Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Developed in England and the United States to hunt small animals, it was later used as an otter catcher by poachers and Gypsies. Its charming appearance made it a favorite among aristocrats. Paintings from before 1850 depict dogs that look like Dandie Dinmont terriers; and it is said that in 1845 King Louis Philippe of France kept a pair of them.

It was originally known as Dandie Dinmont’s Terrier, but this name was later condensed to its present form. Other early names for this breed were Charlie’s Hope Terrier and the Mustard and Pepper Terrier (or Pepper and Mustard Terrier). As a working terrier it was a vermin-destroyer, specializing in rodents, but later extended its activities to include rabbits, otters and badgers.


This is a dog with a name as unusual as its appearance. Like so many terriers, its ancestors could boast no specific breed name. The earliest dog books refer to all terriers simply as "the terrier", as if they constituted a single breed, like the Foxhound. But each locality bred its own version of the ancestral terrier and these began to differ from region to region. Eventually they were so different from one another that they had to be given separate names and treated as distinct breeds.

The unusual appearance of the breed is largely thanks to the fact that its very long, low-slung body is surmounted by a head wearing what looks like a white fur crash-helmet. This strange topknot, although present in early examples of the breed, has been increasingly exaggerated in modern show dogs, as have the length of the body and the length of the ears, to create one of the most distinctive of all terriers. The origin of the breed is not known, which has inevitably led to many theories. Some feel that the breed is simply a local descendant of the ‘primitive’ terriers of Scotland and only terrier blood runs in its veins. Others think that the only way it could have acquired such a long, low body and such long ears would have been if some Dachshund crosses were introduced. They suggest that Dachshunds could have arrived on the scene via travelling gypsies returning from trips across the English Channel. There have many other suggestions, but the true facts will never be known for certain.


Small sized and short limbed, the Dandie Dinmont terrier has a big, oddly shaped head; hazel eyes; drop ears with fringes at the tips; and a short, curved tail. The coat is soft with a fluffy topknot. The coloring includes pepper, ranging from silver to blue black.


Though a good family dog, the Dandie Dinmont terrier tends to be loyal only to its master. Determined and persistent, it is quite trainable. It is now kept more as a family pet than as a hunting dog. It is adaptable to outdoor as well as to urban indoor living.

In personality the Dandie Dinmont terrier is dignified, reserved, independent and, like all terriers, highly intelligent. It is tolerant of quite restricted living conditions and is playful and friendly with children. It is an excellent guard dog because its unusually loud, deep bark gives the impression that a house is occupied by a much larger animal.

Health Matters

The Dandie Dinmont terrier is a very tough dog that can tolerate a great deal of pain. Often they have been ill for a few days before the owner notices that anything is wrong. They are fit dogs and suffer from few diseases or ailments in their youth. The ears and eyes should be kept clean at all times. Disc disease can affect the Dandie, so it should not be allowed to get overweight.

Care and Exercise

Use a terrier palm brush or a pin brush for the coat at least three times a week. If excess hair is left unremoved, or if the coat is not well cared for, it will soon mat. Long hours of exercise on a lead will keep this dog healthy. Always put the Dandie Dinmont terrier on a leash, or it may run away and never come back. Care must also be taken as this breed likes to dig and crawl under fences.


There are three to six puppies in a litter. Newborns are black or tan, turning pepper after six to eight months. A sable dog with a black mask will turn mustard. Puppies take approximately two years to mature.

Gallery of Dandie Dinmont Terrier