Dandie Dinmont Terrier Heritage Trail

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The Dandie Dinmont Heritage Trail

The Dandie Dinmont terrier is one of the oldest dog breeds in the UK and originates from the Scottish Borderlands. In 2019 a group of owner enthusiasts started to develop the Dandie Dinmont Heritage Trail, designed to highlight the breed’s development and history.  Over time, information boards will be unveiled at all key places of interest to the breed. The boards include QR links for people to follow the history in more detail.  

Information boards are already in situ at:

Kirk Yetholm, (a village 8 miles south east of Kelso), home of the fabled gypsies who were instrumental in the early breeding of dandies.

Oral history from the early 1700s tells us that there had evolved in the Scottish Borderlands a particular type of rough coated, long backed, short legged terrier with a light, distinctive topknot. Valued by the Borders farming and gypsy communities alike, these dogs were known as mustards (gingery in colour) and peppers (dark grey) before they adopted the name of Dandie Dinmont Terriers following the publication of Sir Walter Scott’s novel Guy Mannering in 1815.

For more information https://www.dandiederby.com/kirk-yetholm-gypsies-dogs-and-border-folk/

Bowhill House near Selkirk, ancestral home of the dandies where the Dukes of Buccleuch had a breeding kennel for dandies, where one of the earliest documented dandies, Old Pepper, was found in a trap. The earliest portrait of a Dandie Dinmont can be seen inside the house (the dandie is included in the portrait of the 3rd Duke of Buccleuch by Gainsborough, 1770).  Follow ‘The Old Pepper Trail’ at Bowhill and find the board by the Lower Lake. what3words  Please note entry fees apply at Bowhill. The board was unveiled on 30th March 2024.  

The next board to be unveiled will on the 6th of October at Oxnam Kirk near Jedburgh, burial place of renowned early breeder James Davidson (died 1820). His breeding was used to set the standard when the Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club was established in 1875.  James Davidson is popularly acknowledged to be the inspiration for the character Dandie Dinmont in Sir Walter Scott’s 1815 novel Guy Mannering.  The breed adopted its name from this fictional character.  

Oxnam Kirk will be followed by a board at The Haining House in Selkirk, home of ‘Old Ginger’.  Old Ginger, born in 1842, was the first male dandie to have a known pedigree (sired by Bowhill’s Old Pepper) and all dandies can be traced back to this pepper dog.  The original dandie kennels survive and have been restored, alongside a small Dandie Dinmont Discovery Centre (key needs to be requested from the trustees of the Haining). A crowd funded bronze statue commemorating Old Ginger was created by Alexander Stoddard, the Queen’s Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland, and was unveiled in the Dairy Yard in 2017.

To complete the trail, further boards are planned for the following locations:

Abbotsford House near Melrose, home of Sir Walter Scott.

Kelso, home of Frances Somner, early breeder.

Selkirk, home to key breeders, site of the first meeting of the Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club and Caledonian Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club.

Rothbury, Northumberland.  Links to ‘Piper’ Willie Allan, early breeder of dandies and Lord Armstrong, dandie owner at Cragside.

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The Dandie Dinmont Terrier emerged from the Border mists of Scotland and England in the late 1600’s. The breed has only two colours. Mustard and Pepper and that would often be their pet names. Dandies were bred to hunt vermin, otters and badgers and they were prized by poachers and gypsies alike for their hunting and flushing of vermin.  The Dandie Dinmont is one of many British breeds of dogs on the Kennel Club vulnerable native breeds at risk register, on average less than 100 are born every year in UK. Today Dandies are not seen as a fashionable dog, however they are hardy and full of fun but can be stubborn! They have a distinctive “topknot”. They are also known for their long, low slung bodies and short legs. Their life expectancy is about 14 years

The 1st recorded breeder of the “Dandie” was William “Piper” Allan born in Bellingham, Northumberland in 1704. Although not himself a gypsy, Willy enjoyed the company of gypsies & travelling folk. He was a great character, a tinker, a player of Northumbrian pipes, a hunter, a fisherman and water bailiff on the Conquet Water. He died at nearby Holystone, on 18th February 1779 and is buried across the road in an un-marked grave in All Saints Churchyard. Willie’s son Jamie, also a famous piper was appointed as personal piper to the Countess of Northumberland at Alnwick Castle. Unfortunately, he was also a ne’er-do-well, horse thief, deserter and bigamist. But he also cherished and continued to breed and develop his father’s Dandies.

