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The Dandie Dinmont

The breed of terrier now known as the Dandie Dinmont is one of the

races of the dog which can boast of a fairly ancient lineage. Though

it is impossible now to say what was the exact origin of this breed,

we know that it was first recognised under its present name after the

publication of Scott's Guy Mannering, in the year 1814, and we know

that for many years previously there had existed in the Border

counties a rough
haired, short-legged race of terrier, the constant

and very effective companion of the Border farmers and others in their

fox-hunting expeditions.

Various theories have been suggested by different writers as to the

manner in which the breed was founded. Some say that the Dandie is the

result of crossing a strain of rough-haired terriers with the

Dachshund; others that a rough-haired terrier was crossed with the

Otterhound; and others again assert that no direct cross was ever

introduced to found the breed, but that it was gradually evolved from

the rough-haired terriers of the Border district. And this latter

theory is probably correct.

The Dandie would appear to be closely related to the Bedlington

Terrier. In both breeds we find the same indomitable pluck, the same

pendulous ear, and a light silky topknot adorning the skull of each;

but the Dandie was evolved into a long-bodied, short-legged dog, and

the Bedlington became a long-legged, short-bodied dog! Indeed to

illustrate the close relationship of the two breeds a case is quoted

of the late Lord Antrim, who, in the early days of dog shows,

exhibited two animals from the same litter, and with the one obtained

a prize or honourable mention in the Dandie classes, and with the

other a like distinction in the Bedlington classes.

It may be interesting to give a few particulars concerning the

traceable ancestors of the modern Dandie. In Mr. Charles Cook's book

on this breed, we are given particulars of one William Allan, of

Holystone, born in 1704, and known as Piper Allan, and celebrated as a

hunter of otters and foxes, and for his strain of rough-haired terriers

who so ably assisted him in the chase. William Allan's terriers

descended to his son James, also known as the Piper, and born in the

year 1734. James Allan died in 1810, and was survived by a son who

sold to Mr. Francis Somner at Yetholm a terrier dog named Old Pepper,

descended from his grandfather's famous dog Hitchem. Old Pepper was

the great-grandsire of Mr. Somner's well-known dog Shem. These

terriers belonging to the Allans and others in the district are

considered by Mr. Cook to be the earliest known ancestors of the

modern Dandie Dinmont.

Sir Walter Scott himself informs us that he did not draw the character

of Dandie Dinmont from any one individual in particular, but that the

character would well fit a dozen or more of the Lidderdale yeomen of

his acquaintance. However, owing to the circumstance of his calling

all his terriers Mustard and Pepper, without any other distinction

except auld and young and little, the name came to be fixed by

his associates upon one James Davidson, of Hindlee, a wild farm in the

Teviotdale mountains.

James Davidson died in the year 1820, by which time the Dandie Dinmont

Terrier was being bred in considerable numbers by the Border farmers

and others to meet the demand for it which had sprung up since the

appearance of Guy Mannering.

As a result of the controversies that were continually recurring with

regard to the points of a typical Dandie Dinmont there was formed in

the year 1876 the Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club, with the object of

settling the question for ever, and for this purpose all the most

noted breeders and others interested were invited to give their views

upon it.

The standard of points adopted by the club is as follows:--

* * * * *

HEAD--Strongly made and large, not out of proportion to the dog's

size; the muscles showing extraordinary development, more especially

the maxillary. SKULL--Broad between the ears, getting gradually less

towards the eyes, and measuring about the same from the inner corner

of the eyes to back of skull as it does from ear to ear. The forehead

well domed. The head is covered with very soft silky hair, which

should not be confined to a mere topknot, and the lighter in colour

and silkier it is the better. The cheeks, starting from the ears

proportionately with the skull, have a gradual taper towards the

muzzle, which is deep and strongly made, and measures about three

inches in length, or in proportion to skull as three is to five. The

muzzle is covered with hair of a little darker shade than the topknot,

and of the same texture as the feather of the fore-legs. The top of

the muzzle is generally bare for about an inch from the black part of

the nose, the bareness coming to a point towards the eye, and being

about one inch broad at the nose. The nose and inside of mouth black

or dark coloured. The teeth very strong, especially the canine, which

are of extraordinary size for such a small dog. The canines fit well

into each other, so as to give the greatest available holding and

punishing power, and the teeth are level in front, the upper ones very

slightly overlapping the under ones. (Many of the finest specimens

have a swine mouth, which is very objectionable, but it is not so

great an objection as the protrusion of the under jaw.) EYES--Set wide

apart, large, full, round, bright, expressive of great determination,

intelligence and dignity; set low and prominent in front of the head;

colour a rich dark hazel. EARS--Pendulous, set well back, wide apart

and low on the skull, hanging close to the cheek, with a very slight

projection at the base, broad at the junction of the head and tapering

almost to a point, the fore part of the ear tapering very little, the

tapering being mostly on the back part, the fore part of the ear

coming almost straight down from its junction with the head to the

tip. They should harmonise in colour with the body colour. In the case

of a pepper dog they are covered with a soft, straight, brownish hair

(in some cases almost black). In the case of a mustard dog the hair

should be mustard in colour, a shade darker than the body, but not

black. All should have a thin feather of light hair starting about two

inches from the tip, and of nearly the same colour and texture as the

topknot, which gives the ear the appearance of a distinct point. The

animal is often one or two years old before the feather is shown. The

cartilage and skin of the ear should not be thick, but rather thin.

