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Dandie Dinmont Terrier

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.

The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Basic training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Needs under an hour of walking a day
  • Small dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Could have issues with unknown dogs but gets along with known dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a small garden
  • Can happily live in the city
  • Can be left occasionally with training
Generally healthy breed

Dandie Dinmont Terriers have a long spine and short legs and so may suffer from conditions associated with this;  
Intervertebral disc disease: a condition where there is abnormality in the discs which act to cushion the bones in the spine. The discs can dislodge or burst, which puts pressure on the nerves in the spinal cord leading to back pain and weakness or paralysis of the limbs.
Angular limb deformities: caused by asynchronous growth of a pair of bones, which appear bowed or rotated and may result in pain and lameness. 

They can also suffer from:
- Patellar luxation
- Portosystemic shunts¹ which is a condition where the blood does not pass through the liver normally, which leads to toxin build-up.
- Glaucoma which is a painful condition where the pressure in the eye builds up. 
- Cushing's syndrome which is where too much natural steroid hormone (called cortisol) is produced, leading to symptoms such as excessive drinking and tiredness.
Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
None but there are several recommended schemes that the Kennel Club recommends which can be found here.  

¹K. M. Tobias, 'Association of breed with the diagnosis SMALL ANIMALS of congenital portosystemic shunts in dogs: 2,400 cases (1980–2002)', Dec 2003, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

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


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


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.

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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