Scottish deerhound Hickory created a big stir when she became the first member of her breed ever to win best in show at Westminster, America's most prestigious dog show, on Tuesday night.
Hickory's win came as a surprise to many dog-show watchers; although she boasts an impressive show record and was the No. 1 Scottish deerhound in the country last year, flashier dogs like a top-winning smooth fox terrier, Pekingese and boxer seemed likelier candidates for best in show. The Scottish deerhound breed was given 60-to-1 odds to win Westminster by a Vegas handicapper.
The win catapulted a little-known breed with a long history to sudden fame. The Scottish deerhound, a large sighthound originally used to hunt stags, has existed in much the same form since around the 16th century. A deerhound was once the prized pet of Sir Walter Scott, who described the breed as "the most perfect creature of heaven."
For some time, only the elite owned Scottish deerhounds, and the fact that not many people had them combined with the decline of stag hunting left the breed's population in serious decline by the 18th century. Around 1825, a pair of brothers began attempting to revive the breed, and deerhounds eventually made it to the U.S. The breed became eligible for AKC conformation competition in 1886.
Scottish deerhounds today are fairly rare and often mistaken for the more familiar Irish wolfhound. Members of the breed are typically calm, gentle and devoted to their human families. They're generally relaxed pets inside, but they love to run; lure coursing is a popular sport for the breed.