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The Dandie Dinmont








The breed of terrier now known as the Dandie Dinmont is one of the
races of the dog which can boast of a fairly ancient lineage. Though
it is impossible now to say what was the exact origin of this breed,
we know that it was first recognised under its present name after the
publication of Scott's Guy Mannering, in the year 1814, and we know
that for many years previously there had existed in the Border
counties a rough-haired, short-legged race of terrier, the constant
and very effective companion of the Border farmers and others in their
fox-hunting expeditions.

Various theories have been suggested by different writers as to the
manner in which the breed was founded. Some say that the Dandie is the
result of crossing a strain of rough-haired terriers with the
Dachshund; others that a rough-haired terrier was crossed with the
Otterhound; and others again assert that no direct cross was ever
introduced to found the breed, but that it was gradually evolved from
the rough-haired terriers of the Border district. And this latter
theory is probably correct.

The Dandie would appear to be closely related to the Bedlington
Terrier. In both breeds we find the same indomitable pluck, the same
pendulous ear, and a light silky topknot adorning the skull of each;
but the Dandie was evolved into a long-bodied, short-legged dog, and
the Bedlington became a long-legged, short-bodied dog! Indeed to
illustrate the close relationship of the two breeds a case is quoted
of the late Lord Antrim, who, in the early days of dog shows,
exhibited two animals from the same litter, and with the one obtained
a prize or honourable mention in the Dandie classes, and with the
other a like distinction in the Bedlington classes.

It may be interesting to give a few particulars concerning the
traceable ancestors of the modern Dandie. In Mr. Charles Cook's book
on this breed, we are given particulars of one William Allan, of
Holystone, born in 1704, and known as Piper Allan, and celebrated as a
hunter of otters and foxes, and for his strain of rough-haired terriers
who so ably assisted him in the chase. William Allan's terriers
descended to his son James, also known as the Piper, and born in the
year 1734. James Allan died in 1810, and was survived by a son who
sold to Mr. Francis Somner at Yetholm a terrier dog named Old Pepper,
descended from his grandfather's famous dog Hitchem. Old Pepper was
the great-grandsire of Mr. Somner's well-known dog Shem. These
terriers belonging to the Allans and others in the district are
considered by Mr. Cook to be the earliest known ancestors of the
modern Dandie Dinmont.

Sir Walter Scott himself informs us that he did not draw the character
of Dandie Dinmont from any one individual in particular, but that the
character would well fit a dozen or more of the Lidderdale yeomen of
his acquaintance. However, owing to the circumstance of his calling

all his terriers Mustard and Pepper, without any other distinction
except auld and young and little, the name came to be fixed by
his associates upon one James Davidson, of Hindlee, a wild farm in the
Teviotdale mountains.

James Davidson died in the year 1820, by which time the Dandie Dinmont
Terrier was being bred in considerable numbers by the Border farmers
and others to meet the demand for it which had sprung up since the
appearance of Guy Mannering.

As a result of the controversies that were continually recurring with
regard to the points of a typical Dandie Dinmont there was formed in
the year 1876 the Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club, with the object of
settling the question for ever, and for this purpose all the most
noted breeders and others interested were invited to give their views
upon it.

