Cairn Terrier

The cairn terrier is more than 200 years old. The dog was developed on the Isle of Sky, and it was originally grouped with all terrier breeds under the name Scotch terriers. Captain Martin MacLeod is credited with creating the first of the dogs that we now call cairn terriers. When the breed was first developed, it was classified as a Skye terrier. This small group of dogs included the cairn terrier, the Scottish terrier, and the West Highland white terrier. All three dogs could be born in the same litter; they were distinguished by their coat color. It wasn't until 1912 that the cairn terrier was classified as its own breed. The name cairn comes from the stone piles that were used as grave markers in Scotland. The dog was known to chase vermin that hid in these piles of stoned. The first cairn terrier was brought to the United States in 1913, and it was recognized as its own breed by the American Kennel Club in 1917.

The Cairn Terrier is an active, short-legged little dog that was originally bred to kill vermin. Their build enables it to be agile and fit into small spaces. It has strong jaws and is able to chase and kill small prey. It has a soft, dense undercoat and a harsh, hairy outer coat. Its grooming needs are moderate and it needs to be brushed several times a week. Personality: The Cairn Terrier is lively, inquisitive, courageous, bold and smart dog breed. It likes exploring, digging and chasing. It is obedient to its owner but is also stubborn and strong-willed. It needs daily exercise in the form of a moderate walk or indoor games. It's a good pet for children and tolerates rough play. It can be aggressive towards strangers and other dogs.

Cairn Terrier image
Breed Type
Pure
Origin
Europe
Family
Function
Life Span
12-15 Years
Hypoallergenic
No
Other Names
Cairn, Toto dog, Cairnwich Terrier, Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier Build Information

Size
Small
Length (Male)
8-12 in.
Length (Female)
10-12 in.
Weight
15 - 25 lbs
Litter Size
5 - 10 Puppies
Tail Dock or Crop
No
Preferred Climate
Any Climate

The Cairn Terrier is an active, short-legged little dog that was originally bred to kill vermin. Their build enables it to be agile and fit into small spaces. It has strong jaws and is able to chase and kill small prey. It has a soft, dense undercoat and a harsh, hairy outer coat. Its grooming needs are moderate and it needs to be brushed several times a week.

Behaviour and Personality

Kid Friendliness
Affection Level
Activity Level
Energy Level
Independant
Good to Other Pets
Dominating or Submissive?
Guardian Skills
Barking
Aggressiveness Level

The Cairn Terrier is lively, inquisitive, courageous, bold and smart dog breed. It likes exploring, digging and chasing. It is obedient to its owner but is also stubborn and strong-willed.

It needs daily exercise in the form of a moderate walk or indoor games.

It's a good pet for children and tolerates rough play. It can be aggressive towards strangers and other dogs.

Appearance

Colors
Gray Red Silver Yellow
Shedding
None
Grooming
Medium Maintenance
Coat Type
Water-Repellent

A professional groomer can give your dog a proper cairn terrier cut. Unlike other dogs that are shaved with clippers, the cairn terrier's coat is shortened with a stripping knife. If your dog is to be a pet only and your groomer isn't adept at shortening a coat with a stripping knife, clippers will do. You should be aware, however, that regular use of clippers will change the feeling of your dog's naturally coarse coat.

Breed's Talents and Facts

Training
Easy
Hunting Companion
Yes
Jolly for Jogging
Yes
Sighting Capabilities
No
Ideal for Tracking
Yes
Retrieving Skills
No
Pointing Breed
No
Herding Skills
Yes
Dutiful Watchdog
Yes
Security Guard Capable
No
Police Performer
No
Wet Water rescues
No
Assist Disable Owners
No
Dog Sledding
No
Able to Perform Dog Carting
No
Agile/Zippy
Yes
Fun with Lure Coursing
No
Obedient
Yes
Possible Schutzhund Work
No
Trainable for Tricks
Yes
  • This breed loves to dig, bark and chase
  • Training can minimize these behaviors, but they will not be erased
  • The cairn terrier does not like to be left alone
  • Crate training is a must
  • Be prepared to establish your role as the leader
  • The cairn terrier has a strong independent streak
  • You may recognize the cairn terrier as Toto the dog in “The Wizard of Oz”
  • This dog loves children and will actively engage them in play
  • The cairn terrier is not known by any other names

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Common Health Conditions in Cairn Terriers

Cairn terriers have health issues that are specific to the breed. These issues include craniomandibular osteopathy, cryptorchidism, globoid cell leukodystrophy, hypothyroidism, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, patellar luxation, ocular melanosis, and portosystemic liver shunt. Although the breed is typically healthy, you should be sure that you purchase a puppy from a responsible breeder who conducts health testing prior to breeding the sire and dam.

Cairn Terrier Pet Insurance

When adding a dog or cat to your family you want to make sure your pet is happy, healthy and protected. During its lifetime your pet is exposed to many illnesses and diseases and some breeds are affected by a congenital disease which is a condition existing at birth. At these moments when your pet is ill or maybe needs surgery, you want to be protected for the unexpected and high veterinarian costs.

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