Taking care of your Dandie’s health and welfare is a vital aspect of responsible pet ownership. Ensuring the wellbeing of your canine companion involves several elements.
- Regular veterinary check-ups and relevant vaccinations help maintain their overall health and prevent common illnesses.
- Providing a balanced and nutritious diet tailored to their specific needs supports their growth, energy levels and immune system.
- Regular exercise and mental stimulation are essential for maintaining a healthy weight, promoting good cardiovascular health and preventing behavioural issues.
- Grooming, such as brushing their coat and cleaning their ears regularly, helps keep their skin and fur in optimal condition while also preventing infections.
- Last, but by no means least, showering them with love, affection and providing a safe, nurturing environment will strengthen the bond between you and your dog, which contributes to their emotional wellbeing.
Alongside the general responsibilities of caring for a dog, please see below a few breed-specific health aspects to look out for.
The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is on the Schedule A list for eye testing, meaning that they should be inspected at least every three years by a member of the BVA eye panel.
This is due to an increased risk for the breed to develop glaucoma, which is associated with defective development of the drainage angle, known as goniodysgenesis (gonio = angle, dysgenesis = defective development), or pectinate ligament dysplasia (PLD) or pectinate ligament abnormality (PLA).
Goniodysgenesis affects several breeds and is tested using a technique called gonioscopy. It was originally believed that the degree of goniodysgenesis did not progress after birth and so, a one-off test before breeding was advised for dogs of certified breeds. However, recent research has provided evidence that the disease can also progress with age in several breeds, including the Dandie Dinmont Terrier.
It is therefore advised that Schedule A breeds should undergo a gonioscopy every 3 years, unless there’s any evidence to suggest otherwise. The first test can be performed in dogs aged 6 months or older, and the current recommendation is to have a gonioscopy at approximately 1, 4 and 7–8 years. Repeat testing should provide much-needed longitudinal information about the risk of a dog developing glaucoma in later life and, with the help of breed health co-ordinators and The Royal Kennel Club Health Team, will enable breed-specific recommendations to be further developed.
Please note that the Southern Dandie Club recommends eye testing every year for breeding stock. The Kennel Club, under its Assured Breeder Scheme, also require a current test valid within the last 12 months.
Booking a gonioscopy
Gonioscopic examinations require certain expertise and specialised equipment. That’s why gonioscopies are not routinely carried out as part of the eye scheme, and they can only be performed by certain members of the BVA/KC/ISDS eye panel. Please check whether your preferred clinic is set up for gonioscopies.
For more information on eye testing, please visit the BVA website.
There is a common concern among Dandie owners about their puppy’s teeth and they often end up consulting their local vet as they believe something is not quite right.
Most vets will not have met a Dandie. Many will never have heard of the breed. A rare few will have owned one. The Dandie’s construction and physical development over the first 6–12 months are different from many other, more commonly known breeds. Most particularly, in how the adult teeth come through, and in the way the adult teeth become aligned.
If your vet suggests that your puppy needs a corrective procedure, speak to the breeder in the first instance as that is not the correct advice for this breed.
It will save the puppy unnecessary suffering and you a hefty bill. Because the lower canines often come through first, the vet may be of the opinion that they would grow inside the upper canines and dig into the roof of the mouth, and therefore might advise removing the adult lower teeth as they come through. That is how Dandies’ adult teeth come through and the lower canines will turn outwards as they meet the new upper canines coming down. Odd but true! Your vet will obviously have a very broad experience in their field, but it is always advisable to check in with the breeder before taking any course of action when it comes to your Dandie’s health in general. They can also tap into dozens of experienced Dandie breeders in the UK and abroad.
When to neuter (or spay)
An early neuter or spay could have an impact on your puppy’s growth plates, preventing them from developing into a straight and strong dog. Growth plates are the area of tissue near the ends of long bones in both canines and humans, and they determine the future length and shape of the mature bone. During puppyhood, these plates are soft and vulnerable to injury, becoming stable (or ‘closing’) during puberty – in most puppies, this is when they’re about 18 months old.
But what’s that got to do with neutering or spaying your Dandie? As sex hormones regulate growth, removing them too early leads to the growth hormones missing vital regulatory input, affecting the puppy’s growth pattern.
Further information is available here on canine growth plates.