When most of us hear or read the word, “deerhound,” most of us probably envision the magnificent creature below:
The Scottish Deerhound, however, is not the only breed in the “deerhound box of crayons.
Unfortunately, most image searches on the Pampas Deerhound breed result in graphic vectors like the one below:
On the upside, and despite the knocks the site often gets, Wikipedia at least includes an actual photo of the breed which you see at the top.
The Pampas originates from the grasslands of Argentina, and for obvious reasons, it’s also known as the Argentine Deerhound, or Argentine Greyhound. Hardly a new breed, the Pampas was created in the 16th century by crossing Scottish Deerhounds with Spanish Greyhounds (and, some sources say, also to Spanish Mastiffs brought to the country by Spanish conquistadors) with the goal of creating a dog that was fierce and elegant, an oxymoron in any other niche than purebred dogs.
Like its Scottish cousin, the Pampas is a large and majestic dog known not just for its incredible speed and agility, but also for a gentle and affectionate nature. The breed, however, was appreciated in a very different part of the world than the Scottish Deerhound.
Would you normally envision a sighthound teaming up with a chap like the one below?
This man is an Argentinian Gaucho (South American cowboy) hanging out with his horse, and throughout the history of his culture, the Pampas Deerhound played a significant role as a valued hunting partner used to chase down large game animals. The breed’s loyalty and fierce protectiveness made them excellent guard dogs, but at the end of the day, gauchos most valued the incredible speed, agility, and relentless hunting instincts of these dogs.
“Built to run” is almost trite description for a dog that can reach speeds of up to 45 miles per hour when chasing their prey. A long, narrow head and a strong, muscular neck allows them to move quickly and easily through dense underbrush and tricky terrain, and this makes them a versatile and adaptable breed.
The Pampas Deerhound remained relatively unknown in other parts of the world for years, and even in its home country, the Pampas Deerhound’s popularity fluctuated over the years. Game availability and changes in the hunt impacted the breed, and at one point, it was almost lost to the dog world because of over-hunting and the rise of the use of firearms which led to less hunting with dogs. Happily, however, the breed has made a comeback and is now considered a valuable companion in parts of South America, particularly in Brazil where it is common. It was there that it was first recognized by a national kennel club, and it has also been noted by the SOBRACI, or Sociedade Brasileira de Cinofilia, an active leader in Brazilian cynophilia that regularly promotes dog shows, breeders’ meetings, and courses and lectures. The breed remains unrecognized by any Uruguayan or Argentinean kennel club, but Brazilian breeders are in the process of seeking recognition from FCI.