Dandie Dinmont Terriers

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier has the distinction of being the only breed named for a character in a novel. He takes his name from a fellow named Dandie Dinmont in Sir Walter Scott’s “Guy Mannering.” Dinmont was a farmer who kept a pack of long-backed terriers in pepper (black to silver gray) and mustard (reddish-brown to fawn). These dogs are dandies, indeed, with their poufy topknot, dark shoe-button eyes, tail shaped like a scimitar, and self-confident attitude. Here’s what you need to know if you are considering acquiring a Dandie Dinmont Terrier.

Is the Dandie Dinmont the Right Dog for You?

Despite being nicknamed the gentleman of the Terrier Group for his calm demeanor, the Dandie is all terrier when the opportunity presents itself. Any opportunity to chase prey such as rats or squirrels brings out his inner and quite assertive earthdog nature, and he can be aggressive towards dogs he doesn’t know. With his family, he is affectionate and comical, but strangers will be greeted with dignified reserve. The Dandie Dinmont’s moderate size of 18 to 24 pounds makes him suited to most homes, including apartments and condos.

The Dandie’s moderate activity level calls for a long daily walk or active playtime in a safe, traffic-free area. Once that need is satisfied, he will be happy to lie by your side or follow you around as you do your daily activities. His alert nature makes him an excellent watchdog and he will sound the alarm at the approach of friend or foe. As a bonus, he’ll rid your home and yard of any mice, rats or other rodents that may have taken up residence.

Train the Dandie with firmness, fairness and consistency, plus lots of positive reinforcement in the form of praise, play and food rewards. Dandies are quieter than the average terrier, but any terrier can become a nuisance barker if left unchecked. Teach your Dandie when it’s okay to exercise his vocal cords and when he should be quiet.

Dandie Dinmont Terriers are generally good with children if they are raised with them. Always supervise dogs and children to prevent any misbehavior on the part of either party. Dandies who live with cats from puppyhood can get along with them, but outdoor cats are on their own.

Confine the Dandie Dinmont to your yard with a solid fence. An underground electronic fence will not deter him if he sees something he wants to chase. Be aware as well that terriers are diggers. Give your Dandie a place of his own to dig or expect him to re-landscape your yard on a regular basis.

The Dandie Dinmont coat sheds little but must be combed twice a week to prevent or remove mats and tangles. His coat must also be scissored and shaped regularly to maintain its distinctive appearance. A professional groomer can do that for you, or you can learn to trim the coat yourself. Your Dandie Dinmont’s breeder can show you how. Other than that, keep his ears clean, his nails trimmed and his teeth brushed.

A people-loving dog like the Dandie Dinmont Terrier needs to live in the house. It’s an unhappy Dandie Dinmont Terrier who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship. Indoors, expect to find him on the sofa at your side.

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Dandie Dinmont Puppy

  1. Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. A breeder referral service can be found on the website of the Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club of America.
  2. Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Dandie Dinmont Terriers aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an adult dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Dandie Dinmont Terrier can live to be 12 years old or more, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.
  3. Puppy or adult, take your Dandie Dinmont Terrier to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
  4. Don’t ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You’re more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.
  5. Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Health Issues Common to Dandie Dinmont Terriers

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

Dandie Dinmont Terriers are a healthy breed in general, but conditions that may be seen in the breed include intervertebral disc disease and glaucoma. Ask breeders to show evidence that both of a puppy’s parents have healthy eyes certified by the Canine Eye Registry Foundation.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Cushing's Disease
High $3,000-$10,000
IVDD Medium $2,500-$7,000
Estimates based on claims paid by Embrace Pet Insurance


Pet Insurance for Dandie Dinmont Terriers

Pet insurance for Dandies costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Dandie Dinmont Terriers are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace pet insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Dandy Dinmont Terriers are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Dandie is when he’s a healthy puppy. You can’t predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can’t get when you need it the most.