Scottish Deerhound vs. Irish Wolfhound: What’s The Difference?

Both the Scottish Deerhound and the Irish Wolfhound are large, majestic breeds with a noble heritage and a gentle, calm disposition. They share similarities due to their common purpose of hunting and coursing, but they are distinct breeds with unique characteristics.

The Scottish Deerhound, also known as the “Royal Dog of Scotland,” is somewhat smaller and lighter than the Irish Wolfhound. It has a wiry, rough coat and a distinctive look with its long face and imposing physique. While traditionally used for hunting red deer, they are also companionable and excellent as family pets.

On the other hand, the Irish Wolfhound is one of the tallest breeds in the world. They were originally bred to hunt wolves, hence their name. This breed is recognized for its strength, size, and speed, but even with these traits, they are also known for being gentle and friendly, making them suitable for families.

Overall, the primary differences lie in their size, appearance, and historical hunting roles. Regardless of these differences, both breeds make for excellent pets given their gentle temperament, especially in families that can provide them with sufficient space to cater to their substantial size.

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

Quick Summary: The Irish Wolfhound is believed to be a more ancient species than the Scottish Deerhound and goes as far back as 391 A.D. These two breeds are so alike in appearance that even professionals can get confused between them. The Scottish Deerhound’s coat is made of four colors that are recognized, while the Irish Wolfhound has 13 recognized colors. The Scottish Deerhound is the more active of the two dogs and will need approximately sixty minutes of physical activity every day, while the Irish Wolfhound will need less than forty minutes each day. As for their lifespans, the Scottish Deerhound can live between 8 and 11 years, while the Irish Wolfhound has a lifespan of 6-8 years.

It is important to note that the Scottish Deerhound and the Irish Wolfhound are extremely similar dogs with just some minor differences that separate them apart. However, it is these differences that could suggest the one is better suitable for your lifestyle than the other. This is why it is crucial to completely research each breed before making an informed and definitive choice.

They appear almost identical, but the Irish Wolfhound is the larger dog, with both sporting exactly the same wavy coat. It is difficult to tell them from one another! They also have the same gentle but strong temperament to match their noble exterior. In the end, the expression ‘gentle when touched, but fierce at times of arousal’ seems very appropriate to both the Scottish Deerhound and the Irish Wolfhound.

Find out the specifics of each breed and what makes them different from one another.

Scottish Deerhound vs. Irish Wolfhound

Breed History and Background

The Scottish Deerhound and Irish Wolfhound have their own stories and come from different nations. However, their histories are also encased with legends and myths that vary from being simply fantastic dogs to being mythical creatures, or perhaps even werewolves!

Scottish Deerhound Overview

It is believed that the Scottish Deerhound is also known as the Royal Dog of Scotland This suggests that this dog is an important one! The dog is an ancient breed that is believed to have existed living in Scotland for a long time before the Scottish came to the country at the end of 9 the century. They are referred to as Deerhounds due to the fact that they chased large 400 pounds of wild Red Deer with large Antlers that pierced.

They were adored by nobles and royalty, and ownership restrictions led to their closeness to extinction several times. It was not until the latter part of the 19th century that breed enthusiasts intervened to save the breed, and it was around this period when the first Deerhound was shipped to America. The first Deerhound was registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1886.

To today it is believed that the Scottish Deerhound is a rare breed that is only loved by people who are patriotic Scotts or sighthound enthusiasts. In 2019, it was reported that the AKC had placed the popularity of the Scottish Deerhound as being at the 158th spot among 193 dog breeds that are found in America.

Irish Wolfhound Overview

The Irish Wolfhound is believed to be a more ancient species than Scottish Deerhound and goes as far back as 391 A.D., when the Roman consul was notably presented with seven Irish Wolfhounds. From that moment on, their popularity grew.

The dog was initially used for hunting the extinct Irish Elk, which measured six feet tall at its shoulders. It was during the 15th century that wolves began dominating the Irish landscape, so the hunter’s focus changed towards the wolves. They were known for taking the wolf down easily, and it was at this point that they were officially christened “the Irish Wolfhound.”

They were so adept at their work that they hunted wolves and other big predators to extinction, and, as a result, they are no longer needed. This is where their numbers declined significantly.

