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Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Average Cost to keep/care for a Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Breed Specific Buying Advice
The Dandie Dinmont is a native breed that hails from the Scottish Borders where they were once used as highly prized hunting dogs. They are short-legged and boast long bodies with an abundant amount of hair on their heads which adds to their endearing, unique looks and appeal. Dandies are a rare breed even though they such adorable dogs that are known to be devoted to children.
They are intelligent, although they do boast being a little wilful when it pleases them, but with this said the Dandie Dinmont makes for a wonderful companion and family pet. The breed is on The Kennel Club’s vulnerable native breed list and sadly, the future of the Dandie Dinmont is now a big concern with few puppies being bred and registered every year. As such, anyone wanting to share a home a with a Dandie Dinmont Terrier would need to register their interest with breeders for the pleasure of doing so.
The Dandie Dinmont Terrier was once known as a “Mustard & Pepper Terrier” and they are a native breed having been bred and developed on the Scottish Borders where the breed was highly prized hunting and working dogs. The breed is an ancient one dating back to the 1700’s although it was Sir Walter Scott who brought the Dandie to the attention of the country when he wrote a novel about Dandie Dinmont, a character in the book who owned Mustard & Pepper Terriers. As such, the breed was later to be given the name the Dandie goes by today.
Dandies were bred to hunt and therefore needed to be courageous and bold more especially when they had to deal with badgers and otters. The first Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club was established in 1875 and a breed standard was soon drawn up afterwards. The breed’s popularity grew over the following years, but sadly interest in Dandie Dinmonts waned in more recent times. Today, there are three UK clubs, 2 of which are in England and one in Scotland but the Dandie Dinmont Terrier has been placed on the Kennel Club’s vulnerable native breed list with few puppies being bred and registered every year which is great cause for concern.
Height at the withers: Males 20 - 28 cm, Females 20 - 28 cm
Average weight: Males 8.2 - 10.9 kg, Females 8.2 - 10.9 kg
The Dandie Dinmont is a very unique looking short-legged dog that boasts a long body and large head that's accentuated by the way they are clipped. Their heads are big but always in proportion to the rest of a dog's body. Their skulls are broad but narrower at their eyes. Their foreheads are very domed and their heads are well covered in extremely soft, silky hair. Cheeks taper gradually down to a rather deep and powerful muzzle that boasts a triangular bare area that points back to a dog's eyes and their noses are black which adds to the Dandie's overall charming looks.
Their eyes are set wide apart and are a rich dark hazel in colour. They are large and set low with dogs always showing a bright and alert expression in them. Ears are quite droopy and set well back on a dog's head. They are wide apart and sit low on a dog's skull, but close to their cheeks. They are broader at the top, but taper to the tips. The skin and cartilage on their ears is very thin and they are covered in soft, straight, darker hair that matches the rest of a dog's coat colour.
The Dandie Dinmont has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their teeth are very strong more especially their canines which are quite big for such a small dog. The inside of a Dandie's mouth is either black or dark coloured. Necks are very well muscled and strong showing a great deal of power and set nicely into a dog's shoulders which are well laid back. Their front legs are short, but they are extremely powerful being well developed and showing a good amount of bone.
A Dandie's body is long, yet strong and very flexible with their ribs being well sprung and nicely rounded. Chests are well developed being well let down at the front between a dog's legs. They are low at the shoulders with their back having a slight curve to the loins before gradually dropping down to the root of the tail. Their backbones are well muscled and strong.
Hindquarters are strong with a dog's back legs being longer than their front ones. Thighs are well developed and powerful. Feet are nicely rounded and well-padded with their back feet being smaller than their front ones. Tails are short and thick at the base before tapering to the tip. Dogs carry their them in the shape that's reminiscent of a scimitar.
When it comes to their coat, the Dandie Dinmont boasts having a double coat that consists of a soft and very linty undercoat and a much harder topcoat. The hair is not wiry but rather crispy to the touch. It's the way the hair lies that makes the Dandie stand out from other breeds because it lies in "pencils". Their front legs have feathering and the upper parts of their tails are well covered in wiry hair while the underside has softer feathering. Accept breed colours for Kennel Club registration are as follows:
Dogs with either colour have slightly lighter feathering on their front legs while the underside of their tails are lighter than the topsides of them which are darker than the rest of the body.
It is worth noting that the accepted breed colours for Kennel Club registration can differ from those set out in the breed standard which are as follows:
Dandies have feathers on their front legs that are lighter in colour than the hair on the fore part of their legs and are allowed to have a little white on their chests under the UK Kennel Club breed standard. They are also allowed to have white nails although white on a dog’s feet is highly undesirable. The hair under their tails is a lighter colour than on the upperside of it which is darker than the colour found on a dog’s body.
When a Dandie Dinmont Terrier moves, they do so with a strong, free moving and easy stride showing great forward reach and lots of propulsion from behind.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a small dog with a big personality being a typical terrier at heart. They do not know their size and would happily take on a bigger dog if they feel they have to. With that said, they are known to be very affectionate, friendly and placid dogs by nature. They are not the best choice for first time owners because these little terriers can prove rather challenging to train thanks to their stubborn streak. However, in the right hands and with the right amount of socialisation and training, the Dandie does make for a great family pet.
