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Cairn Terrier


Cairn Terrier



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The breed was officially called Cairn Terrier in 1909, a change from its original name, Short-haired Skye terrier. A Cairn is a Scottish word for a formation of rocks piled on top of each other to identify boundaries and mark graves. The Cairn Terrier originated in Scotland and was bred to flush out vermin and game which hid in these rocky piles. They are well known for featuring in one of the greatest stories of all time, 'The Wizard of Oz'. In this famous 1939 movie version of a broadway play, Dorothy, played by the young Judy Garland, is swept 'over the rainbow' with her dog, Toto, a Cairn Terrier. And for those trivia buffs, Toto's real name was Terry and he, in fact, was a she.



The dog's mischievousness is part of the appeal of the breed. If you want something that's going to be very well behaved and particularly amenable to discipline don't get this dog! It's a bold, happy and fearless breed, with great affection for its master. Its wariness towards strangers and the inclination to bark makes them an excellent watchdog. Breeders say that the allure of them as a puppy is quite seductive and owners often let their new dog do whatever it wants. But Breeders warn not to let them do something at 12 weeks which you're not happy to have them do at 12 months. A hardy dog, active, fearless, assertive but not aggressive. He has a lovely nature, friendly and loves being with the family. He is equally good with children and adults. This is a dog that has been bred to hunt vermin and digging is quite normal. A sand box or area for digging will save little pot holes in your garden.


Height:   23-33cm  (9-13in)

Weight:     6-8kg  (13-18lb)

Group: Terrier

The Cairn Terrier has a shaggy, double-layered, water resistant coat, giving the dog a tousled appearance. It has a solid, 'squared' body and sturdy legs. The breed comes in a variety of colours, including red sandy, grey, brindle and dark to almost black. Dark masks and tips of ears are typical. As a pup grows into an adult, the coat colour may change too.



The Cairn Terrer has a waterproof, double coat which is quite easily groomed 2-3 times a week with either a short stiff bristled brush or a short wire brush.  It is recommended to bath them only when required as over-bathing can break down the water resistant coat.  Their toe nails should also be trimmed regularly as long nails will spoil the way the puppy walks and he can scratch you as well.  The Cairn Terrier is low shedding but will need excess hair to be removed regularly either by clipping or stripping a few times a year. If you don't have the time to bath or groom your dog, your local  dog grooming salon provides these services.


Life Expectancy

12-14 Years


Health Concerns

The low maintenance and tough Cairn terrier enjoys few health problems.  Apart from night blindness, caused by the degeneration of the retina and the tendancy to become fat as they never say no to seconds, they are generally a health, happy dog.



Daily walks are recommended to keep these dogs stimulated and help burn off that 'energy' that is so common to terriers. With this breed's natural strong instinct to chase it is important to be very wary if exercising your dog off lead. Making excellent companions and watchdogs for the elderly who are able to exercise their pet and also for families as these dogs love nothing more than to play with the children. The Cairn is a really sociable dog and it is not recommended that he is left for long times on his own. The Cairn is a dog that should be an integral part of the family. Two is better than one if you are not able to be at home for long periods. As with all Terriers the owners must be in charge and be the top dog in the family.


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Terriers; dogs in this group were bred to drive foxes, rabbits and other quarry from their underground retreats. A few in this group include Airedale Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier and Silky Terrier to mention a few.


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