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Dandie Dinmont Terrier Temperament: Scotlands forgotten breed

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Dandie Dinmont Terrier Temperament
The Dandie Dinmont is a rare Scottish Breed. Photo credit:Dryfevally Dandie Dinmonts, bred and raised in the Scottish Borders. Owned by Angie Miller. Shared by Caledonian Dandies

The gentleman under the Terrier breeds: With their soulful-looking big eyes and curious demeanour, the Dandie will immediately conquer your heart and soul.

If you have ever met one of these rare dogs, they have likely left a lasting impression. So often overlooked by people due to new designer breeds, the Dandie is a loyal, affectionate and playful dog without being overbearing.

But is this dog breed the right one for your lifestyle? It's time to find out. In this blog post, we will dive deeper into their breed history, lively temperament and potential health issues you may encounter with the Dandie Dinmont. The Dandie might be a suitable choice for many people, but it's essential to research before taking the plunge, as with any dog.

Read on to make sure you've covered all ground.

Table of Contents

Dandie Dinmont Terrier History: Where are Dandie Dinmonts from?

Dandie Dinmont Terriers are unique and different from their Terrier Group cousins.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier Temperament
The elongated body doesn't cause many back problems. Photo credit: Julia Fox ,‘Puddockswell Hoodwink’ Best of Breed Crufts 2022, shared kindly by Caledonian Dandies

Their body is a more elongated S-shape and not like the flat back of a Dachshund. For that reason, Dandies don't encounter back problems. The rise in the spine protects their back.

Their head is distinctive, large and surprisingly strong for such a little dog.

Their hind legs are slightly longer than the front legs.

The silky topknot or covering, which is the signature mark of the breed, additionally protected their head when they set off to do what they were bred to do: Searching and hunting grounds and holes for foxes, badgers and otters. The topknot protected the head when a fox or badger suddenly went for the bite. Very often, the topknot saved the life of the short-legged Dandie.

The breed has mostly stayed the same since the 18th century, as they were the perfect dog for the job. The first Dandie Dinmont Club was established in 1875 and is the third oldest breed club worldwide. If you'd look at a photo from a Dandie from 100 years ago, you wouldn't see much difference.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier Temperament
The topknot is the signature look of the Dandie. Photo credit: Nicole H. shared on Facebook: Dandie Dinmont Terrier World

As with many breeds, the true origins of this little dog are unknown, as the breeding's sole purpose back then was to create working dogs for the farm folk.

Some documents point to the development of other Scottish Terrier breeds in the Border area between Scotland and England.

The first Dandie Dinmonts recorded were native to the Scottish Borders and often kept by Scottish farmers.

At the same time, the Bedlington Terrier, Otterhound, Fox Terrier and Skye Terrier were around and could all have influenced the Dandie or the other way around.

What is clear is that the Dandie Dinmont is one of the oldest Terrier breeds and was one of the first distinguished ones as a breed.

There are only two colours recognised in the breed. Mustard and Pepper. Pepper ranges from dark blue to a light silver grey with a silvery topknot. Mustard is a reddish brown or rich mustard to pale fawn colour with a creamy white topknot.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier Temperament
Pepper and Mustard are the two established breed colours. Photo credit: Laura S. kindly shared on Facebook: Dandie Dinmont Terrier World

One of the first paintings of the Dandie was completed in 1770 and featured the third Duke of Buccleuch with a small dandie-like Terrier at his feet. The Buccleuch family name has often been associated with the breed throughout history.

Here is another fun fact about the breed: The Dandie Dinmont is the only dog that takes its name from a character in literature.

The book "Guy Mannering" published in 1815, mentioned the Dandie Dinmont for the first time in a very poetic manner, showing how obsessed the author became with this lovely dog.

'He evolved from the Scottish hillside, the grey mists forming his body, a bunch of lichen his topknot, crooked juniper stems his forelegs, and a wet bramble his nose.'

The author's name was Sir Walter Scott.

