Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Breed Group: Terrier

Temperament and Behavior

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier may not look like a terrier with its curved body and silky topknot but he has many of the quintessential terrier traits. A small, robust, fiercely determined and independent dog, a Dandie Dinmont Terrier is especially reserved with strangers. Even their owner will have to earn this dog’s respect. But once earned, they are fiercely loyal. They seldom challenge other dogs but will rise to meet any challenge issued. He accepts other pets but one must remember his history as an otter and badger hunter before attempting an introduction to other small mammals. With a low tolerance for being pestered, he may snap at young children. With an unusually deep bark for their size and not one for macho posturing as many terriers do, he is a terrier that makes a good watchdog. Although they are often territorial and dominant, they are not up to the task of being a protector. His activity level, slightly higher inside than out, meets most of his modest exercise needs. But when outside, any fences that hold him must be well secured, especially at their base; as like most terriers, they love to dig. Less high-strung than many terrier breeds, they will, however, dig in if they feel the need. Dandies do best when they live indoors but have outdoor access. With regular exercise, they can adjust to apartment living.

Physical Characteristics

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a small dog, weighing between 18 and 24 pounds and standing between 8 and 11 inches at the shoulder. Possessing a long lean body, they are almost twice as long as they are tall. Their coat is either pepper or mustard with the back darker than the belly. The silky topknot is silver or cream. Pups are born dark and lighten with age. The coat is hard hair intermixed with soft hair. Dandie Dinmont Terriers are low shedders, but they need regular grooming to maintain their coat.

Trainer's Notes

Needing strongly socialized, Dandie Dinmont Terriers are strong-willed, independent dogs that need firm, consistent training from an experienced trainer. Some of the qualities that make them tenacious hunters also make them a challenge to train. They have a mind of their own and are not always agreeable to accepting commands from humans, especially from those whom they do not respect. Even well-trained Dandie Dinmont Terriers cannot be exercised off leash in unconfined spaces because their hunting instinct forces them to chase anything that moves. Terriers are not for owners who have yet to demonstrate their ability to establish leadership with a canine.

Photo © by sannse available under the GNUFDL
Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Dandie Dinmont Terrier


The Dandie Dinmont Terrier’s long back, is affected by Intervertebral Disk Disease. To reduce the likelihood of this issue in middle-aged dogs, they should be discouraged from jumping, stair climbing, and sitting up on their haunches. When picking them up it is important to both cradle their rear and support their trunk at the same time. Because the Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a relatively rare dog, there is not as much health information compiled as for many other breeds. However, preliminary data shows a 50% incidence of Hip Dysplasia. Other, less commonly seen issues include shoulder, elbow, and patellar luxation. Also affecting the breed are Lens Luxation and Glaucoma. They typically live into their early to mid-teens.


Never a popular dog, The AKC ranks the Dandie Dinmont Terrier 149th in popularity. The National Breed Club estimates that fewer than 100 Dandie Dinmont pups are born in the United States each year. But in spite of their low numbers, a Dandie Dinmont won the best of breed for the Terrier group at the Westminster Dog Show in 2007. Expect to wait for a puppy and pay a price of $1,000 or more.

Breed History

Dandie Dinmont Terriers were bred in Scotland as early as 1700 to hunt badgers, otter, and foxes, although they did not acquire their name for more than 100 years. They were not recognized as a separate breed in England until 1873. The AKC followed by recognizing them in 1886.

Additional Information

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is the only dog named for a character in fiction. In 1814 Sir Walter Scott, who owned one, published the novel Guy Mannering in which a character named Dandie Dinmont owned six of these feisty dogs. From that time on the breed was known as Dandie Dinmont’s Terrier. The National (US) Breed Club is the Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club of America.

Is A Dandie Dinmont Terrier THE BEST Dog For YOU?

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