Cairn terrier - Origin, Characteristics and Behavior

Cairn terrier: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. The Cairn Terrier is a very nice dog, funny and full of life....

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The Cairn Terrier is a very friendly, funny and lively dog. Hailing from Scotland, he has won the affection of fans around the world for his big personality and enormous self-confidence.


  • Europe
  • United Kingdom

FCI Nomenclature

  • Group III

Physical Characteristics

  • Rustic
  • Lying
  • Short legs


  • Average


  • 15-35

Adult Weight

  • 3-10

Life expectancy

  • 12-14

Recommended physical activity

  • Average


  • Society
  • Smart
  • Active

Ideal for

  • Apartment
  • House

Recommended climate

  • Temperate

Hair type

  • Medium
  • Hard
  • Big

Origin of the Cairn terrier

" As early as the 15th century, a type of short-legged hunting dog lived on the Scottish Isle of Skye. These dogs were used to hunt foxes, badgers and otters. They also had the particularity of scaring otters away from stone mounds that served as landmarks or memorials. These mounds are known in English as a cairn and this is where the name of this breed comes from."

These dogs had a wide variety of colors and coats and were generically called Scottish Terriers. In 1873 they were split into two groups, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier and the Skye Terrier, and the current Cairns ended up in the second group. In 1881, the last group was again divided into Wirehaired Terriers and Skye Terriers. And finally, the wire-haired terrier breeds have been divided into three groups, making the Cairn Terrier a breed in its own right.

The breed became especially popular in the United States because a Cairn Terrier starred as Toto in the movie The Wizard of Oz. Today it is a popular breed in this country and in many other countries it is primarily a companion dog breed.

Physical characteristics of the Cairn terrier

This dog's body is noticeably longer than it is tall, but it is still strong and compact. Both males and females have a height at the withers that varies from 28 to 31 centimeters. Its ideal weight varies from 6 to 7.5 kilograms. Its deep chest and straight, strong back give the dog a solid but not heavy appearance. Its legs are powerful.

The head of the Cairn Terrier is shorter and wider than that of other terriers. He has a very powerful jaw. His nose is black, his eyes, slightly sunken, are dark brown, medium in color and he has profuse eyebrows.He has small, pointed, straight ears that give him a little fox look.

It has abundant fur that does not form fringes.

The Cairn Terrier's coat is very weather resistant as it is made up of two layers. His outer coat is abundant and harsh. Its undercoat is short, soft and dense. The Cairn Terrier can be cream, yellow, red, gray or almost black in color with very typical dark markings on the ears and muzzle. Brindle color is also accepted in any of the colors listed.

Cairn terrier character

In general, Cairn Terriers are very confident, self-assured and very daring dogs. According to the breed standard, they shouldn't be aggressive, but that ultimately depends on their socialization.

In reality, when not properly socialized, these dogs tend to be aggressive towards humans as well as dogs and other animals.However, if they have been well socialized, they can end up being friendly with people and other animals. Either way, keep in mind that they tend to fight with dogs of the same sex, even if they are well socialized. However, when well socialized, they also tend to be very friendly with children, with whom they will never tire of playing.

Some of the behavioral issues these dogs may exhibit are excessive barking and yard destruction. Not all individuals of this breed are prone to barking for no reason, but virtually all of them tend to dig. However, the majority of these behavioral problems can be avoided if you provide dogs with enough physical and mental exercise.

Although they are very willful dogs, Cairn Terriers can be excellent pets. It must be taken into account that these dogs require a lot of company and cannot be left alone for long.

Caring for a Cairn terrier

The Cairn Terrier's coat is easy to care for, but brushing can take some time. It is important to brush these dogs once or twice a week to keep the coat in good condition and prevent the undercoat from matting. It is also important to trim eyebrow and ear hair from time to time so that it does not injure these organs. For this, you must use blunt-tipped scissors and always put your hand between the hair and the dog to avoid hurting it. You will only have to wash it when they are very dirty.

Like most canine breeds, she needs a good dose of daily exercise. However, their needs are not as high as those of medium and large sized terriers, so a daily walk and some play time with a ball may suffice.

On the other hand, Cairn Terriers need lots of company and in order for them to be happy, they will need to spend time with their human family.If they have a garden, they can take advantage of it to exercise and play, but it is better if they live inside the house, with the rest of the family. Of course, they can adapt very well to apartment living.

Training and education of the cairn terrier

When it comes to training these dogs, as with almost all other terriers, Cairns are quick learners, but also easily bored. The educational sessions must therefore be playful and dynamic. It is important to take into account that these dogs are very susceptible to abuse and do not tolerate traditional training methods well. It's best to practice clicker training or another variety of positive training.

Cairn terrier he alth

This breed enjoys a good state of he alth and does not particularly suffer from hereditary diseases. However, he has a certain tendency to be obese and allergic to fleas.In addition, some major diseases such as cataract, von Willebrand disease, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease and patellar luxation have been observed occasionally.

Cairn terrier pictures

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