Interview with Betty-Anne Stenmark, Breeder of King’s Mtn. Dandie Dinmont Terriers
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Betty-Anne Stenmark: I currently live in Grass Valley, California, about an hour east of Sacramento in the Sierra Foothills. Previously to this move five years ago, I lived on King’s Mountain in Woodside in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 40 years, thus our kennel name. I whelped my first litter of Saint Bernards in 1964, and a few years later, there was a litter of Salukis, but it’s been Dandie Dinmont Terriers ever since. I whelped my first litter of Dandies on May 26, 1976.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Betty-Anne Stenmark: King’s Mtn. is comprised of three longtime breeders; me, Sandra Pretari Hickson, and BJ Pumfrey, and between us we have 10 Dandies living as house dogs.
Which breeders have provided the greatest influence on my decision to breed dogs?
Betty-Anne Stenmark: My early mentors were Jean Lyle (Wycliffe Standard Poodles) and Lorna Rindal (Torcroft Bassets and Dandies), both of West Vancouver, British Columbia. My parents were at a cocktail party where Don and Jean Lyle were too, and my mother told Jean that I was in Switzerland buying a Saint Bernard to which Jean famously replied, “I hope she doesn’t think she’s going to make money at dogs!”
Lorna’s primary breed was Bassets, but her husband, Kaare, had fallen in love with the Dandies, and finally, Lorna capitulated and brought one home from England. Lorna bred a few good Dandies, but unfortunately, she was blind to her own dogs and didn’t take advantage of the American dogs that were available and would have contributed. Jean, on the other hand, traveled the world, always looking for dogs that were compatible. She set quite a high standard for me, I’ve never forgotten her.
Can I talk a bit about my foundation dogs? How have they influenced my breeding program?
Betty-Anne Stenmark: My two foundation bitches came from Lorna, Can. Ch. Torcroft Young Bess, and her granddaughter, Am./Can. Ch. Torcroft Ginger of King’s Mtn. “Bess” was a large, doggy bitch with a very good front assembly, a nice shape, an excellent side gait, and great breed character. She needed a better head and had a lousy coat.
“Ginger” was a better bitch than her grandmother, with an excellent front assembly, a better size, good outline, and was better coming and going but also had a wonderful side gait. Her head was an improvement on her grandmother. She had a better coat, but still in these areas she too needed improvement. I have never compromised on a front assembly, and to this day as a breeder and a judge it is an area I cannot forgive. I am a very unhappy judge when I have to point to a dog with a less than good front, as the front assembly influences so much else. A poor front assembly here makes an automatic pet and I’m left wondering where on earth that came from!
What about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Betty-Anne Stenmark: Dandies make lousy kennel dogs, and we will not sell a dog into such a situation. Puppies are raised in our home and then moved to a larger in-home puppy pen with loads of stimulation. As weather permits they take trips to the garden. We seldom have two litters at once, and when we do, we are reminded of how difficult that is!
Do I have a “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Betty-Anne Stenmark: Achondroplastic breeds are more difficult to evaluate, and we have found over the years that we can make the first cut at 10 to 12 weeks of age. Those that make the cut are run on until they are 4-1/2 to 5 months of age, when their bite is set and teeth are in. Showing and breeding a Dandie with a poor mouth is not something we do.
How do I choose the homes for my puppies? Is puppy placement important to me as a breeder?
Betty-Anne Stenmark: Having been in the breed for more than 40 years, we are well-known and have a long list of people wanting show and breeding stock, as well as pets. We have had great success on our National Specialty weekends, as well as at major events. Ch. King’s Mtn. Henry Higgins was the Top Terrier in 2021. Most of our pet sales are from repeat buyers, many buying their third and fourth Dandie from us. We are always on the look-out for someone interested in breeding and showing Dandies, and have found that people already showing dogs of a different breed are our best buyers.
One of these buyers is a young woman who attended an all-breed club meeting where Doug Johnson (Clussexx Clumbers, Sussex, Welsh Springers, English Toy Spaniels) was the guest speaker. He talked about drawing in new people to rare breeds and mentioned that if a person was interested in helping out with a rare breed to consider a breed similar to their own. This young lady had two Pembrokes and realized how much similarity there was between the Pembroke and the Dandie, and she started asking a lot of good questions. She has a lovely bitch from us. At the most recent National Specialty, our new show people were from Standard Poodles, Pembrokes, and Cavaliers, and happily, they were younger people who’ll contribute to the future of this breed.
