthound information is available on

The most important issue is the sighthound’s sensitivity to Barbiturate anesthetics.  Many sighthounds have died after the use of these; probably because it is taken up in fat, and with the sighthound’s lower percentage of fat, this leaves more to go to the brain and other organs.  Most vets no longer use barbiturates for anesthesia, but double checking anesthetic protocol with the vet before any procedure is OK’d is recommended;  and a “NO BARBITURATES” alert should be on the dog’s medical record.

Deerhounds also tend to go down and wake up “hard” from many anesthetics, and should be carefully monitored until fully conscious.  They are sensitive to anesthetics in general, and using just the amount needed to attain adequate unconsciousness is recommended.  For many minor procedures a light sedative and local anesthetic are sometimes sufficient;  and this option should be explored with your vet.

Deerhounds can also be highly Sensitive to sulfa antibiotics, especially with prolonged or repeat dosings of it.  Many will develop an autoimmune thrombocytopenia (decreased platelets) or leukopenia (decreased white blood cells) from it;  In a few cases this has proved fatal, though cessation of the drug usually reverses the symptoms;  the giving of steroids  for their immunosuppressive action has sometimes been necessary.  Sulfa antibiotics are useful for a number of conditions, and most dogs handle them OK, but not many Deerhounds.  They are marketed under a variety of brand names, so always check that you are not being prescribed a sulfa;  and “NO SULFAS” should also be on the dogs’s medical record.

Rimadyl has caused sometimes fatal liver reactions in Deerhounds– adverse  reactions have also been reported with Tagamet, phenylbutazone, and  chloramphenicol.  Cephalexin type antibiotics can sometimes cause inappetence in Deerhounds, and there have been several cases of Deerhounds bleeding unusually, and one of a dog sloughing its skin seriously, after prolonged use;  also a case of anaphylactic type reaction immediately after giving the drug, has been reported.. Other better tolerated drugs might be chosen whenever possible .  Amoxicillins and Baytril are often well tolerated and provide broad spectrum protection;  though Baytril should not be given to young developing large breed dogs such as Deerhounds, before the age of eighteen months, due to published possible joint and cartilage damage ; and is not recommended for seizure prone dogs .  Owners should be aware of any reactions their dogs have to any drugs, and report this to their veterinarian, as individual responses to a variety of drugs are always possible.  Most drug’s possible side effects can usually be researched online.

Deerhound females have passed away after spays and other abdominal surgeries, due to bleeding out, more than is average for dogs in general.  Factor VII bleeding disorder has been identified in the breed,  There is a genetic test for this disorder, and many breeders are breeding so as not to produce affected puppies.  Even normal Factor VII females have died, however, after these surgeries, so this is not the full answer to the problem.  It is recommended when spaying that a long abdominal incision be made, so that there is full surgical access to the area, and ligation of severed structures can be completely and adequately done.

Deerhounds will sometimes pine while in hospital, and may not eat.  Some vets prefer to keep an animal in hospital until they start to eat;  but this may not be the best choice for sensitive Deerhounds, and sending them home to see if they start eating there sometimes works out better.

Deerhounds tend to have low normal temperatures at rest, so even what would be considered just a moderate fever in another breed might signal a more significant fever in a Deerhound.   An owner could take a dog’s temperature at home, at rest, several times to establish a baseline, to know better if the temperature is elevated.

Deerhounds and other sighthounds tend to have large hearts compared to other breeds.  These have sometimes been mistakenly identified as pathologically enlarged.  Their heartrate is typically low at rest.  If there is a question about a Deerhound’s heart condition, consultation with a veterinary cardiologist familiar with sighthound heart characteristics is recommended.

Deerhounds have marked sinus Arrhythmia, which means that their heart speeds up when they breathe in, and slows down when they’re breathing out.  This change in heart rate sometimes alarms owners.  If it is “regularly irregular” that is normal- it is the irregularly irregular heartbeat that signals a problem.  All dogs have sinus arrhythmia, but in the dogs with slower heart rates it’s more obvious.

Deerhounds tend to have low normal thyroid levels;  and without symptoms of hypothyroidism treatment with thyroid supplementation is usually not indicated.

Additionally, Deerhounds tend to have high normal to somewhat high red blood cell counts.  High RBCs in dogs in general can indicate dehydration;  symptoms, or lack of them, have to be considered when interpreting RBC levels.

