Dandie Dinmont Terrier

A Cute Little "Gentleman"; Acts Politely Indifferent to Strangers

Dandie Dinmont Terrier

The Dandie Dinmont is a Cute Little "Gentleman" Terrier Who Acts Politely Indifferent to Strangers

The Dandie Dinmont is the quintessential Terrier. When meeting strangers, this loyal family companion can be a bit standoffish, but in a calm, dignified way. Other than that, though, this dog is the same sort of rambunctious, entertaining little clown we've come to expect from all Terrier breeds.


In a novel called Guy Mannering, published in 1914, author Sir Walter Scott extolled this dog which was owned and bred by the main character, a farmer named Dandie Dinmont. (The character was supposedly based on a real gentleman, a farmer named James Davidson of Hindlee, near Hawick). This book made the breed famous and was known thereafter as "Dandie Dinmont's Terriers."

It got its start as a descendent of the native Terriers of the Cheviot Hills between Scotland and England. First recorded as a specific type of breed around 1700, the breed may have come at least in part from dogs that were owned by a family in Holystone, Northumberland; these little dogs were excellent hunters of badger and otter. They may have been considered a type of Border Terrier, although some also think they are a cross between the Skye and Scottish Terriers.

Today, the "Dandie," as the breed is affectionately called, is not so much a hunter as a house pet. Everyone from nomads to farmers to royalty (including Queen Victoria herself) has appreciated this affectionate little companion. An excellent guard dog, the Dandie Dinmont is very intelligent and affectionate with children but, as with most Terrier breeds, has an innate stubbornness; it will obey commands, certainly, but reluctantly and with long-suffering looks. The breed was recognized as a member of the Terrier Group by the American Kennel Club in 1886.


A little dog, the Dandie Dinmont stands just 8 to 11 inches at the shoulder in adulthood and weighs between 18 and 24 pounds. Built long and set low, the Dandie has a topknot of hair that is soft and silky and lighter in color than the rest of the coat (cream-colored for "mustard" dogs, and silver for "pepper" dogs). The eyes are large and round, wide set, and generally dark hazel. With floppy "pendant" ears that hang close to the cheeks, the Dandie looks like the affectionate little "puppy" it is. Coat colors are light silvery-gray to dark bluish-black (called "pepper"), or it can be pale fawn to reddishbrown or "mustard" in color. Mustard puppies are born with dark brown coats that become lighter shades of red as adults. Pepper puppies are born with tan-and-black coloring that turns silvery later on.


Happy-go-lucky, cheerful, and clownish with its immediate family, your pet will be somewhat distant – but not rude – around strangers. The Dandie is known as the "gentleman" Terrier because of its polite, reserved demeanor in such circumstances.

That said, at home, you can expect this little dog to be all Terrier, through and through. A very brave little dog especially for its size, this independent, bold, carefree and devoted pet will want to be your shadow at all times. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your persuasion, your impish, little "cutie" will tempt you to spoil it – but don't. The Terrier breed as a whole especially needs firm and gentle guidance at all times to control its exceedingly arrogant nature.

There's a personality disorder that occurs among small dogs with owners who treat them like small children or babies, called "small dog syndrome." If allowed to rule the roost, so to speak, your little pet will become a little terror Terrier. If your pet should acquire this disorder, rest assured that the dog will not be happy, nor will you! Like all dogs, Terriers need firm and consistent training to behave in the manner we all prefer.

Proper Environment

Terriers are happy anywhere, whether in an apartment or a house. They're fairly active (and very energetic) and need lots of mental and physical stimulation. This is not a dog to leave alone, nor is it one that will accept limited physical activity. A daily walk is an absolute must.

Terriers are stubborn but very intelligent, and they will obey if they know they're expected to – just be sure to stand firm against the soulful, injured looks you may get when you command your little pet to do something. It will obey, but won't be happy about it, at least for the moment. As time passes, however, your pet will become more obedient as long as you maintain clear boundaries. It is not necessary and actually is not advised to ever be harsh with your little pet; instead, a gentle but firm "no" should suffice. Make sure you begin to train your little pet as soon as you bring it home.

Dandies are excellent with children yet make great guard dogs as well, despite their small size. So courageous and determined is this little dog that it will do anything to protect you.

Finally, no matter how obedient your Dandie Dinmont may be in the end, it may not be able to dismiss certain Terrier behaviors, like the tendency to chase prey animals, or just chase in general. It's generally not advisable to keep small animals in your house. These include gerbils, hamsters, rabbits, birds, etc., because these are natural prey animals for your pet. Similarly, keep this dog on leash at all times unless in a safe environment. Terriers are avid runners and have been known to chase cars, with tragic consequences.


Dandie Dinmonts are generally healthy but can be prone to epilepsy and glaucoma, and may develop hypothyroidism when older. As a dog with a petite physique, it can easily become overweight if overfed. With regular veterinary care, you can expect your pet to live an average of 12 to 15 years.


Dandies need regular grooming, with the coat shaped by scissors every 4 to 6 weeks; it's a distinctive cut and you can learn how to do it yourself or you can have a groomer familiar with the Dandie do it for you. Brush with a soft slicker brush several times a week to prevent or remove tangles and mats, and trim nails about once a month. Brush teeth as well and check ears for dirt, bad odor, or redness, which may indicate an infection. Wipe ears out with a cotton ball moistened with a veterinary-recommended cleaner. Begin to groom your Dandie as soon as you first bring it home, so that it will become accustomed to and patient with the process.


AKC Meet the Breeds®: Get to know the Dandie Dinmont Terrier.

Retrieved April 13, 2014.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier.

Retrieved April 13, 2014.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier.

Retrieved April 13, 2014.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier.

Retrieved April 13, 2014.

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