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Dandie Dinmont Terrier


The Dandie Dinmont Terrier, also known as Charlie's Hope Terrier, the Mustard and Pepper Terrier, the Otter Terrier, the Dandie and the Hindlee Terrier, was bred to be a working terrier originally specializing in vermin-destruction - especially rodents but also rabbit, otter and badger. Today's Dandie is known for its long, low-slung body and disproportionately large head topped with what looks like a helmet of white fur. The distinctive top-knot has been exaggerated over time for the show ring. The Dandie Dinmont has a distinctive deep bark that is much larger and louder than one would expect from a dog of its size, making it an excellent watch dog. It also is a wonderful family dog: intelligent, fond of children and affectionate. The Dandie was accepted into the Terrier Group of the American Kennel Club in 1886.
The average Dandie stands from 8 to 11 inches at the withers and preferably weighs between 18 and 24 pounds. Although they do not shed, the Dandie's double coat needs to be brushed and hand-plucked regularly to maintain its proper appearance. Stripping may be necessary, especially if the coat is neglected for a time. Dandies have a distinctive top-knot of hair and an unusually soft coat for a terrier, being a combination of hard and soft hair. Dandies typically require professional grooming to be presentable in the show ring. They come in two colors: 1) pepper, which is blue-gray to silver with tan or silver points, and a very light topknot on top of the head; and 2) mustard, which is a dark ocher to cream color, with white points and topknot.

History & Health

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier was first recorded as a distinct breed in the late 1600s or early 1700s, reportedly descending from rough native terriers owned by hunters in the Hills between the borders of England and Scotland. Some fanciers think that the breed developed purely from crosses of Scottish and Skye Terriers; others speculate that the Dachshund and/or other hounds must have contributed to the Dandie's long ears and low-slung body. Most experts agree that the Dandie Dinmont comes largely if not entirely from the same stock as the Border, Scottish, Cairn, West Highland White, Skye, Lakeland, Bedlington and Welsh Terriers, with some infusion of hound blood contributing to the shorter, crooked legs. Regardless, this breed was developed to "go to ground" and hunt otter and badger in their underground lairs. The Dandie had to be neither too large and clumsy, nor too small and delicate, to perform this task. It needed strong jaws, a strong neck and a flexible body. It retains these characteristics today.
Offspring of the early otter and badger terriers ended up with farmers in the Teviotdale Hills. In the early 1800s, a border farmer named James Davidson (who was a tenant on Hindlee Farm) acquired a pair of these terriers and named them "Tarr" (short for Mustard) and "Pepper." Tarr was sandy-colored, and Pepper was gray. The author Sir Walter Scott apparently stumbled upon similar dogs during his travels. When he wrote the famous novel Guy Mannering, published in 1814, Scott based one of his farmer characters on James Davidson, giving him the fictional name "Dandie Dinmont." While there is no evidence that Sir Walter Scott personally knew James Davidson, it is uniformly accepted that the Dandie Dinmont character was based on Davidson. In the novel, the Dandie Dinmont character owned a small pack of terriers known as "the immortal six": Auld (Old) Pepper, Auld (Old) Mustard, Young Pepper, Young Mustard, Little Pepper and Little Mustard. The names could not have been a coincidence. After publication of Guy Mannering, Davidson's friends teasingly called him "Dandie Dinmont," and his dogs became known as "Dandie Dinmont's Terriers. Soon, other farmers adopted the name for their similar but as-yet nameless working terriers, eventually modifying their name to the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, which remains the breed name today.
The Brittish Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club was formed in 1875, and swiftly wrote a breed standard. The American Kennel Club admitted the Dandie Dinmont into its Terrier Group shortly thereafter in 1886 (the AKC was only founded in 1884). The modern Dandie Dinmont is known as the "gentleman of the terrier family." He thrives as a household companion and does equally well living in the country or in the city. He remains dignified, reserved and tolerant of both cramped living conditions and well-behaved children.


