The Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Originating on the borders of Scotland, and made famous by Sir Walter Scott in his “Guy Mannering,” the Dandie partakes in type and character of all of Scotland’s Terriers, being short on leg and long in body. His ears, however, are drooped instead of being prick. Doubtless the Dandie and the Border Terrier, which is a smaller dog with drop ears, and with which the Dandie is often confounded, have a common origin. The Dandie undoubtedly was a Border Terrier previous to the appearance of Sir Walter Scott’s novel, being kept by such sporting personages as James Davidson, of Hindlee, a friend of Scott’s, who was the original of the character of Dandie Dinmont, immortalized by the novel.

The difference in type of the three Border Terriers, the recognized Border Terrier (who may or may not be the original), the Bedlington, and the Dandie, is due to breeding by selection and to crossing. The Dandie is the one breed who retains most of his Scottish ancestry in body conformation and in head, and his fusion with the English broken haired terriers is seen in his drop ears. Prick ears are characteristic of all the Scottish varieties of terriers; drop ears are a fixed feature of their English cousins.

Some Dandie Dinmont enthusiasts pride themselves on the purity of their strains, for which they allege they can claim direct descent through the Terriers of Mr. E. Bradshaw Smith, of Ecclefechan, a great enthusiast of the breed in the early and middle part of the nineteenth century, or those of Hugh Purvis, or direct to the “Guy Mannering” dogs. Such descent in no way denotes purity, because, it is alleged, for instance, that Purvis crossed his dogs more than once with a brindled Bull Terrier in order to maintain their courage. However, the type of the Dandie has long been so fixed both in color and conformation that occasional crosses have not, according to the records, in any way altered it, and today it is more sharply defined than at any other period in its history.

The great novelist Scott singularly omitted to give us a definite description of his dogs when he created the “Dandie Dinmont,” but subsequently he wrote: “The race of Pepper and Mustard are in the highest estimation at the present day not only for vermin killing, but for intelligence and fidelity. Those who, like the author, possess a brace of them consider them as very desirable companions.” This proves that Walter Scott kept Dandie Dinmonts, and that he gave a true definition of the dogs’ splendid character and disposition. All those who have ever kept the breed since that time will bear willing testimony to the fact.

The Dandie is one of the gamest of Terriers, the most sensible of dogs, and most devoted of canine companions. He is besides a hardy, handy-sized dog, makes a capital house dog, and is just as much at home in the kennel. He is a rough-and-tumble sort, to which nothing comes wrong, the tackling of fox or badger underground or one of his own species above ground, and besides his exceptional power and pluck he stands unexcelled and rarely equaled for common sense and docility.

The chief points to look for in the selection of Dandie puppies at from two to four months old and after, are: A moderately short head, strong muzzle, large, dark eye; rather strong, well-beveled skull; close-set, drop ears; strong neck, rather long body, distinct arch of loin, great bone, and short legs.

The standard of points of the Dandie Dinmont Terrier are as follows:

HEAD.-Strongly made and large, not out of proportion to the dog’s size, the muscles showing extraordinary development, more especially the maxillary.

SKULL broad between the ears, getting gradually less toward the eyes, and measuring about the same from the inner corner of the eye to back of skull as it does from ear to ear. The forehead well domed. The head is covered with very soft, silky hair, which should not be confined to a mere topknot, and the lighter in color and silkier it is the better.

THE CHEEKS, starting from the ears, proportionately with the skull, have a gradual taper toward the muzzle, which is deep and strongly made, and measures about three inches in length, or in proportion to skull as three is to five.

THE MUZZLE is covered with hair of a little darker shade than the topknot and of the same texture as the feather of the forelegs. The top of the muzzle is generally bare for about an inch from the back part of the nose, the bareness coming to a point toward the eye, and being about one inch broad at the nose. The nose and inside of mouth black or dark color.

THE TEETH.-Very strong, especially the canine, which are of extraordinary size for such a small dog. The canines fit well into each other, so as to give the greatest available holding and punishing power, and the teeth are level in front, the upper ones very slightly overlapping the under ones. (Many of the finest specimens have a “swine mouth,” which is very objectionable, but it is not so great an objection as the protrusion of the under jaw.)