Can I share my thoughts on how my breed is currently presented in the show ring?
Betty-Anne Stenmark: Showing a Dandie competitively today requires a great deal of expertise in grooming. No longer can you take a Dandie looking like an unmade bed into the ring and be successful. When we sell a Dandie for show, we try to find someone near the buyer who can help with the rudimentary skills needed.
Sandra and BJ and Tyler Mills and Joe Metheney spent the day before the National helping our new show people learn what it takes to finish grooming for the ring. Many of these dogs arrived in very short coat or nearly naked, but their owners learned, watched, and realized what they need to do going forward.
Are there any health-related concerns within my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Betty-Anne Stenmark: As far as health concerns, lymphoma is one that haunts our breed, as it does many others. There is some glaucoma and cataracts in the breed, something we do annual eye exams to weed out. Unfortunately, both of these health problems often turn up later in life after the dog has been used for breeding; pretty distressing, but we do our best and are honest about the issues. Any breeder who keeps this information to themselves is doing the breed a great disservice.
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Betty-Anne Stenmark: I thought the overall quality at our National this year was better than in previous years. We had a good entry of 42. There are three key breed traits that must be present:
- Great length of body
- Unique shape
- Impressive head
The Dandie is the longest breed in the Terrier Group. It is twice as long as it is tall, measured from the withers to the root of the tail, less 1 to 2 inches. The Dandie is 8” to 11” at the shoulder. (The Skye is twice as long as he is tall, but that length is measured from the point of shoulder—a big difference.) Length of body is a difficult virtue to get and to retain, not a trait to dismiss when judging the breed.
It is said, “no outline, no Dandie” and that is something to bear in mind when judging the breed. It is a slight downward curve over the withers to a slight arch over the loin to a very slight drop over the croup, and a tail that is held ideally around 2 o’clock, completing the outline. The longer the Dandie, the slighter the curves will be—but they are there regardless and the important word here is “slight.”
When a Dandie is too short in body, those curves are more accentuated, crammed into a short space, so to speak, as they don’t have the length to accommodate them. A tail held too high ruins the entire picture. The best place to evaluate the proper outline is on the ground as the dog is going around. When in doubt, send the dog around.
The head is a compilation of a broad skull measuring roughly the same from stop to occiput as it is from ear to ear. The large, round, dark eyes look directly forward and a Dandie will look you right in the eye. The bite is scissors, with strong, large, white teeth. The proportion of muzzle to skull is 3:5, the same as a Pembroke, and there is width at the cheek, giving the head strength.
The Dandie is clothed in a unique coat; 2/3 “crisp” coat to 1/3 undercoat, the coat is crisp to the touch, not wiry, not soft. When you see a huge chrysanthemum-like topknot and abundant furnishings you will automatically know that the coat is not the correct mixture of crisp to soft. There must be sufficient length to the coat to feel that it is crisp to the touch.
The best place to evaluate the proper outline is on the ground as the dog is going around. When in doubt, send the dog around.
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Betty-Anne Stenmark: The Dandie is well-suited to most situations as long as the owner realizes he/she must be in charge or the Dandie will take over and run the show. They are big dogs on short legs with HUGE personalities. True breed character has always been important to us. Temperament has high heritability, never forget that.
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Betty-Anne Stenmark: Breeding Dandies is not easy. This is not a simple four-square breed but one with many unique features. We do not have a gene pool—we have a gene puddle. We are currently outcrossing two champion brood bitches, and our version of outcrossing is back to frozen semen collected more than 20 years ago.
One of the stud dogs being used is from the first litter I whelped, sired by an Australian dog I found when Down Under judging in 1998. He is the grandsire of Austr. NZ & Am. Ch. Hobergays Fineus Fogg, the top dog all-breeds in this country in 2006, piloted by Bill McFadden.
The other frozen semen being used is from a son of Ch. Montizard King’s Mtn. Kricket, and from that litter came “Jiminy” and “Pixie,” both of whom “knicked” well with the Australian lines. We got lucky in that the two lines, while entirely unrelated, meshed well together; similar phenotypes. It could easily have been otherwise.
Are you looking for a Dandie Dinmont Terrier puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder? Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home a Dandie Dinmont Terrier dog?
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
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