The Dandie Dinmont Terrier was developed from the dogs that were used on the borders of Scotland and England, in the Chevoit Hills in the 1600's, to hunt badgers, rabbits, and otters. However, this breed became known for its usefulness in hunting down vermin such as rats. This breed was first mentioned in Sir Walter Scot's book Guy Mannering. There is a character in the book by the name of Dandie Dinmont, who owns many of these terrier dog. This is the only breed to have gotten its name from a fictional book character. The farmer and terrier owner who this character is based on is Mr James Davidson, who is regarded as the father of the modern breed of this terrier.
Nobody really knows the exact origins of this breed, but there are a couple of theories as to their ancestors. The first theory states that this dog is simply a cross between the Scottish terrier and the Skye terrier. The other theory says that it is an evolved version of the Rough-Haired Terriers of the Border District. However, its exact origins still remain unknown.
Possessive of its food and toys, this dog is known for its intelligence and willingness to please. Despite its size, it is very lively and playful, mixing intelligence with confidence, and having a little mischievous streak. This dog gets along well with older children, or those that it has been around since puppyhood. It gets along well with strangers, but also barks and lets the entire house know that someone has come. If the owner has established that he is the boss, then training this dog is easier as he/she will listen to the owner. If not, it becomes difficult as this breed is prone to be stubborn.
This dog has an elongated body and short legs. It stands at about 8 to 11 inches (20 to 28 cm) at the shoulder, with the body close to the ground. It generally weighs between 18 to 24 pounds (8.2 to 10.9 kg). It has a silky coat, with a topknot on the head. The coat colors are pepper and mustard, which are lighter on the body and darken towards the legs. The pepper color varies from a light silverish gray to a dark, almost blue black. The mustard color varies from fawn to reddish brown. The fur can be as long as 2 inches. The average lifespan of this breed is 11 to 13 years.
The coat of this dog needs to be brushed around two times a week to keep it in top condition. Another thing to keep in mind when grooming is to keep the hair around the bottom trimmed to keep it clean and neat. Always make sure that the ears are kept clean and dry, because this breed is prone to ear infections.
The health problems that are associated with this breed can include spinal problems, thyroid problems, epilepsy, elbow problems, and some others. Due to its elongated body, it is more likely to experience back problems such as slip disc herniations. The symptoms depend on which vertebral disc has slipped, and in worst cases, can cause paralysis or loss of bladder and bowel control. Also, the occurrence of canine cancer is relatively higher than average in this breed. It can also be affected by minor issues such as glaucoma, Cushing's syndrome, or hypothyroidism.
This dog makes for a wonderful pet as well as a good watchdog. It is a delightful companion, but also guards the house well. It is good with children, is generally undemanding, and is a relatively calmer breed compared to other terriers. Thus, having it around makes the atmosphere light and fun.