This section is from the book "The Terriers. A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland", by Rawdon B. Lee. Also available from Amazon: A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland: The Terriers.
A COMMON belief prevails that Sir Walter Scott invented the Dandie Dinmont terrier. Such was, however, not the case, and long before 1814, when "Guy Mannering" was written, and in which Scotland's greatest novelist and poet introduced the character of Dandie Dinmont with his terriers Auld Pepper and Auld Mustard, Young Pepper and Young Mustard, and Little Pepper and Little Mustard, similar dogs had been kept amongst the sporting farmers, gipsies, tinkers, and potters who resided about the Borders, or travelled there, extending their peregrinations well into the south of Scotland, and even to below Carlisle.
Sir Walter was, however, responsible for the name this quaint variety of terrier bears at the present time. One of his characters in the story alluded to, is "Dandie Dinmont," who, without being drawn from any particular individual, was no doubt intended to represent a type of farmer at that time common enough on the Borders - strong, burly agriculturists, with a passion for sport of all kinds, and perhaps never more pleasantly employed than, with the aid of their terriers, digging out and killing some fox that had been making reprisals on their flocks. Such men were but a part of the times, and there was no need to draw upon the imagination for so fine a character as "Dandie Dinmont" of Charlieshope, with which the variety of dog of which I write has become so strongly identified.
After the publication of "Guy Mamnering" the character of "Dandie Dinmont" was by common consent applied to one James Davidson of Hyndlee, of whom, however, Sir Walter Scott had never heard. Still, the description appeared to fit him well, and although he had never read the story himself, his friends would, out of sheer fun, repeat passages to him, over which it has been said Jamie was wont to fall asleep.
This Davidson occupied a farm on Lord Douglas's estate at Hyndlee, Roxburghshire, bordering the Teviots, and in addition to being a keen sportsman bore a character for his rough "outspokenness" and honesty, as well as being a strong, powerful man, and quite as hard in constitution as men reared and brought up as he had been usually are. He possessed an extra good strain of terriers, and although he sometimes had as many as ten and twelve couples of them, they had but two names amongst them, the blue or grey ones all alike being called "Pepper," whilst those of a sandy or fawn hue were known as "Mustard".
From these dogs of James Davidson's, it is generally supposed the best strains of the modern Dandie Dinmont terriers are descended, and here I must at the outset draw attention to the practice now so common of calling these dogs "Dandies," leaving out the Dinmont and terrier. This custom has become so prevalent that it is used not only in speaking of them but by some persons in writing of the variety.
I do not know whether to consider the Dandie Dinmont terrier fortunate or unfortunate in having so many chroniclers. No variety of dog has had so much written about him in the newspaper, and, moreover, Mr. Charles Cook, of Edinburgh, wrote his monograph, a remarkably handsome volume, beautifully illustrated, published by David Douglas in 1885, and which I believe is now out of print. About twenty-two years ago the columns of the Field were pretty well inundated with letters concerning this dog, many of them written with considerable feeling, and I fancy more with the idea of puffing a particular strain than with any intention of arriving at what was the correct type, or what the origin of the dog had been.
Of the latter many peculiar ideas had been promulgated, one writer urged that the odd shape and long body were originally obtained by a cross at some remote period with the dachshund; and, strangely enough, this idea is still believed in some quarters. Others suggested a cross between the otter hound and some kind of terrier; whilst from another quarter the more correct solution of the mystery would come, that the Dandie Dinmont terrier had been originally produced in the same way as other varieties of the dog. He was like Topsy, "he had growed," and no one was old enough to bring proof as to when he did "grow" or how. As some writers might say, and with exceeding truth, "the origin of the Dandie Dinmont is lost in the mists of obscurity," and the less I tell about him before he became known on the show bench, the better for my readers and for future generations.
As I have said, the Border farmers and others kept a hardy race of short-legged terriers, answering to the description of the Dandie Dinmont, even before the end of last century. They assisted the hounds to kill the otters, and of themselves were hardy enough to destroy foxes in their holes, and the sweetmart and the foulmart whenever they were come across.
The dogs, as hardy as their masters, notwithstanding their short legs and long bodies, were fairly active. But the original Dandie Dinmont terrier stood a little higher on the leg and was shorter in the body than the modern article. This may be observed by reference to early pictures of this dog, notably to that by Landseer in his well known portrait of Sir Walter Scott. Here a "mustard" dog is introduced, said to have been painted from a terrier then at Abbotsford, and which originally came from James Davidson.
As to how he became crooked in front is more a matter for scientists than for an ordinary writer about dogs, but, more likely than the dachshund theory, I would suggest that at some earlier period in his history a terrier had been born with his or her fore legs pretty well crooked, and somewhat stunted thereon, as all terriers with unduly heavy bodies undoubtedly must be. He proved, though slow, to be a good hand at vermin, better indeed than others of the same strain. Then he was freely bred from, and his descendants were bred from, and so the strain of crooked legs and long backs became perpetuated. I am no believer in foreign crosses, and have often smiled to find how often they crop up at most convenient periods, and, as I have said before, these unduly crooked fore legs are deformities, and Nature of herself never intended them to be on any dog. We must not forget that the original Dandie Dinmont was a smaller dog than the modern one;. perhaps in an endeavour to obtain greater bone, larger heads, and stronger jaws, a cross with big terriers was introduced, and as heavier bodies were procured the legs gave way, which deformity, at first but tolerated, eventually became hereditary.