The Re-designation of the Scottish Deerhound
In response to your excellent article in the Fall issue on naming of breeds I would like to clarify briefly the historical situation at the time of The Kennel Club’s registration of the Scottish Deerhound as the Deerhound and the official establishment of the club as The Deerhound Club, 1886.
The decision to register the breed without its historical ties was taken in a world where the name Great Britain reflected the world view of Britain as a colonial power. At that time the breed could have been ‘The Scottish Deerhound’ and the club ‘The Scottish Deerhound Club of Great Britain’ though the ‘Great Britain’ was really superseded in the later twentieth century by the nomenclature United Kingdom. ‘Ireland’ was sometimes added on to ‘Great Britain’ but this was not necessary as both Scotland and Ireland had lost their parliaments in 1707 and 1800 respectively. It wasn’t till the twentieth century that Eire was created as an independent republic, separate from Northern Ireland, the latter remaining part of the United Kingdom. Of course the inclusion of Great Britain in the name would be out of date now but would have been appropriate at that time.
The reasons behind the decision to designate the breed as simply Deerhound and the club as The Deerhound Club are complex and need to be understood as far as is possible at this distance in time. It is doubtful if it was simply the easy option. Naming implies ownership and this seems the most likely explanation. The name was selected because of the shifting identity of Scotland at the time of the British Empire, the perceived relationship of the Scottish Deerhound to the IrishWolfhound, (registered as such by The Kennel Club before the Deerhound) and confusion about the Gaelic language in relation to Scotland and Ireland.
However the title ‘Scottish Deerhound’ was very much in use at the time and has continued to be so ever since. It is now time for its long overdue official recognition.
Claire Cartmell, Fife, Scotland, March 2016