The fictional farmer in this book owned a pack of small pepper and mustard-coloured Terriers. The farmer's name was Dandie Dinmont, so the little dogs adopted the name "Dandie Dinmonts Terriers", with the "s" being later dropped.

The book was an absolute bestseller at the time, catapulting the Dandie Dinmont Terrier to fame. Even Queen Victoria was rumoured to have owned a couple of Dandies.

Unable to forget the little dogs he sighted, Sir Walter Scott became the owner of a Dandie himself. His Mertoun Dandie influenced the breed, being a stud to a bitch who gave birth to "Vixen".

Today's Dandies can be traced ultimately to one stud dog: "Old Pepper". Old Peppers's pedigree is unknown as he was a stray found in a trap and adopted by the estate of the Duke of Buccleuch.

Tracing back old historical data and documents, it was uncovered that the mating of Old Pepper and Vixen resulted in Old Ginger, a founding dog of the Dandie Dinmont pedigree and son of "Old Pepper".

Vixen belonged to Robert Pringle and Mrs Violet Douglas at the Haining, so today, the Selkirk estate is firmly established as the birthplace of the Dandie Pedigree.

In a nutshell, Sir Walther Scott contributed to the breed's fame and mere existence.

If you've ever strolled through Edinburgh, you might have wondered what type of breed the Greyfriars Bobby statue is. Bobby was a faithful dog who stayed by his owner's grave for 14 long years after his death in 1858. It was mainly assumed that Bobby was a Skye Terrier.

In 2022 a new book suggested that Bobby might indeed be a Dandie Dinmont. Mike Macbeth and Paul Keevil researched years for the book and concluded it was the only possibility. Bobby was never referred to as a Skye Terrier but a "Scotch Terrier", a term often describing a Dandie. During the time, there were also around 60 Dandie breeders nearby, whilst the Skye Terrier was mostly confined to the Isle of Skye.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier Temperament
The Dandie Dinmont is on the UK vulnerable native breed list since 2006. Photo credit: Patric L. shared kindly on Facebook. George & Odina of the Chives castle

The Dandie Dinmont has been on the UK vulnerable native breed list since 2006. This is because only around 80-100 Dandies are born yearly on the British Isles.

As a result, Dandies are known as "Scotland's forgotten breed".

The Second World wasn't kind to them, but that is the case with most breeds. The actual decline started in the 80s and 90s.

However, the past few years have seen a little increase in popularity, which is completely understandable once you have met the medium dog with its soulful eyes and short legs.

In Q3 2022, 32 Dandie Dinmont Terrier puppies were registered with the UK Kennel Club. The Dandie Dinmont is uncommon in the UK but has a loyal following and even more loyal supporters.

Total 2021

Total 2022

Q1 2023

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Q3 2023

Q4 2023

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Now that we have a rough idea about their breeding history let's dive into how your life with a Dandie Dinmont might look.

What is the Temperament of the Dandie Dinmont Terrier?

What Dandies might lack in stature, they make up with their confidence.

Despite their small size, Dandies are no pushovers. Bred to stand up against vermin of many sizes, they are independent and persistent.

When chasing after otters and badgers, these Terriers had to be able to make their own decisions. Although differently built than their terrier cousins, the Dandie will always have somewhat of a Terrier determination.

But the Dandie also has a sensitive side. Many Dandies make for great Therapy dogs. They can be calm around people and sudden sounds and have a kind and friendly demeanour. A Dandie will not be jumpy and reacts relaxed when approached by people the right way. These are all excellent traits for a therapy dog.

However, Dandies can react badly to harsh corrections. Therefore, when training your Dandie, you must show patience and understanding and sometimes acknowledge that your dog might not want to do something. Dandies, being terriers, will have a "what's in it for me"- attitude when training, and you need to discover what makes your dog tick.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier Temperament
Dandie Dinmonts are incredibly clever. Photo credit: Mike V. shared via Facebook: Dandie Dinmont Terrier World

Dandies are incredibly clever dogs. They can learn commands quickly but can get bored with repetitive tasks.