The standard of points adopted by the club is as follows:--

* * * * *

HEAD--Strongly made and large, not out of proportion to the dog's
size; the muscles showing extraordinary development, more especially
the maxillary. SKULL--Broad between the ears, getting gradually less
towards the eyes, and measuring about the same from the inner corner
of the eyes to back of skull as it does from ear to ear. The forehead
well domed. The head is covered with very soft silky hair, which
should not be confined to a mere topknot, and the lighter in colour
and silkier it is the better. The cheeks, starting from the ears
proportionately with the skull, have a gradual taper towards the
muzzle, which is deep and strongly made, and measures about three
inches in length, or in proportion to skull as three is to five. The
muzzle is covered with hair of a little darker shade than the topknot,
and of the same texture as the feather of the fore-legs. The top of
the muzzle is generally bare for about an inch from the black part of
the nose, the bareness coming to a point towards the eye, and being
about one inch broad at the nose. The nose and inside of mouth black
or dark coloured. The teeth very strong, especially the canine, which
are of extraordinary size for such a small dog. The canines fit well
into each other, so as to give the greatest available holding and
punishing power, and the teeth are level in front, the upper ones very
slightly overlapping the under ones. (Many of the finest specimens
have a swine mouth, which is very objectionable, but it is not so
great an objection as the protrusion of the under jaw.) EYES--Set wide
apart, large, full, round, bright, expressive of great determination,
intelligence and dignity; set low and prominent in front of the head;
colour a rich dark hazel. EARS--Pendulous, set well back, wide apart
and low on the skull, hanging close to the cheek, with a very slight
projection at the base, broad at the junction of the head and tapering
almost to a point, the fore part of the ear tapering very little, the
tapering being mostly on the back part, the fore part of the ear
coming almost straight down from its junction with the head to the
tip. They should harmonise in colour with the body colour. In the case
of a pepper dog they are covered with a soft, straight, brownish hair
(in some cases almost black). In the case of a mustard dog the hair
should be mustard in colour, a shade darker than the body, but not
black. All should have a thin feather of light hair starting about two
inches from the tip, and of nearly the same colour and texture as the
topknot, which gives the ear the appearance of a distinct point. The
animal is often one or two years old before the feather is shown. The
cartilage and skin of the ear should not be thick, but rather thin.
Length of ear, from three to four inches. NECK--Very muscular, well
developed, and strong; showing great power of resistance, being well
set into the shoulders. BODY--Long, strong, and flexible; ribs well
sprung and round, chest well developed and let well down between the
fore-legs; the back rather low at the shoulder, having a slight
downward curve and a corresponding arch over the loins, with a very
slight gradual drop from top of loins to root of tail; both sides of
backbone well supplied with muscle. TAIL--Rather short, say from eight
inches to ten inches, and covered on the upper side with wiry hair of
darker colour than that of the body, the hair on the under side being
lighter in colour, and not so wiry, with a nice feather, about two
inches long, getting shorter as it nears the tip; rather thick at the
root, getting thicker for about four inches, then tapering off to a
point. It should not be twisted or curled in any way, but should come
up with a curve like a scimitar, the tip, when excited, being in a
perpendicular line with the root of the tail. It should neither be set
on too high nor too low. When not excited it is carried gaily, and a
little above the level of the body. LEGS--The fore-legs short, with
immense muscular development and bone, set wide apart, the chest
coming well down between them. The feet well formed, and not flat,
with very strong brown or dark-coloured claws. Bandy legs and flat
feet are objectionable. The hair on the fore-legs and feet of a pepper
dog should be tan, varying according to the body colour from a rich
tan to a pale fawn; of a mustard dog they are of a darker shade than
its head, which is a creamy white. In both colours there is a nice
feather, about two inches long, rather lighter in colour than the hair
on the fore-part of the leg. The hind-legs are a little longer than
the fore ones, and are set rather wide apart, but not spread out in an
unnatural manner, while the feet are much smaller, the thighs are well
developed, and the hair of the same colour and texture as the fore
ones, but having no feather or dew claws; the whole claws should be
dark; but the claws of all vary in shade according to the colour of
the dog's body. COAT--This is a very important point; the hair should
be about two inches long; that from skull to root of tail a mixture of
hardish and soft hair, which gives a sort of crisp feel to the hand.
The hair should not be wiry; the coat is termed pily or pencilled. The
hair on the under part of the body is lighter in colour and softer
than that on the top. The skin on the belly accords with the colour of
dog. COLOUR--The colour is pepper or mustard. The pepper ranges from a
dark bluish black to a light silver grey, the intermediate shades
being preferred, the body colour coming well down the shoulder and
hips, gradually merging into the leg colour. The mustards vary from a
reddish brown to a pale fawn, the head being a creamy white, the legs
and feet of a shade darker than the head. The claws are dark as in
other colours. (Nearly all Dandie Dinmonts have some white on the
chest, and some have also white claws.) SIZE--The height should be
from 8 to 11 inches at the top of shoulder. Length from top of
shoulder to root of tail should not be more than twice the dog's
height, but, preferably, one or two inches less. WEIGHT--From 14 lb.
to 24 lb. the best weight as near 18 lb. as possible. These weights
are for dogs in good working order.

* * * * *

In the above standard of points we have a very full and detailed
account of what a Dandie should be like, and if only judges at shows
would bear them in mind a little more, we should have fewer
conflicting decisions given, and Dandie fanciers and the public
generally would not from time to time be set wondering as to what is
the correct type of the breed.

A Dandie makes an excellent house guard; for such a small dog he has
an amazingly deep, loud bark, so that the stranger, who has heard him
barking on the far side of the door, is quite astonished when he sees
the small owner of the big voice. When kept as a companion he becomes
a most devoted and affectionate little friend, and is very intelligent.
As a dog to be kept in kennels there is certainly one great drawback
where large kennels are desired, and that is the risk of keeping two
or more dogs in one kennel; sooner or later there is sure to be a
fight, and when Dandies fight it is generally a very serious matter;
if no one is present to separate them, one or both of the combatants
is pretty certain to be killed. But when out walking the Dandie is no
more quarrelsome than other breeds of terriers, if properly trained
from puppyhood.

There is one little matter in breeding Dandies that is generally a
surprise to the novice, and that is the very great difference in the
appearance of the young pups and the adult dog. The pups are born
quite smooth-haired, the peppers are black and tan in colour, and the
mustards have a great deal of black in their colouring. The topknot
begins to appear sometimes when the dog is a few months old, and
sometimes not till he is a year or so old. It is generally best to
mate a mustard to a pepper, to prevent the mustards becoming too light
in colour, though two rich-coloured mustards may be mated together
with good results. It is a rather curious fact that when two mustards
are mated some of the progeny are usually pepper in colour, though
when two peppers are mated there are very seldom any mustard puppies.

The popularity of the Dandie has now lasted for nearly a hundred
years, and there is no reason why it should not last for another
century, if breeders will only steer clear of the exaggeration of
show points, and continue to breed a sound, active, and hardy terrier.





Next: The Skye And Clydesdale Terriers

Previous: The West Highland White Terrier



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