Scottish Daily Mail
Just Dandie! Litter of five pups boosts breed that’s rarer than the giant panda
THEY are rarer than the giant panda, blue whale and the snow leopard.
But it is feared the endangered Dandie Dinmont could disappear from the world with barely a whimper.
The world’s oldest terrier has been forgotten over the last 40 years, with would-be owners having their heads turned by designer dogs. It has led the terrier to feature on the Kennel Club’s top ten vulnerable breeds list every year since the rankings began in 2003.
Which is why this litter of five Dandie Dinmonts has given dog lovers a ray of hope.
‘A litter like this is so very important for us,’ said Paul Keevil, a Dandie Dinmont breeder. ‘Three puppies is average and four is lucky, so to have five is fantastic news.’
Dandie Dinmonts were established in the 1700s on the Scottish Borders and were originally called mustard and pepper terriers owing to the colour of their coats.
Unlike trendy cockapoos or poodles, they were bred to work, hunting ground vermin such as foxes, badgers and otters.
Their name changed after Sir Walter Scott’s 1815 novel Guy Mannering, which featured a farmer called Dandie Dinmont who kept the terriers. In 2015, the number of pups in the UK sank to an all-time low of 79, rising to just 80 the next year. Mr Keevil said: ‘In 2017 the total went up to 123.’
Now the arrival of healthy quintuplets has boosted their recovery. He added: ‘For the first nine months of 2018, we had a total of 108 – up on the same period in 2017.’
Owner and breeder Andy Kennedy is caring for the five male puppies – as well as their mother Jessie – at his home in Wateras
‘Old-fashioned British dogs got forgotten’
looville, Hampshire. He has found homes for two and is looking for buyers for the others at £1,000 each. He will keep the fifth.
A fourth generation Dandie breeder, the 54-year-old’s grandfather Alastair, of Dumfriesshire, was a vet for the Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club and another ancestor, John Mather, was a founder member. He said: ‘The fact that we have five puppies is quite a responsibility. We want them to do well and go to good homes whose owners will be ambassadors for the breed.’
Mr Keevil, who is a founding member of the Kennel Club’s vulnerable breed committee, added: ‘Dandies were popular until the 1970s and since then fashionable breeds and designers dogs with endorsements from film stars and celebrities came along and the good old-fashioned British working breeds just got forgotten about.
‘Working breeds became redundant and had to be retrained to become companions and had to make the transition from field to fireside. Some dogs did that better than others. Dandie Dinmonts are a reasonable size to pick up and they love human company and are affectionate and also adapt very well to life in towns and country.’ The Kennel Club says the breed is rarer than the giant panda, whose numbers stood at 1,864 in the latest census in 2014. There are between 5,000 and 12,000 blue whales, and around 5,000 wild snow leopards.