However, they will flourish with a flexible training schedule and various learning tasks. If you make training fun, your Dandie will respond positively to any request.

They are sharp and trainable, and having some basic knowledge of obedience and agility training, will benefit you when you decide to hop onto the "Dandie-Dinmont-train".

Due to their breeding purpose, Dandies can portray a strong prey drive. Little squirrels or birds can absorb all their attention span, and they can display some wanderlust potential if you have yet to practice effective recall.

A Dandie has a lot of love to give to a family that returns the favour. They're affectionate and enjoy evenings with cuddles in front of the TV. They happily roll over on their backs for well-deserved tummy rubs if they're relaxed. For some reason, many owners report snoring in the breed.

But they also love playtime. The playfulness of this breed is very evident in their daily life without being overbearing. Playtime and learning time must be part of their physical and mental stimulation. They will make you laugh with their determination, and you should keep a good sense of humour when owning one of these gems.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier Temperament
Dandies have a lot of love to give and are ideal companion dogs. Photo Credit: Carole S. in loving memory of Murphy. Kindly shared in FB group: Dandie Dinmont Terrier World

Dandies make excellent watchdogs as they can portray territorial behaviour. They are also very alert to changes in the environment thanks to their sensitive nature.

Dandies have a surprisingly deep bark; hence an intruder may think they're bigger than they are. Dandies are also known for their excellent hearing.

Unfortunately, a Dandie will alert you to any noise they hear, which will be most noises. Early training to re-direct unwanted barking or train to bark on command can alleviate the risk. When getting a Dandie, be prepared for a louder dog.

Like most dogs, Dandies love treats, but beware of overfeeding your little friend. Due to their long back, being overweight can be dangerous. So, resist their big soulful eyes, begging you for more!

Dandie Dinmonts are naturally curious and playful. They are perfect dogs for children. Of course, the usual boundaries apply, and children should always be taught how to approach dogs. But Dandies love and crave human contact of any kind.

Their relaxed demeanour makes them get on well with other dogs, and it's not uncommon to have a Dandie alongside other breeds.

Their small size makes them perfect for taking with you on weekend trips, and they can be taught to endure car rides with no issues.

After reading about this easy-going and lovable temperament, we're sure you're as smitten as we are.

Let's now look at some common Dandie Dinmont questions.

Why are Dandie Dinmont Terriers rare?

Dandie Dinmont Terrier Temperament
A Dandie Dinmont can fit into any family Photo Credit: Moira G. kindly shared on FB: Dandie Dinmont Terrier World

Whilst registrations for French Bulldogs and Cockapoos are skyrocketing, the Dandie Dinmont doesn't get the attention of many dog lovers.

As a result, they were put on the vulnerable native breed list in 2006, with fewer than 100 puppies registered that year.

It is incredible how many people have never heard of the breed, even though the Dandie Dinmont Terrier has been around for centuries.

The breed is falling out of fashion as breeds influence more dog lovers they see on social media, like French Bulldogs and Cockapoos. Lockdown and Covid were also less kind to vulnerable dog breeds, as finding a stud dog requires 100 miles of travel.

Dandie Dinmonts are perfect dogs for apartment- or rural living. They can temperamentally easily beat a Frenchie or a

Cockapoo as they tend to be less destructive whilst still being super loyal and affectionate.

Dog owners who have owned a Dandie can't explain why the breed is so unknown. However, once you have owned a Dandie Dinmont Terrier, you'll be forever in love with them.

Are Dandie Dinmont Terriers hypoallergenic?

Dandie Dinmont Terrier Temperament
Although no dog is truly hypoallergenic, the Dandie comes quite close. Photo Credit: Yulia K. FB Group: Dandie Dinmont Terrier World

Dandie Dinmonts are considered a hypoallergenic dog breed as they don't shed. That said, no dog is completely hypoallergenic as they will permanently shed dander or saliva to some extent from their skin.

