Cairn Terrier

Breed Rating

family friendly:
Dog friendly:
Watch/guard dog:
Affection / Dependance:
Exercise needed:
Space needed:
Tendency to bark:
Grooming Requirements:
Tendency to bark:
Grooming Requirements:

Breed Attributes


Breed group: Terrier    Type: Pure Breed    Talent: , , , , ,


Size: Small     Weight: 14-18 lbs     Fur length: Long    Ears: Pointy    Fur type: Straight    Fur Color: Black, Black & Brown, Dark Brown / Chocolate, Gray / Salt & Pepper, Light Brown / Golden, Merle / Spotted / Brindle / Speckled, White / Cream


Life Expectancy: About 12 – 15 years    Rarity: Common    Availability: Hard to find    Climate: Good for every climate.

Breed Details


The Cairn Terrier originated in Scotland and was bred to hunt small animals and chase them into stone structures called cairns. This breed has helped create a few of the very common breeds known today such as the Skye Terrier and the West Highland White Terrier. These dogs became very popular in the 1940's because the Wizard of Oz was released the previous year and the main furry co-star was the famous 'Toto'.

This breed has a messy shaggy coat and small erected ears that prick upwards. Cairns have a solid body type that is lightweight yet able to take down small animals rapidly when necessary. Their muzzle is small and pointed while their jaws are remarkably strong. This little dog has short legs but are muscular which helps them chase their prey down easily. The Cairn Terrier has multiple coat colouring but it is hard to predict what the actual outcome will be because their colours change as the dog ages.

The Cairn Terrier is a curious breed that loves to explore new territory. They are courageous little dogs and have a great adoration and love for their owners. The Cairn Terrier is an energetic, happy-go-lucky character that will entertain their owners daily! Charming and outgoing, they make great working dogs as well as great family pets because they get along well with children and other dogs. Smaller family pets should be monitored around this breed as they might interpret your other furry critters as prey!


The Cairn Terrier comes in a variety of coat colours such as black, gray, brindle, red, and sand. As puppies, these dogs may be a different colour than their actual adult coat because the pigment in their fur will change as the dog ages.


This breed has a thick double layered coat that will keep them very warm when in colder temperatures. Their under coat is soft and plushy while their top coat is longer, coarse and hard to the touch. They have a shaggy look to them but this is the desired appearance for this breed.


The Cairn Terrier is a responsive and alert dog giving them the ability to excel in training and hunting. These dogs can be stubborn and will test their owners to understand how the rules of the household work. Although they have a willful streak, the Cairn Terrier wants to please their owners which is why they make such great working dogs, not only do they have the instinct and motivation to hunt, they have the determination to please their master. This breed needs to be loved, they are not a dog to be left alone at home too often as they will become quite depressed or might even resort to damaging the house. They can be a barky breed but will make good watchdogs. Great with children, the Cairn Terrier is a fun loving pet that any family would be privileged to own.


This breed will need regular grooming to keep their coat free of tangles. Brushing about 2-3 times per week and bathing once every 2 months will be perfect for this breed and will keep them looking great. These dogs are prone to a few eye diseases such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy, corneal dystrophy, and cataracts. Hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, luxating patella's and Legg Perthes syndrome may also be genetically inherited diseases the Cairn might develop.


The Cairn Terrier will need an owner that is firm and will not sway when a cute look is given. These little dogs know how to manipulate their masters with the bat of an eye so consistency and repetition are the keys to training this breed. They are clever dogs that can learn quickly if they are taught using short lessons and fun techniques. Cairns can be very charming especially when they pick up little tricks that will impress any audience!


This breed will need to be taken out on regular walks or to an off-leash dog park to run around. They should never be walked off the leash as their instincts might kick in when they see a small animal they want to chase after. Cairns play during the day so will not need an excessive amount of exercise at night to tire them out. These dogs will do well in an apartment as long as they are taken out regularly. A back yard would be great for them to roam around in but is not needed.

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