Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Dandie Dinmont Terrier
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Independent, confident and proud—these are only some of the characteristics that make the Dandie Dinmont Terrier standout. While it is a part of the terrier group, it is more reserved than other breeds that belong to this family. However, this doesn’t mean that it lacks hunting skills as this breed is tenacious on the field. When given the opportunity, it will confidently chase anything that moves on an unfamiliar ground. In fact, it was originally bred to hunt badger and otter in the earlier days. Smart, fierce and bold, this dog breed can prove you that size doesn’t matter.

While it is brave in the hunting arena, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier is affectionate to its human companions. Perfect even for families with children, this small-sized dog can add warmth in your household. In addition, unlike other breeds, it does not require extensive exercise, making it ideal in either a rural or an urban setting.

Breed characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityAbove Average
Health IssuesAbove Average
GroomingBelow Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsAbove Average

Dog Breed Group:Terrier Dogs
Height:8 inches – 11 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: About 18 to 24 pounds
Life Span: 12 to 15 years on an average

A long, low-stationed terrier that has a remarkable ‘poof’ of fur on its head, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier is amongst the breeds that are marked by their interesting background. In fact, it is the only dog breed that was named after a fictional story from a book that was released back in the year 1814.

In Walter Scott’s book entitled “Guy Mannering”, Dandie Dinmont was a farmer that took care of 6 terriers—3 were described with a mustard tone on their coating while the other 3 were distinct for their slightly peppered coat. As the book rose in popularity, the six terriers became well-known as Dandie Dinmont’s terriers, which, after dropping the possessive form of the noun, became the name of the dog breed later on.

Aside from the name of the breed, Scott’s fictional story also influenced the color designations of the dog as the terriers’ names in the book were Auldie Pepper, Auldie Mustard, Young Pepper, Young Mustard, Little Pepper and Little Mustard. Until now, these color designations are still widely used to recognize the breed.

Physically, this dog is longer than it is tall. Other than its low-stationed, sturdy physique, it also has a curvier outline as compared to other breeds in the terrier group. Its body and tail are covered by two crisp coatings which are either pepper or mustard in color. In addition, this breed is also unique for its large, round, dark eyes that portray a wise expression.

Inside the household, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier is warm and affectionate. Since it is a part of the terrier family, it is independent, bold and brave. While it may offer its human companions incomparable warmth and loyalty, it can be aloof and reserved when it is surrounded by strangers. Also, it is extremely protective of its territory and family.

Lastly, this dog breed is ideal even in an apartment setting as it does not require extensive physical training and activities. However, owners must still keep their dog on a leash whenever it is in an open area as it has the instinct to chase small animals.

Main Highlights
  • Crate training is highly recommended since this breed can become dodged and resolute when proper guidance and training are not in place.
  • Since it is highly intelligent, it can easily adapt to training. Nonetheless, owners must provide firm guidance as this breed is independent in nature. Additionally, its training must be comprised of different challenges as it can be easily bored with repetitive and tedious tasks.
  • Unfortunately, this breed is already considered rare. If you are considering a Dandie Dinmont Terrier, it can be extremely challenging for you to find a respectable breeder, and even if you do, you may have to wait for several months before you take home a healthy puppy.
  • Despite its size, this breed’s bark is loud and deep. Since it is protective and territorial in nature, it can be a great watchdog.
  • Owners who want to minimize their dog’s barking tendency could resort to training.
  • This breed is not aggressive in nature, but it will not back down once another dog challenges it to a fight.
  • The Dandie Dinmont Terrier can be kept outdoors or indoors. However, its small size makes it an easy target for dog thieves, so it is best for owners to keep their dog indoors.
  • Regular exercise and a well-balanced diet are necessary for keeping this breed in good shape, especially since it can suffer from back problems once it becomes overweight.
Breed History

The Dandies are amongst the oldest and the most distinct breeds that belong to the terrier group. While records of the first appearance of this dog breed date back to the early 18th Century, its history is still not clearly established.

Some experts believe that the Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a crossbreed between Otterhounds and local terriers in a country bordering England and Scotland, while others claim that it evolved from rough-haired terriers commonly bred in the farmlands. Other locals, on the other hand, say that it is a crossbreed between Dachshunds and other terrier groups.

Even though its ancestry is still unclear, one thing that remains true about the Dandies is the fact that its appearance has not changed much as it still resembles the dog in the portrait of the 3rd Duke of Buccleuch back in the 1700’s. However, records still need to be obtained to readily identify the Dandie as the dog on the portrait as other breeds also bear similarities to the subject of the painting.

The breed’s name and color designations were influenced by Walter Scott’s fictional book, Guy Mannering, which was released in 1814. Then, in the year 1875, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club was founded in Scotland, along with the written characteristics that distinguished this breed from other dogs. This club is popular for being the third oldest club around the world.

While standards for the Dandie were already written, disagreements on the dog’s weight rose. In the 1920’s, the standard weight range of this breed changed from 14 to 24 pounds to 18 to 24 pounds. Also, wordings of the standards were modified. At present, only the Canadian Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club utilizes the original standards of the breed.


Typically, the length of this dog breed from the base of its tail to the top of its shoulders should be twice its height, minus one or two inches. On an average, Dandies stand 8 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 18 to 24 pounds.

Personality and Character

Just like other terrier breeds, the Dandies are smart, brave and independent in nature. Since they were originally bred to hunt badgers and otters, they have the natural instinct to chase small animals. One characteristic that separates this dog breed from others in the terrier group is its calm and reserved personality. However, it will not back down from a fight once taunted by another dog. Hence, owners must supervise their dog once it is outdoors. When in an unsecured area, this breed should always be kept on a leash.

