Cairn Terrier

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    History & Overview

    The Cairn Terrier is one of the oldest of the British terriers, originating on the Isle of Skye. He has always been and still is a great favourite with the Scottish lairds who use him to rout foxes, badgers, vermin, and otters. The smallest of the working terriers, the Cairn is the ancestor of several terriers: the Scottish (“Scottie”), the West Highland, and the White and Long-haired Skye.


    Originally bred as a hunting dog, the Cairn Terrier will also help you exterminate the rodents from your yard.


    Cairn Terriers are intelligent, strong, and fearless. Like most terriers, they are stubborn and love to dig after real or imagined prey.

    Cairn Terriers are little bundles of energy which makes them great pets for families with children. Due to their small stature, the Cairn Terrier does not require a great deal of space. This makes the Cairn Terrier a great choice whether you live in the city or the country, as long as you can give it ample love and attention.

    The Cairn is reserved with strangers and very devoted to his master. Indoors he makes for a well mannered, quiet house dog. He is a natural retriever and a good watchdog with a quick ear and the sharp bark of all terriers.

    At A Glance

    Other Names:


    Country of Origin:

    Great Britain




    FCI Classification: Group 3 – Terriers; Section 2 – Small-sized Terriers
    AKC Classification: Terrier Group


    Small (11 – 12 inches at shoulders)


    Cream, wheaten, red, gray or nearly black. Brindling in all these colors is acceptable. Dark points on ears and muzzle are very typical.

    Litter Size:


    Life Span:

    9 – 15 years

    Grooming Requirements:

    Cairns should be brushed weekly and bathed only when needed. Special care must be taken of their eyes and teeth.




    Cairn Terriers are independent, friendly, alert and quiet. They make good watchdogs but are not aggressive toward strangers.

    Social skills:

    Cairns get along with other dogs but will chase cats. Early socialization with other household pets is a must.

    Suitability for Children:

    Cairns are wonderful playmates for children. They have a remarkable ability to sense a child’s mood and adjust their behavior accordingly. Cairns will tolerate even rough play. However, close supervision of children and dogs is advisable as some Cairn puppies can be nippy.

    Exercise Needs:

    They are high energy dogs and should be allowed to run in the yard for 40-60 minutes a day.

    Train Ability:

    Can be slow to housebreak. They preserved a very strong chasing instinct and will run after cats and rabbits given the smallest chance. They should never be off-leash.

    Health & Behavioral Issues:

    Video Credits: Animal Planet, Discovery Channel
    Image Credits: hazelw90, Pixabay


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