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Cairn Terrier

Inquisitive and alert, the Cairn Terrier is a busy little working terrier originally bred for flushing out foxes and furred prey in the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Described by a British breed club as the best little family companion in the world, the Cairn with its short, broad head and sturdy body is small enough to snuggle in your lap and adequately energetic for a romp in the yard.

It is a sensible and affectionate breed that demands plenty of love and human attention. The Cairn Terrier can adjust to living in both large homes and apartments and does well equally with novice and experienced pet owners.

So, if you have the time to devote to your pet and keep it active with regular walks and play, you may go for this breed. You will be in awe of its loyalty, courage, and independent thinking.

Breed Characteristics

  • Other Names:Cairn
  • Colors:Black, cream, brindle, red, wheaten, gray
  • Life Expectancy:12-17 years
  • Height:9-13 inches
  • Weight:10-16 pounds
  • Temperament:Fearless, assertive, cheerful, alert
  • Good with Kids:Yes
  • Exercise requirements:Moderate to high
  • Hypoallergenic:Yes
  • Litter Size:2-10 puppies
  • Barking Capacity:Quite high
  • Health Problems:Patellar luxation, hypothyroidism, Legg-Calve-Perthes, Krabbe’s disease, secondary glaucoma, portosystemic liver shunt
  • Trainability:Moderately challenging
  • Origin:Scotland
Cairn Terrier Dog
Cairn Terrier Puppy

Cairn Terrier’s History: A Timeline


    Cairn Terriers lived in the Scottish Highlands, where they were regarded as one of the earliest working dogs

    Late 1800s

    Breed fanciers came up with proper classifications and strict breeding programs for these hardy ratters and working dogs

    Early 1900s

    Britain’s terrier fanciers started breeding it as a distinct pure breed


    It was displayed at dog shows in the UK as a Short-haired Skye Terrier, but the name was not accepted by the Kennel Club because the Skye Terrier breeders opposed it


    The Cairn was given a separate register by the Kennel Club of the UK


    Recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC)

Cairn Terrier Image
Cairn Terrier Full Grown


The Cairn is an energetic breed and needs a moderate amount of regular activity. Aside from a long daily walk, your dog needs a 20-30-minute session of vigorous play to be mentally and physically healthy.

Participating in dog sports also provides an outlet for its abundant energy. You could train it for activities like tracking, obedience, agility, herding, and earthdog events.

The Cairns have a scruffy-looking double coat, which is a combination of a rough outer coat and a soft undercoat. You do not have to work too hard to keep your dog’s coat neat and tidy.

A thorough brushing every week with a soft slicker brush, as well as periodic brushing (every 3-4 months), is all it needs.

If your Cairn has to take part in a dog show, you need to shape and strip its coat using a stripping knife. For a family pet, though, professional trimming with clippers twice a year is sufficient.

High-quality dry food with balanced nutrients like carbs, protein, and vitamins is what your Cairn Terrier needs. While you may include chicken, fish, and fresh veggies in its home-prepared meals, commercially manufactured dog foods from CANIDAE and ORIJEN are good choices for your pet.

The Cairn is incredibly smart, and it may test your limits, so enrolling it in a puppy obedience class is necessary. It has the natural instinct to dig and go after small animals, which means teaching your dog to walk on a leash is also important. Early socialization is needed to make sure your pet grows into a well-mannered family companion.

Cairn Terrier Photo
Cairn Terrier Picture

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