Apartment Living

Good for 1st Time Owners

Tolerance Levels

Affection for Family

Kid Friendliness

Stranger Friendliness

Ease of Grooming

General Health


Prey Drive

Exercise Needs

Energy Level


Cairn is one of the many terrier breeds whose population is very minimum as most of them have extinct. For centuries they were used by local people to preserve farms and guard cattle. The exact history of this breed is unclear as for so many they were known as Scotch terriers. In the 1800s the breed fanciers organized breeding programs to classify this breed. This dog was around for a long time, but it was not recognized as Cairn terrier until 1887s. They used to dwell in the Isle of Skye in Western Highlands from around 1600s.

By the end of 20th century, fanciers of Britain terrier classified the various Scotch dogs and started breeding Scottish, Cairn, West Highland White Terriers, Skye as pure breeds. Cairns was displayed at the British dog shows of the era. It got recognition by AKC in 1913.

The breed became famous in 1939 when a Cairn named Terry played in Toto in “The Wizard of Oz” produced by MGMs.

Temperament & Personality

Cairn terrier is a friendly dog who is always cheerful and happy, it always enjoys to meet people. It is alert, robust and independent which makes it an excellent watchdog. It easily bonds firmly with its people, making an excellent family companion. This breed is very sensitive and might suffer from separation if left alone for a longer duration, it might also develop odd behavior like barking, digging, etc. They also tend to chase any moving objects or small pets. They do well with kids and become an excellent playmate, but their interactions need supervision. However, they require early socialization and training to polish their skills. They are fit in an apartment living, provided they get proper exercise regularly.


They are not very active and require moderate exercising schedule. Short walks and jogs will suffice their needs. It is advisable to keep them unleash while playing. Allow them to play freely in a fenced yard or in a park where they can move and play on their own.  Apart from physical exercises they also require mental stimulation to keep them healthy, it can be in the form of puzzle toys, agility training, obedience trials or cart pulling are some of the options to keep them mentally fit. Training these pets is the best energy outlet for them.


Cairns do not require heavy grooming standards, weekly brushing and periodic hand stripping will suffice their grooming requirements. Do not bath them frequently, but when they are filthy. The regular bath can wash away the essential oils from their leaving their coat dry. During their shedding time, regular brushing is advisable to keep away the loose fur from the coat.

They can suffer from ear infection due to the accumulation of water, dirt buildup and need regular checking to prevent infections and pain. Clean their ears with Vet prescribed ear solution. Clean their corner of the eyes with a damp cloth to remove tear stains.

Like all other dogs, they also tend to grow nails faster than other breeds which can crack if not appropriately trimmed and hinder regular activities like walking, run, etc. However, cutting them twice a month will serve the purpose. Brush their teeth twice a week to avoid development tartar and oral problems.

Health Problems

They are generally a healthy breed but are prone to some health issues, but not all the dogs will get them. Craniomandibular Osteopathy, Cryptorchidism, Hypothyroidism, Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy, Patellar Luxation, Legg-Calve-Perthes-Disease, Ocular Melanosis, Portosystemic Liver Shunt, etc are some of the diseases. However, some random tests like Ophthalmologist Evaluation, Patella Evaluation, Cardiac Exam, Kidney Aplasia/Dysplasia, PSVA, GCL DNA Test, MVD and random vet visits will keep the dog healthy.


Cairns are independent and stubborn which makes training tough, and it requires a consistent and firm trainer to train them. Owners can teach them on their own or might seek help from the professional trainers. However, they learn quickly, but owners need to be patient while training these puppies.

Early socialization is crucial to make them well behaved and a good companion. Take them to different busy places like a supermarket, bus stops busy roads and Dogs Park, etc. It will allow them to meet unknown faces, different sounds and situations and make them more flexible. Obedience training is essential for this breed to prevent the pack of the leader issue.

Command training is essential to polish their skills, enhance the relationship between the dog and the owner and to minimize their excessive barking behavior. Commands like ‘no,’ ‘yes,’ ’stop,’ ‘come’ are some simple commands which are essential.

Leash training is crucial to minimize its chasing instincts. Start from an early age to make it familiar with the leash. When it plays or during its meal time apply the leash and take a short walk around the room or the garden and when it completely gets familiar take them out.


They do well on a high-quality food low in protein specially made for large dog breeds or homemade food. But it is essential to visit a dietician or a vet before opting for the food. Diet should be created depending upon the dog’s size, age, and activity level. They are prone to bloating and obesity. Hence, the owner should offer them small meals multiple times a day and prevent heavy exercises to minimize the risk. Owners should check their weight level and calorie consumption. If they gain weight reduce table scraps, treats, etc.

Cairn Terrier Facts

Cairn Terrier


Breed Type:


Other Names:


Height & Weight:

9-10 inches & Male: 6-8 kg Female:6-8 kg


Wheaten, Brindle, Black, Cream, Tan

Competitive Registration / Qualification Information:



Moderate Shedding


Average Litter Size:

2-10 puppies


12-15 years


soft downy undercoat, Abundant shaggy outer coat,



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