Scottish Deerhound vs. Irish Wolfhound: Key Differences

These two uncommon breeds are challenging to tell apart due to their striking resemblance. At first sight, even professional dog trainers may find it hard to tell the difference between both breeds.

However, they share some distinct differences in appearance (the Wolfhound is larger than the Deerhound), temperament (the Wolfhound is more affectionate than the Deerhound), energy level, lifespan (the Deerhound lives longer than the Wolfhound), and level of intelligence. ‘

In this article, we will examine the critical differences between these two giant breeds.

Scottish Deerhound

The Scottish Deerhound is a member of the hound group, which includes other breeds like the Greyhound, Beagle, and Bloodhound. However, unlike the other hounds listed, the Scottish Deerhound is a sighthound: a type of hound that hunts with sight and speed.

This dog breed is an ancient breed that occupied Scotland even before people settled in the region, so the breed’s origin isn’t precisely known.

Nonetheless, the Deerhound became very popular with Scottish noblemen who utilized his keen hunting instincts and giant frame to hunt deer; hence, the breed’s name.

The Deerhound was dubbed the “Royal Dog of Scotland,” an affectionate name befitting a noble hound. Today, the Scottish Deerhound retains his dignified and elegant nature.

Still, the aggressiveness needed for hunting has been bred out of him, causing him to be docile, sensitive, and affectionate—all of which make him a great family dog.

Irish Wolfhound

This old breed of dog is also a sighthound that was famously used for hunting big game in Ireland around 700 BC. The Irish Wolfhound is a much older breed than the Scottish Deerhound, with its history tracing back to the ancient Romans.

He was a war dog also used to effectively hunt and kill elk, wolves, deer, and other large animals that plagued the plains.

When the number of predators in the region declined due to the effectiveness of the Irish Wolfhound’s hunting, the need for the breed decreased, and they almost went to extinction.

However, in the 19th century, the breed was revived, and their numbers increased. Although Wolfhounds are relatively rare today, they are more popular than Deerhounds.

The Key Differences

Below are the key differences between the two breeds described above:

Visual Differences

The Deerhound and the Wolfhound are strikingly similar, with both breeds possessing the same mildly coarse, shaggy coat. It can be tough to tell these breeds apart using only their appearances. However, the key visual differences between these breeds are their height and weight.

Weight and Height

Although the Irish Wolfhound and the Deerhound are generally regarded as giant dogs, the Wolfhound is much heavier and somewhat taller than the Scottish Deerhound.

An adult Wolfhound can grow to a height of 32 to 35 inches tall at the shoulder, while an adult Deerhound has a height range of 28 to 32 inches tall at the shoulder.

On the weighing scale, the Wolfhound comes in at a hefty weight of 120 to 180 pounds, while the Deerhound weighs a lesser 75 to 110 pounds on average.

The Irish Wolfhound, the larger of the two breeds, also has a more muscular definition in its legs (although the Deerhound typically has longer legs), forequarters, and hindquarters.

Furthermore, two other observable differences in the appearances of these breeds are their tails and ears. The Wolfhound typically has a long and somewhat hooked tail, while the Deerhound’s tail is comparatively longer and is often nearly touching the ground.

Also, the Wolfhound has smaller ears than the Deerhound: The Deerhound’s ears are usually folded back or elevated above his head when excited.

Personality differences

Although these two breeds possess qualities that make them delightful family dogs, they have some distinct differences in their personalities. The Scottish Deerhound is often described as docile, dignified, and polite.

On the other hand, the Irish wolfhound is courageous, calm, and thoughtful. Let’s examine them separately:

Scottish Deerhound

This historically royal dog breed showcases its royalty by being one of the most dignified dog breeds. The Deerhound breeds are clean, dignified, and gentle. Ironically, although gentle, dogs of this breed have high energy and intensity levels that they retain well into their older years.

Furthermore, the energy level and intense play-style of The Deerhound breeds make them terrible playmates for toddlers, so they are best suited for households with older and more active kids. They can live amicably with other dogs and pets due to their politeness; however, they can be quite aloof with other pets as they would rather be alone.

