South Scotland

'Kiss of life' hope for rare Dandie Dinmont terrier breed

Image caption The Dandie Dinmont is named after a Walter Scott character

A new discovery centre in the Borders hopes to help boost numbers of one of the world's rarest types of dog.

With only about 100 Kennel Club puppy registrations a year, the Dandie Dinmont terrier has been put on its list of vulnerable native breeds.

A discovery centre is to be created at the Haining in Selkirk and a statue sited there as well.

The modern-day "father" of the breed, Old Ginger, was born in kennels on the estate back in 1842.

The UK co-ordinator of the Dandie Dinmont discovery centre project, Paul Keevil, said the terriers had a long history in Scotland.

Image caption The new discovery centre will have information about the breed

"As far as Scotland goes, it is one of your most ancient breeds - it is the only breed of dog to be named after a character from fiction," he said.

"It is named after a Walter Scott character in a book that he published over 200 years ago, so you can't get much more Scottish than that.

"It's a very, very ancient breed - it goes back to at least the 1700s to the Border counties."

Mr Keevil said the Haining estate had a special role in its story.

"The first dog that we can actually trace a full pedigree for - which is knowing the sire and the dam - was actually born in Selkirk, inside the Haining kennels, in 1842.

"So that is regarded as the modern-day father of the breed because before that nobody kept any records."

'Out of fashion'

He said that the fall in numbers was hard to explain but might in part be due to the rise in popularity of designer breeds.

"I think maybe the old-fashioned, traditional working breeds - the ones which have been around for hundreds of years - are maybe just falling out of fashion," he said.

In a bid to reverse that trend, the discovery centre is being created.

"We are hoping that we are going to be able to give the breed a real kiss of life, as it were," he said.

"We are going to restore the original kennel building, that is the actual room where Old Ginger was born.

"That is going to be packed full of information about the breed and about the numerous other Scottish breeds and the other vulnerable breeds on the Kennel Club list."

The centre is being funded by the Kennel Club educational trust and members of the Dandie Dinmont owner community.

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