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Judging The Dandie Dinmont Terrier

By: Charlotte Clem McGowan

Originally published: August 2013

Correct head showing eye placement, proportions and topknot

Dandies are an exceedingly rare breed.  If not for the efforts of a handful of very dedicated breeders in North America,  Dandies could easily become extinct in the New World and their survival worldwide is really an issue. They are  at risk even in the UK. There have been very serious efforts to share blood internationally but the breed is at a critical state. Therefore, judging Dandies should be related to  preventing their extinction.

The Dandie, at its best, is a marvelous creature. It is a long and low  achondroplastic dog with a curvy topline, plenty of substance, a large head with plenty of skull and the most human-like  dignified looking expression that makes strong eye contact and fears nothing with a hairy skin on it. The distinctive head has wide open rounded eyes set low in the large skull, and teeth of amazing size for a small dog.  Carefully and correctly groomed, it has a  2 inch coat with 2/3 harder hair and 1/3 soft undercoat that feels crisp to the touch. It also has a silken topknot covering the ample skull. When the Dandie moves, it should move with confidence with good reach in front and drive from the rear.  A Dandie should not ever be shy. It should be self possessed. Dandies sometimes appear comical to those who don’t know them, but they are serious dogs. They are never sparred. Dandies do not appear to be aggressive. They are reserved or friendly to people. But in the case of other dogs, they don’t warn, but given the opportunity to engage another dog they will be willing to go to the mat.  Dandies were used on badger or fox, very tough and ferocious opponents. Once engaged in warfare, Dandies are single minded. Don’t look at them as cute.

Given the rarity of the breed, it is important to correctly evaluate dogs when they do show up. In recent years, there have been pockets of Dandies  primarily not so far from the few breeders active in trying to breed enough to keep the gene pool viable as well as pockets of dogs in Canada.  Judges should try to visit a breeder who has a number of dogs and take in Montgomery and the national.

When evaluating a Dandie, first look at the overall outline and shape.  This is a long, low stationed dog with a curved outline.  The curves occur with a bit of arch to a neck well set into the shoulders and then a slight drop right behind the shoulder before a slight rise to the loin and then  a corresponding drop to the set on of the tail.  The tail is a scimitar shaped and should reflect the dog’s confidence. I have always said the last thing a Dandie does before it dies is wag it’s tail.

When going over a Dandie, you should find a dog with a lot of substance, a good forechest and a very well let down chest coming below the elbows, and a good spring of rib with a waistline before getting to a solid rear. The rear should have hocks well let down and the dog should stand soundly on the rear. No sickle hocks or cowhocks please! The body should not be tubular. Because Dandies are achondroplastic, a correct front wraps around the chest and the legs are not precisely straight.  Exhibitors try to groom these  typically somewhat curved bones to suggest perfectly straight legs.  Viewed from the side, a good Dandie  has the front legs well under the dog so a plumb line dropped from the tips of the shoulder goes through the center of the leg.

The Dandie’s head is characteristic.  The large eyes are forward looking and the gaze is direct and confident. The head proportions are 3 for muzzle and 5 for skull. The ears are set low with a slight projection at the fold. The Dandie skull is broad and strong. A judge needs to handle that skull and not worry about topknot grooming doing it. The skull needs to properly fill up your hand.  It isn’t a small head.

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club of America has a really good illustrated standard that can be ordered off their website. They also have a grooming chart. Both of these should be useful to judges.

I do hope on those rare occasions you see a Dandie you will appreciate it for the wonderful breed it is. There are still Dandies  worthy of consideration in the group. Give them a look.

Dandies are a most pleasant dog to live with, especially after they pass puppyhood. They are eccentric, amusing, determined and interesting company indeed.

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Posted by on Nov 29 2022. Filed under Current Articles, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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