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Cairn Terrier Information & Dog Breed Facts

Collection of all the general dog breed info about Cairn Terrier so you can get to know the breed more.

Group Hunting Dogs
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Cairn Terrier
Other Names
What other names does the Cairn Terrier have? The dog breed also known as...
Cairn, Toto Dog
Breed Type
What type of dog breed is it?
AKC Group
Is Cairn Terrier recognized by the American Kennel Club?
Recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1913 as a Terrier breed.
FCI Group
Is Cairn Terrier recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI)?
Recognized by FCI in the Terriers group, in the Small sized Terriers section.
Breed Recognition
What kennel clubs and organizations recognize or register the Cairn Terrier breed?
American Canine RegistryAmerican Kennel ClubAmerica's Pet RegistryCanadian Kennel ClubDog Registry of America Inc.Federation Cynologique InternationaleKennel Club of Great BritainNorth American Purebred Registry, Inc.American Canine Association, Inc.Australian National Kennel CouncilContinental Kennel ClubNational Kennel ClubNew Zealand Kennel ClubUnited Kennel ClubClub Espanol De Terriers
How much does the Cairn Terrier puppy cost? What is the price range of this puppy? What is the average price of this dog in the United States? Is this puppy expensive? How much should I pay for it? Cairn Terrier price:
If you choose to purchase the Cairn Terrier, you should know that the mentioned amount of money is an average of the collected data from breeders’ sites and puppy finder places. If you have a Cairn Terrier for sale, please advertise it on a reliable website to make sure the Cairn Terrier gets to a happy place.

Cairn Terrier History

For almost 200 years, dogs with the physical look of today’s Cairn Terriers have been recognized in Scotland’s Highlands and the Isle of Skye. The first reference of what we're most likely forerunners of today’s Cairn Terriers dates back to 1625 when King James I sent treasured examples of “Earth Dogges” to King Louis XIV of France. These dogs were so valuable that they had to be dispatched on many ships to avoid losing them all if one went down at sea.

Furthermore, prior to 1873, all terriers in Scotland were considered ‘Scottish Terriers’. In 1873, terriers were divided into two distinct varieties, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier and the Skye Terrier. In the early years, what are now called Cairn Terriers and their predecessors went by a variety of other names such as Highland Terriers, Skye Otter Terriers, and Todhunter's (fox hunters). Instead of a unique physical look and structure, these brave small terriers were appreciated and bred for their working instincts to control vermin. Moreover, Skye Terriers began to develop along numerous separate physical lines in the early 1900s, eventually separating into Cain Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, and Scottish Terriers.

Moreover, it is important to highlight a woman called Mrs. Alastair Campbell who was an early breed enthusiast who helped to establish the Cairn Terrier as a breed. She was the first to register dogs that would subsequently become Cairn Terriers and to show her dogs under the designation Prick Eared or Short-haired Skye Terriers. This caused great controversy with the Skye Terrier Club, however, the disagreement was eventually settled by granting breed recognition to the Cairn Terrier, which was accepted in 1910. A year later, the first Cairns Terrier Club was formed, and breed standards were created. Cairn Terriers get their name from the rock piles (cairns) that are a common feature of the landscape in northern Scotland and the Isle of Skye, and where they commonly find their prey.

Cairn Terriers are often regarded as the first “short-legged terriers” and the forerunners of both Scottish and West Highland White Terriers. Breeding white Cairns Terriers and interbreeding Cairns and West Highland White Terriers were once considered acceptable. Since 1925 there has been a strict separation between the West Highland White Terriers and the Cairn Terriers. Registration and showing of Cairn Terriers grew quickly in popularity until World War I put a brief end to dog shows. However, following the war, the popularity of the breed began to grow again, not only in Scotland and the UK but also in North America. Although World War II again put a pause to the world of dog shows and breeding, which greatly decreased the number of Cairn Terriers being awarded Championships in the late ’40s.

Furthermore, it is interesting to mention that in the 1939 movie version of Wizard of Oz, ‘Terry’, a female Cairn Terrier played the role of Toto. Terry was owned and trained by Carl Spitz after she was abandoned by her original family. The original book by L. Frank Baum described Toto as ‘a little black dog with long silky hair and small black eyes that twinkled merrily on either side of his funny, wee nose’. Many experts believe that the described dog could actually be a Cairn Terrier. Moreover, Terry starred in more than 16 films. Altogether, Cairn Terriers have played in at least 73 different movies and films over the years.

Over the last three decades, the popularity of purebred dogs, in general, has diminished. Many things had impacts on the breeding of pure breed dogs, for example; the popularity of designer breeds, the vigorous marketing efforts of rescue organizations, and the wholesale importation of dogs to supply a retail rescue market, as well as restrictive anti-breeding and dog ownership legislation. The number of Cairn Terriers shown at dog shows, as well as the number of litter registrations and poppy registrations has decreased. As a breed, Cairn Terriers are at risk of disappearing altogether if action is not taken. In 2019, the Cairn Terrier Club of Canada introduced the Certificate of Breeding Quality Program as one strategy to help sustain and promote breeding.

While today, most Cairn terriers are no longer fulfilling their historic purpose, they remain independent, tenacious little dogs that love to hunt and dog. The breed became recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1913.

