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Cairn Terrier – Dog Breed Information And Adoption Tips

Cairn Terrier
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Should you require a small, happy and active earth dog, go for a Cairn terrier. Cairn terriers are curious, independent and excellent family dogs.

This dog breed has been in use for several years and their origin belongs to the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Earlier, farmers bred this terrier dog to dig and hunt vermin and other preys.

Cairn Terrier Breed Characteristics

  • Origin: Scotland
  • Size: Small
  • Dog Breed Group: Terrier Group
  • Purebred: Yes
  • Lifespan: 12-15 Years
  • Height: 9-10 inches (23-25 cm)
  • Weight: 13-14 pounds (6-7 kg)
  • Coat Appearance: Harsh, weather-resistant outer coat with a soft, close undercoat
  • Coat Colors: Brindle, black, sand, gray, red
  • Temperament: Energetic, intelligent, tenacious, loyal, brave, spirited
  • Good With Children: Yes, especially if socialized from a young age
  • Intelligence Level: High
  • Good With Pets: Yes, but can be assertive towards other dogs
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Grooming: Moderate
  • Barking: Can be vocal; likes to alert to unfamiliar sounds
  • Suitable For Apartments: Yes, if properly exercised
  • Need For Exercise: Moderate
  • Easy To Train: Yes, but can be stubborn; consistent training is required
  • Good For First Time Owners: Yes, but better for those who can manage a terrier’s dynamic nature
  • Health Issues: Globoid cell leukodystrophy, cryptorchidism, cataracts, patellar luxation
  • Litter Size: 2-6 puppies
  • Average Price: $1,000 to $1,500 USD

Cairn Terrier Appearance And Coat Color


Cairn terriers are small dogs with a short but wide head, and their ears and tails up. They are having a long and thick double coat, but the overcoat is rough and the undercoat is soft. Their eyes are dark and have large teeth.

Coat Color

Cairn Terrier is a double-coated dog. The coat color can be red, black, gray, cream, brindle, wheaten, and silver. But, the coat color changes with age and becomes darker.

Cairn Terrier Infographic

Cairn Terrier Infographic

Cairn Terrier Size And Lifespan


Males are quite tall than females and stand 10 inches. Female stands 9.5 inches. Males weigh 14 pounds whereas the females weigh 13 pounds.


They live for about 13 to 15 years with good care and a safe quality food.

Cairn Terrier Temperament

The below qualities make Cairn terrier a wonderful working dog. Let’s have a look at them:

  • Intelligent
  • Courageous
  • Active
  • Quick learner
  • Curious worker
  • Adaptable
  • Alert
  • Confident
  • Independent
  • Loyal

Cairn Terrier Shedding And Grooming


These breeds shed moderately and little at times. Thus, combing her once in a week is more than enough to control shedding.

Cairn Terrier Grooming

You should groom this dog regularly to keep the fur in good shape

Brush the dog thoroughly at least once a week. Frequent brushing is also helpful to prevent bad breath and gum disease

It is advisable to bath the dog for every three months with a quality dog shampoo

Trimming or stripping is not actually needed. But, you can do stripping to shorten the coat or to shape it

You can also do professional trimming two to three times a year

Trimming his nails one or two times a month will be good

Check the ears once in a week for redness or a bad smell

Cairn Terrier Health Problems

Though these dogs are healthy, they have common hereditary health problems:

  • Krabbe disease (globoid cell leukodystrophy) – degeneration of the white matter of the brain and spinal cord
  • Legg-Calvé-Perthes syndrome – a condition that causes the femur’s head to lack its quality, leading to arthritis
  • Craniomandibular osteopathy (lion jaw) – bone in the jaw growths too much, causes discomfort during chewing
  • Portosystemic shunt – the obstruction in the blood flow to the liver
  • Diabetes mellitus

They are prone to other health issues as well:

  • Cryptorchidism
  • Cataracts
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Bronchoesophageal fistula
  • Luxating patella
  • Corneal dystrophy
  • Ocular melanosis
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Soft tissue sarcoma

Cairn Terrier Feeding

A small amount of food is fine for Cairn Terriers to keep him healthy. As he put on weight soon, do not overfeed him. But, you should know what foods you should give and what do not before feeding him. Also, you must know how much to feed him.

  • Feed him half to one full cup of dry food rich in quality
  • Divide the meals into two
  • You should not give soy, wheat, corn, garlic and onions to Cairns
  • Do not give food with preservatives such as BHA and BHT.
  • Feed him fresh and clean water every day



Cairn Terrier Care

You have to keep an eye on these terrier dogs due to their quite different behaviors at times:

As this dog’s nature is to dig and explore, they can chase the neighbor’s dog if he gets a chance. So, keep him on the leash in public places and allow him to play in the secure, fenced yard.

These dogs don’t like to be alone. If they are alone, they won’t behave well. Hence, let him free to live as a family member and if possible, to live with the other dog’s company.

We cannot predict that every Cairn Terrier dog will be friendly with the children. Thus, you have to protect the toddlers. Also, adults in the family have to supervise the playtime of this dog and train properly.

