Complete Guide To The Dandie Dinmont Terrier: Personality, Health, Feeding and More

Compact but mighty, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier is described by fans as a “big little dog.” Once-busy hunters known for their ferocity in the field, they’ve embraced a new role as gentle, fun-loving family companions.

How Big Does A Dandie Dinmont Terrier Get?

Dandies are long, lean and low. Averaging 21 pounds but only 10 inches tall, their shape mirrors the prey they were bred to hunt — otters.

What Can Dandie Dinmont Terriers Look Like?

Their coats come in two spicy colors to match their zesty personalities. Mustard is a fawn to a reddish hue. Pepper is a bluish-black to a steely gray shade.

Dandies are easy to recognize by their distinctive conformation and bedhead look. A topknot of tousled hair crowns a broad head, square muzzle and bright hazel eyes. Long, delicate ears are offset by a sturdy tail.

One of several terriers developed in Scotland, the Dandie Dinmont resembles its cousins — the Sealyham and Cesky Terriers.

What Is The Personality Of A Dandie Dinmont Terrier?

Dandie Dinmont Terriers are soft-hearted but scrappy. Good-natured and trainable, they’re more relaxed than other terriers yet energetic enough to keep kids busy. The perfect playmates, they’re active, but they value their cuddle time.

Dandies form strong bonds with their families and prefer to not be left alone for long hours. Adaptable, they’ll thrive in both city and country homes as long as they have company — they’re wonderful pets for active seniors.

Able watchdogs, they’re vigilant, but they don’t nuisance bark. With early training and socialization, they’re friendly and courteous neighbors.

How Much Exercise Does A Dandie Dinmont Terrier Need?

Dandies need moderate exercise to stay physically and mentally fit. Lively, they’re always ready for an adventure, but they have less activity tolerance than other breeds.

Short-legged, they struggle to jump and run for long distances. Twenty-minute walks twice daily are a better option than a single session of high-impact exercise. Dandies don’t make good jogging partners.

Hunters at heart, they’ll chase anything exciting — Fetch is their favorite backyard game — so always walk them on a leash and choose secure play areas for safety.

How Much Grooming Does A Dandie Dinmont Terrier Need?

Dandies have an unusual double coat. It’s not wiry like the typical terrier’s — it’s a blend of soft and coarse hair with a pleasant, almost-crispy texture. Low-shedders, they’re a favorite among allergy sufferers, and homes stay tidy, but owners aren’t off the hook with grooming chores.

Feathers on their legs, chest and belly are prone to tangles that should be teased out promptly with a metal comb to prevent mats. Hair close to the ground tends to get wet and muddy, so they’ll likely need frequent bathing.

Their coats should be hand-stripped every 4-6 months. It’s an easy but time-consuming technique, so many owners choose to see a professional. A spa day every 6-8 weeks keeps them looking their best from topknot to tail.

Toenails should be trimmed regularly, and ear care should be part of their grooming routine. Pencil it in at home if they don’t see a groomer faithfully.

What Kind of Dog Food Is Good For A Dandie Dinmont Terrier?

Most small kibble dry dog foods will be suitable for a Dandie Dinmont Terrier. These little dogs have a pretty small mouth so large kibble will be a lot more difficult to chew.

Grain-free diets are a myth. Please do not feed your dog a grain-free diet unless there are specific food allergies that would benefit from a grain-free diet. Always consult your veterinarian before you decide to make any major diet changes.

Some good brands that I recommend include:

I usually tend to go with the bigger dog food companies because of the amount of time and money they have to research and test their products. They also have a stronger history of safe foods (very rarely will they have recalls) over the newer, more boutique-style dog foods.

It is important always to give your dog high-quality dog food. Monitor the number of treats and “people food” you give your dog to keep him healthy and fit. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is the best and easiest way to extend the life of your Dandie Dinmont Terrier. 

How Long Does A Dandie Dinmont Terrier Live?

12-15 years based on information from the AKC

What Health Problems Can Dandie Dinmont Terriers Have?

Like many smaller breeds that look similar to it, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier has certain health issues that prospective and current owners need to know about including:

  • Dental Disease
  • Luxating Patella
  • Obesity

Keep your Dandie at a healthy weight and stay on top of their dental care and your dog should have pretty great odds to live to at least 13 years old.

Where Can I Find Out More About The Dandie Dinmont Terrier?

Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club of America (DDTCA)

AKC Breed Page

Where Can I Find A Dandie Dinmont Terrier?

The DDTCA asks that you contact them to get a breeder referral. This would be the best way to get started to find a responsible, quality breeder in your area.

Looking for a Rescue Dandie? The DDTCA keeps a list of rescue dogs on its site for starters. They can be hard to find considering the scarcity of this breed in general. Another rescue, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier Rescue League, is another great source.

Interesting Facts About the Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Dandies have a small but dedicated following. Here are a few facts to help familiarize you with this rare but lovable breed.

• Dandies Are the Only Dogs Named For a Fictional Character

Dandies made their debut in Scotland in the early 1700s as an unnamed native terrier. But Sir Walter Scott, novelist and admirer of the breed, created a character named Dandie Dinmont in his 1815 novel, “Guy Mannering.” Based on the real-life breeder whose stock was the foundation of the breed, the name stuck, making them the only dog with a fictional name inspired by a living person.

• Their Colors Trace Back to Their Foundation Stock

Mustard and Pepper are unlikely names for coat colors, but in keeping with the Dandie’s storied heritage, there’s a story behind the choices. James Davidson, the breeder who inspired Sir Walter Scott’s Dandie Dinmont character, kept a pack of working terriers from which all stock is said to be descended. Their names? Old Mustard, Young Pepper, Young Mustard, Little Pepper, Little Mustard, and Old Pepper.

• They Have a Rags to Riches Story

Dandies started life on the farm but their unique appearance and noble demeanor quickly caught the attention of European aristocrats. French King Louis Philippe kept pampered Dandies as members of his royal entourage.

England’s Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club, established in 1875 by the well-to-do, drafted the breed standard in 1876. One of the world’s oldest dog clubs, it remains the breed’s foremost advocate today.