Length of ear, from three to four inches. NECK--Very muscular, well

developed, and strong; showing great power of resistance, being well

set into the shoulders. BODY--Long, strong, and flexible; ribs well

sprung and round, chest well developed and let well down between the

fore-legs; the back rather low at the shoulder, having a slight

downward curve and a corresponding arch over the loins, with a very

slight gradual drop from top of loins to root of tail; both sides of

backbone well supplied with muscle. TAIL--Rather short, say from eight

inches to ten inches, and covered on the upper side with wiry hair of

darker colour than that of the body, the hair on the under side being

lighter in colour, and not so wiry, with a nice feather, about two

inches long, getting shorter as it nears the tip; rather thick at the

root, getting thicker for about four inches, then tapering off to a

point. It should not be twisted or curled in any way, but should come

up with a curve like a scimitar, the tip, when excited, being in a

perpendicular line with the root of the tail. It should neither be set

on too high nor too low. When not excited it is carried gaily, and a

little above the level of the body. LEGS--The fore-legs short, with

immense muscular development and bone, set wide apart, the chest

coming well down between them. The feet well formed, and not flat,

with very strong brown or dark-coloured claws. Bandy legs and flat

feet are objectionable. The hair on the fore-legs and feet of a pepper

dog should be tan, varying according to the body colour from a rich

tan to a pale fawn; of a mustard dog they are of a darker shade than

its head, which is a creamy white. In both colours there is a nice

feather, about two inches long, rather lighter in colour than the hair

on the fore-part of the leg. The hind-legs are a little longer than

the fore ones, and are set rather wide apart, but not spread out in an

unnatural manner, while the feet are much smaller, the thighs are well

developed, and the hair of the same colour and texture as the fore

ones, but having no feather or dew claws; the whole claws should be

dark; but the claws of all vary in shade according to the colour of

the dog's body. COAT--This is a very important point; the hair should

be about two inches long; that from skull to root of tail a mixture of

hardish and soft hair, which gives a sort of crisp feel to the hand.

The hair should not be wiry; the coat is termed pily or pencilled. The

hair on the under part of the body is lighter in colour and softer

than that on the top. The skin on the belly accords with the colour of

dog. COLOUR--The colour is pepper or mustard. The pepper ranges from a

dark bluish black to a light silver grey, the intermediate shades

being preferred, the body colour coming well down the shoulder and

hips, gradually merging into the leg colour. The mustards vary from a

reddish brown to a pale fawn, the head being a creamy white, the legs

and feet of a shade darker than the head. The claws are dark as in

other colours. (Nearly all Dandie Dinmonts have some white on the

chest, and some have also white claws.) SIZE--The height should be

from 8 to 11 inches at the top of shoulder. Length from top of

shoulder to root of tail should not be more than twice the dog's

height, but, preferably, one or two inches less. WEIGHT--From 14 lb.

to 24 lb. the best weight as near 18 lb. as possible. These weights

are for dogs in good working order.

* * * * *

In the above standard of points we have a very full and detailed

account of what a Dandie should be like, and if only judges at shows

would bear them in mind a little more, we should have fewer

conflicting decisions given, and Dandie fanciers and the public

generally would not from time to time be set wondering as to what is

the correct type of the breed.

A Dandie makes an excellent house guard; for such a small dog he has

an amazingly deep, loud bark, so that the stranger, who has heard him

barking on the far side of the door, is quite astonished when he sees

the small owner of the big voice. When kept as a companion he becomes

a most devoted and affectionate little friend, and is very intelligent.

As a dog to be kept in kennels there is certainly one great drawback

where large kennels are desired, and that is the risk of keeping two

or more dogs in one kennel; sooner or later there is sure to be a

fight, and when Dandies fight it is generally a very serious matter;

if no one is present to separate them, one or both of the combatants

is pretty certain to be killed. But when out walking the Dandie is no

more quarrelsome than other breeds of terriers, if properly trained

from puppyhood.

There is one little matter in breeding Dandies that is generally a

surprise to the novice, and that is the very great difference in the

appearance of the young pups and the adult dog. The pups are born

quite smooth-haired, the peppers are black and tan in colour, and the

mustards have a great deal of black in their colouring. The topknot

begins to appear sometimes when the dog is a few months old, and

sometimes not till he is a year or so old. It is generally best to

mate a mustard to a pepper, to prevent the mustards becoming too light

in colour, though two rich-coloured mustards may be mated together

with good results. It is a rather curious fact that when two mustards

are mated some of the progeny are usually pepper in colour, though

when two peppers are mated there are very seldom any mustard puppies.

The popularity of the Dandie has now lasted for nearly a hundred

years, and there is no reason why it should not last for another

century, if breeders will only steer clear of the exaggeration of

show points, and continue to breed a sound, active, and hardy terrier.