A dog might not be a good choice for people suffering from severe allergies.

To minimise allergic reactions, hoover regularly, clean the dog bed at least once a week, create doggy-free zones in the home, and reduce soft furnishings like carpets that can trap dead skin cells. Also, don't let the dog sleep in your bed.

The coat should be hand-stripped twice a year and brushed daily as the Dandie brings the countryside home. The Dandie has a crisp topcoat on top of a soft undercoat. It is not wiry like the topcoat of a Border Terrier.

A clipped coat will no longer be waterproof; if you're planning to show your dog, hand-stripping will be required. A clipped coat will be softer, and the softer top coat will slowly replace the harsher undercoat.

Why does the Dandie Dinmont Terrier have its Tartan?

The Dandie Tartan was given as a present to the breed on the 200th anniversary of Sir Walter Scott's book "Guy Mannering". This makes the Dandie the only breed to have a Clan Chief-approved Tartan.

According to history, Sir Walter Scott used to wear a Black and White Tartan.

The Duke of Buccleuch, the Chief of Clan Scott, approved that the Dandie should wear the symbolic Tartan. The Tartan is officially only sold by Scottish Tweed, and is labelled the "Dandie Dinmont Collection".

Gift Ideas for Dandie Dinmont Terrier Lovers

For the devoted Dandie Dinmont enthusiasts in your life, finding the perfect gift that reflects their passion for these charming and unique terriers can be a delightful endeavour.

From whimsical items that celebrate the breed's distinct personality to practical essentials tailored to their canine companions, this curated list offers thoughtful suggestions to bring joy to Dandie Dinmont lovers and furry friends alike.

Gift Ideas for Dandie Dinmont Terrier Lovers #1: Dandie Dinmont Terrier Scarf

For Dandie Dinmont enthusiasts, consider a sophisticated Dandie Dinmont-themed scarf that seamlessly blends fashion and passion.

Dandie Dinmont Temperament

Gift Ideas for Dandie Dinmont Lovers #2: Dandie Dinmont Wooden Ornament

Consider a handcrafted wooden Dandie Dinmont ornament for a truly charming gift that merges craftsmanship with canine devotion. Delicately carved to capture the distinctive features of these lovable terriers, this ornament serves as a heartwarming addition to any holiday tree or year-round display.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier Temperament

Gift Ideas for Dandie Dinmont Terrier Lovers #3: Dandie Dinmont Jewellery Dish

Elevate their jewellery organization with a touch of Dandie Dinmont charm by gifting a stylish Dandie Dinmont jewellery dish. Crafted with care and adorned with an artistic rendering of these delightful terriers, this elegant dish keeps precious accessories organised and adds a personalised touch to their vanity or dresser.

dandie dinmont terrier temperament

Gift Ideas for Dandie Dinmont Terrier Lovers #4: Dandie Dinmont House Number

Give a distinctive touch to their home with a custom Dandie Dinmont house number plaque. Crafted with precision and featuring an artistic depiction of these unique terriers, this personalised house number adds a touch of canine elegance to their entryway.

Dandie Dinmont Temperament

Gift Ideas for Dandie Dinmont Terrier Lovers #5: Dandie Dinmont Necklace

Celebrate their love for Dandie Dinmonts with a dainty and elegant Dandie Dinmont necklace. Adorned with a finely crafted pendant showcasing the distinctive charm of these terriers, this piece of jewellery becomes a stylish and heartfelt expression of their passion.

dandie dinmont terrier temperament

Dandie Dinmont Temperament in a Nutshell

  • People-orientated, loyal and loving temperament towards all family members

  • As an owner, you need to understand training a dog who has a "what's in it for me"-attitude, as the Dandie is not a lap dog

  • Despite their size and short legs, Dandies love to exercise and can excel in agility and obedience training

  • Dandies can be barkers and make good watchdogs

  • High prey drive and re-call should be trained

  • A breed that is not prone to many health or temperamental issues

Top 10 Female Dandie Dinmont Terrier Names

Top 10 Male Dandie Dinmont Terrier Names

Potential health issues in the Dandie Dinmont breed

Before deciding on the right dog breed for your lifestyle, the financial implications when owning a breed should always be considered. Generally, the larger and more muscular the dog, the higher the medication costs.

