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Old Deerhound Sheepdog Breed Info: Pictures, Traits & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Height: 21-28 inches
Weight: 65-90 pounds
Lifespan: 8 to 12 years
Colors: Black, white, blue, grey
Suitable for: Families, singles, farmers, herding
Temperament: Loyal, gentle, affectionate, playful, intelligent, energetic

The Old Deerhound Sheepdog is a hybrid breed, a cross between the Old English Sheepdog and the Scottish Deerhound. These dogs are slim, agile, and highly athletic pooches that are well suited to an active household. While these dogs are high energy and need a great deal of exercise, they are also sweet and gentle animals that do well in family environments. Let’s take a brief look at this dog’s parents to help get to know the Old Deerhound Sheepdog a little better.

The Old English Sheepdog is a large, thickset breed with an unmistakable and highly recognizable shaggy coat. These dogs were originally bred as drovers, helping farmers drive livestock to market. These days, they are more commonly kept as family companions due to their sweet and gentle nature.

The Scottish Deerhound, or “Royal Dog of Scotland,” is a dignified coursing Hound with characteristics that closely resemble a Greyhound. However, while these dogs may not have the speed of a Greyhound, they are larger and stronger, with a longer harsh and wiry coat. These dogs were originally bred to stalk and hunt wild deer.

If the Old Deerhound Sheepdog sounds like the ideal breed for you, read on below for a more in-depth look at this energetic pooch.

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Old Deerhound Sheepdog Puppies — Before You Get One


Before bringing home an Old Deerhound Sheepdog puppy, you need to take into account the large size and high energy of this active breed. These dogs will require a great deal of daily exercise and food, both of which will quickly eat into your time and finances. Having any dog is a big responsibility that one should never take lightly, but a large, powerful, and energetic dog like the Old Deerhound Sheepdog is a whole other ballgame.

Of course, the love, affection, and loyalty you’ll receive are well worth it, and the Old Deerhound Sheepdog has plenty of gentle love and affection to dish out. Not only are these dogs great with kids and other animals, but you’ll also be getting a great guard dog.

3 Little-Known Facts About Old Deerhound Sheepdogs

1. The Old English Sheepdog wasn’t a sheepdog.

Despite the misleading name, the Old English Sheepdog was not actually a sheepdog! These shaggy dogs were primarily used as a droving dog, driving sheep and cattle to the local market for farmers. They were initially named the “Shepherd’s Dog,” which may have been more accurate. They are now commonly kept as companion dogs and as popular show dogs.

2. The Old English Sheepdog has “bearlike” qualities.

As any OES owner will tell you, these dogs have a loud distinctive bark that sounds uncannily like a bear. Their unique gait is also bearlike, with an amble and shuffle similar to a bear. They are capable of high speeds, though, at which point, their gait becomes far more dog-like.

3. The Scottish Deerhound was reserved only for Scottish nobility.

At one point in the breed’s history, only those who ranked as an earl or higher were permitted to own a Scottish Deerhound. Their sole purpose was as deer hunters for high-ranking members of Scottish society. Of course, this restriction almost rendered the breed extinct, so imposing and strict were the policies behind owning one. Luckily, the limitations were eventually lifted, and the breed managed to come back from the brink.

Parent Breeds of Old Deerhound Sheepdog
Image Credit: Left: Svetlana Valoueva, Shutterstock | Right: Jamie Hall, Shutterstock

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Old Deerhound Sheepdog 🧠

The Old Deerhound Sheepdog is a gentle, playful, and affectionate dog that inherits all the best traits from their parent breeds. They have a long history of hunting deer and driving sheep and will need a great deal of exercise, but this ancestry of working closely with humans also gives them the benefit of ease of trainability and unsurpassed loyalty.

These dogs make excellent watchdogs with their loud and imposing bark, but they tend to only let it out when absolutely necessary. They are also rarely aggressive, even when provoked, and do not have an overly powerful prey drive. Old Deerhound Sheepdogs love to be around their human family and enjoy having a dedicated job to do to provide them with the necessary mental stimulation.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Old Deerhound Sheepdogs are great family pets because they are easy-going and calm with children. They can be a bit boisterous at times and may sometimes accidentally knock over smaller children, but they are rarely, if ever, aggressive toward people. They are social and outgoing animals that make friends fast and have no issues with strangers.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Despite the hunting background of the Scottish Deerhound, these dogs are generally great with other dogs and pets. Scottish Deerhounds are fairly independent and usually better off as the only dog in the household, but the social and friendly character of the Old English Sheepdogs tends to balance this out. Still, early socialization is key to having a dog that is friendly toward other pets.

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Things to Know When Owning an Old Deerhound Sheepdog

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

The Old Deerhound Sheepdog is a large, sturdy dog with a great deal of energy and consequently, needs a diet that can cater to their energetic needs. Dry kibble is convenient and packed with all the nutrients and vitamins that a dog needs, provided that it is of high quality and free from filler ingredients like wheat, corn, and soy. It should ideally be high in animal-based protein to aid in muscle growth and maintenance and include a form of healthy carbohydrates to give an extra energy boost. Provided that the kibble is of good quality, around 3 cups per day should be sufficient for your Old Deerhound Sheepdog.

