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Dandie Dinmont Terrier

This little terrier is built on long, low lines, with large, expressive eyes and a very distinctive coat. A silky soft fall of hair on the head, ear feathers trimmed short and the harder body coat clipped short and left longer on the belly and legs, as is typical of many working terriers.

  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Basic training required
  • Enjoys gentle walks
  • Enjoys walking an hour a day
  • Small dog
  • Minimum drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Guard dog. Barks and alerts
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • Great family dog

Key Facts

Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Weight:  8 – 11kg
Height:  20 – 28cm
Colours:  The coat comes in either pepper (grey) or mustard (a gold/yellow shade)
Size:  Small
UK Kennel Club Groups: Terrier

Ratings

Family-friendly: 4/5
Exercise needs: 2/5
Easy to train: 2/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 3/5
Energy level: 3/5
Grooming needs: 2/5
Shedding: 3/5
Dandie Dinmont Terrier standing on the grass

Personality

Whilst no longer seen in the hunting field, the Dandie Dinmont retains the typical terrier traits, including a strong desire to hunt, and a tenacious and independent spirit. To their family and friends, they are affectionate, sensitive and devoted, making them an excellent and fun companion and a joy to own and live with. Not as excitable or reactive as some terriers, they are still an active and clever little dog in need of daily exercise and mental stimulation.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier standing watching

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Scotland

Originally named the Mustard and Pepper Terrier, this is a working terrier developed in the 1600’s to hunt badger, otter and other quarry. In common with many terrier types, the Dandie Dinmont owes its existence to the common pastime amongst sporting men of developing their own specific type. However, the Dandie Dinmont gets its rather unusual name from the novel ‘Guy Mannering’ by Sir Walter Scott. The fictional character ‘Dandie Dinmont’ was based on a real borders’ farmer, James Davidson, who had a pair of this type of terrier named Mustard and Pepper. The fictional Dandie Dinmont was written as owning a pack of terriers named Auld Mustard and Auld Pepper, Young Mustard, Young Pepper, Little Mustard and Little Pepper, and so, despite Sir Scott’s claims to the contrary, there is little doubt who this character was based on. So much so that the real James Davidson’s friends took to teasing him and calling him ‘Dandie Dinmont’ following the novels publication.

Other farmers with dogs of this type took to calling them Dandie Dinmont’s Dogs and eventually the name stuck. The Dandie Dinmont breed club was formed in 1875 making it the second oldest breed club in the UK. The Dandie Dinmont is now a rare breed and the Kennel Club class them as vulnerable.

Health and Common Issues

As with many breeds the Dandie Dinmont Terrier may suffer hereditary eye disorders, and routine eye testing is advised. Like many small breeds, they can suffer from kneecaps that may temporarily slip out of place (luxating patellas), and their body shape makes them more prone to spinal disorders.

The breed club monitor the health of the breed carefully and should be contacted for the most up-to-date information and details of any DNA or additional testing they recommend. Breed Clubs can be found on the Kennel Club website.

Exercise Needs

Despite their small size, the Dandie Dinmont requires at least an hour’s exercise per day, plus play and training that engages body and mind. Once that need is met however, they are quite easy going and undemanding to live with. They can enjoy a variety of dog sports, but keep in mind their short legs and long back means they can be easily injured by over extending themselves jumping or tackling steep stairs or slopes and so care must be taken with any activity that involves jumping.

Space Requirements

A small dog, they are not demanding to house, but their longer backs and short legs means stairs are to be avoided wherever possible. This would rule out high-rise living or homes with multiple steep staircases, unless they can be kept on one level and carried. A secure garden of a decent size will keep a Dandie happy on days when walks are in short supply, but access to a variety of interesting walking routes is necessary.

Inclined to alert bark to suspicious activity, the Dandie Dinmont will need to be well supervised and trained in a busier, urban home, and may be better suited to a quieter more rural environment or at least somewhere with no close neighbours.

Nutrition and Feeding

Small dogs have a fast metabolism, meaning they burn energy at a high rate, although their small stomachs mean that they must eat little and often. Small-breed foods are specifically designed with appropriate levels of key nutrients and smaller kibble sizes to suit smaller mouths. This also encourages chewing and improves digestion.

Grooming Dandie Dinmont Terriers

The hair of the Dandie Dinmont is about 5cm long and requires brushing at least twice a week. The coat is hand stripped at least twice a year. Finding a professional groomer who has experience of terrier coats is advised. Check ears and paws for foreign objects after each walk or trip to the garden as Dandies seem to bring a lot of the great outdoors back indoors!

Training Dandie Dinmont Terriers

Independent spirited, but loyal and affectionate, the Dandie Dinmont will be a fun challenge to train for those who enjoy working with terriers. Pay careful attention to socialisation with other dogs, cats and livestock, and work hard at training a recall, and of course, the ‘quiet’ cue. As with most terriers, the Dandie’s are a fan of the sound of their own voices if left untrained or unchecked! If motivated, they are capable of a variety of games and sports, and can enjoy scent work, the newer competitive sports of Rally and Hoopers - and digging!

Best Family Dog Breeds

An excellent family dog for those who like walking and training with terriers, but their small size and long back means they are better with older children who can be taught not to pick them up or play rough games with them.  

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • Famous owners include Agatha Christie, Sir Edwin Landseer (better known for painting Newfoundlands), George Bernard Shaw, William Wordsworth, Gerald Durrell and Sir Alec Guiness. 
  • Beloved by royals, Queen Victoria bred Dandie Dinmonts, as did Edward VII and currently Viscount Linley Earl of Snowden carries on the royal tradition in owning Dandie Dinmonts. 
  • Uniquely the Dandie Dinmont has its own tartan - something the breed club are rightfully proud of - and wear a lot! 
  • Many people believe that their tail looks like a ‘scimitar’ which is a curved sword. 
  • It’s thought that the Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a close relative of the Bedlington Terrier. 

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