Cystinuria is a genetic condition that male Deerhounds can get, (so far we haven’t found females with it, though they may be the ones to pass on the genes).  In this the dogs do not metabolize cystine properly and it is shed into the urine; occasionally causing stones which can eventually plug the urinary passageways;  though many cystinuric dogs never develop stones.   Diet has not been found to be useful as treatment for cystinuric stone prevention- corrective surgery, including cystotomy, perineal urethrostomy and often neutering, and ongoing careful monitoring of urinary output, are the current methods of management of this condition.  There is an online cystinuria list that owners of cystinuric dogs, and other interested people, can join to stay abreast of developments, including the hoped for genetic test being worked on for Mastiffs, which may wind up being useful for Deerhounds as well.  Urine testing for cystinuria is taking place at UPenn- be aware that a negative finding is not always reliable, as the shedding of cystine into the urine can be intermittent.

Vets and Deerhound owners should discuss Bloat symptoms and emergency bloat protocol, and owners should know what to do after regular vet hours with a suspected bloat;  as it often happens at night, and requires immediate veterinary, and usually surgical, intervention for the outcome to be a good one. . There are elective preventive surgeries, known as gastropexies or “stomach tacking”- at some surgical clinics these are offered laparoscopically, and this could be considered by puppy buyers..

Persistent or worsening lamenesses in middle aged and older Deerhounds, whose families have instances of bone cancer, should have bone cancer included as a possible cause when diagnosing.  Other athletic injuries Deerhounds are prone to are broken toes, cruciate ligament injuries, and sore (sometimes very persistently sore) necks, grumblingly referred to as “Deerhound neck”.

Splenic torsion, Addison’s disease, liver shunts,  “genetic’ ”  immunodeficiency respiratory illness, and Factor VII clotting deficiency happen in Deerhounds in somewhat higher percentage than the average dog population, and should be considered where appropriate.   Epileptic seizures have occasionally been reported, and may have an inheritable base.  Other conditions happen in about the same proportion as in other dogs.  Hip dysplasia and inheritable eye and ear disorders are very rare in Deerhounds, though everted nictitating membranes in eyes have been rarely reported.

Again, there is information on most of these considerations on the Scottish Deerhound Club of America website ( .

Written by:  Allyn Babitch, Sindar Scottish Deerhounds and SkyHorse Curly Horses, San Jose, California


Scottish Deerhounds Consider the Facts

Part 1      A Cautionary Essay

Thank you to  Allyn Babitch- used with permission.

Scottish Deerhound fanciers around the world rejoiced, as one of their all-time favorites, Grand Champion Foxcliffe Hickory Wind, was awarded one of dog show’s most prestigious and coveted wins- Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club, in Madison Square Garden, New York City. Westminster, and Cruft’s in England, are the most famous of dog shows;  and millions of people tune in every February to watch the Westminster Group judgings, and then Best-in-Show, on television.  Hickory was flawless, though in the tenor of her breed, not exuberant;  the judge had to know he was looking at near perfection without it shouting at him.  Hickory’s beautiful head, eyes, and expression, her lovely curves, her light-as-air movement, and her queenly composure were clear to those who knew what to look for, and deservedly won the day for her.  The judge declared he was in heaven judging Hickory- wonderfully and succinctly put!

Amidst the celebration, though, breeders couldn’t help but wonder “now what?”  The secret of Deerhounds is now out of the bag (most people didn’t even know of their existence before), and sometimes that can be a problem for breeds if there is a spike in demand based solely on a popular event. Breeders have always been careful who they place their puppies with, and screened potential buyers to be sure they can provide a Deerhound with what it needs, and are aware of the pitfalls that can go with the breed.  Not many litters are bred in a year around the country, and happily there are few Deerhounds who wind up in shelters or rescues.  Those devoted to the breed hope and pray that it can stay this way, even if there is somewhat more demand for the breed.

If this high profile win does increase awareness of and ultimately greater demand for Scottish Deerhounds, this will present additional challenges for breeders;  as with so many breeds they are not for everyone, and people have to know what they are contemplating getting.   Deerhounds are a quieter, soulful dog who are loyal and affectionate, but not overly needy or clingy. They are typically well behaved and naturally want to please their people; but they are not usually firecracker obedience types, and hardly ever are they watchdogs.  Hounds were bred to have something of a mind of their own they needed this to do their job.  Still, Deerhounds love their people more than anything, and are usually very easy to live with.  One point is that aggressiveness  towards other dogs may occasionally be seen, and should be dealt with appropriately.

Before going into details about the breed, reference should be made to the greatest resource of all, the Scottish Deerhound Club of America. Its website is;  there is lots of practical and necessary information on the breed there.  Also, visiting with breeders and owners of Deerhounds will let a prospective buyer know if this really might be the right breed for them.

