Dandie Dinmont Terrier: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

A close-up of a Dandie Dinmont Terrier.

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The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a small terrier breed native to the border of England and Scotland with short legs, a long body, and silky hair that grows in a signature puff on top of the head (also known as a topknot). The distinctive appearance and calm, collected demeanor of these dogs make them stand out among similar breeds. Dandie Dinmont Terriers are often referred to as the "gentlemen" of the terrier group thanks to their calm personalities.

Due to their compact size, desirable temperament, and low-to-moderate exercise needs, Dandie Dinmont Terriers can thrive in both apartments and larger homes. They also make great companion dogs for owners with a variety of lifestyles.

Breed Overview

Group: Terrier

Height: 8 to 11 inches

Weight: 18 to 24 pounds

Coat: Double coat with waterproof undercoat and silky topcoat

Coat Color: Pepper (blue-black to silver) or mustard (red-brown to light fawn); darker on legs and feet

Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Temperament: Affectionate, calm, companionable, independent, playful

Hypoallergenic: Yes

Origin: England and Scotland

Characteristics of the Dandie Dinmont Terrier

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a playful, affectionate small breed. These dogs make great family pets or travel companions, and they enjoy spending time with their human family (though they sometimes have a reserved temperament with strangers). Thanks to their compact size, Dandie Dinmont Terriers are typically a good choice for households with cats despite their origins in hunting. They may not be suitable to live alongside smaller pets like hamsters or mice, but they can do well with other dogs when raised together. Their low exercise needs and independent personalities also make them ideal for urban life or owners without lots of time to spend with their dogs.

Affection Level High
Friendliness Moderate
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly Moderate
Exercise Needs Low
Playfulness High
Energy Level Moderate
Trainability Low
Intelligence Moderate
Tendency to Bark Low
Amount of Shedding Moderate

History of the Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Originating in the Cheviot Hills on the border of England and Scotland, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier was originally bred to hunt otters, badgers, and pests like rats and mice during the 1600s. Although there are conflicting origin stories and theories, it's commonly believed that Dandie Dinmonts were the result of breeding Scottish Terriers with Skye Terriers, or Otterhounds and rough-haired terriers.

Despite their hundreds of years of history, Dandie Dinmont Terriers weren't given their unique name until 1814 when Sir Walter Scott published his book, Guy Mannering. The book featured a character named Dandie Dinmont, who owned terriers named Pepper and Mustard (after their coat colors).

After Guy Mannering was published, Dandie Dinmonts gained popularity among European royalty, including King Louis Philippe and Queen Victoria. It's commonly believed that during these years of growth, Dandie Dinmonts were bred with Dachshunds, resulting in their unique, elongated physiques.

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1886, and it remains the only recognized breed named after a fictional character.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier Care

Because of the Dandie Dinmont's small size and calm temperament, this breed is relatively easy to care for when it comes to exercise. However, they can require specific grooming to maintain their coats along with persistent training.


Dandie Dinmonts have low-to-moderate exercise requirements. They can thrive in smaller spaces, like apartments, as well as larger houses with yards. Aim for a few walks or two 20- to 30-minute blocks of playtime each day to keep your Dandie Dinmont properly exercised. It's also important to note that these dogs should never be allowed off-leash in an unfenced area. They have a strong prey drive, meaning they're likely to chase after birds, squirrels, and other animals if given the opportunity.


Although Dandie Dinmonts are working dogs, their coats require regular maintenance. You can expect to clip their coats with scissors every four to six weeks to maintain their unique shape and appearance. Dandie Dinmonts should also be brushed several times per week with a soft brush to remove any mats or tangles. Even though this breed's coat is higher maintenance than other terriers, their low-shedding nature is ideal for owners with allergies and cuts down on the need to vacuum pet hair.

In order to prevent plaque build-up that can lead to gum disease and bad breath, it's important to brush your dog's teeth at least two to three times per week (but every day is preferred).


Like other terriers, training a Dandie Dinmont requires persistence and patience. These dogs are highly intelligent, so they can become bored easily. Keep training engaging and interesting by incorporating playtime and challenges for your dog. In true terrier form, Dandie Dinmonts are also prone to digging, so it's helpful to train against this habit or create a designated digging area in your yard.

Overall, Dandie Dinmont Terriers are highly intelligent but lower-energy terriers that are adaptable to their surroundings. Expect to be hands-on during obedience training and prepare for holes in your backyard. Dandie Dinmont Terriers may be the "gentlemen" of the group, but their terrier instincts can sometimes take over.

Common Health Problems

As with other purebreds, Dandie Dinmonts are susceptible to certain health concerns. Responsible breeders take steps to reduce their litters' risk of developing health problems, but your dog may experience these common conditions:

  • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): Due to their elongated bodies, Dandie Dinmonts are more susceptible to spinal injuries and diseases like IVDD, which affects the discs in your dog's spine. Dandie Dinmonts should avoid jumping off high surfaces, and family members should practice care when picking them up.
  • Cheyletiella Yasguri Mites (Cheyletiellosis): All dog breeds can contract Cheyletiella yasguri mites, but Dandie Dinmonts are reportedly more susceptible. Look out for red, scaly, itchy skin, and mites on the surface of your dog's skin or coat.
  • Glaucoma: This condition is caused by pressure on the eye, which eventually leads to blindness. If your Dandie Dinmont has symptoms like squinting, rubbing, or tearing of the eye, contact your vet to begin treatment early.
Dandie Dinmont Terriers as Pets

The Spruce / Kelly Miller

Diet and Nutrition

Your dog's nutritional needs depend on its age, activity level, size, and metabolism. Generally, most Dandie Dinmonts should eat between 1 and 1 1/2 cups of high-quality, high-protein food twice per day.

Overfeeding your dog can lead to a host of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. Talk to your vet to determine a healthy meal plan for your specific dog to prevent canine obesity and ensure it receives the proper nutrients.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Dandie Dinmont Terrier

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is an especially rare dog breed. Adopting this type of dog may prove difficult, but there are plenty of other similar terrier breeds ready for adoption. If you're interested in a Dandie Dinmont, consider rescuing a terrier from your local shelter or searching for breed-specific rescues.

If you do find a litter of Dandie Dinmont Terrier puppies, traveling or joining a waiting list may be required. Ensure the breeder provides the medical history of the litter's parents to increase your dog's chances of living a long, healthy life. These puppies typically cost between $1,500 and $3,000 depending on pedigree and availability.

The national breed club and AKC listings are great resources to start your search:

Dandie Dinmont Terrier Overview

  • Calm personality

  • Low-shedding

  • Great apartment and travel companions

  • Needs considerable grooming

  • Can be stubborn during training

  • Prone to digging

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Is the Dandie Dinmont Terrier right for your family? Before bringing any dog home, it's important to do your research. Ensure your new dog's training, grooming, and exercise needs fit your family's lifestyle.

If you're interested in similar dog breeds, check out:

  • Are Dandie Dinmont Terriers Rare?

    The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a rare dog breed. While its personality and characteristics are ideal for many owners, prospective adopters may have trouble rescuing this breed from shelters or finding healthy litters through responsible breeders.

  • Do Dandie Dinmont Terriers Shed?

    Dandie Dinmont Terriers have naturally low-shedding coats and are classified as a hypoallergenic breed. Though no dog is completely hypoallergenic, this breed is suitable for owners with mild to moderate allergies.

  • Do Dandie Dinmont Terriers Make Good Pets?

    Dandie Dinmont Terriers are small, calm dogs that are adaptable to a variety of lifestyles. They make great family pets for owners who can provide the proper grooming and training care to keep them healthy.