There are dog breeds out there that look very similar. Sometimes you see one and have to ask yourself which breed you’re staring at. It’s almost like looking at twins! Like twins, people usually have a specific way of telling the difference. So what are some things you can look for when seeing an Irish wolfhound and a Scottish deerhound? First, let’s start with a little history of these massive breeds.
Scottish deerhounds are an ancient, noble breed. Though the origins are so old that there is no true record, we do know that the hounds have hunted in the company of ancient Scots for centuries. Originally bred for deer hunting, historians can identify deerhounds as a breed in the 16th and 17th centuries. Like the Irish wolfhound, the deerhound found a resurgence in the 19th century.
Ancient hounds have been found in Irish legends, lore, and literature since the beginning of history. Irish wolfhounds were protectors, defenders, and hunters. They excelled at hunting wolves. As the wolf population diminished, so did the need for wolfhounds. Like deerhounds, the wolfhound population began to decrease, and they were all but extinct during the Great Irish Famine. Thanks to the efforts of Captain George Augustus Graham, the Irish wolfhound is easily recognized as one of the tallest breeds in the world.
An easy distinction between these two breeds is that one is actually bigger than the other. The Irish wolfhound male reaches 31-32 inches in height and weighs between 100-125 pounds. The Scottish deerhound is slightly smaller. A male Scottish deerhound is 30-32 inches but only reaches 85-110 pounds. Therefore, a deerhound appears slightly slimmer. Some people even refer to a deerhound as a large greyhound. The two breeds were bred for hunting, but they were bred to hunt different animals, as mentioned in their names.
Upon closer inspection, you may notice a difference in their ears and eyes. Irish wolfhounds and Scottish deerhounds both have rose-shaped ears, but they differ in size. Irish wolfhounds are small to medium size, while Scottish deerhounds are on the smaller side. In fact, the smaller, the better when it comes to Scottish deerhounds. Their eyes are similar in size and shape but differ when it comes to color. Irish wolfhounds' eyes are medium to dark brown in color, while Scottish deerhounds can have hazel-colored eyes.
Their coats also have differences. Irish wolfhounds come in a variety of colors. They can be any shade of gray, blue, cream, red, fawn, black, white, or all shades of brindle. Scottish deerhounds aren’t found in as many colors. They can be any shade of gray, brindle, or fawn and have minimal white in their coats.
An obvious similarity between these two breeds is their overall appearance. They are both gentle giants and both hunters. They are also intelligent, kind-hearted breeds. Aggressive tendencies are wrong for both breeds. They will easily outrun anything or anyone who wants a chase.
As discussed above, the coats have differences, but there are also some similarities. Both are double-coated and have protective, rough, wiry outer coats. Neither the Irish wolfhound nor the Scottish deerhound has a silky, wooly, curly, or soft coat.
Test out your skills next time you see an Irish wolfhound or a Scottish deerhound. Remember, just like twins, there are differences. Once you see the differences, you’ll become an expert at telling them apart. The Irish wolfhound and Scottish deerhound are two distinct breeds with rich histories and a kind heart.
Click here for a full breed standard of the Irish wolfhound.
Click here for a full breed standard of the Scottish deerhound.