Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Dandie Dinmont?

Yale University is making high-resolution images from its cultural collections available on a free, open access basis, and they've started by uploading 250,000 images, with more to follow. A drill through the new online library turns up the above image, which is described as a Dandie Dinmomt Terrier painted by John E. Ferneley Jr. in 1848.

For those who do not know, the "Dandie Dinmont" is a terrier named after a character in a Walter Scott novel (Guy Mannering), which was first published in 1815.  Dandie Dinmont was a border farmer from Liddesdale who was said to have terriers by the name of "Mustard" and "Pepper" which he trained for work the same as dogs are still trained today:

I had them a’ regularly entered, first wi’ rottens—then wi’ stots or weasels—and then wi’ the tods and brocks—and now they fear naething that ever cam wi’ a hairy skin on ’t.’ 

The novel itself is a very bad romantic tale supposedly taking place between 1760s and 1780 in Scotland, but it does mention fox hunting -- the first real mention in British literature, and the timing is not a coincidence, as the Enclosure Movement, which did so much to drive the rise of fox hunting and the development of dogs, was starting to roar along at this time.

What's notable about this painting of a "Dandie Dinmont" is that this is what the dog was supposedly supposed to look like, and yet it is quite different from the sway-backed top-knot-headed, straight-tail dog we see in the Kennel Club show ring today.

Of course, the painting at top may be a complete fantasy.  This is, after all, a dog named after a minor character in a bad romance novel.  It's been pure fantasy since Day One with the Dandie Dinmont!

What we can say for certain is this picture was painted 11 years before the first dog show in Britain (1859) and 25 years before the start of The Kennel Club (1873).  The dog shown is a mongrelly-looking terrier that, if pressed, I would say was a cross between a Cairn Terrier and a Dachshund or Corgi with a dash of lap poodle or lap spaniel tossed in for good measure.  If you want an exact copy of this dog, they get in two or three a month at your local animal shelter!


Seahorse said...

God awful, both iterations.


Viatecio said...

I saw a Pomeranian/Cairn terrier cross that looked exactly like the dog in the painting. She was actually a great dog with a bit of sass to her, but overall had a calm demeanor that was very much NOT terrier-esque at all. Can't ever imagine seeing another one like her.