Let's talk Dandie Dinmont Terriers

You’d expect a dog with such a delightfully distinctive name to have a delightfully distinctive aesthetic – and this one-of-a-kind breed certainly doesn’t disappoint. They have a dandy-ish (pun intended) crown of soft white hair, velvety oversized ears and a long, low-to-the-ground body, all carried around purposefully on little legs. The Dandie Dinmont Terrier, which originally hails from Scotland, where the breed was developed to work on farms, also has a lively, exuberant personality and makes a wonderful family pet. 

Official name: Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Origins: Scotland

Side view of Dandie Dinmont Terrier in black and white
 Drooling tendencies

Very low

Warm weather? Medium
 Shedding level Medium
Suited to apartment living?  High
 Energy level * Medium Family Pet? *
High
 Compatibility with other pets Medium
Can stay alone?* Low

 * We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.
 
For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).
 
Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.
 
Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.
 
All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company.  However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 
Spider chart of Dandie Dinmont Terrier characteristics
Illustration of Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Male
20 - 28 cm Height
8 - 11 kg Weight
Female
20 - 28 cm Height
8 - 11 kg Weight

 

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 10 months
 Adult age  10 months to 8 years
 Mature age  8 to 12 years
 Senior age  From 12 years

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Get to know the Dandie Dinmont Terrier

All you need to know about the breed

Dandie Dinmont Terriers are instantly recognisable by their flamboyant shock of silky hair, long hanging ears, elongated body and mischievous expression.

Their exact forebears remain a mystery – perhaps a dash of Otterhound, maybe a splash of Dachshund – and the result is a breed that is definitely unusual-looking – but in a good way!

They have captivating personalities to match: playful, loyal and affectionate Dandie Dinmont Terriers, which originate in Scotland, were bred for the outdoor life as farm dogs, but nowadays they make devoted family pets, doing well in much less rough-and-ready settings. They’re gentle – once trained, they get on well with children, although as with any breed they shouldn’t be left unsupervised with them. As long as they get enough exercise they are quite content living in an apartment. Dandie Dinmont Terriers also make good watchdogs, with a disproportionately loud bark for their size.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier looking at camera

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2 facts about Dandie Dinmont Terriers

1. Friends in high places

The breed has the royal seal of approval – even if Corgis and Labrador Retrievers are the breeds more readily associated with the British monarchy, Queen Victoria – a famous dog lover – also owned a Dandie Dinmont Terrier, while King Louis Philippe of France was also said to have owned two of them. 

2. Fictional canine

Dandie Dinmont Terriers have the unique distinction of being the only dog breed named after a fictional character. In the novel Guy Mannering by Sir Walter Scott, published in 1815, Dandie Dinmont was a farmer, who owned a pack of these dogs. Scott, who owned some of the then-unnamed terriers himself, also coined the terms pepper and mustard for the dogs’ colouring, from the fictional dogs’ names.  

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History of the breed

While it didn’t get its name until the early 19th century, the Dandie Dimont breed goes back to the Scottish border country of around 1700, where small terriers were bred to work on farms and go after small prey. Their exact origins are unclear – some sources say they are a cross between Otterhounds and local terriers while others put Dachshunds in the mix (although that theory seems logistically complicated given that the Dachshund breed originated in Germany).

Whatever the ingredients, the recipe was a good one, resulting in a real canine one-off that grew in popularity throughout the 18th and 19th century. Some even swapped their humble origins for homes with the royalty and aristocracy of the time (one is depicted by the artist Gainsborough in a 1770 portrait of Henry Scott, third Duke of Buccleuch).

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club, established in 1875 and one of the world’s oldest breed clubs, is still in operation today, and Dandie Dinmont Terriers were recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1886. This friendly and playful breed may be rare, but is much-loved by those in the know.

Close-up side view of Dandie Dinmont Terrier in black and white

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Dandie Dinmont Terriers

1. Head

Fluffy white hair ‘crown’, pendulous ears with feathering.

2. Coat

Silky coat in pepper (black/grey) or mustard (reddish).

3. Body

Long, low-to-the-ground body with short legs.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier standing in grass

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Dandie Dinmont Terrier with puppy looking at camera

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Caring for your Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Grooming, training and exercise tips

Dandie Dinmont Terriers don’t shed very much, but don’t be fooled, they still need a fair amount of grooming. Their coats should have dead hairs stripped out at least twice a year (you’ll either need to invest in a special stripping tool or get a professional groomer to do it). A daily brush will help avoid matted fur while a regular trim of the toenails and clean of their ears and teeth should complete your Dandie Dinmont’s grooming regime. Dandie Dinmont Terriers are hardy and lively but they are not the most energetic of the terrier breeds and will get on just fine with couple of decent daily walks as well as chances to chase a ball or play a game: these need to be in an enclosed space as that long-established prey drive is still strong. When it comes to training, patience and positivity are the order of the day. Dandie Dinmont Terriers form strong attachments with their humans and are eager to please, but they also have their independent (whisper it … headstrong) side, meaning early and consistent training is vital.

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All about Dandie Dinmont Terriers

Although they make good watchdogs, Dandie Dinmont Terriers don’t bark an excessive amount – they save their communications for when they really need to alert you to something. That bark, when it comes, however, is surprisingly loud for such a small dog. 

No – no dog breed is hypoallergenic and it is the dog’s dander, not their hair that triggers allergies. However, Dandie Dinmont Terriers don’t shed much so can be a wise choice for the vacuum-shy would-be dog owner. 

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/