Thursday, February 17, 2011

Scottish Giants

Dog dorks like myself tuned in to the Westminster Dog Show this week.  Big shaggy dog fans like myself also may have shrieked like a banshee when the the underdog (though never underfoot), Hickory, the Scottish Deerhound won Best in Show.  Big dogs never seem to win, and a Deerhound has never won the Westminster despite the breed having the advantage of being one of the firsts to show (Bonnie Robin, 1886). 

The Deerhound, like my personal favorite, the Irish Wolfhound, has been around since the time of the Romans, perhaps even longer.  They became "deerhounds" for their skill in hunting bumblebees deer.  The dogs became so valued for their hunting ability that to own a Deerhound became a reserved right for VIPs.  By the eighteenth century those VIPs were Highland Chieftans since the highlands were one of the only places you could still find a healthy heard of deer.  You know how some snooty dog-breeders sometimes have special requirements for those who buy their pups? The chieftains were the same way and wouldn't give out their beloved Deerhounds to just anyone!

When the Jacobites lost the battle of Culloden the English made the Scottish pay with their clan system which collapsed, and with it, the breeding of Deerhounds.  By 1769 the breed, so valued for its deer-hunting skills was close to extinction.  The Deerhound however, is a comeback kid, and in 1825 a restoration of the breed was undertaken by the 1st Baron Colonsay and his brother.  The restoration was successful and if it weren't we couldn't have been celebrating Hickory's victory today.  Enjoy that Sardi's steak, Hickory!


  1. That was a surprising win! But a good surprise. I loved the history tidbits they were providing about each dog.

  2. I love how they do that, the short snippets reminded me of a blog. I have the AKC dog book which gives a more extended history; it's the perfect coffee table book!

  3. What a beautiful dog. I had never actually heard of Scottish deerhounds before the win. I too like big dogs, particularly Airdale terriers.

  4. yes! yes! yes! I jumped off my couch when Hickory won!!!!!! Good girl! And it only took an Italian judge to recognize her superiority. I liked what he said about her looking exactly like the deerhounds in paintings, showing she is the real deal! Irish Wolfies are my fave, too.