Cairn Terrier

A Cairn Terrier is one of the ancient breeds that comes from Scotland. Actually, most people think that this breed is the first dog which comes from the Scottish Highlands. It is a working dog by trait but is used now more as a family pet. In its earliest form, the dog was a hunter that sought after its prey in quarries between the cairns in the Scottish Highlands.


Brindle Cairn Terrier

But the breed existed long before the cairns did which means that the dog was named differently before. The breed was first referred to as Short-Haired Skye Terrier, but was soon changed due to some altercations. The name was officially adopted in 1909 by the Kennel Club.

Cairn Terrier History & Origins

The Cairn Terrier is an ancient breed that comes from Scotland, They originate from the island of Skye. This is why they were first grouped with other Skype Terriers like the Scottish and West Highland White terriers. But during early 1900s breeders started separating the breeds and began breeding them separately. Which resulted in each breed being established and recognized as an individual one.

After the separation was made and once all the characteristics were established, the Cairn Terrier was officially accepted by the Kennel Club of the United Kingdom in 1912 and given the name that it carries today.

Characteristics & Temperament

The Cairn Terrier is a very loveable, happy and diligent dog. It is very friendly with people and enjoys their company. As it is a terrier, it also displays the characteristics of one, for example being alert, tough and independent. They are very active and lively and have a lot of energy which they need to exert. Owners should keep in mind that daily walks are absolutely necessary. Playing with them is also good but this does not take care of all of their needs as walking them is something they enjoy the most and what helps them be more balanced in nature.


Cream Cairn Terrier

The dog will form an attachment to the owner and will likely follow them around the house or the property. They are the happiest when they are among other people. It will also display great affection with your kids and will hang out with them and play with them. Due to its energy level it will chase other animals, usually smaller than itself. But it is also an alert watch dog and will fend off strangers if necessary.

When they are little, these dogs are very curious. You can use this and train them this way. Try to provide as much experience for them and socialize them with other people and other dogs. Training shouldn’t be hard but some pups may display stubbornness.

Cairn Terrier Appearance, Colors, Size

A Cairn Terrier has a double coat which consist of a soft and very dense undercoat and a very rough but water resistant overcoat. Some describe this type of a dog as having a rough but ready appearance. They are small dogs in size and can grow to be about 9 to 13 inches in height and weigh approximately 10 to 16 pounds.


Black Cairn Terrier

As far as color options go, there are numerous one. A Cairn Terrier can be either black, cream, wheaten, red, sandy, gray, or brindled. But many kennel clubs actually do not accept pure black, black and tan and disqualify these types from competition. A Cairn terrier also has the tendency to change fur meaning that as they get older they can become blacker or more silver.


The Cairn terrier is not a breed which is affected by so many health factors. They are pretty healthy dogs and can live up to 12 to 17 years. This is pretty good for the size and the preferences of the dog. The conditions that you do have to watch out for and that you need to be aware are mostly hereditary. They include conditions such as Bronchoesophageal fistula, Cataracts, Corneal dystrophy, Diabetes mellitus, Hip dysplasia, etc. But if you take your dog to the vet regularly, you might be able to prevent some of them from happening.

Cairn Terrier Grooming & Shedding

Grooming a Cairn Terrier is important. Originating from a harsh Scottish environment, its coat is meant to protect the dog. It provides it shelter from temperature, water and dirt and you have to maintain it so the dog keeps its original properties. These dogs do not shed a lot, but you have to remove the dead hair when they change their coats. This has to be done by hand stripping as any other method involving sheers may ruin their coat. Brushing their coat is also advisable and you can use a special brush to do so, not to ruin their coat.


4 Months Old Cairn Terrier

As far as bathing your dog, you still have to do it, but not overdo it. You can give a bathe to your dog once in every three months. More than that may damage the fur and cause discomfort. But besides this, brushing your dog’s teeth and taking care of its nails is another factor in grooming. All in all, they are not so demanding but you have to be careful to provide them the necessary needs.

Price and Breeders

The Cairn Terrier is a breed which is still easy to find, if the price is okay for you. Quality breeders are still situated in Scotland, but you will find others in the UK and in the US and Canada across the Atlantic. The price for a single puppy goes between 700 and 1,000 dollars.


4 Weeks Old Cairn Terrier Puppy

Cairn Terrier Rescue

There are other options except buying a Cairn Terrier. Adopting is the best way to get a dog without spending too much money on it. The popularization of rescuing a dog means that one can easily find a breed that they want and find a suitable dog for them. Carin Terriers can be found with Cairn Terrier Club of America Rescue Contacts which is a rescue groups which provides quality dogs.