Dandies have an average life span of 12 to 15 years. Breeed health concerns may include intervertebral disc disease, epilepsy, glaucoma, refractory corneal ulceration, hypothyroidism, primary lens luxation and hypochondroplasia, which causes short, bowed legs, accepted in this breed standard.

Temperament & Personality


Like most breeds of Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont can best be described as a big dog in a little body. They are fearless and plucky, though not as apt as other breeds to posture toward bigger dogs – unless provoked. When tested, the Dandie will not back down. Though they are tiny, they are sturdy dogs with high energy levels. Dandies are vigilant watchdogs, and when you hear one bark, you'll wonder how such a deep voice came out of such a tiny dog. They are excellent family dogs, though should not be raised alongside toddlers. They are generally polite and dignified dogs, who can be trusted with visitors, though visiting animals can be another story.

Activity Requirements

Dandies only need a moderate amount of exercise. They are small and low to the ground so they aren't built for endurance activities like jogging. Walks and a bit of yard play will suffice for the Dandie Dinmont. They can be raised in the suburbs or the city, and are small enough to live comfortably in an apartment or condominium.


Training a Dandie Dinmont can be a challenge. These little dogs think they are the center and rulers of the universe, and until they are proven wrong, they act as such. Trainers must prove they are able to lead, or the Dandie will not listen. Consistency is key – give these little guys an inch, and they'll take a mile and a half. Positive reinforcement and lots of delicious treats are the best recipe for training a Dandie. Harsh treatment and discipline will result in a dog that simply refuses to listen. They have also been known to snap or bite when they have been pushed too hard.

Behavioral Traits

Dandies are not as yappy as their terrier cousins, which makes them appealing, but they are one of the most dog-aggressive breeds. If you have a male Dandie, bringing another male into the home is probably not a good idea. They were originally used to chase and hunt small vermin, so cats, rabbits and pet rodents can be in danger around a Dandie, as well.
Dandie Dinmont Terriers are not great with small children. They have strict boundaries and toddlers can get bitten if they cross the line. An ear pull or an accidental kick or trip over a Dandie could result in disaster for a small child.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
Originally bred to go to ground, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a long, low-stationed working terrier with a curved outline. The distinctive head with silken topknot is large but in proportion to the size of the dog. The dark eyes are large and round with a soft, wise expression. The sturdy, flexible body and scimitar shaped tail are covered with a rather crisp double coat, either mustard or pepper in color.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Height is from 8 to 11 inches at the top of the shoulders. Length from top of shoulders to root of tail is one to two inches less than twice the height. For a dog in good working condition, the preferred weight is from 18 to 24 pounds. Sturdily built with ample bone and well developed muscle, but without coarseness. The overall balance is more important than any single specification.

The head is strongly made and large, but in proportion to the dog's size. Muscles are well developed, especially those covering the foreface. The expression shows great determination, intelligence and dignity. The eyes are large, round, bright and full, but not protruding. They are set wide apart and low, and directly forward. Color, a rich dark hazel. Eye rims dark. The ears are set well back, wide apart and low on the skull, hanging close to the cheek, with a very slight projection at the fold. The shape is broad at the base, coming almost to a point. The front edge comes almost straight down from base to tip; the tapering is primarily on the back edge. The cartilage and skin of the ear are rather thin. The ear's length is from three to four inches. The skull is broad between the ears, gradually tapering toward the eyes, and measures about the same from stop to occiput as it does from ear to ear. Forehead (brow) well domed. Stop well defined. The cheeks gradually taper from the ears toward the muzzle in the same proportion as the taper of the skull. The muzzle is deep and strong. In length, the proportions are a ratio of three (muzzle) to five (skull). The nose is moderately large and black or dark colored. The lips and inside of the mouth are black or dark colored. The teeth meet in a tight scissors bite. The teeth are very strong, especially the canines, which are an extraordinary size for a small dog. The canines mesh well with each other to give great holding and punishing power. The incisors in each jaw are evenly spaced and six in number.

Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is very muscular, well developed and strong, showing great power of resistance. It is well set into the shoulders and moderate in length. The topline is rather low at the shoulder, having a slight downward curve and a corresponding arch over the loins, with a very slight gradual drop from the top of the loins to the root of the tail. Both sides of the backbone well muscled. The outline is a continuous flow from the crest of the neck to the tip of the tail. The body is long, strong and flexible. Ribs are well sprung and well rounded. The chest is well developed and well let down between the forelegs. The underline reflects the curves of the topline. The tail is 8 to 10 inches in length, rather thick at the root, getting thicker for about four inches, then tapering off to a point. The set-on of the tail is a continuation of the very slight gradual drop over the croup. The tail is carried a little above the level of the body in a curve like a scimitar. Only when the dog is excited may the tip of the tail be aligned perpendicular to its root.

There should be sufficient layback of shoulder to allow good reach in front; angulation in balance with hindquarters. Upper arms nearly equal in length to the shoulder blades, elbows lying close to the ribs and capable of moving freely. The forelegs are short with good muscular development and ample bone, set wide apart. Feet point forward or very slightly outward. Pasterns nearly straight when viewed from the side. Bandy legs and fiddle front are objectionable.

The hind legs are a little longer than the forelegs and are set rather wide apart, but not spread out in an unnatural manner. The upper and lower thighs are rounded and muscular and approximately the same length; stifles angulated, in balance with forequarters. The hocks are well let down and rear pasterns perpendicular to the ground.

The feet are round and well cushioned. Dewclaws preferably removed on forelegs. Rear feet are much smaller than the front feet and have no dewclaws. Nails strong and dark; nail color may vary according to the color of the dog. White nails are permissible. Flat feet are objectionable.

This is a very important point: The hair should be about two inches long; the body coat is a mixture of about 2/3 hardish hair with about 1/3 soft hair, giving a sort of crisp texture. The hard is not wiry. The body coat is shortened by plucking. The coat is termed pily or pencilled, the effect of the natural intermingling of the two types of hair. The hair on the underpart of the body is softer than on the top.

The head is covered with very soft, silky hair, the silkier the better. It should not be confined to a mere topknot but extends to cover the upper portion of the ears, including the fold, and frames the eyes. Starting about two inches from the tip, the ear has a thin feather of hair of nearly the same color and texture as the topknot, giving the ear the appearance of ending in a distinct point. The body of the ear is covered with short, soft, velvety hair. The hair on the muzzle is of the same texture as the foreleg feather. For presentation, the hair on the top of the muzzle is shortened. The hair behind the nose is naturally more sparse for about an inch.

The forelegs have a feather about two inches long, the same texture as the muzzle. The hind leg hair is of the same texture but has considerably less feather. The upper side of the tail is covered with crisper hair than that on the body. The underside has a softer feather about two inches long, gradually shorter as it nears the tip, shaped like a scimitar. Trimming for presentation is to appear entirely natural; exaggerated styling is objectionable.

The color is pepper or mustard.

Pepper ranges from dark bluish black to a light silvery gray, the intermediate shades preferred. The topknot and ear feather are silvery white, the lighter the color the better. The hair on the legs and feet should be tan, varying according to the body color from a rich tan to a very pale fawn.
Mustard varies from a reddish brown to a pale fawn. The topknot and ear feather are a creamy white. The hair on the legs and feet should be a darker shade than the topknot.

In both colors the body color comes well down the shoulders and hips, gradually merging into the leg color. Hair on the underpart of the body is lighter in color than on the top. The hair on the muzzle (beard) is a little darker shade than the topknot. Ear color harmonizes with the body color. The upper side of the tail is a darker shade than the body color, while the underside of the tail is lighter, as the legs. Some white hair on the chest is common.

Proper movement requires a free and easy stride, reaching forward with the front legs and driving with evident force from the rear. The legs move in a straight plane from shoulder to pad and hip to pad. A stiff, stilted, hopping or weaving gait and lack of drive in the rear quarters are faults to be penalized.

Independent, determined, reserved and intelligent. The Dandie Dinmont Terrier combines an affectionate and dignified nature with, in a working situation, tenacity and boldness.

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Sources: American Kennel Club


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