The Dandie Dinmont Terrier Is A Tough Dog From Scotland

Dandie Dinmont Terrier

The Dandie Dinmont is a tough and hardy terrier from Scotland

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a big dog in a small body, according to the AKC, bursting with confidence and energy, ready to chase anything that moves. Their ancestors were bred in the Border area between Scotland and England for controlling small wildlife, taking on badgers and otters. The Dandie has a long body, short legs, a large head and a thick and muscular neck.

A Dandie Dinmont Terrier sitting on grass outdoors
Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Dandie Dinmont Terrier – Temperament

This is a friendly breed, happy to meet new people, and trusting of strangers. They are hardy little dogs, and do well with older children and teenagers. They are relatively laid-back compared to other Terrier breeds, and have a relaxed, accepting attitude to life.

They do well in an apartment setting, as long as they are taken out for several short walks a day. Although they are active dogs, they have a relatively long body and short legs, and are not suited to long runs nor to running with their owner. Also, they should be discouraged from going up and down steep stairs, as this can cause problems with their long spine.

As terriers, this breed has an innate drive to chase small animals. This means that they should not be trusted with other small pets in the home such as rabbits, guinea pigs or gerbils, for example. Oddly, they usually tolerate cats quite well.

This strong prey drive also means that they should be kept on a leash at all times when outdoors. No matter how well trained, a Dandie Dinmont is very likely to take off after any small animals it sees or smells, and will not come back.

This breed was specialized in hunting otters, and they retain the ability to dig very  big holes very quickly.  If they get bored in your back yard, expect some excavations! This problem can be minimized by giving the dog enough exercise each day in the form of short walks, and by providing enough human company in the form of playing ball games, and letting them act as a companion dog.

A Dandie Dinmont Terrier standing on grass
Dandie Dinmont terrier in pepper color. Image courtesy AKC

Dandie Dinmont Terrier –
Breed History

The origins of this breed lie in the border country between Scotland and England, in an area of high country called the Cheviot Hills. They were bred to tackle larger prey such as badgers and particularly otters.

One of the earliest records of these feisty little terriers is at Eslington Park around 1750, where Lord Ravensworth hired a local terrier owner to rid the estate ponds of otters. This was successfully accomplished.

Some years later, descendants  of these dogs made their way into the hands of a farmer called James Davidson. He started a documented breeding program, and is credited with starting the breed that we recognize today.

The breed got its name from a fictional character, Dandie Dinmont, a farmer in Sir Walter Scott’s 1815 novel ‘Guy Mannering’. This character was based on the real-life farmer James Davidson, including references to his dogs. At some point afterwards, the breed became referred to as ‘The Dandie Dinmont Terrier’, and the name stuck.

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club was formed in 1875 in Selkirk, Scottish Borders. The breed was first registered with the American Kennel Club in 1888. As companion dogs they became popular with 19th century royals such as the King of France Louis Phillipe.

Like many breeds, the Dandie suffered badly during the War years, and it never really recovered. By 2006 it was listed as a ‘Vulnerable Native Dog’ by the U.K. Kennel Club. Its numbers remain low, and it is now one of the rarest dog breeds.

A Dandie Dinmont Terrier with 3 puppies sitting on straw
Puppies. Image courtesy Country Life UK

Vital Statistics;

Height;  8 inches to 11 inches

Weight;  18 lbs to 24 lbs

Life Span;  12 to 15 years


Mustard;  Pepper

Two Dandie Dinmont Terriers standing on a pavement
Dandie Dinmont Terriers in Pepper and Mustard colors

Dandie Dinmont Terrier – Ease of Training

The Dandie is not difficult to train, as they are sociable and eager to please their owners. That said, they do have a bit of ‘terrier independence’ in them, and they need to be trained carefully with patience and consistency.

As with all dogs, they should be socialized from an early age. The Dandie is not naturally suspicious of strangers, but an early and gradual exposure to new and strange sights, sounds and smells will help to develop confidence, and therefore a happier dog.

We always recommend puppy training classes as part of this socialization, followed by more formal obedience classes. While the Dandie is likely to take off when outdoors off the leash, they can be well-behaved around the house, which makes everyone happier.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier – Protection

Like all terriers, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier is alert and vigilant. They will quickly alert you to something out of the ordinary in the vicinity by barking. After that, they are likely to welcome any strangers quite warmly.

This means they are good watchdogs, but not so good as guard dogs. They do not have the size and weight to intimidate an unwanted intruder, although they are likely to have a go, as they are full of confidence. And with their ancestry of killing badgers and otters, they are likely to give the intruder a fright and a few serious nips!

If you are looking for some extra protection, I suggest you look for a bigger breed.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier – Grooming

The Dandie Dinmont terrier does not shed hair, as dead hairs get caught up in the coat. This means you have to strip out all the dead hair several times a year. This is probably best done by a professional dog groomer, unless you are confident that you can do it safely at home.

Daily brushing for a few minutes will help to remove some hairs, and prevent matting of the coat. As a low to non-shedding dog breed, the Dandie is suitable for people with allergies to dog hair and dander.

The dog’s ears should be checked every week for any signs of redness, infection, swelling or infection, and cleaned if they are dirty. The dog’s claws should be checked monthly and trimmed if they are getting too long. The teeth should be brushed each day with a dog-specific toothpaste, not a human toothpaste as it contains xylitol.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier – Health Considerations

Although generally a healthy breed, there are a few issues to be aware of with a Dandie Dinmont terrier. Because of the long body and relatively short legs, they may suffer spinal injuries such as a herniated disk.

Other issues to be screened for include;

  •   Liver problems
  •   Hypothyroidism
  •   Glaucoma
  •   Cushing’s disease

Famous Dandie Dinmont Terriers

I couldn’t find any! Please let me know if you are aware of any famous dogs of this breed, using the Contact Me link.

Thank you!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *