Cairn Terrier Information

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The Cairn Terrier is a hardy, spunky breed of terrier with a fox-like face and compact build. Their body measure approximately 14 inches from the frontal part of the chest to the hindquarters. They are short and have solid, sturdy bone structure. They have a broad head and a prominent muzzle, and their teeth close in a scissors bite. Their ears are small, pointed, and stand erect. They have short tail and a dark nose, and they have a bushy topknot and eyebrows. The Cairn Terrier has a thick double coat that consists of a shaggy outer coat and a soft, dense undercoat. The coat exists in many colors including brindle, black, sand, and various shades of gray. The coat color is likely to change over the course of the dog’s lifetime.

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The Cairn Terrier is full of energy and spirit. They have a small body and a big personality! They are cheerful, aware, and loyal, and they have a mischievous streak. Although somewhat independent, they are very loving, social, and affectionate. They like to perform tricks, and they are very easy to train. They are very curious, intelligent, and bold. They are very playful and have a natural ability to get along well with children. It’s important to properly train and socialize this breed so that it doesn’t bark excessively. Cairn Terriers enjoy digging and looking for small animals, so it’s not a good idea to leave them unattended with small, non-canine pets. They have a tendency to chase and they shouldn’t be kept off a least. This breed is very territorial and will protect his territory against larger dogs. This can be a dangerous characteristic because, although feisty, the Cairn Terrier is not strong enough to defend himself or fight with a large dog.

The Cairn Terrier is smart but can be stubborn.

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9 – 13 inches
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13 – 18 pounds
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General Health

The Cairn Terrier has a propensity to gain weight, therefore it should not be overfed. This breed can be very persistent and charming when it begs, but it’s important for owners to limit the treat intake of their Cairn Terrier(s). Many Cairn Terriers are allergic to fleas. This breed typically lives for 12 to 15 years.

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The Cairn Terrier has been known since 1500. The breed boomed in popularity after 1930, and it was first shown in 1909. Once of Scotland’s original breeds of terriers, the Cairn Terrier is believed to have contributed to many of today’s Scottish, West Highland White, and Skye Terrier breeds. The Cairn Terrier was named after piles of small stones that were utilized to mark graves and Scottish farm borders. Initially, the Cairn Terrier’s job was to rout small animals from these stone piles. While they served this purpose for centuries, the Cairn Terrier is now predominately used as a companion dog. The dog “Toto” in the Wizard of Oz was a Cairn Terrier. This breed has a number of natural talents including agility, competitive obedience, watching, hunting, tracking, and trick-performing.

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The shaggy coat of the Cairn Terrier looks natural, but actually requires a great deal of upkeep and attention. If neglected, this breed’s coat will become matted, tangled, and messy. This breed should be brushed gently several times per week. Hair should be kept trimmed around the eyes and ears with a pair of blunt-nosed scissors. Nails should be clipped on a regular basis. This breed sheds minimally.

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Ideal Environment

The Cairn Terrier is content to live in a small household or apartment if he is sufficiently exercised. They are capable of getting enough physical activity on their own, but they need space in order to do this. It’s ideal to have a small yard, but they can get enough exercise if they are taken on a daily walk.

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Dog Training!

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Cairn Terrier Q&A

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I saw that in the description it said "This can be a dangerous characteristic because, although feisty, the Cairn Terrier is not strong enough to defend himself or fight with a large dog" does that mean it will fight?

it means they will stand their ground even if the opponent is 6 hands taller!!! but this is a dog who wants to please and is the happiest, friendliest dog going


Is the Cairn Terrier a good choice for a pet for someone who has allergies? I have a friend whose eyes and nose never stop running when she is around her Cairn Terrier .Is their type of fur conducive to causing this kind of problem?If so, what can she do to help with this allergic reaction?

Sadly there isn't much she can do to help her - as a vet it is important to tell you that very thorough research and active contact with the breeds is crucial. Carry tissues?

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