Despite its tendency to act aggressively towards other animals, the Dandie is warm and affectionate to its human companions. It is a great playmate for children as it has a high tolerance level. Nonetheless, supervision is still required when there is pet-child interaction.

In terms of functionality, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier can act as a great watchdog as it is more than willing to guard and protect its human companions and its properties. While they may be warm and playful to members of the household, it is reserved and aloof when it is surrounded by strangers. Once it senses danger, it will bark to alert the household. Even if this breed is small in size, its bark is loud and deep. Nonetheless, it won’t bark unless necessary.

Simply put, Dandies are free-spirited in nature. It would not act in aggression unless it is taunted by other animals. It may be small in size, but it knows no fear. It won’t back down from a challenge even if its opponent is large in size. A rare dog breed that can offer its owners loyal companionship, the Dandie truly deserves to be tagged as the gentleman in its class.

Health and Potential Problems

Like other dog breeds, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier is also susceptible to various health disorders. While not all Dandies may have to deal with these medical conditions, it is vital for owners to be aware of the conditions that can affect their canine pals.

If you are considering a Dandie, find a breeder that can offer documents that serve as proof that the puppy, along with the parents, is cleared from certain disabilities.

To help you become a better steward of this breed, below are some of the health conditions common to its bloodline:

  • Glaucoma: Just like in humans, glaucoma can result in the pressure increase in the eyeballs of our canine pals. The Dandies are vulnerable to this condition, so owners must be aware of common signs and symptoms that include rubbing, tearing, squinting and redness of the eyes. Once these physical manifestations occur, owners must consult their veterinarians immediately.
  • Spinal Problems: The Dandies are prone to injuring their back. Hence, owners must provide full support and discourage their pets from jumping off high fences. Proper feeding is also crucial so this breed won’t go overweight, which can eventually result to back problems.
  • Cheyletiella yasguri mites: While these mites can infest other dog breeds, records show that the Dandie Dinmont Terrier is most prone to this mite’s infestation. Common symptoms owners must watch out for include skin redness, itching, scaling and swelling. Once symptoms occur, owners must consult their veterinarian right away.
Care Features

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a highly versatile dog breed as it can easily adapt to different settings as long as it is provided with care and attention. An excellent breed that requires nothing but affection from its human companions, the Dandie will be more than willing to watch over you and your loved ones.

In terms of exercise requirements, a 20 to 30-minute walk is enough to keep this breed cheerful. However, it needs to be on a leash when it is within an unsecured area as it has a tendency to run after small animals. Also, since it belongs to the terrier class, digging is already in its blood, so owners must always supervise outdoor play.

Lastly, training a Dandie requires patience as it is a highly independent dog that can become stubborn when parameters are not set at an early phase. To ensure that this breed grows up to be a well-rounded dog, owners must provide firm guidance and supervision.

Feeding Schedule

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier has nutritional requirements which can vary depending on its size, metabolism and amount of physical activity. As a guide, owners are recommended to divide 1 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dog food per day so their dog would be able to achieve optimum health and wellness.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The Dandie Dinmont Terriers are distinct for their double coating. Its crisp 2-inch top coating covers its soft and waterproof undercoating. Both serve to provide protection, comfort and warmth to its body.

In terms of color designation, on the other hand, this breed comes in two tones—mustard and pepper. While mustard-colored coatings can vary from pale fawn to reddish brown, the peppery coating can range from light silvery gray to dark bluish-black.

The Dandies shed very lightly. However, owners need to brush their pet companion at least twice a week to prevent matting and remove dead hair. Likewise, plucking dead hair twice a year is required, especially for Dandies that grace the stage of dog shows and competitions.

While stripping can be done by a professional groomer, owners can also ask assistance so they can take proper care of their dog’s coating on their own. Owners who decide to cut their dog’s coating short instead of resorting to stripping techniques can expect their dog’s coat color to lighten.

When trimming the dog’s coating, owners can start by cutting the hair on the top of their dog’s nose short. Then, they could work their way on trimming the hair on the corner of their dog’s eyes. The hair on the underbody, legs and head can also be trimmed by using regular scissors, while the hair inside the ears can be plucked.

Bathing a Dandie does not require much effort as owners only need to bathe their canine pals as needed. Other grooming essentials include brushing the dog’s teeth at least twice a week and checking the mouth and ears for possible signs of infection. Owners can also trim their dog’s nails if they know how to properly do so. Once the dog’s nails start screeching against the floor, it is a definite sign that nail trimming should already take place.

To foster good grooming habits, it is highly recommended for owners to incorporate a positive reward system. This way, grooming won’t be a traumatic experience for their canine pals.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier offers loyal companionship to every member of the household. Since it is calm and reserved in nature, it can get along well with children. However, owners must always supervise pet-child interaction to avoid unwanted accidents. In the like manner, parents must teach their children how to properly socialize with dogs. Ear and tail pulling, along with biting, should be avoided when young members of the family are interacting with any dog breed.

In terms of pet interaction, early training and socialization is required so the Dandies won’t act aggressively. Since this dog breed was originally used for hunting purposes, it has a natural instinct to chase smaller animals. Nevertheless, if the dog was able to socialize with other animals at an early phase, problems are least likely to arise.

Lastly, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, popularly known as the gentleman in the terrier group, is least likely to intimidate other dogs. However, since it is brave in nature, it won’t back down from a fight especially if the taunting has come too far. Hence, it is always best for owners to supervise their pet’s interaction, especially when they come in contact with unfamiliar pets.

A unique breed from the terrier group, the Dandies are highly flexible as they can cope with rural and urban settings. Whether in a large mansion or in a small apartment, you can rely on this breed to offer you loyal and sincere companionship. Indeed, while it is difficult to find this breed, it is more than worth the wait as it won’t only light up your home, but it will also guard and protect you and your best interests.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.