Like the Scottish Deerhound, it was at the end of the 19th century that the breed’s fanciers could take charge of the situation and help save the dogs (and reclaim their numbers). Indeed, the Irish Wolfhound is still an uncommon breed. However, it is a little more well-known in comparison to the Deerhound and is in the 76th spot among 193 dog breeds that were included in the AKC popularity contest. It is also frequently considered to be a giant breed that can be used as a companion pet for families or as a guardian dog.

Size and Appearance

Here is the place where things can get somewhat difficult! There is a bit of a tangle here! Scottish Deerhound and the Irish Wolfhound are so alike in appearance that, according to those who love the breed, professionals can often confuse the breeds. Both look like the Greyhound however, they are larger in size and with longer, thicker fur.

It is said that the Wolfhound is the highest of all AKC breeds and is higher than the Great Dane, which is often referred to as the tallest of dog breeds. From shoulder to paw, males are at a maximum of 32 inches, while the Deerhound is restricted to an average size that ranges from 30-32 inches. The sky is truly the limit for this breed of Irish Wolfhound. However, Kennel clubs in Ireland and England tend to prefer the dog to be smaller by about one inch.

It is also important to note that the Wolfhound is also a lot heavier, with a weight of at least 120 pounds, compared to the lighter Deerhound, which weighs between 85 to 110 pounds and isn’t lightweight at all! Their size is huge, which means neither one of them is suitable for smaller spaces, so keep this in mind when you are considering welcoming one to your home.

The two breeds mature fully and cease to grow at the age of 3 years old. Their joints and bones are strengthened for about 10 months. It is crucial to ensure that they don’t over-exert themselves.

It is believed that the Scottish Deerhound’s coat is made up of four colors that are recognized, while the Irish Wolfhound’s coat has 13 colors that are recognized, including brindle. The gray color can be the most well-known and popular of them all.

It is said that the Irish Wolfhound is slightly longer than his height, and this gives him a strong stride and a deep chest than the Deerhound. The Deerhound has larger legs and ears that are placed further back on his skull than the Wolfhound, which has ears that are bigger and covered with more fur. The Deerhound has a more curving back in comparison with the Wolfhound.

Nutrition and Food Requirements

The Scottish Deerhound will consume around 3 1/2 cups of food a day, while the Irish Wolfhound will consume more than four and a half cups every day. This is a crucial factor to consider if you’re contemplating welcoming one of these dogs to your home. They consume a lot more than average dogs, meaning the monthly cost of food is significantly higher.

Grooming Needs

Indeed, the Scottish Deerhound does not have an extra coat, whereas the Irish Wolfhound does. But regardless of their coats, they are essentially the same in terms of grooming requirements. They are not huge shedders, and therefore, they’ll need to brush every once or twice per week to maintain their long, wiry hair in good health and free of tangles.

Although they don’t shed their coats’ during shed season, you can expect to see a few hairs on your couch and on your clothes. Both breeds are excellent in that they are less prone to maintenance in terms of grooming which makes them easy to groom.

Another thing to consider is that none of these dogs is hypoallergenic, which means neither of them can be with households with allergies to dogs of any kind.

Temperament and Personality

Not only do both the Scottish Deerhound and the Irish Wolfhound are identical in appearance, but they also share a lot in their personality. Both these dogs can be classified as being the most gentle of Gentlemen – they are brave but not aggressive. They are loyal but not too clingy, and they are both alert but respectful in their actions.

They are very close and affectionate with their families, and even though neither is shy around strangers, they are uninterested in them. Both are horrible guard dogs since they will let burglars walk through their property and in their homes without needing a single bark to alert their master.

Despite their size and muscle, they are also extremely fast and agile, which makes them excellent hunters. As their names imply, they’re both parts of the hounds’ group and both are sighthounds – specifically meaning that they hunt solely based on what they can see. It is not advisable to let either of them loose in public areas since if they see something, they’ll both disappear before you realize it!

Because of their background as hunters, it is recommended to only reside in a dog-friendly household and avoid living with cats and other smaller animals like rabbits. If they’re socialized from an early age, they can both be happy in a dog’s household with other animals. 

After you’ve exercised them and they are settled at home, they’re the two dogs with the largest canine snuggle you can be found. Neither one would be hesitant about lying on your couch or your lap. They are at ease in the presence of children, but it is recommended that due to their dimensions, neither of these species should ever be unattended when there are children in order to avoid accidents.

