…of Dandie Dinmont Terrier
The British Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont, has a particular and especially romantic place in the dogs‘ world, namely unique as his name derives from a literary source. He owes it to the most famous writer of Scotland, Sir Walter Scott, who created this name in his novel „Guy Mannering“ (1814).
The real origin of the Dandie Dinmont is quite uncertain. Absolutely certain is his descent from some rough coated terriers, living in the Scottish and British Borderlands in the second half of the 18th century. It is assumed that the Dandie Dinmont was generated as a homogeneous type, but there is no proof of it. Evidently, there have been made interbreedings to create a short-legged, sturdy, and vivid terrier, having a protecting coat adapted for going to earth and to kill vermins.
Already in the 18th century these dogs had been owned by the border gypsies, the travelling tinkers, and the roaming musicians not only for coarse field work, for poaching and aid in killing otters and badgers, but also occasionally for hunting badgers, in the course of which quite considerable bets pro and con the boldness of the dogs were made.
From old papers we learn that the Dandie Dinmont got his name depending on the farm or the family he was bred, or in general the generic name Mustard- or Pepper-Terrier (the two different shades), long before Sir Walter Scott’s novel was published.
The Allans of Rotary are said to have had the most genuine line of these terriers. The head of the family, whom everybody named „Piper, exclusively devoted all his life to these dogs (1704). Piper’s dogs were famous in the district. On many an occasion country squires rented them in order to prevent looting vermins from doing any harm to their estates. Many a story is told of „Piper Allan“. The Duke of Northumberland (1749-66) offered Piper a farm rent-free in exchange for his famous dog „Hitchem“. This generous offer was immediately rejected: „No, Milord, keep your farm; what should Piper do with a farm!“ People bought these dogs from the Allans, securing a place in the history of this breed. Among them was the farmer James Davidson, whom people named „Dandie Dinmont“, partly out of kindly mockery, partly out of ignorance. He resembled remarkably the farmer Dandie Dinmont in Sir Walter Scott’s novel, not only in figure and character but also by maintaining the great mustard and pepper family. On his tomb-stone in Oxnam we find „Dandie Dinmont“ along with his name.
The Dandie Dinmont is a courageous and fearless dog, indifferent to trouble and bad weather, ready to attack animals being far bigger and stronger than him. He has no equality in killing vermins and it is seldom that you can hear him cry with pain. When working he is cool and profound and with a minimum of noise, which is of inestimable value when hunting. Many Dandies can only tardily be stimulated and indeed, they need to be provoked before they attack. However, if they become agitated, they become devils in the attack.
For those being interested in working with the Dandie Dinmont, they have to recognise not to begin to work with dogs being younger than twelve months, though some youngsters may already show the necessary tendencies for working. There has to be the necessary understanding, as the young dog may be spoilt for his life if he gets hurt too early. Training the Dandie Dinmont should be done by practical experiments and careful preparations, if he is to become a dog of great value. Very much depends on the skilful treatment of the owner and the dog’s inborn intelligence.
For those who want a Dandie as a companion only, he is ideal because of his friendliness, gaiety, kindness, loyalty, and harmony with his owner. To a certain degree he is prudent and peaceful and up to that very moment he has to watch out. His keen eyes register everything around him and his just as quick ears register every alarming noise from afar. Sometimes he may be rather stubborn, a dog that has its own duties and his own ideas.
He will always have a though reserved but profound, dignified, and respectful interest in the human friends of his owner, nevertheless always being prepared to appearing suddenly to help his owner at the least warning.
by G. Maaß, pictures by Canis Dog Features, revised Manfred Rosenbaum