It’s thanks to Sir Walter Scott that the Dandie Dinmont Terrier acquired its name. In 1815 Scott published his book “Guy Mannering”. A principal character in the book was a Border farmer named Dandie Dinmont who kept a pack of the Mustard & Pepper terriers, as they were then known. Scott’s character was based on a real Border farmer; James Davidson from Hyndlee near Hawick. The book was a massive success and the Mustard and Pepper dogs became known henceforth as “Dandie Dinmont Terriers”. As a result, this previously unknown terrier enjoyed massive success and became much sought after in the 19th century. No less than Queen Victoria, the French King, Louis Philippe and the Tzar of Russia all had Dandies. They were also very popular with the landed gentry and the ordinary folk of Victoria’s reign. Demand outstripped supply and they were often “dognapped” and sold in London and further afield.

A group of dedicated Dandie Dinmont enthusiasts has been working for several years now to establish a Dandie Dinmont Terrier Heritage Trail throughout the Border Lands of Scotland and England – the home of the Dandie. The trail will take visitors on a “journey” through the Borders to the places where the Dandie came from and explain the important historic connections of the breed to such places as Kirk Yetholm, Rothbury, Oxnam Kirk, Abbotsford, The Haining and Bowhill, to name but a few.

We will explain the contribution of the Border farmers, such as James Davidson, alongwith the other early breeders in developing the Dandie we all know and love today. The important contributions of Sir Walter Scott, the Duke of Buccleuch, and Queen Victoria will be also be covered and finally how the Dandie is connected to the towns and great houses of the Borders, such as The Haining, BowHill and Abbotsford.

Our first Heritage Board was installed at Kirk Yetholm, the home of the “Gypsy Kings”, which was unveil in June by Lady Grossart.


The twin villages of Town and Kirk Yetholm lie on both sides of the Bowmount Water and dates back to the 13th century. For many years the only road into Yetholm was from England even though Kelso is only 8 miles away. The name Yetholm means “Gate Town”. The Pennine way starts at Kirk Yetholm and ends in Edale Derbyshire 268 miles away, and St Cuthbert’s way also passes through here from Melrose to Lindisfarne.

Yetholm was home to the Gypsy Muggers, and The Gypsy Palace and Gypsies first settled here in during the 1700’s. The meaning of “Muggers” has changed over the years. The name of Muggers in these day was to make Mugs as they were “potters” A few of the well-known Dandie breeders in Yetholm, which included the Allan’s, were the Amstrong’s, Faa’s and Young’s, and so Yetholm became the centre of Dandie breeding in the 18th Century. Unfortunately, there are no breed records from this time, as the dogs were so highly prized, breeding was a closely guarded secret. Sir Walter Scott had a close association with Yetholm, and several of his fictional characters were based on real people from Yetholm, and the surrounding area. This included Jean Gordon, who was Meg Merrilees in the book “Guy Mannering”. Another character in Scott’s book was Dandie Dinmont who kept a pack of the Mustard & Pepper terriers and was based on a real Border farmer James Davidson from Hyndlee near Hawick.

The second Dandie Dinmont Heritage Board installed at Bowhill incorporating “Old Pepper Trail” . The Board was unveiled by Lady Louisa Trotter. Thanks to Ann Deegan and Calum Flanders for all of their work and also unearthing the picture of James Kerss.
May I also add thanks to everyone in the Dandie World for your continuous support over many years to.promote our loyal companions of our Dandie Dinmonts.

The Link to the fund raiser is below

Fundraiser by Kenny Allan : Dandie Dinmont Terrier Hertiage Trail (gofundme.com)

For further information on the Dandie Dinmont

Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club Welcome to the Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club (ddtc.co.uk)

The Southern Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club is www.southerndandies.com

Caledonian Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club – Dandie Dinmont Terriers and their owners everywhere (caledoniandandies.com)

Dandie Derby Dandie Derby – The Dandie Dinmont Derby, walks

All the Clubs have a puppy coordinator please see their website for further information. The Kennel Club also has a puppy finder page Find a puppy | The Kennel Club