We recommend supplementing their kibble with lean meat whenever possible and organ meats occasionally too. This is the best source of protein for your pooch and will provide them with the essential amino acids they need. Common meats to give your dog are deboned chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, and even novel proteins like bison. These meats can be cooked with rice and fed alone or added to your dog’s kibble. While meat is a great addition, it can be difficult to be sure your dog is getting all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals they need when cooking their food yourself. Kibble is a great way to be sure they are getting everything they need.

Clean, fresh water should be available to them at all times, especially after eating dry kibble, as it can make them thirsty.

Exercise 🐕

The Old Deerhound Sheepdog has a great deal of energy despite their size and consequently, will need a great deal of daily exercise. While they are not the most energetic breed in the world, their parent breeds have a long history of working hard alongside humans, so they will benefit greatly from daily mental and physical stimulation. They will need multiple play sessions and walks every day to keep them out of mischief, and we recommend a minimum of two 1-hour sessions every day. This can include a run or jog or even a brisk walk, followed by games of fetch with a ball or some kind of agility exercises.

A tired dog is a happy dog, and without sufficient exercise, these dogs are prone to boredom-induced misbehavior like digging, chewing, and excessive barking.

Training 🦮

These dogs are highly intelligent with a long history of working closely with humans and are thus usually easy to train. They are always keen to please their owners in whatever way they can, and obeying commands is a great way for them to fulfill this purpose. Some Old Deerhound Sheepdog owners report that these dogs can be fairly stubborn and independent at times, which is a trait likely passed down from their Scottish Deerhound heritage. Remember, crossbreeds can inherit more traits from one parent breed than the other and this is largely out of the breeder’s control. That being said, in general, these dogs are a breeze to train, even if they are slightly stubborn at times.

We recommend reward-based training methods, as these dogs are fairly sensitive and don’t take well to harsh reprimands. Positive reinforcement training involves rewarding your dog for good behavior and ignoring bad behavior or otherwise distracting your dog from bad behavior. For example, if your dog is chewing something that they shouldn’t be, take it away with a firm “no” rather than shouting or hitting.

Grooming ✂️

Old Deerhound Sheepdogs have medium-length, coarse, and wiry coats that do not need a great deal of brushing. They are moderate shedders and will need weekly brushing to keep their coat from matting and knotting. Both the parent breeds of the Old Deerhound Sheepdog are prone to having “doggy odor” and will require occasional bathing. Bear in mind that bathing too often with shampoo will strip their coat of any natural oils and likely make the situation worse, so we recommend a scrub with clean water or specially made dog shampoos.

Apart from regular brushing and an occasional bath, be sure to brush your dog’s teeth once a week or so to prevent dental disease, and keep their nails trimmed.

Health Conditions ❤️

The Old Deerhound Sheepdog has a comparatively short life expectancy of 8-12 years, and this is largely due to their size and the consequent health issues that can come with large breeds. While they have no unique health issues to be concerned about, they can suffer from conditions associated with large breeds, including the following.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). DCM is a disease characterized by the enlarging of the heart that makes it struggle to effectively pump blood. Fluids begin to build up in the chest and may eventually lead to heart failure. This disease can be treated effectively with a combination of a good diet, sufficient exercise, and medical intervention.

Gastric Torsion. Large dog breeds with deep chests like the Old Deerhound Sheepdog are prone to gastric torsion, a disease characterized by the swelling of the stomach, which then twists around on itself and cuts off blood flow. When not treated properly, this disorder can swiftly be fatal. The best treatment is prevention, as once it occurs, the only cure is surgery. Feeding your dog large amounts of food that they gobble up quickly with a large amount of air, followed by exercise, is typically what causes this condition. It can be effectively avoided by feeding your dog two or three small meals a day as opposed to one large meal.

Hip Dysplasia. This is a common condition in large dog breeds, characterized by a malformation of the hip joints that can lead to a great deal of inflammation and pain. There is unfortunately no cure for this condition, but it can be successfully managed with pain relief and keeping your dog from too much intensive activity, like jumping.

Minor Conditions
  • Obesity
  • Bloat
  • Cataracts
  • Entropion
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
Serious Conditions
  • Cancer
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Gastric torsion

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Male vs Female

If you have decided that this loving, energetic pooch is the dog for you, the final choice to make is between a male or female. In general, there are few differences between males and females other than size.

Males are heavier and larger than females, although not by much. Females tend to be more independent and moodier at times, while males are always up for a cuddle. Males are also generally more playful than females. Scottish Deerhounds are independent dogs that prefer to be the only dog in the home, and this trait can sometimes come through in Old Deerhound Sheepdogs too.

That being said, these differences are largely anecdotal, and all dogs are unique with unique characters and personalities. You may find that your female is more playful than your male, or vice versa. Spaying females and neutering males can also make a fairly big difference in personality and will stop unwanted pregnancies and stop males from wandering.

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Final Thoughts

The Old Deerhound Sheepdog is a gentle, loving, and playful pooch that makes a great family companion. They are rarely aggressive and are patient with kids, and their loyal and alert nature makes them great watchdogs. Bear in mind that these large pooches need a great deal of daily exercise to stay happy and healthy and a ton of food too! All in all, they are gentle giants that are as easy-going as they come and are adaptable to almost any living environment.

If you are a lover of the outdoors and need a partner to join you in your daily exercise, the Old Deerhound Sheepdog is a great choice.

Featured Image credit | Left: Scottish Deerhound (Kim Christensen, Shutterstock), Right: Old English Sheepdog (everydoghasastory, Shutterstock)

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