Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier is from the Isle of Skye, Scotland, and is a working terrier. Traditionally, this breed’s job was to protect small farms from foxes and other vermin. He would squirm his way into piles of rocks, called cairns, to get to a hiding fox or badger. He would then either flush the vermin or hold it there so the farmer could dispatch it. Originally classified as a Scotch Terrier and then as one of the Skye Terriers, he became known as the Cairn Terrier in 1912. The breed is closely related to the West Highland White Terrier, and in early years the two were cross-bred.

The Cairn Terrier today is still a game, hardy, working terrier. Size is of utmost importance, with males weighing 14 pounds and females weighing a pound less. These dogs are short-legged but should be proportional, with most standing between 9.5 and 10 inches tall. The skull is broad, muzzle strong, eyes hazel, and nose black. The ears are upright and small. The tail is short and carried upright. The coat is double, with a hard outer coat and a soft undercoat. The coat may be any color except white.

We recommend weekly brushing and combing to keep shedding to a minimum. They also recommend trimming the hair from the tips of the ears, tail, and feet. Many Cairn Terriers are allergic to fleas, so keeping the dog free of these pests is important. Cairn Terriers are active little dogs who love to play. Although they enjoy a walk morning and evening, walks are not enough exercise for this spunky little dog. A Cairn Terrier also needs a chance to play on the agility course, chase a ball, or jump for a small flying disc. All offleash exercise should be within a fenced-in yard, because Cairn Terriers love to chase squirrels and other small animals. If your terrier takes off after a small animal, all the calling in the world will not bring him back.

Dog Breed Standards recommends kindergarten puppy classes for Cairn Terrier puppies. Be sure to train your Cairn Terrier puppy with firmness and consistency. Harsh punishment is not necessary. Be sure, though, that your Cairn Terrier knows you are in charge. Like children, they will test your limits, but need discipline to turn out well.

Training should continue on into adulthood to keep this bright breed’s mind active. Cairn Terriers are also quite good at many canine sports, including agility, obedience trials, tracking, and terrier go-to-ground competitions. Cairn Terriers are great family dogs. They are affectionate and enjoy children and their games. They are sturdy enough to take some rough play, but kids should be taught to treat them with respect.

Cairn Terriers prefer to be with people; when left alone for too many hours, they are prone to get into trouble. Most Cairns also get along well with other dogs. They are fine with cats when raised with them but will chase strange cats who come into their yard. Cairns should not be trusted with smaller pets; a Cairn will have a hard time differentiating between a pet rat and a wild rat. Health concerns include eye problems, liver shunt, and knee problems.


5 replies on “Cairn Terrier”

When most people hear the word terrier, they picture Toto, the Cairn Terrier in The Wizard of Oz — and rightfully so, because this sturdy little dog breed is everything a terrier was designed to be: strong, hardy, up on his toes, confident, plucky, and spirited.
The Cairn Terrier loves to play and needs his daily walks, but is adaptable to any home in which he can be a full participant and busybody and where his bold terrier traits are kept under control.
Adult Cairn Terriers may be friendly or reserved with strangers, but are always alert and quick to announce guests.
This breed can be scrappy and bossy with other pets, but will co-exist with them more readily than some other terriers. However, strange animals may be a different story, as the Cairn Terrier was bred to hunt and will chase anything that moves.
He is inquisitive, so a leash or fenced yard is essential at all times.
Assertive but cheerful, with typical terrier stubbornness, the Cairn Terrier must be shown that you are in charge. He does respond well to consistent discipline and to obedience training that focuses on treats and praise.
Cairn Terriers can be possessive of their food and toys. And being respectable terriers, they are enthusiastic diggers and barkers.

I Got My Cairn Terrier from a registered breeder in Meadows, Australia. I was not too familiar with the breed at the time & did some research. It was love at first sight when I met the parents & the puppies. I will forever be an advocate for the Cairn terrier breed. Basil was 9 weeks old when he moved in with me & we are still happily together 13 & 1/2 years later. I’d describe my Cairn Terrier as… the funniest guy in town! He has a strong personality with some quirky habits which seem to be increasing in his senior years. He is very affectionate & snuggly for as long as he wants to be of course. We have our own method of communication. Traditional sit/stay/drop commands never worked so we developed our own language which worked for both of us. The hand signals are especially helpful now that he is deaf. The only medical issues he has suffered was skin irritations which brought on ear infections when he was younger. This can be attributed to our extreme climate – very hot & dry. Cairns are bred for the extreme cold of Scottish highlands.

A Cairn Terrier would suit most people due to their adaptability. I would not recommend a Cairn for a runner wanting a companion. Their little legs won’t be able to keep up! A family with children may want to wait until the kids are no longer toddlers. Cairn terriers are certainly not shy in telling you when they have had enough & small children can be annoying to a Cairn (and adults!!!). They also have extraordinary memories. A small blond girl harassed Basil when she was very young & now many years later he is on high alert when he spots any small blond girls.

Cairn terriers are very good family pets. They are good for active families. My husband and I adopted a Cairn Terrier. I was his groomer since he was a pup (his original owner got him from a well known Cairn terrier breeder) and when his mom got sick and could no longer care for him we adopted him. I would say he is a strong minded fun affectionate pup that demands what he wants when he wants it. He is also sensitive and sometimes likes to hide behind mom when he is nervous or a bit scared. He is also very smart and willing to learn all the time. Loves to hike and climb and was easy to train because he is so willing to want to please. If you want a small energetic dog GET A CAIRN, but be persistent in the training, the rewards are endless.

My Cairn terrier is a very special and active little boy.

The Cairn Terrier is a sturdy and active little dog with distinctive features. This breed has very short legs and a small but athletic build. Cairns are strong and alert, yet sensitive and affectionate. I was walking home from school my sophomore year of high school and came across a friendly little dog. I kept walking and when I got home, I looked behind me and there was the little dog. So I kept him and no one claimed him. Everyone told us he was a westie, so we thought he was a westie. We have had him for 5 years and just barley found out he is a Cairn Terrier and a very special boy. My dog is very active and crazy. He loves going after balls and chasing my bigger dog. He is hard to train since we got him as a older dog, but he is still very loyal and lovable. He loves to swim and play with my 3 bigger dogs. He loves people and loves attention. He is very hyper, but will settle down when its time to lay down and relax.

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