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Dandie Dinmont Terriers: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Dandie Dinmont Terrier temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Last Updated: October, 2019

Dandie Dinmont Terrier dog breed


The plucky Dandie Dinmont is one of the brightest of the terriers – but also one of the most independent.

Undemanding, dignified, and relaxed in the home, the Dandie becomes bold and tenacious when his hunting/chasing instincts are aroused.

One look at his long, low-slung body and it's obvious that this breed isn't built for long-distance jogging or running beside your bike. He is content with daily walks and regular opportunities to play.

Though diplomatic with strangers, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier is confident of his territory and makes a determined watchdog.

He doesn't put on a macho posturing act with other animals, as some terriers do, but he is exceedingly tough and will not back down from a confrontation. Two adult males are definitely an unwise combination.

Assertive and strong-willed, with a definite mind of his own, he requires consistent leadership. Obedience training should include food rewards and praise, for the Dandie is sensitive and proud. Heavy-handed training only makes him more obstinate and uncooperative.


If you want a dog who...

  • Is a "big dog with short legs" i.e. built low to the ground, but with a robust body, heavy bone, and a strong temperament
  • Is unusual-looking, with a curvy body, large expressive eyes, and a bushy topknot on his head
  • Is calmer than most other terriers
  • Needs only moderate exercise
  • Is polite with strangers, but makes a determined watchdog with a surprisingly deep bark
  • Doesn't shed excessively

A Dandie Dinmont Terrier may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • One of the most self-willed and independent of the terriers
  • Aggression toward other animals -- chasing instincts
  • Regular clipping/trimming of the coat
  • Waiting lists (very hard to find) and a high price tag

A Dandie Dinmont Terrier may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

More traits and characteristics of the Dandie Dinmont Terrier

If I was considering a Dandie Dinmont Terrier, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Strong mind of their own. Dandie Dinmont terriers must be taught at an early age that they are not the rulers of the world. The toughness that makes them suited to killing vermin can frustrate you when you try to teach them anything. Terriers are stubborn and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. To teach your Dandie to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. Read more about Dandie Dinmont Training.

    I do not recommend terriers for homes with small children. Many terriers will not tolerate any nonsense from little life forms whom they consider to be below themselves in importance. Many terriers are quick to react to teasing, and even to the normal clumsiness that comes with small children (accidental squeezing of their ears or pulling of whiskers or stepping on their paw). Many terriers are possessive of their food and toys and will defend these from all comers, including children.

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  2. Grooming. Dandie Dinmont Terriers require clipping and trimming every few months, to keep their coat short and free of mats. Don't expect your pet Dandie Dinmont to look like the Dandie Dinmont show dogs you've seen in books or on TV. That particular look takes hours of work by experienced show groomers.
  3. Potential animal aggression. Like all terriers, Dandie Dinmonts can be scrappy with other dogs of the same sex. They are a determined force to reckon with if they decide to initiate or accept a challenge to fight. And because of their hunting background, most terriers have strong instincts to chase and seize small fleeing creatures. This can make for conflict if you own a cat. It may be much worse than that if you own a pet rabbit or hamster.
  4. Finding one and paying the price. This is an uncommon breed, hard to find, and expensive. In addition, with fewer breeding partners available, Dandies are likely to be more inbred, which is never good for a breed's health.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.

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