Irish Wolfhound

The Wolfhound breeds are intelligent, thoughtful, and calm. These dogs do best with human companionship, and they are kind, patient, and friendly.

They are not as intense or energetic as their Deerhound counterparts, making them comparatively suited for a household with younger kids.

Wolfhounds are gentle with children and get along easily with other non-aggressive dogs and pets. However, giant dogs, due to their size, shouldn’t be left alone with babies, regardless of how friendly they are.

Because of their highly affectionate nature, Irish Wolfhounds are great family dogs that bond well with the household.


The Deerhound breeds are cleaner, more intense, and more reserved than the Wolfhound breeds.

The Irish Wolfhound tends to bond quicker and is more affectionate than the Deerhound, so they are best suited for a household that wants a large, friendly hound that will get along with other pets.

On the other hand, Deerhound breeds are more physically active, so they are best for families that want large, energetic dogs.

It is important to note that your dog’s temperament is also influenced by his upbringing, socialization training, and heredity. So ensure you are aware of all these factors before adopting a pup.


Although both breeds can learn simple commands, the Wolfhound is more intelligent and eager to learn than the Deerhound; consequently, he is easier to train.

The Deerhound breeds, energetic as they are, can be pretty lazy and uninterested when being trained, making their training a chore, especially for first-time dog owners.

The Irish Wolfhound is more eager to please than the Deerhound, so they tend to learn quickly as long as their efforts are positively reinforced with treats and body rubs. Accordingly, the Deerhound requires more patience and consistency on the trainer’s part.

Essentially, the Irish Wolfhound is the better fit for a household that wants a large, lovable dog capable of learning tricks.

Feeding and Exercise Requirements

As expected of a larger breed, the Irish Wolfhound consumes more food than the Scottish Deerhound. The difference in their feeding needs isn’t that big as the Wolfhound will eat around 5 cups of food daily, while the Deerhound will eat around three-and-a-half cups daily.

These breeds eat a lot, so you need to seriously consider their enormous feeding bills before adopting either of them.

As mentioned, the Deerhound is more physically active than the Wolfhound; accordingly, they have higher exercise needs. The Deerhound requires at least one hour of physical exercise every day, while the Wolfhound’s exercise needs will be

met with 40 to 45 minutes of physical activities. However, both dogs need lots of space to run, so they aren’t suitable for apartment living.

Also, due to being a higher-energy dog, the Scottish Deerhound is more prone to being bored than the Irish Wolfhound, so he requires more mental stimulation to keep him from being uneasy and unhappy.

Health Concerns and Lifespan

As giant dogs, these breeds are prone to some health concerns. Although, on average, the Scottish Deerhound is comparatively healthier than the Irish Wolfhound. The Wolfhound breeds are predisposed to eye disorders like Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), which is rarer in the Deerhound breeds.

Due to being heavier, the Wolfhound is more predisposed to developing Elbow Dysplasia (a heritable health concern that affects the joint and can lead to lameness). It should be noted that these health concerns aren’t a given in the lives of either breed.

Consistent vet visits and requesting the necessary health clearances before adopting a puppy will go a long way in assuaging any concerns.

A fundamental difference between these breeds is their life spans: The Scottish Deerhound lives longer than the Irish Wolfhound. Perhaps due to the size difference, the Irish Wolfhound has a lifespan of 6 to 10 years, while the Scottish Deerhound lives slightly longer with a lifespan of 8 to 11 years.

The lifespan is an important factor when considering adopting either of these breeds.


The minimum price range of a Deerhound is $1,000 from a registered breeder, but it can go as high as $2,500. Furthermore, a show-quality puppy can go for as high as $3,000. On the other hand, the Wolfhound’s starting price is slightly higher at $1,500, which can also be as high as $2,500.

Final Call: Scottish Deerhound vs. Irish Wolfhound: Key Differences

Being able to tell the difference between these breeds immediately is no small feat. They are both uncommon breeds with their individually distinct quirks that make them great additions to different types of households.

So the next time you’re out, and you come across one of these sighthounds, observe their appearance and behavior and figure out if you’re looking at a Wolfhound or a Deerhound.

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