By Linda Cole
When you look at a Dandie Dinmont Terrier, you see a low to the ground, slightly longer than he is tall, adorable little dog that’s not a particularly imposing canine. However, the Dandie Dinmont was bred to hunt vermin and has a fierce reputation when it comes to doing the job he was bred to do.
The Dandie Dinmont is an old breed that originated around the border areas of England and Scotland during the 1700’s. The Skye Terrier and the Scotch Terrier were the most likely breeds the Dandie Dinmont originated from. The Scotch Terrier is most likely the foundation dog for the terrier breeds, and was one of the oldest breeds in Scotland. Unfortunately, it’s extinct today and isn’t related to the Scottish Terrier.
Originally, the Dandie Dinmont was called the Pepper and Mustard Terrier, and they were popular companion animals to gypsies and farmers who lived along the border between Scotland and England. They were bred to hunt and kill badgers and otters; they were also a marten, rabbit, skunk or weasel’s worst enemy. Their short legs allowed them to easily go underground after fleeing prey and the dogs were highly prized for their courage, hunting ability, independence, intelligence, and confident nature along with a laid back and affectionate disposition with people. It wasn’t until a book was published that the breed got its name.
Sir Walter Scott wrote a novel in 1814 called “Guy Mannering.” One of his characters, a farmer, was named Dandie Dinmont and owned six Pepper and Mustard Terriers. Scott’s vivid description of farmer Dinmont’s dogs was so good, it made the breed famous. Soon after that, the name was changed to the Dandie Dinmont Terrier. Today, this breed is hard to find in his native country.
Because this dog is small, he can develop small dog syndrome if his owner doesn’t take the lead role. However, it’s not always easy to ignore this dog’s large round and warm dark eyes staring up at you. He’s affectionate and loves being around kids. As long as you are consistent, patient and firm, and let him know who’s the boss, training a Dandie Dinmont is easy.
Because this breed has a hunter’s instincts, small pets like hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs need to be kept far away from him. He gets along well with family cats (he may chase the neighbor’s cats, though) and for the most part will get along well with other dogs, especially the opposite sex. If there is a conflict between dogs, the Dandie Dinmont is not usually the one who starts it, but if confronted, he is brave enough to stand his ground. If you’re looking for a tough and loyal guard dog, the Dandie would be an excellent choice.
The Dandie only stands 8-11 inches and weighs 18-24 pounds with an average lifespan of 12-16 years. They have few health concerns, but can develop glaucoma and epilepsy, and older dogs can be prone to hypothyroidism. Back problems can also be a problem for an overweight or mishandled Dandie. He’s not a couch potato and it’s important to make sure he gets plenty of exercise. This is a dog who loves to be outside romping in the snow or running with you on the beach. Since they do like to chase critters, it’s best not to let them off leash unless you’re in a fenced-in area.
If you’re looking for a dog that sheds next to nothing, this is the dog for you. However, his 2 inch coat will need to be cut every three months or so, and maintained with a good brushing every now and then. The Dandie Dinmont has a coat made up of soft and coarse hairs mixed together which gives it a unique feeling.
Just like any dog breed, it’s important to carefully consider if the Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a breed that would fit into your lifestyle. He’s a hardy little dog who loves to play, snuggle next to the ones he loves and will guard your home with the same courage as a larger dog. The Dandie is an adorable little dog, but don’t let his cute expression deceive you. This is a tough little dog with the tenacity to stand his ground when confronted. Sir Walter Scott loved the spirit residing in this little dog, and if you decide to bring one into your home you will, too.
Photos by Andreas Blixt
Read more articles by Linda Cole
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