Kyleakiin History

I chose Scottish Deerhounds as my ideal dog from an old paperback British dog book in my preteen years. In the sixties, though, acquiring a rare breed dog was just a dream. By the time I was a college graduate, the dream had become tangible. I found a copy of The Gazehound magazine and discovered breeders of Scottish Deerhounds listed there.

The first one I contacted told me the average life expectancy of a Deerhound was only three years. The second breeder was Fran Smith from Dhu Mohr Deerhounds, then in Holland, Michigan. And while I had to delay the acquisition of my first Deerhound for ten more years while my vet school career began, ended and my professional life got underway, my first Deerhound was acquired from Fran Smith and Wendy Fast in 1988. She was called Mira (Dhu Mohr Yndamir) and she was five months old. And I did lose her before she was three. But through Fran and Wendy I met a much closer Deerhounder, Joan Shagan, who was traveling to Dhu Mohr in 1988 to breed a bitch to their dog Perion (CH Dhu Mohr Perion of Guillari), and was willing to deliver my beautiful first ever Deerhound Mira to me. I’ll never forget that drive through the night to meet Joan at a nearby rest stop on I-65, and my first sight of Mira, who ran into my arms and changed my life forever.

Joan had another litter due when I lost Mira, and as we had become friends and I knew her bitch Lily (CH Jubalhil’s Princess Lilias), we arranged for me to keep Lily for a few days after the puppies had grown to choosing age and select between the two girls in the litter that remained. I chose a lively little black girl and named her Kelpie, and she became my first Utility Dog, my first show dog, my first Champion, and the foundation bitch of Kyleakin. She was CH Jubalhil Queen Mor o’Dhu Mohr UD. Her brother became Joan’s CH Jubalhil King David o’Dhu Mohr, one of the winningest Deerhounds in show history.

Deerhounds in obedience? Many (if not most) Deerhounders sneered at the idea, but not Joan. And since obedience training was my first love, that’s what I did with Kelpie. She was smart and fun, and though she was an apt learner, it did take a different approach from what I’d been used to with previous dogs (Beagle, Irish Setter, Airedale and Bouvier des Flandres) I’d trained. I like a challenge, though, and I’d found from experience that nothing on earth creates a bond between you and your dog like Utility training.

Deerhounds tend to be pretty well behaved (once they get through their rowdy youth), and serious obedience training is not necessary to make them excellent companions, but learning is good for
everyone, Deerhounds being no exception, and I truly believe everyone is happier when they know rules they can fall back upon in times of stress or trouble. Attention training and finding great motivators are the keys to training Deerhounds. And a LOT of work. I’ve put Utility titles on three Champion Deerhounds, CDXs on six more, and CDs on four. I believe that breeding for trainability will produce a Deerhound that is a pleasure to be around.

I knew nothing about lure coursing when I got Kelpie, and for some time afterward until I met Debbie Cutter, who lived in North Carolina back then and had the only other Deerhound in the country actively showing in advanced Obedience. She was Fairyfort’s Study in Scarlet UD TDX FCh (Scarlet), who was the only Deerhound in her time ever to achieve advanced obedience, tracking and field titles, though Debbie has since gone even farther in all three fields plus conformation with her Deerhounds. We became what used to be called Pen Pals, met at my first Specialty Show in Lexington, KY, in 1991, and when she moved to Nashville, TN, a few years later, became fast friends and training partners, meeting once a week halfway between Bowling Green, KY, where I lived and Nashville to train together. She introduced me to Lure Coursing, to which I’ve become seriously addicted (see Coursing album). I’ve put Dual Championships on six Deerhounds, and a Field Championship on one more. I believe that breeding for lure keenness is at least a start in keeping the original purpose of the Deerhound, to chase and hold deer, an integral part of our breed.

I am a veterinarian, and so the
health disorders of Deerhounds are of particular interest to me. Some do die young, often of bloat (gastric dilatation/volvulus), cardiomyopathy and bone cancer, our Big Three killers in Deerhounds as they are in many large breed dogs. The Scottish Deerhound Club of America (SDCA) is working hard with various researchers to find the genetic causes of these diseases (and others that afflict Deerhounds, like cystinuria and liver shunt), and ultimately the ability to breed them out. Until those genetic tests are available, I strongly believe that all breeding stock should be tested with whatever most current tests we have available to us, and the results used to help guide our mate selections. The SDCA’s website (, and especially the Health and Genetics Page, are invaluable resources for the Deerhound owner. The Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) at lists the tests currently recommended for Scottish Deerhounds, and also has a list of animals whose owners have had those tests performed and then registered the results with CHIC. I believe that breeding for health and longevity is my duty as a steward of the breed.