Cairn Terrier

June 23, 2020 // 7 minute read

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Cairn Terriers are small-sized dogs that stand at a height of 10 inches. The Cairn Terrier features a short, broad head on a short-legged body. Their bodies are covered with a harsh and wiry double coat that comes in several colors, including black, red, brindle, and silver.

Like any other Terrier dog breed, the Cairn Terriers are active, small working dogs. They make excellent family companions, and they adapt well to any living environment. Regardless of whether you’re a first-time dog owner or an experienced one, you’ll enjoy having a Cairn Terrier around.

Cairn Terrier Dog

Cairn Terrier Statistics

Dog Breed GroupTerrier
Breed SizeSmall
Height10 inches (male); 9.5 inches (female)
Weight14 pounds (male); 13 pounds (female)
Lifespan13-15 years

Cairn Terrier Ratings

Energy level
Exercise needs
Requires attention
Friendly with family
Friendly with kids
Friendly with strangers
Friendly with other dogs
Prey Drive

Cairn Terrier History

Cairn Terriers are believed to have been developed on the Isle of Skye about 200 years ago. They were among the first terrier breeds seen roaming around the lands of Scotland. For centuries, terriers belong to only one breed, Scotch Terriers, which is why unraveling their true history can be a challenge.

It was only in the 1800s when breed classification and standardization took place. Cairn Terrier dogs were initially called Skye Terriers, named after the Isle of Skye, where they were first found. These dogs were developed to dig beneath rocks. They were also used for hunting foxes, otters, and other predators.

By 1912, Cairn Terriers were finally designated as a breed, and the first Cairn Terriers were imported to the US the year after. Not long after that, in 1917, the American Kennel Club officially registered the dog breed.

Now, the dogs ranked 68th as the most popular dog breeds in the US. They are known to be excellent all-around family pets, and also excel in dog shows.

Cairn Terrier Dog Breed

Cairn Terrier Temperament

Cairn Terriers also have the typical temperament of terriers – independent, tough, and alert. However, these dogs are wonderfully friendly, and they enjoy meeting people.

Despite their independent personality, Cairn Terriers are devoted to family. These dogs thrive for human companionship, and they love attention. They are not too hard to handle as long as you give them lots of love.

They make excellent playmates to your children, and you can expect them to follow you wherever you go. They are known to be friendly or reserved with strangers, but you can expect them to bark when someone new comes at your doorstep.

If you have other pets with you, you can expect Cairn Terriers to be bossy. The good thing is, they are willing to co-exist with other animals, especially if grown with them. However, their hunter instincts might kick in from time to time, making him chase anything that moves within his territory.

These dogs can be stubborn that training might come as quite challenging. It’s best to show them that you’re the one in charge. Don’t be harsh and be consistent. Cairn Terriers are sensitive and will quickly get upset when poorly treated.

Early socialization is always vital if you want to make these dogs well-rounded. This will also help control any bad behavior that they might get from their parents.

Cairn Terrier Care Requirements

  • Nutrition: Just like any other dog breeds, Cairn Terriers need a high-quality, well-balanced diet. As a standard, a dog’s meal should contain a lot of protein and mixed in with carbohydrates and fats. High-quality fish and poultry are the best for the Cairn Terriers. You can mix in some whole grains such as cooked brown rice for carbohydrates or some sweet potato. You can serve some fruits and vegetables also for vitamins and fiber. For those buying dog food, make sure only to get the premium ones. These shouldn’t contain fillers, additives, and artificial flavoring and coloring that would be harmful to your dog. At the same time, dog food containing these ingredients has lower nutritional value. Watch the daily calorie intake of your dog as well. It’s best to keep in mind that you should only feed enough, and this will depend on your dog’s age and daily activity. If you have no idea how to solve the needed daily calorie intake, then it’s best to ask your vet for advice.
  • Grooming: Cairn Terriers are low maintenance dogs. These dogs have harsh, wiry coats that shed occasionally. However, it’s important to do weekly brushing to remove all the mats and tangles that form. This will also help to ensure that the dog’s coat is kept healthy. Baths can be done occasionally as well. Cairn Terriers don’t have a dog smell, so you can bath them depending on how dirty they already are. Just make sure to clean their ears regularly to prevent ear infection. Nails should be trimmed short always. Long nails will cause discomfort for your dog, and he might become unhappy.
  • Exercise: Cairn Terriers are active dogs. So, although they are adaptable to any living conditions, it’s best to give them regular and moderate exercise. By giving them an outlet to release their energy daily, they’ll be less destructive inside your home. Daily walks should suffice for the Cairn Terriers. But, running is the best form of exercise for these dogs. If you want to get him off-leash, make sure you have your fence secured. You can also have these dogs participate in dog sports where he can showcase his skills in obedience, tracking, herding, agility, and other events that you and your dog can enjoy together. Besides, Cairn Terriers are the happiest with their humans.
  • Health: Cairn Terriers are generally healthy dogs with a long lifespan. However, it’s still important to be aware of the most common diseases that he might acquire. Some of the most common diseases that you need to watch out are craniomandibular osteopathy, cryptorchidism, and globoid cell leukodystrophy. These diseases are usually acquired because of genetics, so it’s best to check with the dog’s parents if your Cairn Terrier will likely get them. Hypothyroidism, patellar luxation, ocular melanosis, portosystemic liver shunt, and Legg-calve-Perthes disease are some diseases to watch out for. It’s best if you do your research and start making yourself aware of each disease’s symptoms. This way, you would be able to detect any strange behavior from your dog and be ready to take him for a check-up.
  • Lifespan: The life expectancy of Cairn Terriers is 13-15 years.

Cairn Terrier Breed

Famous Cairn Terriers

  • Olga: A Cairn Terrier featured on Paul O’Grady chat show
  • Mr. Pickle: The Cairn Terrier in the movie Kingsman: The Secret Service
  • Fremont: The Cairn Terrier from the TV Show Dennis the Menace

Fun Facts about Cairn Terriers

  • Cairn Terriers have existed since the 16th century.
  • Cairn Terriers are known to be barbarians; there’s nothing refined about these dogs.
  • The name “Cairn” refers to the “stack of stones” used as road markers.
  • They were bred to dig beneath rocks; the first breed created for this purpose.
  • They have unusual feet called southpaws.

Check Out Other Terrier Dog Breeds:
Airedale Terrier, American Hairless Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Australian Terrier, Bedlington Terrier, Border Terrier, Bull Terrier, Cesky Terrier, Dandie Dinmont Terriers, Glen of Imaal Terriers, Irish Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Miniature Bull Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Norfolk Terrier, Norwich Terrier, Parson Russell Terrier, Rat Terrier, Russell Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Sealyham Terriers, Skye Terrier, Smooth Fox Terrier, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Welsh Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Wire Fox Terrier

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