Description & History

The Dandie Dinmont is a short-legged, rough-coated terrier whose history lies on the Scottish Borders.

The origins of the breed are not known, but as they share the same hunting skills as other breeds from the Border counties they no doubt also share the same ancestors.

Although their ancestry is not known, what is known is that, as far back as the seventeenth century, small terriers similar to today's dogs were used by gypsies, farmers and shepherds to keep under control vermin - ranging from field-mice and rats to the larger otter, fox and polecat.

In spite of their reputation for gameness, there is no written account of the breed having a distinctive name until, in 1814, Sir Walter Scott's novel "Guy Mannering" was published. A character in this book by the name of Dandie Dinmont - a Border farmer and sportsman - owned a number of terriers which were mustard and pepper in colouring.

In real life, James Davidson of Hindlea, near Hawick, also kept similar terriers. He used them mainly for hunting otter, as did other Border families. Scott's story caught the public's imagination, as it was presumed to be based on James Davidson. In fact, this was not so, but it did give the terriers their name.

Today's Dandies have all the traits of their ancestors, although, naturally, the modern Dandie is domesticated. Like all terriers, they enjoy a country life with all its pleasures, but they do require owners that will keep them under control as they are strong characters.

They are not a popular breed in the British Isles or overseas; but, like all breeds, they have their devoted admirers who would not readily transfer their loyalty to another breed.

The first Dandie Dinmont Club was founded in 1876 and the original breed standard was set in the same year.

Rosamund Walters.

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