This week marked a special occasion in my family – my mom and dad got a new PUPPY! I was shocked to hear that this new addition would be joining the fam…not because they aren’t dog lovers, but because I didn’t know they were interested in doing the puppy thing (again.) Little did I know about my dad’s dream: being the proud father of a Dandie Dinmont.
While I never claim to be an expert when it comes to dog breeds, I can honestly say that (until two days ago) I had never come into contact with a Dandie Dinmont. I probably wouldn’t have even heard of the breed if it wasn’t for my dad’s beloved Pepper – his “once-in-a-lifetime” dog. Even then, all my Dandie knowledge was Pepper-specific, other than the fact that they were hard to come by. After years of searching for the perfect Dandie Dinmont, my dad found his pup…but I was still clueless about the breed.
Dandie Dinmonts are terriers from Scotland who look suspiciously like dachshunds to me (long bodies, short legs.) In fact, it is suspected that certain lines did interbreed with dachshunds at one time or another. The Dandies unique characteristics are (1) the “top knot” (or “poof” as my mom eloquently puts it) on the top of their head along with (2) their hind legs – which are significantly longer than their front legs (quite adorable!) They are only found in two colors: pepper (dark black to light gray…and I’m assuming where Pepper got his name) or mustard (a reddish brown…but really almost white.) They rarely weigh more than 25 pounds and are only about 8-11 inches high.
I was surprised to read numerous sources described this breed’s temperament as “tough”…it looks like such a little fluffy dog! They are terriers, though…and terriers that were meant to hunt badgers and otters. Dandies are intelligent, fond of children, and relatively easy to train. They are adaptable – meaning they will be happy in an apartment or a house with a big back yard (though be mindful of their proficiency in digging!) These little guys are great family dogs.
The most interesting thing I found about the Dandie Dinmont has nothing to do with the dog itself, but rather with where the breed got its name. Originally they were known as Catcleugh or Hindlee terriers (or often just pepper or mustard terriers depending on their color). Dandie Dinmont is actually a character in Guy Mannering, a novel by Sir Walter Scott. The fictional Dandie Dinmont, a “jolly farmer” was thought to be based on the real life James Davidson – who claimed that all Dandies were descendants of who of his own two dogs and is therefore credited with being the father of the modern Dandie Dinmont breed. I just love the fact that this dog is named after a character in a book!
The thing about Dandie Dinmonts….they are incredibly rare! In the United States, less than 100 new Dandie pups are registered each year. That’s crazy!
My mom and dad’s pup came with the name Dakota, but we will have to see if that sticks. Even at only 4 months old, his expressive eyes and scruffy “beard” make him look so wise…I think he needs a dignified name befitting his gentlemanly qualities. Only time will tell exactly how he will fit into the family (long haired dachshund Scarlett is the current queen of the castle), but after only a few hours with this little guy, I’m a Dandie Dinmont fan for life!