He evolved from the Scottish hillside, the grey mists forming his body, a bunch of lichen his topknot, crooked juniper stems his forelegs and a wet bramble his nose
In Scott's 1814 Waverley Novel, "Guy Mannering", Dandie Dinmont was a farmer who kept six of the distinctive Terriers on his farm. Sir Walter was much amused by the fact that the old farmer only had two different names for any of his dogs. His six dogs were named Auld Pepper, Auld Mustard, Young Pepper, Young Mustard, Little Pepper and Little Mustard. To this day the two colours of the breed are still known as Pepper (bluish black) and Mustard (rich golden brown). The truth of the matter is that a distinctive low to the ground, long backed, rough coated Terrier had existed in the Border Counties since at least the mid 18th century. This game breed had been carefully bred and much prized by tinker, gypsy and farmer alike.
There are several different theories as to the origin of the Dandie, usually a good indication that nobody actually knows the truth. One of the most popular theories is that a cross between an Ottherhound and some kind of Terrier produced the earliest examples of the breed. Certainly many border farmers would have kept both Hounds and Terriers, so the occasional cross mating would have been inevitable. It is certainly recorded that Terriers would assist the hounds to kill the Otters, whose pelts were of great value. The Hound like ears of the breed and its exceptionally deep and loud bark are another factor, claim the supporters of this theory. A second theory is that no cross took place but that the breed gradually evolved from the rough-haired Terriers of the Border District. A third theory is that the breed resulted from a Terrier/Dachshund cross, but quite how a German Dachshund would find its self in the Scottish Borders in the early 1700s is anyone's guess. What is more likely however is that the Dandie was crossed with the Smooth Dachshund to produce the Wire Haired Dachshund. But that's another story.
Tales of the picturesque characters associated with the breed in its early days abound. For example one William "Piper" Allen, of Bellingham , Northumberland, born in 1704 was a travelling tinker and basket maker. As his nickname suggests, he played the bagpipes, was an expert fisherman and, it is said, kept about a dozen terriers for Otter hunting. His most famous dog was called "Peacham", a dog whose Otter catching prowess was legendary and who no doubt served his master well. William married a gypsy and their son, James, who was born in 1734, took to the pipes and Terriers like his dad and eventually became the most famous of the two "Piper" Allens. He based himself in the Coquet Water area of the Borders and piped himself from place to place and was no less famous for his dogs than for his music and songs. One well recorded incident, probably much embellished like so many old stories, was that the Duke of Northumberland offered "Piper" a small farm for just one of his dogs, but the story goes, in the best of Hollywood traditions, that the "Piper", being his own man, turned down his Lordship's generous offer in order to retain his itinerant life style. At this time the breed was still unnamed and obscure and was to remain so for many years. Indeed legend has it that these early dogs eventually split into two different and quite distinctive breeds. The long bodied short legged one would become the only breed of dog to be named from a fictional character, whilst the long legged short bodied one would eventually take its name from a town it became associated with, Bedlington.
Walter Scott's description of Mr Dandie Dinmont and his dogs had seemed to match very closely one James Davidson, a tenant farmer of Hindlee on Lord Douglas's estate in the Teviotdale hills, many people have claimed that they were one and the same. Scott himself however always strongly denied this, stating that he did not draw his character from any one individual, but from up to a dozen or so of the Liddesdale yeomen of his acquaintance. James Davidson died in 1820, by which time the Dandie Dinmont Terrier was being bred in significant numbers by the border farmers and others to meet the demand which had resulted from the success of "Guy Mannering".
The first ever "Stud Book" issued by the Kennel Club covered the years 1859-1874 and much of the information contained in it and subsequent issues appears to have been garnered from show catalogues as there is little or no information on some of the dogs. However some other dogs from this period have quite extensive pedigrees printed, probably indicating that the owners co-operated with the KC in submitting pedigrees and breeding records for publication. Slowly but surely as later stud books were published, more and more information was available on specific dogs and it is from these early "Stud Book" records that the genealogical history of the modern Dandie is based.
One of the most well known dogs in the history of the breed was "Old Pepper". This dog was alleged to have been caught in a trap on the estate of the 5th Duke of Buccleuch (Walter Francis -1806-1884), hence his pedigree is unknown, but this dog went on the be the founding father of today's modern day Dandie Dinmont. His son was Mr E B Smith's "Old Ginger", whose name can be found right at the back of every Dandie Dinmont alive in the world today. The Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club, is the third oldest breed club in the world, having been formed on November 17th 1875 at the Fleece Hotel, Selkirk. In the year 2000 a commemorative plaque, funded by the breed club, was unveiled at the hotel by Dame Jean Maxwell-Scott, a direct descendent of Sir Walter's and still resident at the ancestral home, "Abbotsford". At that first club meeting of 1875, a full and very detailed breed standard was drawn up and remains fundamentally unchanged to this day. The formation of the breed club was instrumental to the progress and evolution of the breed from hard bitten working Terrier to the companion and show animal we know today. Prior to WWII the breed was dominated by many large and famous kennels, but with the outbreak of the war, the kennels were either dispersed or had many of their dogs destroyed, due to lack of food and manpower. No “normal” dog shows took place during the war and like several other of our native breeds, come 1946, the Dandie had to struggle to re-establish itself once again. A dedicated band of breed enthusiasts worked very hard on the breed just after the war, too many to give a name check to, but one must stand out for a special mention and that is Bellmead Kennels, first in Hazelmere, Surrey and later most famously in Old Windsor. Originally owned by Miss Trefusis Forbes and then by Mrs C. A. Miles, Bellmead was the largest boarding kennels in England in its day and not only bred Dandies in significant numbers but was also a training establishment for kennel maids. Probably the most influential Bellmead dog was Bellmead Delegate, who was a significant sire and big winner. Dandies continued at Bellmead right up until the early 1990s and indeed as a point of interest, the editor of this very publication [ed. Dogs Today] Ruth Chapman, herself a former Dandie owner, was involved in the breeding of the very last Bellmead Dandie litter. Bellmead is now owned by Battersea Dogs Home.
I am not going to list the recent and modern day breeders, because I am almost certain to leave some one or other out and cause offence. Suffice to say that the breed today is in the hands of a few dedicated enthusiasts, most of whom keep very few dogs and breed only occasionally. The world in 2004 is a quite different place and continued legislation, rules and regulations, plus financial pressures make the keeping of a large number of breeding animals impractical.