The number one requirement for a prospective new owner is to have a physical situation which will both keep the Deerhound safe from harm, and provide necessary exercise.  Deerhounds can’t be allowed to run free anywhere where traffic or other hazards are present, even remotely.  A well fenced good sized yard is what most people provide, though there have been Deerhounds successfully raised in cities where off lead dog parks, beaches, etc., are available and regularly taken advantage of for exercise.  Some singly kept Deerhounds won’t exercise themselves enough, and many people interested in bringing a young Deerhound to its fullest physical potential (for show, coursing, etc.) will try to raise two or more dogs together- either two Deerhounds, or a Deerhound and another compatible dog.  This provides at-will exercise and rest, which is the best way for these big dogs to develop to their best; it keeps appetite up (some single DHs can get picky) and puppy destructiveness down :  ).  Young Deerhounds should not be given undue forced exercise, as it can damage developing joints.  They generally prefer to exercise earlier morning and later evening, when it’s cool- they don’t especially like the heat, and their prey the deer are usually active morning and evening in any case.  For these reasons at-will exercise with another compatible dog works out the very best, though happy pets can be raised singly, if bringing them to their fullest physical potential is not an absolute requirement.

Written by:  Allyn Babitch, Sindar Scottish Deerhounds & SkyHorse Curly Horses, San Jose, CA 2/11

Scottish Deerhound Celebrities

This years Scottish Deerhound National Specialty at Basin Harbor was a fabulous opportunity to see some truly outstanding deerhounds.

Among those in attendance were: Best of Breed: Ch Foxcliffe Hickory Wind, Best of Winners/Best Bred By Exhibitor/Winner’s Bitch: Dhu Mohr Prilly’s Quintessence, Best Opposite Sex/Best Veteran: Ch Gayleward’s Tiger Woods,  Winner’s Dog: Lehigh Damon of Greymorn, Reserve Winner’s Dog: Dhu Mohr Pennant’s Quilleran, Reserve Winner’s Bitch: Foxcliffe Enchanted Evening, Futurity Stud Dog: Fernhill’s Huntly d’lux, Veteran’s Field and Non-Regular Stud Dog: Ch Briarwood’s Obsidian of Vale Vue, Brood Bitch: Ch Dhu Mohr Miaruatg, Best Veteran Bitch: Ch Glassonby’s Desert Rose, Veteran 7-9 Ch Caretta’s Mandolin JC Winner, LGRA AKC Coursing: Anaituil Rockwood Range, Best of Breed: ASFA Coursing: Atzberg Legacy of Caretta JC.

Not being professional photographers we don’t have pictures of every dog, I hope you will enjoy these shots though.

Foxcliffe's Hickory Wind presented by Angela Lloyd bred & owned by Ceil & Scott Dove

Dhu Mohr Prilly's Quintessence

Gayleward's Tiger Wood's

Lehigh Damon of Greymorn owner handled by John Dilberger

Dhu Mohr Pennant's Quilleran owner Sheila Matheson

Fernhill's Huntly d'lux owner handled by Ed Shirley, co-owned Barb Heidenreich

Caretta's Mandolin shown by Alistair Sutherland

Anaitiuil Rockwood Range owner handled by Susan Trow

Basin Harbor Club

We’re Here!

We’re staying in Pinecrest Cottage with a spectacular view of Lake Champlain. Our cottage mates are Barb Heidenreich and Nancy Logan along with- Fernhill’s Vesper, Elegy, Zephyr, Mojo, Bayard and Cailean. A lovely 2 bedroom cottage equipped with all of the essentials, comfy beds, a refrigerator, a coffee maker and sufficient hot water for much needed showers. The dogs were packed like sardines in the front room as we all know puppies have a penchant for shoe chewing & musn’t be trusted for even 5 minutes alone; as we found out to our sorrow in Kentucky when Uncle Ed lost a pair of sneakers and here in Vermont when Uncle Len lost the heel out of a pair of leather brogues. Nancy Logan a long time deerhound owner left her senior dh at home and accompanied Barb H as a travelling companion and room-mate. We had lovely chats in the cottage and shared doggie walk duties. It is too bad that the whole show experience seldom leaves free time for the dogs to play off-leash or run freely. Lure coursing is a welcome release for the dogs and owners alike. I take time each day to find somewhere to throw a ball or toss a stick for our busy girl Cailean. At the Basin Harbor Club the grassy airplane runway was one such place, fortunately Cailean is used to playing with me & capitalizing on whatever space we might find to burn off some energy.

