Breed Group: Terrier Group
Shoulder Height: 9-13 in.
Weight: 10-15 lb.
Life Span: 12-17 years
Colors: Black, brindle, cream, gray, red, silver, wheaten
- The Cairn Terrier is one of the oldest existing terrier breeds, having been developed in the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye at around the same time as the Scottish Terrier and the West Highland White Terriers in the early 1800s.
- Their distinguishing features are their round heads and bristly coats.
- Cairn Terriers are among the smallest terriers, being developed primarily for ratting and chasing prey between cairns — small crags you will see on the Scottish highlands.
One of the lesser-known terrier breeds, Cairn Terriers are often overshadowed by their cousins, the Scottish Terrier and the West Highland White Terrier. With a distinctive weatherproof coat and an amiable personality, the Cairn Terrier has proven to be the joy of many a dog lover.
As one can assume from having a weatherproof coat, the Cairn Terrier is quite easy to groom. Some Cairn pet parents can even get away with not brushing their dog at all, preferring to just hand strip the loose hair off of their companion. This involves pulling the loose dead hair from the coat, but it's important that pet parents learn to do this correctly otherwise they may cause pain to their Cairn.
With proper social training, the Cairn Terrier is a wonderful companion to children and can learn to get along with other animals. They are curious and intelligent, and learn quickly. Their confidence means that if you allow your Cairn to take over the house, they will rule the roost. Obedience training from a young age is an important way of raising a well-behaved well-adjusted dog.
Mental and physical exercise is required for a Cairn Terrier to be happy. Fortunately, because of their small size, these needs are easily met. However, these cheerful little dogs will enjoy keeping you company on longer walks.
Cairn Terriers are quite healthy animals. However, they are subject to a number of problems that are both hereditary and physical in nature.
- Orthopedic diseases that show up in the breed include luxating patellas and Legg-Calvé-Perthe's disease.
- The breed is susceptible to cataracts, glaucoma, and progressive retinal atrophy, which can affect their vision.
- The Cairn Terrier can suffer from liver shunts and kidney dysplasia.
- Von Willebrand disease, an illness that affects blood clotting, is another ailment that can pop up.
- The most famous Cairn Terrier would be Toto from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
- In his eponymous television series, George Lopez keeps a Cairn Terrier called Mr. Needles.
- Total, the talking dog in the Maximum Ride series of young adult novels, is a Cairn Terrier.
Photo ©iStock.com/GlobalP, ©iStock.com/studio-laska