This ancient breed was developed in the Scotland highlands and the Isle of Skye where he was selectively bred as a ratter to remove vermin from many Scotland farms. We must thank Captain Martin MacLeod for giving rise to these courageous and tenacious fellows. Back in time, all terriers were classified as Scotch terriers. It was only in 1873 that terriers were categorized as Dandie dinmont terriers and Skye terriers. Cairns were part of the Skye terriers classification, along with Scottish terriers and West Highland White terriers. As the years went by, many breeds were categorized as stand-alone breeds.The Cairn terrier was initially called “short-haired Skye terrier” but with the opposition of Skye terrier breeders, he became a breed of its own in 1912. There’s belief he gets his name from the man-made piles of stones (cairns) often utilized at burial sites and mass graves. Cairn often hunted down vermin near stone piles. In 1913, the first terriers landed on US soil. This breed was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1913 and is categorized under the terrier group.
This breed is naturally inquisitive, intelligent and eager to learn. However, as other terriers, they have an independent, stubborn streak. Train them from an early age and be consistent. Don’t be harsh though or you’ll hurt his feelings. Invest in positive reinforcement training and you’ll be rewarded with a dog that will readily learn tricks. Always walk him on leash to prevent him from taking off and chase critters. Enroll him in obedience, agility, flyball or to make him extra happy, let him do what he was bred, by enrolling him in Earth Dog Trials. Even though he’s a smaller dog, socialization is important. Train him the quiet command and provide him with an acceptable area to dig to his heart’s content.
The Ideal Household
Be ready to deal with terrier traits. Digging, chasing and excitedly barking are quite common behaviors. Keep him enclosed in a safe, escape-proof yard. He may do well in an apartment or house with fenced yard, but make sure you have time to keep him exercised and mentally stimulated. He’s also hardy enough to fair well in a country home and enjoy time in the ranch. Just make sure you don’t leave him alone too often or for extended periods of times, this breed cherishes companionship and may become destructive if he feels neglected. This breed makes an excellent watch dog, promptly sounding the alarm when there are visitors.
With children, Toto will be patient, but just make sure the child learns to handle him with care. Never leave a child alone with a dog regardless of size and temperament. As with other of the smaller-sized terriers, this breed thinks he’s a big dog. He may try to attack dogs and animals that are five times his size. With cats , he may get along with if raised from an early age, but most likely he’ll chase cats or other fleeing critters away from the yard. Because of his ancestry as a vermin hunter, avoid keeping him near pet rats,mice gerbils and hamsters.
This breed has the potential to make a wonderful companion. He is fun and entertaining to watch. Cairn terriers look forward to meeting new people. Like Toto, he’s up on his toes and happy to follow you around and go on adventurous walks. Some Cairn, may be possessive over food and toys. From this breed’s perspective it’s all about them, they love attention and certainly know how to get it.
This breed stands between 9.5 and 10 inches. They typically weight between 13 and 14 pounds. This is a double coated breed with a harsh outer coat.The coat comes in many different colors except white. Why is that? Because Cairn terriers that are white are really West Highland White terriers. A characteristic of this breed is that the brindle coat tends to change throughout a lifetime, becoming progressively blacker or more silver as the dog ages.The distinctive hair around the head gives the Cairn a cute, almost foxy expression.They have pointy, alert ears ready to capture the faintest sounds. This dog has very large paws compared to their size, with the front ones considerably larger than the back ones. These given them the ability to engage in cutting-edge digging.
Unlike other small dogs, the Cairn is not a delicate, foofy lap dog, this breed is overall a tough cookie, but he may be prone to several conditions such as Craniomandibular Osteopathy, cataracts,progressive retinal athrophy, Cryptorchidism, Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy, Hypothyroidism, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, Patellar Luxation, Ocular Melanosis/Secondary Glaucoma Portosystemic Liver Shunt. The average lifespan is between 12 to 17 years
His coat may look scruffy, but he’s quite easy to groom. Brush him as needed, at least once a week. He doesn’t shed much, but he will need to be handstripped at least twice a year.. See your groomer for advice on how to do this without hurting your dog. Cutting the coat with scissors or clipping him may ruin the coat. The coat’s texture is meant to repel water and keep the dog dry despite rainy or damp climates. As with other small dogs, he’s particularly prone to tartar, so you’ll need to brush those teeth daily and provide crunchy foods.
Where to get one:
Cairn Terrier Club of America Rescue Contacts
Cairn Terrier Club of America