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Cairn Terrier

All about Cairn Terrier dog breed

Cairn Terrier - picture

Breed characteristics
Kid friendly Dog friendly  Cat friendly Intelligence General health Exercize Easy to train Grooming Shedding


Cairn Terrier is a breed that can reach 9-13 inches in height and about 13-18 pounds in weight. The lifespan of these dogs is approximately 12-15 years and this is a breed that is suitable for families with children, as well as active singles and seniors, and because this is not such a big dog, the houses that it lives in, can be with or without yards. Its temperament is an interesting combination of being one clever, bold and stubborn dog.

If you can not remember how exactly this breed looks, then think about the Wizard of Oz – the dog that plays the role of Toto is the Cairn Terrier. This is a dog with a big heart and bold temper that lives in the body of a little dog. If you have the chance to spend some time with the Cairn Terrier, you will soon find out that this intelligent dog never misses anything that is happening around it, and you have the feeling that its tail will never stop wagging – it is so active and vivid.

Breed information
Name                         Cairn Terrier

Other names             –

Origin                        Scotland

Size                            Small

Group                        Terrier (AKC)

Height                       Male: About 10 – 13 inches (Approx. 25 – 33 cm); Female: About 9 – 12 inches (approx. 23 – 30 cm)

Weight                      About 14 – 18 lbs (app. 6 – 8 kg)

Color                         Black; Brindle; Grey; Red; Cream; Wheaten

Litter size                   –

Life span                  About 12 – 15 years

Cairn Terrier Temperament or Behavior

These dogs are so lovable, marry, loyal and friendly, but they are also independent. The Cairn Terrier has the habit to think that it is a big dog, so sometimes it can get into funny situations like trying to eat and chew something that is quite big to be bit off by its little mouth.

Cairns are playful, fearless, bold and curious dogs, they love running like the wind and when they have been properly socialized, they can get along really well with other dogs.

This breed can make an excellent watchdog, but a poor guard dog, because the dog wants to be friend with most of the strangers. Although its independent temper, the Cairns are happier when they are with their families, playing games with the children or snuggling.

Cairn Terriers can develop unwanted behavior if they are left to stay alone for too long, because they get bored and lonely. You need to keep your dog mentally and physically challenged almost most of the time, so you can use the fact that this breed loves performing tricks. In such a way you can keep them occupied. They also love being outside, so you can take them for long walks.


This is not an expensive breed to feed, because the Cairn Terrier needs a small amount of food, but it has to be a high quality food so that the dog maintains a healthy weight. The owner of this type of dog needs to be careful not to overfeed it. Its food should not contain flavorings or synthetics preservatives, and it should be with human grade meat as a base.


The dog’s training should start at really young age, because the temper of these dogs is a bit stubborn. The Cairn Terriers respond really well to positive training and challenging methods and do not respond well to repetitive training methods. It is a dog with vivid temper and it does not like to get bored, that is why it needs changes into its routine. A good choice will be to take you dog to obedience class so that you can achieve both things – your dog will get socialized and learn the basic training and master commands.

There are two important things that you need to take care even from a very young age. These dogs can turn out to be quite loud barkers, so you need to teach your dog to stop barking when you give it a command. And the other thing is to teach it to relinquish its food, toys, bones, because this breed will tend to snap and protect its toys and food. To avoid this negative and unwanted behavior, teach your dog while it is still young.


The weight that the male terrier can reach is 14 to 18 pounds, and the female terrier – 13 to 17 pounds.

Cairn Terrier Coat and Grooming

This breed has got a double coat – an outer coat that is wiry and the undercoat is soft. It comes colored in several shades, which are grey, black, sand, brindle and red. The length is medium.

The dog needs constant grooming, so every few days its outer and inner coat needs to be brushed with the help of pin brush or stiff bristle brush which have to be combined. If this is not properly done, so that the coat does not get matted, there is the risk of developing rashes and infections.


These puppies are so cute when they are little, but you need to teach your children to play gently with them. You also need to be sure that you introduce the little puppies to other dogs as soon as possible.

Common Health Problems

It does not matter if the dog lives in the city, country or suburban areas, as long as it gets sufficient exercise. It is really active inside, but it also needs to go out and play outside, so it is recommendable to go out for daily walks and runs.


The Cairn Terrier origin is in Scotland, the breed was known there as a hunting breed in the 1500s. They used to hunt small rodents like vermin that used to hide under the stone piles. This is where the name of the breed comes from. ‘Cairn’ comes from the stones that people used to mark graves. In the present situation, the Cairn Terrier is a beloved companion and excellent friend of the children in the house.


Even the American Kennel Club says that this breed is best know as Toto and the story Wizard of Oz. They used to be bred as being in help of Scottish farmers when they were ridding their properties of pests. In the present, the Cairn Terriers present their breed excellent in agility, obedience and tracking trials.

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