Always supervise his free time because he may dig the garden in a quick span of time.

Always keep him occupied, otherwise, he will bark, chew and dig.

Cairn Terrier Training

  • Sometimes, this dog may take charge in case if he/she does not know who is the owner. So, early socialization and obedience training is required
  • Due to his stubborn nature, you have to provide regular obedience training to teach him good manners and respect
  • Due to its sensitive nature, it may easily get hurt if the owner scolds or behaves harshly to it. Hence, the training must be positive and kind
  • Although he loves apartment life, you must give him enough activity and exercise to keep him healthy
  • Daily walking and an occasional chance to run and play in the yard will make them happy
  • Teach mind games to these dogs as they love them. Also, train him to play hide and seek and indoor games during snow time

Interesting Facts About Cairn Terrier

  • The most famous Cairn terrier is “Toto” from the movie “The Wizard of Oz.” The dog’s real name was “Terry,” and it was a female. But, it acted in the film as a male.
  • Cairn Terrier is an interesting personality. Let’s look at a quite few interesting facts about him:
  • Super-friendly dog: he is cheerful and happy always and loves to meet people
  • A very good terrier dog: digs, barks, and chase even your neighbor’s cat, if given a chance
  • A good watchdog: inform the owner about any visitor
  • Family companion: loves to be a part of owner’s family and happy
  • Kids-friendly: enjoys playing with the kids, affectionate with them

Cairn Terrier Hypoallergenic

Yes, Cairn Terrier is a hypoallergenic dog. You can also have a few benefits if you breed your dog:

  • Low maintenance as the shedding is minimal
  • Due to minimal shedding, allergens will be less at your home and you can keep control of them.

Cairn Terrier Mix

You can crossbreed the Cairn Terrier dogs with others and form many breeds.

  • Pugairn (Cairn Terrier + Pug)
  • Cairnoodle (Poodle + Cairn Terrier)
  • Cairn-Chi (Cairn Terrier + Chihuahua)
  • Cairoston (Cairn Terrier + Boston Terrier)
  • Kashon (Bichon Frise + Cairn Terrier)
  • Jacairn Terrier (Jack Terrier + Cairn Terrier)
  • Carnauzer (Cairn Terrrier + Miniature Schnauzer)
  • Pekarin (Pekingese + Cairn Terrier)
  • Bushland Terrier (Scottish Terrier + Cairn Terrier)

Cairn Terrier Puppy Names

Of course, everyone wants to choose a unique name for our lovable pet. Here are a few names you can choose for the cairn dogs

Male Female
Yo YoCutie pie
CigaretteHoney bunch

Recommended Read: Majestic Names For Your Male DogsCute Names For Female Dogs

Cairn Terrier Price And Breeders


They are generally expensive and cost from $700 to $1000. But, depending on breeding, their cost varies. Besides, adopting a Cairn Terrier is less expensive. You can adopt this breed at a cost of $300 including the caring expenses before adoption.

Cairn Terrier Breeders

Breeders play a vital role in getting the dog that we want. Thus, we should be aware of the good breeders and the one want to make money.

A good breeder will get you the right dog and you can ask them about the dog’s temperament, health, vaccination details, and mix. You can also know from the breeders about the history of the dog breed, its quality, health problems it may get and how to avoid them.

If a breeder is telling good things about the breed, avoid them. Also, beware of websites that offer immediate shipping of your dog.

Breed Organizations

You can find and buy Cairn Terrier dogs from the below websites and organizations:

  • AKC Market Place
  • Cairn Terrier Club of America

Cairn Terrier Adoption From Rescue Or Shelter

Do you want to adopt a Cairn Terrier from a rescue or shelter? If then, please follow the step-by-step procedure described below:

Finding out the Rescue group

  • First, surf the net to find out the Cairns in your area. The websites namely Pcom and Adopt-a-pet.com will help you to find them by listing the Cairns in your area but sometimes all over the country. You can find the animal rescue groups in your area through the Animal Shelter website.
  • Also, review the “Pets looking for Homes” section in the local newspapers.
  • Post in your facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed.

Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.

Looking for Local Experts

If you want to buy or adopt a Cairn, you can find and meet the pet professionals including the vets, groomers and dog walkers. These people may help you to adopt a dog.

Conversing with the Rescue Group

As the rescue organizations take care of homeless dogs, you can reach out them and get a dog through their help. You can reach out to The Cairn Terrier Club of America’s rescue group to find the right dog matches your family. You can also find out other rescue organizations in your area by searching online.

Asking Major Questions

Before bringing your dream dog home, you have to discuss and clear your doubts with the rescue group staff or volunteers at the shelter. You can ask them about the dog’s age, health issues, behavior with other pets, his/her response to workers, children and visitors, etc.

Finally, ensure whether the rescue group or shelter confirms the mutual responsibilities of the dog.

After adoption, please visit your vet as soon as possible. The vet is able to find out the problems if any and provides advice to prevent them.

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