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                     Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier Profile

Other Names: Cairn

Country of origin: Great Britain

Dog Group Kennel Club:  Terrier

General appearance:

Cairn Terriers are relatively small dogs with harsh weather resistant coats. They originated from the Scottish Highlands and are Scotland's earliest working dog breed. They have an undercoat and an outer coat with a rough appearance. They shed little to no hair, short-legged and strongly built, Cairn Terriers have a foxy expression. Whilst not heavily built, they are well-muscled, workman-like little dogs that stand well forward on their front paws.


Solid colours such as brindle, grey, red, cream and wheaten are acceptable but pure black and black and tan are not desirable.


 Bitch             28cm - 31cm 
 Dog                28cm - 31cm


                          Min                  Max

Bitch               6kg (13lbs)    7.5kg (17lbs) 
Dog                 6kg (13lbs)    7.5kg (17lbs)


Strong, intelligent and loyal but strong willed with a typical terrier attitude.They are friendly and affectionate, bold and fearless. This breed is spirited and restless, always seeking an adventure.
They have a  mischievous nature, love to play and adore stimulation.This is a cheerful, alert, lively and extrovert breed, and makes ideal friends for children as they can tolerate rough play and have great senses of humour but, they are also friendly and affectionate, bold and fearless.


Free flowing and far reaching.

Care and Training:

The Cairn Terrier must be brushed several times a week. The hair around the eyes and ears must be kept trimmed. During moulting, which usually occurs twice a year, the coat should be hand stripped to remove the dead hair. You must also be careful when feeding this breed as they can gain weight very easily. Cairn terriers are the smallest of the terriers but also can have the most issues. For one they are allergic to fleas. The Cairn Terrier is not suited for living outdoors and much prefers to be inside with their family.

These can be independent and stubborn dogs; therefore, training must be done gently and firmly. They are sensitive, so they require firm, not harsh, training and discipline. They like to learn tricks, and thrive in obedience training. Without training and attention, the Cairn Terrier will become bored and destructive.

Overall Exercise  40 - 60 minutes per day.
This breed is bursting with energy and must be given time to run and play. However the hunting instinct is so strong, they will take off. Their terrier nature implores them to dig – be it in the fields or in your favourite rose garden! 

Feeding Requirments:

Feeding of this little dog is relatively easy, however care must be taken that they do not become overweight.

Exercise: Med 

Grooming: Med

Noise: Med

Personal Protection: Medium

Suitability As Guard Dog: High

Level of Aggression: Low

Compatibility With Other Animals: Medium

Suitablity for Children: High

Often docked? No

Average Litter size: 5

Life Expectancy (yrs): 13

Health issues: Glaucoma, liver shunt, and hereditary eye diseases. Other health concerns include: skin allergies, globoid cell leukodystrophy, and Legg-Perthes.

History:  Originating in the Western Highlands of Scotland from as far back as the 1500s, the Cairn Terrier was used for getting vermin out of cairns. "Cairn" was the Scottish word for a pile of stones or rocks used on graves. The Cairns would go into the little holes and catch vermin, or force the vermin out, usually being foxes, otters, rats, and even badgers. Cairns also originated on the Isle of Skye, in which the Skye Terrier came about. Cairns were born of Skye Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, and Scottish Terriers, all of which were grouped into the category of "Scotch Terriers" until 1873. In the past Cairns were bred with Westies, but in 1920 this practice was banned to preserve the West Highland White Terrier breed. In 1909 the Cairn was cut from the Scotch Terrier group into a subgroup, called the Short-haired Skye Terrier. Soon Skye fanciers were up in arms about it because the dog was obviously not the same as a Skye Terrier, and the Cairn was named its current name in 1912. Cairn Terriers were introduced in the world of dog shows in the early 1900s. Today the breed is better known in Northern England and Scotland, but the Cairn remains a popular breed elsewhere as well. They are best known for the role of "Toto" in The Wizard of Oz.


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