On the other hand, overbred dogs, like French Bulldogs or English Bulldogs, suffer from more health issues. It is good news that the Dandie Dinmont doesn't fall into any of these categories.

The Dandie Dinmont is a healthy breed and not prone to many health issues. However, there are some conditions that every future Dandie Dinmont owner should be aware of.

Primary Glaucoma: A disease that is plummeting in the breed. It is an inherited disease of the eye when internal fluid pressure rises above average, which can destroy nerve tissues and ultimately cause blindness. The cause is unknown. Regular gonioscopic examinations throughout the life of a Dandie are recommended and performed by reputable breeders.

Cushing's Disease: A hormonal disease that can occur in Poodles and Terriers, but is not necessarily linked with the Dandie.

The Dandie Dinmont is a sturdy dog who will thrive if cared for appropriately with regular dental checks, ear cleaning and nail clipping. Due to careful breeding practices, the Dandie Dinmont is considered a very healthy breed.

Apply common sense when letting your Dandie down the stairs or on furniture. For example, jumping from certain heights can cause injury due to the Dandies' length.

Owners' voices about their Dandie Dinmont Terrier

"My sweet Dandie Murphy has passed and in USA it is very difficult to find breeder and available Dandie pups. That is the reason that they are endangered in the USA. They are wonderful companions, so intelligent and loving."
"A determined wee terrier"
"Very sweet natured and very intelligent easy to train they love learning,mine excells in obedience competitions and enjoyed agility,also loves tracking,his Dad has just started Hooper's,.I would say all-round versatile Terrier and excellent family pet,if you want a dog that loves exercise and using brain,they are not couch potatoe."
"He is my world! loving kind gentle and just a wonderful best friend. He needs (in his words….. 24/7 cuddles and like the little dogs prayer says “a walkie and a meal each day is all i ask for when I pray)"
"Every dandie is different calm , excitable, lazy, stubborn, easy to train or not. They are all loving. The looks say it all. The coat needs handstripping to give the lovely two colours each should have true to the breed. Oh nearly forgot more Noisy! if owning more than one. Why aren't they more popular... we don't really know."
"Dandie dinmont are loyal and supportive. I suffer from depression and anxiety, my wee Stan and Pyotr know my every mood and when I’m low they never leave my side xxx"
"The breed suits anyone and is friendly to everyone, both two-legged and four-legged. I haven’t regrett my choice of breed, not for a single moment."

To learn more about other dog breeds, check out related articles or sign up for our newsletter here. This will also trigger a code for 15% off your first order of our eco-friendly pet products. We are working hard to add all dog breeds as soon as possible to have an extensive library!

Conclusion: Is the Dandie Dinmont the right dog breed for me?

If you're looking for a companion and family dog, the Dandie might be precisely what you need in your life.

Often overlooked by dog lovers due to being relatively unknown, the Dandie can temperamentally easily match a French Bulldog or Cockerpoo. Dandies love human interactions and are a very people-orientated breed. In addition, careful breeding practices led to a healthy breed that doesn't display any temperamental issues.

The Dandie is a versatile dog breed, happy at home or outside and highly adaptable. Even first-dog owners can own this dog if they have researched basic obedience training and are willing to dedicate the time to understand the Dandie.

Because they are rare, the best breeders put a lot of time in and are there for any questions to help you on your Dandie journey. If this article has woken your interest in the breed, we suggest reaching out to one of the three Dinmont Dandie Clubs in the UK.

We have certainly been enchanted by the breed when writing this blog post.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier Summary Breed Info box



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Feeding Need


Tendency to drool


Energy level


Tendency to bark


Tendency to dig


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