It is not disputed that the breed is a Scottish hound. It is recognised by the Kennel Club as such in that it is included as a Scottish hound in the Scottish Breeds Canine Club and the Hound Association of Scotland Championship Shows all held under the auspices of the Kennel Club. Two Scottish clubs have this breed as their logo. The Breed Information Centre on the Kennel Club web site lists the breed as the Deerhound ‘known at one time as the Scottish Deerhound’, and categorises it as a ’vulnerable native breed’.
The omission of the designation ‘Scottish’ has been an ongoing concern for many years. It is all the more inappropriate taken that other clubs, such as the Scottish Deerhound Club of America (that had close ties with the UK club in the 1930s), officially recognised the breed as the Scottish Deerhound. Ironically the breed does not have the same profile in its native land despite its iconic status in the literature, landscape and iconography of Scotland. This is an anomaly to say the least and now is the time to rectify it.
There is now a precedent for re-designation in the registration of the Elkhound as the Norwegian Elkhound by the Kennel Club in 2002. Our re-designation would raise the profile of the Scottish Deerhound which can only be advantageous in times of falling show entries resulting in a lower Stud Book band for the breed from 1st Jan 2014.
The Scottish Deerhound is found in all walks of life, is part of Scotland’s heritage and is valued as such by a broad spectrum of people. The support group feel that it was very important that everyone with an interest in the breed should be able to celebrate its past and contribute to its future. This is the thinking behind the petition.
The breed has always been recognised as part of the cultural heritage of the Highlands in landscape, art and literature. The Scottish Deerhound came into prominence in the nineteenth century when deerstalking in the Highlands became the must have experience for the great and the good. Fortunately these days of deerstalking were celebrated in their own accounts of their exploits and were, of course, recorded by many artists such as Landseer. However, what has come down to succeeding generations is essentially voices of the incomers rather than the perspectives of the people themselves, many of whom lived through great deprivation, social upheaval and political unrest. Their stories also need to be told. The kennels of the great estates produced the famous hounds whose exploits are celebrated in contemporary accounts. So the gillies, stockmen and others responsible for the care and training of the hounds are also part of the story. Many reminiscences of these times and subsequent developments in the breed’s history continued to be written and discussed throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century. These offer valuable insights into the heritage of the breed.
Deerstalking with the original hounds was very demanding and eventually fell out of fashion when crosses were experimented with in the days of improved fire power before hunting with dogs was to all intents and purposes given up. The breed was now much more widespread due to its high profile and it was fortunate that the breed had supporters both in Scotland and England who realised the importance of ensuring the survival of the original bloodlines.
What ultimately preserved the old Highland blood lines was the advent of showing in the 1860s and the realisation that the interests of the breed would be best served by dedicated clubs who have since been responsible for the breed. The UK club (officially founded 1886) established the standard which ensured that the characteristics of the pure Highland breed were to be preserved and aimed for in breeding and showing, thus ensuring its heritage in all but name.
The many admirers of the breed nationally and internationally have played a major role in ensuring the breed’s popularity. It is time now to formally acknowledge its heritage and pay tribute to the dedication shown by the early guardians through a re-designation to Scottish Deerhound by the Kennel Club.