Due to their social nature, they are drawn to social interactions with others This is why neither of them are able to thrive alone and are often afflicted with separation anxiety.

Exercise Requirements

The Scottish Deerhound is the more active of the two pups and will need approximately sixty minutes of physical activity every day, while the Irish Wolfhound will need less than forty minutes per day. They have legs that are long and require daily stretching, and their hearts need to pump lots of blood through a large area of their body. No matter how hard they try to convince you otherwise, they will require regular exercise!

As a dog with lower energy, The Irish Wolfhound is more inclined to nap in the afternoon for a couple of hours (or maybe three! ), while the Scottish Deerhound will snooze much less. This is why the Scottish Deerhound requires more stimuli throughout the day in order to prevent him from becoming restless and bored.

Being able to knock the 400-pound deer down can mean that he can tear up the sofa in a matter of minutes, so don’t get fooled by their gentle and calm manners. A bored hound is an unhappy hound, and that’s not the best for anyone!

Training Techniques

The Scottish Deerhound and the Irish Wolfhound are both independent animals. This is why if you’re looking for a completely obedience-oriented dog, it’s unlikely that they are suitable for you. If you want them to be completely obedient, then it is advisable to enroll them in training classes for dogs with a trained professional.

The early interaction is essential for these dogs while their intense prey drive is not removed from them. However, you can train them to be at ease and relaxed around dogs of all sizes and shapes. While they may do well around cats, it’s unlikely they’ll ever be peaceful and calm around them!

It is suggested that no one of them should be allowed off the leash in public areas. It is crucial to ensure that they walk well on the leash as they are extremely strong dogs. It is therefore crucial at an early age to lead train them to ensure that your walks are calm and enjoyable for both you and your dog.

If you are planning to train your dog in a crate, make sure that you’re looking at the crates designed for large breeds. The AKC provides professional guidance regarding how to train your leash puppy.

Health Issues

The Scottish Deerhound National Breed Club suggests that the dog is screened for these health problems:

  • Factor VII D.N.A Test – A blood deficiency disorder in which blood coagulation is not as effective and, as a result, bleeding is excessively high.
  • Bile Acid Test – This test will allow you to know if the liver is working in the way it is supposed to.
  • Cardiac Assessment – The test screens for a list of eye problems, including Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Cataracts.

The Irish Wolfhound National Breed Club suggests that in addition to the Cardiac test mentioned in the previous paragraph, he should also be examined for the following conditions:

  • Elbow and hip Dysplasia – It is an abnormal development of the hip and elbow joints that could cause pain and arthritis later in life.
  • Ophthalmologist Assessment – The evaluation checks for a list of eye problems, including Cataracts as well as Progressive Retinal Atrophy.

Overall, the Scottish Deerhound enjoys a healthy life span, given his size of between 8 and 11 years, while the Irish Wolfhound enjoys a shorter time of 6-8 years. Although the life span of an Irish Wolfhound may seem short, it’s actually the average duration for a dog of similar size.

In general, both are normally healthy animals. However, they are different in that the Scottish Deerhound is predisposed to the smallest number of health problems than the Irish Wolfhound.

Puppy Prices/Costs

The price of a Scottish Deerhound puppy from a reliable breeder can start at about $1000, and the price for the Irish Wolfhound is slightly higher and will start at around 12,500. Both are rare pups, and the Scottish Deerhound will have, typically between 4 and 8 pups in a litter, whereas the Irish Wolfhound will only have three to four puppies, which is reflected in the more expensive puppy cost.

It is important to note that the Irish Wolfhound Club of America lists rescue centers that are dedicated in each state should you want to adopt an Irish Wolfhound. While there is no mention of rescue centers, the Scottish Deerhound Club of America lists the names of individuals who can point you in the right direction should you want to adopt a Scottish Deerhound.


The Scottish Deerhound and Irish Wolfhound are incredible animals that surely merit a higher place in the contest for popularity. They are both relatively undiscovered and unexplored breeds; however, they are breeds that are incredibly charming and loving.

If you are able to prepare for their hunting skills based on sight and are able to handle their massive size, then you’re on the right track to a satisfying and successful relationship. Therefore, whatever Celtic dog you choose to bring into your home or use as a predator hunter, be assured that they’re soft and loving creatures with a strong heart that will cherish you and your family for the duration of time he’s in the vicinity.

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