Built for farm life, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier looks like a fluffy lap dog, but don’t be fooled! This little dynamo is tough and well-suited for many lifestyles. Today, we spotlight this tenacious breed.

History of the Dandie Dinmont Terrier

History marks the beginnings of this small breed sometime around 1700. In Scotland, the breed was used mostly to discourage animals such as otters and badgers from stealing small livestock. A famous admirer of the breed, author Sir Walter Scott, even created a character in his novel named Dandie Dinmont. They are the only breed recognized by the AKC named after a fictional character. Later, the French king Louis Philippe kept a pack of Dandies that traveled with his royal entourage.

This breed has one of the oldest breed clubs, established in 1875. The breed entered the AKC in 1886. One fun fact: Queen Victoria owned a Dandie!

Breed Description

This breed has a special look. It has short legs with a long body with low hanging ears (uncommon among Scottish terriers). Their necks are thick to deal with larger game. The typical height for the dog is about 8 to 11 inches and weight ranges from 18 to 24 pounds. The Dandie coat has two color ranges: mustard and pepper. Pepper can look like anything from dark blue to light silver. And mustard may look like a fawn to a red-brown color.


The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is often friendly but tends to do better with older children. They are lovely companion dogs and are known for digging big holes quickly. They are trainable to be good with other, smaller pets, but their instincts make them untrustworthy around gerbils, hamsters, rats, etc. Dandies are known to challenge larger animals including foxes and other dogs.

When it comes to training, Dandies can be independent but will train with a reward-based approach. One important thing to note is that this dog has a lot of confidence, so as a dog owner, it’s imperative that you take the lead in all unexpected situations. If not, your Dandie is likely to have all sorts of bad manners when it counts.

Grooming Needs

While this breed does not shed, it does require grooming. At least a couple times per year, it’s suggested that the coat be “stripped” for dead hair. You can use your hands to pluck long hair that is overgrown. Dandies should be brushed daily to avoid matting, and nails should be trimmed at least once per month. Ears also need care since hair can lead to moist conditioning within the ear canal, and that may lead to infection.


Here are some tips on exercising the Dandie Dinmont Terrier:

  • Exercise the Dandie twice daily.
  • Always be on a leash when not in a secured area (they love to hunt and will run after their prey even when highly trained).
  • Dandies love moderate exercise and do well in small homes and apartments.
  • Not an ideal breed for long-distance running or bike rides.

Overall Health

While Dandie Dinmont Terriers have few health issues, there are some issues to be mindful of. Mostly, however, regular vet checks will go a long way in detecting diseases. The Dandie is most likely to have back issues due to their elongated body. They are prone to slip discs like similar breeds. Other than that, there are no common genetic issues with Dandies. So, if you’re lucky enough to obtain one of these special breeds, you’re not likely to encounter any devastating congenital health issues.

If you’re planning to get a Dandie Dinmont Terrier, be sure to work with a reputable breeder. A good breeder will do all the proper genetic testing and will breed their dogs mindfully, to avoid health issues. We suggest getting a breeder referral through upstanding organizations like the American Kennel Club or the Dandie Dinmont Club of America.

There are also many rescue organizations available from people who love this breed. Again, the AKC and Dandie clubs are the best places to find referrals.