Unlike the prototypical terrier, the Dandie is made up of a series of curves, ending in a scimitar-shaped tail of moderate length. The Dandie is almost twice as long as tall, constructed to go to ground after tough quarry. Its hind legs are definitely longer than its front legs. Its gait is free and easy. It has a distinctive coat made up of about two-thirds hardish (not wiry) hair and one-third soft hair, about 2 inches in length. The head is covered with soft, silky hair, lending to the appearance of a large head. The topknot also enhances the expression, which is determined, dignified, soft, and wise. Tassels on the ear tips of the same texture and color as the topknot enhance the look.
The Dandie Dinmont Terrier stands out as a most unusual terrier in appearance, yet its roots are as quintessentially terrier as any. It first appeared as a distinct type of terrier in the eighteenth century around the border country of Scotland and England. Here they were owned by farmers and gypsies and valued for drawing and killing otters, badgers, and foxes. At one time, they were known as Catcleugh, Hindlee, or Pepper and Mustard terriers. The most well known of these dogs were owned by James Davidson, who named almost all his dogs either Pepper or Mustard along with some identifying adjective. Davidson and his dogs are believed by some to have been the models for Sir Walter Scott’s characters of Dandie Dinmont and his dogs in his novel Guy Mannering, published in 1814. The dogs became known as Dandie Dinmont’s Terriers. A letter written by James Davidson proclaimed that all Dandies descended from two of his dogs named Tarr and Pepper. At one time the breed was included in the general family of Scotch Terriers, which encompassed several short-legged terriers now recognized as distinct breeds. The Dandie was recognized separately from this group in 1873. The Dandie Dinmont has never been extremely popular, and remains one of the lesser-known terriers. An old Scottish saying says, “A Dandie looks at you as though he’s forgotten more than you ever knew.”
The Dandie Dinmont is no “dandified” dog; it is rough and tumble and ready for the hunt. Yet it functions well as a dignified house pet, affectionate but not doting. It is a loyal companion suitable for people of all ages, but it does need daily exercise to keep it from becoming frustrated. It is intelligent and very independent. It tends to be reserved with strangers and aggressive toward strange dogs. Some dig.
The Dandie enjoys the chance to hunt around and explore in a safe area and needs a moderate walk to stay in condition. Its coat needs combing twice weekly, plus regular scissoring and shaping. Shaping for show dogs is done on an almost continual (but light) basis; that for pets can be done by stripping or clipping about four times a year. When clipped, the coat will lose its characteristic texture and color.