Nose to tail deerhounds

Fortunately tired dogs aren’t too fussy about who sleeps where.

Home away from Home

Nancy, Barb, Cindy & Ed

One of the most fabulous parts of the Specialty being at Basin Harbor is being able to walk from your cabin to the main dining room. Starting the day off with a buffet breakfast prepared by someone other than me is my idea of a great start to the day. Ed Shirley and Cindy Crysdale (proud owners of Fernhill’s Huntly d’lux and Fernhill’s Bailiewick) were in the cottage beside us & as a fellow golfer Ed & hubby Len made good use of the beautiful golf course at Basin Harbor. These two guys can turn a staid dinner table into a raucous celebration and managed to egg each other on so that most meals descended quickly into hilarity.

Ed & Len

Midwest Regional Specialty

Louisville’s Churchill Downs is Famous as the home of the Kentucky Derby. Did you know that on their website you can get to know the contenders for the upcoming Derby. I’m liking “Lookin at Lucky”  There are prints available to order by the very talented Lina Le Kinff

Official Kentucky Derby Limited Edition Print

Louisville is also home to the Midwest Regional Specialty (Deerhound) Saturday, March 20, 2010 Louisville, KY.

This event will be held in conjunction with the Evansville Kennel Club. If you are new to the Scottish Deerhound Breed Fancy or considering a Scottish Deerhound for your next pet, it would be well worth your while to make it a priority to attend one of the Deerhound Specialties. Details to be found on the SDCA web site.

The best part of going to a specialty; besides seeing quite a few wonderful deerhounds, browsing through the vendors booths for the latest and coolest dog mercantile is surely the chance to meet breeders and owners; & if you are lucky you’ll have friends there who will help you to learn to recognize the merits of the dogs being shown.

It takes time and effort to develop the skills to see the strengths and weaknesses in a given dogs conformation. I have been very fortunate to have had the guidance of my dog’s breeder.  Who better to learn from than the breeder of your dog or a knowledgeable friend you have made lure coursing? If you are eager to learn, in most cases your dogs breeder will be more than happy to help you.  Honestly the entire breed benefits from Deerhound owners who can recognize a dog who is unable to conform to the standard and therefore ought not to be the sire or dam of their next Deerhound.  You really ought to try to attend, beyond an opportunity to expand your knowledge of Scottish Deerhounds it is a very special experience when you meet some deerhounds who have such a powerful presence you can feel it and see it. Besides, its fun to meet like minded people; for some reason deerhound people are pretty special too! You will also find that the more deerhounds you see the more you will develop your own preferences.

There are many wonderful people active in the deerhound breed, you really shouldn’t miss a chance to get to know some of them. There is a mind-boggling wealth of knowledge and fascinating stories about famous deerhounds and their breeders in the minds of many of the current veterans of the ring. For the breed to thrive there needs to be an influx of enthusiastic young breeder/owners ready to assume the mantle of leadership as the old guard become less active as breeders. Breeding is an onerous job, not for the faint of heart, but Oh! so rewarding!

Conformation showing is serious business and many owner handlers will be too focused on the task at hand to socialize much away from the hotel; there will be plenty of friendly people gathered around the deerhound ring though.

This specialty will be an exciting one if last year was any indication; there are so many really gorgeous dogs out there. See you in Louisville!!

SDCA National Specialty 2010

The Scottish Deerhound Club of America National Specialty will be at the Basin Harbor Club- Vergennes Vermont May 11-16th 2010

If you have wondered about attending a specialty but have thought that a dog show all about one breed for that long would be terribly boring, I can tell you it isn’t at all! The days are packed with a lot of activities- Lure Coursing, conformation, seminars, agility & obedience events, meeting other deerhound fanciers  and to top it off to see, meet and get to know some of the best deerhounds from across the country. Take a couple of days off, find a sitter for the kids and the dog; treat yourself it’ll be fun.

The SDCA have two logos for the specialty this year. I particularly like the image of the sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American Sculptor 1848-1907 )

For detailed show information and hotel/ camping info visit

Since Art featuring deerhounds is one of my interests I have seen Amy Romaniec’s work and was pleased to see that the organizing committee have commissioned Amy for trophies this year along with a raffle item of a biscuit jar featuring of course – Deerhounds. Amy is an artist from Pine Grove Mills Pennsylvania whose art is stoneware pottery.

For more about Amy her pottery and horses be sure to go to her site.