Cairn Terrier

6 Apr

cairn t



Like most terrier types, this dog may be little, but it is also very sturdy. It has a fairly broad head, with a strong muzzle. The teeth should meet in a scissors or level bite. Their eyes are hazel in colour, deep and wide set. Their nose is black. They have small ears that are wide set and stand up straight. The shaggy, double, weather-resistant coat has a harsh outer coat with a soft undercoat. You can find this breed in almost any colour except for white. If you buy the dog from a puppy, it is not always easy to tell what colour he will be as an adult as their colouration changes as they grow older.




Health problems:

This hardy little dog is also very healthy. They do gain weight easily and are also allergic to fleas. As with many terrier breeds, these dogs can develop problems with their legs.



Despite its scruffy appearance, this little dog does need a fair amount of maintenance. They need to be brushed several times a week and bathed on a monthly basis. The fur around the ears and eyes should be trimmed.



This is one of Scotlands original terriers, originating in the 1500’s. The Cairn was named for the way it would squeeze down into “cairns” and bark at fox and badgers until the farmer could arrive to kill them. It was not considered a different breed from the West Highland Terrier and the Scottish Terrier until the 1900’s. The most famous Cairn Terrier was probably the dog who played Toto in the Wizard of Oz.


cairn toto



Like most terrier breeds, this is an alert little dog who is always curious and up for mischief. They are lovable and loyal and enjoy spending time with children and generally get on well with other dogs. Of course socialization is important. They can be found to be quite willful and so need a firm owner who will be consistent with rules and boundaries. They can be taught to do tricks, but without proper stimulation they can become destructive due to their inquisitive nature.  As a terrier, they do have strong instincts to chase and so you must be careful when your dog is let off leash, it could end up chasing a rabbit down a hole. As with all small dogs, you must be careful not to allow it to develop small dog syndrome. Remember that is it not a baby, but a dog, provide clear leadership, plenty of exercise and stimulation, and you will have a calm and loving companion.




Living conditions:

These little dogs are very active indoors, but will do ok without a yard. Providing they receive enough exercise, they should be happy to live in an apartment. Play will take care of much of their exercise needs. However these active little dogs still need a daily walk (or two) in order to take care of their instincts to walk, allowing them to pick up their “pee mail”.


Life expectancy:

12-15 years



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