Like most terriers, the Dandie likes to be kept busy and does not do well if they are left on their own for longer periods of time, much preferring the company of people. As such they are good choice for people where one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out of the house. It these little terriers are not given enough exercise and mental stimulation on a daily basis, they quickly learn to amuse themselves which typically involves them developing some unwanted and often destructive behaviours. This includes separation anxiety and being destructive around the house and excessive barking. Dandies are known to like the sound of their own voices which is something that needs to be gently nipped in the bud when dogs are still young or it could become a real issue.
Dandie Dinmonts are the perfect choice for first time dog owners because they are so amenable and people-oriented, loving nothing more than to please and to entertain their families. They are particularly good with young children and older people too although playtime can get a bit boisterous at times.
Having been bred to hunt, Dandies have a high prey drive and will happily chase anything that moves or that tries to run away from them. As such, care should always be taken as to where and when a dog can run off the lead more especially if there is wildlife and/or livestock close by bearing in mind that a Dandie would likely turn a deaf ear to a command and go off chasing after anything they have spotted in the distance.
Dandies have a very playful side to their natures and love to entertain and be entertained. They are known to be a little mischievous when the mood takes them and being so clever, they quickly understand how to please and owner or get their own way when they want something.
Although Dandies are highly adaptable small dogs, they are better suited to people who have large, well-fenced, secure back gardens that a dog can safely roam in whenever possible to really let of steam as often as possible.
Dandies form strong ties with their families but they are not generally known to suffer from separation anxiety providing they are not left to their own devices for too long. Any breed that is left for long periods of time could develop unwanted and destructive behavioural issues which is their way of relieving stress and boredom.
Dandies are not known to be “barkers” like many other terrier breeds and will typically only voice an opinion when they think it is really necessary which is why they make such good watchdogs.
Most Dandies like swimming and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a dog off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own.
Dandies are natural watchdogs because they are always on the alert to what goes on in their environment. They have a lovely deep bark for such small dogs which many people find surprising. However, rarely would a Dandie show any sort of aggressive behaviour when someone they don’t know is around, preferring to keep their distance, stand their ground and bark.
Dandie Dinmonts are smart little terriers, but their stubborn streak can make training them a bit challenging. With this in mind, their socialisation and training has to start as soon as possible and it has to be consistent from the word go. They do not respond well to any sort of harsh correction or training methods, but they do answer well to positive reinforcement. The key to successfully train a Dandie is to be firm, always fair and very patient with them.
Like all puppies, Dandies are incredibly cute when young and it is all too easy to spoil them when they first arrive in new homes. As soon as a puppy is nicely settled owners must start out as they mean to go on by laying down ground rules and boundaries so that a puppy understands what is expected of them. It helps establish a pecking order and who the alpha dog is in the household. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
The Dandie does make a great family pet, but for families where the children are older and therefore know how to behave around dogs. Care should be taken when there are toddlers around and any interaction between them and a dog has to be supervised by an adult to make sure things stay friendly and playtime does not get too boisterous.
Care has to be taken when Dandies are around other animals and smaller pets which includes cats because being terriers they might just see them as "fair game". With this said, if they have grown up with a cat in the house, they generally accept them being around, but would think nothing of chasing a neighbour's cat if they ever ventured into a back garden. These little terriers are known to be good around other dogs especially if they have been well socialised from a young age.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Dandie Dinmont is between 11 and 13 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the Dandie is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and good-looking dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
It is worth noting that the Kennel Club’s average COI for the breed currently stands at 9.4%.
Dandie Dinmont puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different, and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
As with other breeds, some Dandies gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight, it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
Dandies are not known to suffer from allergies but it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Dandie Dinmont Terrier breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions that are in place for all Kennel Club registered breeds, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for the Dandie Dinmont.
The Kennel Club strongly recommends that all breeders use the following test on their dogs:
As with any other breed, Dandies need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Dandie puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or, so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Dandie Dinmont puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out making them withdrawn, timid and shy.
As previously mentioned, Dandie Dinmont puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older Dandie Dinmonts need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Living with a Dandie Dinmont Terrier in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include looking at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older dogs need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older dogs don't need the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
Dandies boasts having a short coat but very little to no undercoat and as such they need to be brushed regularly just to keep things tidy and to make sure their skin in kept in good condition. However, these little terriers should be clipped and their coats shaped every 8 to 12 weeks. This is a task that's best left up to a professional dog groomer, but it does make keeping a Dandie's coat looking good that much easier in between visits to a grooming parlour.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
Dandies are active, energetic terriers which means they like to be kept busy. As such they need to be given a minimum of an hour's exercise on a daily basis for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. Because they are such clever little dogs, they also need lots of mental stimulation on daily basis to prevent boredom from setting in which can lead to dogs developing unwanted behavioural issues.
With this said, young Dandie puppies should not be given too much exercise because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. Because they have such long backs, they are prone to spinal injuries. As such, puppies should not be allowed to jump up or off furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs because this puts too much pressure on their still growing joints and more especially on their delicate backs.
If you get a Dandie puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Dandie puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 11 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Dandie Dinmont should be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Dandie can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Dandie Dinmont you may have to go on a waiting list because not many puppies are registered with The Kennel Club every year and you would need to pay upwards of £850 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Dandie in northern England would be £23.98 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £43.67 a month (quote as of May 2018). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether they have been neutered or spayed amongst other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £20 - £30 a month. On top of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Dandie Dinmont and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £800 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Dandie Dinmont would be between £50 to £80 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred, healthy Kennel Club registered pedigree Dandie Dinmont Terrier puppy.