Old Deerhound Sheepdog

Ana Oliveira
Dr Ana Oliveira (DVM, University of Lisbon)
Photo of adult Old Deerhound Sheepdog
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The Old Deerhound Sheepdog is a relatively new hybrid dog that results from breeding an Old English Sheepdog with a Scottish Deerhound. This crossing results in a large, handsome dog with a bear-like appearance and an affectionate and gentle nature. This is a very friendly dog who gets along with animals and people alike – a great choice to have as a pet.

He is active, despite his size, and because of his herding ancestry, he needs a lot of activity, both mental and physical, so prospective owners should consider that this is a dog that will demand quite a lot of attention and time. He is a good watchdog, barking only when needed to alert his owners. Loyal to his owners, he connects easily with people, being well-behaved and moderately easy to train.

About & History

This crossbreed has been created in the 2000s in the United States, for companionship, but also for working purposes, as he also excels as a watchdog. Because the Old Deerhound Sheepdog is a recent crossbreed, we must dwell on the history of his parent breeds, the Old English Sheepdog and the Scottish Deerhound, to find out more about him.

The Old English Sheepdog

The Old English Sheepdog has been a sheepdog in South Central and South West England since the 19th century. Known for his herding skills, this dog was used to take sheep and cattle across long distances, being considered a reliable and calm dog for the task.

His ancestry is unknown, although he has been linked to some older breeds, such as the Bearded Collie. By the end of the 19th century, he became a popular show dog, especially in the United States, where the breed was further refined.

The Scottish Deerhound

The Scottish Deerhound is a beautiful large dog breed whose history goes back to the 16th century, when it was used for protection and hunting. These dogs were used to hunt and take down deer, thus the name, as well as keeping populations safe from wolves.

It is considered an extremely rare dog breed, even today, after large game started disappearing around the 18th century, followed by the prohibition by the nobility of people owning Scottish Deerhounds, and the two World Wars of the 20th century. Today, Scottish Deerhounds are used as hunt, show, and companion dogs.


The Old Deerhound Sheepdog is a large dog that looks like a large Greyhound – tall, slim, and sleek (thanks to the Scottish Deerhound parent), with the long and shaggy hair of the Old English Sheepdog. These are beautiful-looking dogs, with sharp, dark eyes, an athletic build, and pending ears.

He typically has lots of hair on his face, although not completely growing down over his eyes (like the Old English Sheepdog), and a coat with long and wiry hair that can be gray, white, blue or black. The male Old Deerhound Sheepdog typically weights up to 45 kg (100 lbs), being 56 to 76 cm (22-30 inches) tall. The female is a bit smaller.

Character & Temperament

Like most hybrid dogs, the character and behaviour of the Old Deerhound Sheepdog will reveal aspects of both parent breeds. This is a gentle and loving dog, loyal and dedicated to being part of a family who will engage him in their daily activities, while providing lots of love and opportunities to exercise and play. Indeed, he is quite active and playful, despite his large size. Smart and easy-going with children and other pets, this crossbreed makes an excellent pet.

While not among the most active dog breeds or crossbreeds, the Old Deerhound Sheepdog has a herding ancestry, so he needs to have a purpose, be it a game or any other activity, including watching the house, as he is a good watchdog. His herding background may also make him chase smaller pets, although he does not have any aggressive tendencies. Nonetheless, keeping an eye on his behaviour around cats or other small pets is encouraged. He can be somewhat independent sometimes, taking after the Greyhound relatives, but overall, with the usual training and socialisation required for any dog, he is a well-rounded pet.


The Old Deerhound Sheepdog is a relatively easy crossbreed to train, as he is smart and quick to follow cues. Also, he is eager to please his owners and despite being somewhat stubborn at times, he does not prove to be too headstrong to be considered a challenging dog to train.


The lifespan of the Old Deerhound Sheepdog ranges between 8 and 12 years. The major health concerns associated with this crossbreed are similar to those of other large dogs, and include:

Hip Dysplasia

As with other large dog breeds and crossbreeds, the Old Deerhound Sheepdog may be afflicted with hip dysplasia, a debilitating condition of the hip joint that causes a lot of discomfort and pain as it progresses. It results from a congenital malformation of the bones comprising this joint – the upper part of the femur (the ball of the thighbone) and the acetabulum (i.e., the socket of the pelvis that accommodates the femur). This leads to a misalignment of the hip and the consequent wearing of the cartilages and bone, leading to inflammation, pain, and lameness.

There can also be environmental factors contributing to the development of this condition, which has no cure. There is, however, symptomatic treatment available that aid in relieving the pain and help dogs maintain their overall quality of life.

Gastric Dilation & Volvulus

Large dogs with deep chests, such as the Old Deerhound Sheepdog, may be more prone to gastric dilation (or bloat) and volvulus, a condition in which the stomach swells and then twists around its own axis, thus cutting off the blood flow, which will further interfere with homeostasis.

When not treated promptly, it leads to cardiac arrythmias and then to shock, which can be fatal. Gastric dilation is associated with the ingestion of large and copious meals very fast and/or followed by exercise. Gastric volvulus is always an emergency and surgery is required to undo the twisting of the stomach and allow blood flow to be restored.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a heart condition that causes the heart muscle to enlarge, making it harder to pump the blood. Heart valves may leak and when this happens fluids start building up in the chest and in the abdomen, leading to congestive heart failure. Medical treatment and dietary changes can help manage this condition, improve heart function, and stabilise patients.

Treatment is aimed at improving blood pumping, decreasing the workload of the heart chambers, alleviating pulmonary congestion, as well as controlling heart rate and potential arrythmias that may occur. Although this can be a severe disease, prognosis is variable, and it is possible to provide dogs with a good quality of life while improving their lifespan.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Because both his parent breeds were hunters and herders, the owner of the Old Deerhound Sheepdog should expect this hybrid dog to be an active pet, who needs to be kept exercised and mentally stimulated. This is a dog that needs a few playtime and exercise sessions each day, which can include hiking, jogging or plain training, to stay healthy, both physically and mentally.


The Old Deerhound Sheepdog has moderate maintenance and grooming needs. He sheds moderately and because he has a lot of hair, so it is recommended that owners brush him multiple times a week, or even daily. This will prevent his coat from getting matted, tangled, and dirty.

He is also known to have a doggy smell, so he may require an occasional bath. Regardless, have in mind that no dog should take baths too often, as this will strip their skin and hairs from their natural oils, which help keeping odor away.

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