EYES.-Set wide apart, large, full, round, bright, expressive of great determination, intelligence, and dignity; set low and prominent in front of the head; color, a rich, dark hazel.

EARS.-Pendulous, set well back, wide apart, and low on the skull, hanging close to the cheek, with a very slight projection at the base; broad at the junction of the head and tapering almost to a point, the fore part of the ear tapering very little, the tapering being mostly on the back part, the fore part of the ear coming almost straight down from its junction with the head to the tip. They should harmonize in color with the body color. In the case of a Pepper dog they are covered with a soft, straight, brownish hair (in some cases almost black). In the case of a Mustard dog the hair should be mustard in color, a shade darker than the body, but not black. All should have a thin feather of light hair starting about two inches from the tip and of nearly the same color and texture as the topknot, which gives the ear the appearance of a distinct point. The animal is often one or two years old before the feather is shown. The cartilage and skin of the ear should not be thick, but rather thin. Length of ear from three to four inches.

NECK.-Very muscular, well developed, and strong, showing great power of resistance, being well set into the shoulders.

BODY.-Long, strong, and flexible; ribs well sprung and round; chest well developed and let well down between the forelegs; the back rather low at the shoulders, having a slight downward curve and a corresponding arch over the loins, with a very slight, gradual drop from top of loins to root of tail; both sides of backbone well supplied with muscle.

TAIL.-Rather short, say from eight to ten inches, and covered on the upper side with wiry hair of darker color than that of the body, the hair on the under side being lighter in color and not so wiry, with nice feather about two inches long, getting shorter as it nears the tip; rather thick at the root, getting thicker for about four inches, then tapering off to a point. It should not be twisted or curled in any way, but should come up with a curve like a scimitar, the tip, when excited, being in a perpendicular line with the root of the tail. It should neither be set on too high nor too low. When not excited it is carried gaily and a little above the level of the body.

LEGS.-The forelegs short, with immense muscular development and bone, set wide apart, the chest coming well down between them. The feet well formed and not flat, with very strong brown or dark-colored claws. Bandy legs and flat feet are objectionable. The hair on the fore legs and feet of a Pepper dog should be tan, varying according to the body color from a rich tan to a pale fawn; of a Mustard dog they are of a darker shade than its head, which is a creamy white. In both colors there is a nice feather about two inches long, rather lighter in color than the hair on the fore part of the leg. The hind legs are a little longer than the fore ones, and are set rather wide apart, but not spread out in an unnatural manner, while the feet are much smaller; the thighs are well developed, and the hair of the same color or texture as the fore ones, but having no feather or dew claws; the whole claws should be dark, but the claws of all vary in shade according to the color of the dog’s body.

COAT.-This is a very important point. The hair should be about two inches long; that from skull to root of tail a mixture of hardish and soft hair which gives a sort of crisp feel to the hand. The hair should not be wiry; the coat is what is termed pily or penciled. The hair on the under part of the body is lighter in color and softer than on the top. The skin on the belly accords with the color of dog. COLOR.-The color is Pepper or Mustard. The Pepper ranges from a dark bluish-black to a light silvery-grey, the intermediate shades being preferred, the body color coming well down the shoulder and hips, gradually merging into the leg color. The Mustards vary from a reddish-brown to a pale fawn, the head being a creamy white, the legs and feet of a shade darker than the head. The claws are dark as in other colors. (Nearly all Dandie Dinmont Terriers have some white on the chest, and some have also white claws.)

SIZE.-The height should be from eight to eleven inches at the top of shoulder. Length from top of shoulder to root of tail should not be more than twice the dog’s height, but preferably one or two inches less.

WEIGHT.-From fourteen pounds to twenty-four pounds, the best weight as near eighteen pounds as possible. These weights are for dogs in good working condition.

The relative value of several points in the standard are apportioned as follows:

Head, 10; eyes, 10; ears, 10; neck, 5; body, 20; tail, 5; legs and feet, 10; coat, 15; color, 5; size and weight, 5; general appearance, 5. Total, 100.