The Cairn Terrier

The Cairn Terrier is accepted as one of the subcategories of Scotland's terriers along with the Westies (West Highland White) and the Scottish. The Westies and the Cairns are highly associated. For one, Westies are hybrids of white dogs crossbred with Cairns of western Scotland.

The Westie can be regarded as the white variety of the Cairn who has a coat of any color but white. Scotties, however, have longer heads and bodies, have by and large dark coats and are more aloof than the other two. These dogs originated from the short-haired Skyes.

This dog is the smallest breed of the terrier group. The name Cairn was given after the small stone piles that distinguished the borders of Scottish farms and graves. During the early times, this breed was used to guide small animals into these piles of stones.

At around 1700s, the Isle of Skye and other highlands in Scotland were already raising lots of small terriers. Scottish breeds were separated into two: the Skye terriers and the Dandie Dinmont terriers.

The Dandie Dinmonts were categorized as a separate breed. The Skyes included the Scotties, the Westies, and the Cairns.

In the year 1912, the Cairns picked up their official name founded on their excellent ability to hunt down vermin such as otters, foxes, and badgers that were hiding in cairns. Even so, it was in the year 1913 when they obtained the official identification from the American Kennel Club.

This dog was already around during the 1500s even before it became popular in 1930, after the appearance of "Toto" in "The Wizard of Oz" as Dorothy's companion dog. Currently, like the American pit bull terriers, they are used as companion dogs. Among the dog's talents are tracking, watching over the house, hunting, and executing tricks and sports concerning competitive obedience.

Characteristics of the Cairn Terrier

This breed will happily live indoors or out side in a fenced yard. It has a shaggy and coarse outer coat and short and soft furry undercoat. They can be any color but white. Their height is between 9.5 and 10 inches and weigh between 13 and 14 pounds.


The Cairn, like most terriers, were bred as hunters. These dogs are impish, alert, fidgety and high-spirited.

Health Issues

Atopy, a type of allergy.

Cataracts, or loss of transparency of one or both lenses of the eyes.

Cryptorchidism, wherein testicles do not descend into the scrotum.

Glaucoma, a condition that causes an increase pressure within the eye.

Patellar luxation, a disorder in the kneecap.

General Care and Exercise

The Cairn terrier should be brushed daily to prevent tangled and matted hair.

The hair around the ears and eyes should be trimmed regularly.

This breed put on weight easily so be careful not to over feed.

Regular exercise is important but keep your dog on a leash while walking in public places because of the Cairn's hunting instincts.

The Cairn terrier is an agile little dog that is suitable for the whole family. This breed is playful, prying, and is always ready to have fun.

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