Cairn Terrier General Appearance

What size is this breed? How big is this dog? Cairn Terrier size:
How much does the Cairn Terrier weigh? Cairn Terrier weight:
Male: 14-18 pounds (6-8 kg), Female: 13-17 pounds (6-8 kg)
Avg. Weight
What is the average weight of the Cairn Terrier? Cairn Terrier average weight:
Male: 16 pounds (7 kg), Female: 15 pounds (7 kg)
How tall is the Cairn Terrier? Cairn Terrier height:
Male: 10-13 inches (25-33 cm), Female: 9-12 inches (23-30 cm)
Avg. Height
What is the average height of this fido? Cairn Terrier average height:
Male: 11.5 inches (29 cm), Female: 10.5 inches (26.5 cm)

Cairn Terrier Hair & Care

What type of coat does the Cairn Terrier have? What does this canine coat look like?
What color is the breed's coat? What color is a proper Cairn Terrier's coat?
How to groom the Cairn Terrier and how often?
Average: The Cairn Terrier requires average grooming effort. Cutting the dog's hair by a professional groomer isn't essential. Brushing the dog's coat is useful to reduce shedding. Ears and eyes should be cleaned regularly to avoid infections. Don't skip the seasonal flea treatment too. Dog nail trimming and dog bath can be helpful sometimes. Check the local pet store for dog grooming supplies and find the best dog shampoo to keep its coat healthy and to give your dog a pleasant experience of a dog bath. If you don't have the time, skill or money to take care of your Cairn Terrier, search for a dog groomer or clipping service in your area and book an appointment. Maybe you're lucky to have a dog boarding service that includes grooming or walk in dog bath places nearby.
Shedding Level
How much do Cairn Terrier dogs shed? How to control, reduce and prevent the shedding of the Cairn? Cairn Terrier shedding level:
Cairn Terriers shed moderately. It's a natural process of the hair growth cycle. Regular brushing reduces the amount of hair that sheds. It mostly depends on their health status and breed type.

Cairn Terrier Characteristics

What kind of personality does the Cairn Terrier have? What characteristics does the breed have?
Intelligent Rank
How smart is the Cairn Terrier? Are they intelligent?
Smart: Cairn Terrier's has great intelligence. They understand and memorize new commands in 15-25 repetitions.
Are Cairn Terrier dogs easy to train? Do they go well on dog training?
Cairn Terriers are easy to train. They find out the association between commands and actions quite quickly.
How playful is this breed?
The Cairn Terrier is a playful breed. Excited barking and sometimes nipping will alert you to play.
Sensitivity Level
How sensitive are they? Cairn Terrier sensitivity:
Cairn Terriers have an average emotional level and are not the most sensitive dog breed. Sometimes it's okay to change the daily routine, have guests and listen to loud music. Some dogs handle moderate punishment very well, while others crumble apart at a dirty look. This breed is not affected emotionally for moderate punishment.
Affection Level
How affectionate are they?
Cairn Terriers are genuinely loyal, soft and gentle, loving and affectionate dogs toward their handlers. They enjoy quality time with their owners despite the activity and considered as a great therapy dog for those in need. This breed responds strongly to their handler's emotions because they bond closely. Their happiness is your happiness.
Social Needs
How much social interaction does the Cairn need? Cairn Terrier social needs:
Cairn Terriers need a lot of social interaction. They desire to always be with someone or around people. This breed hates being left alone.
Do Cairn Terrier dogs bark a lot? Why does my Toto Dog bark?
High: The Cairn Terrier is a very vocal breed. Definitely not the best choice if you prefer a quiet breed. They often enjoy barking and howling loudly. They can change their barks depending on their emotional level and what they're trying to say. Different barks could mean the same and same barks could have a different meaning. Top reasons for barking: protection, alarm, fear, boredom, attention seeking, greeting, separation anxiety, compulsive barking.
Watchdog Ability
Is Cairn Terrier good as a watchdog?
Cairn Terriers are good watchdogs. Their main job is to observe and they're consistent in their effort. Good vocal cords and sense of hearing belong to them. Usually, they're territorial and protective about their property, so the Cairn Terriers will alert you if they sense something different.
Do Cairn Terrier dogs have an aggressive behavior to protect their territory?
Cairn Terriers are average defenders. Some dogs are very protective of their territory, while others easily let a stranger to trespass. This breed is not sure to defend his territory in every situation.
Biting Potential
Do Cairn Terrier bite humans? How likely are you to get bitten from the Cairn? What are the odds of getting bitten by a Cairn Terrier? Why do dog bites happen?
The Cairn Terrier has a low chance of biting somebody. Top reasons for dog bite: protection, pain, excitement, herding instinct, being provoked. (Data based on the available online bite statistics.)
How much mouthing/nipping/play biting does the Cairn Terrier do?
Cairn Terriers have an average tendency to nip, chew, play-bite, or herd people. It's a common habit during puppyhood, not aggressive behavior. These "bites" don't hurt, but Cairn Terriers need to be taught for a good attitude.
Impulse to Wander or Roam
How likely is the Cairn Terrier to run away? Does this breed explore or wander a lot? Does Cairn Terrier roam?
Cairn Terriers have average wanderlust potential. Sometimes they like to explore the world and they might escape once or twice, but usually, they prefer staying safely at home. Safer to teach them how to get back to you on command.
Prey Drive
Do this canine have a strong prey drive? Does Cairn Terrier have high prey drive?
Cairn Terriers have a higher impulse to chase and catch something than other dog breeds. Cats or any other small animals might be in danger. It's a natural instinct, doesn't necessarily mean that Cairn Terriers are aggressive. Better to keep this breed on a leash.
Apartment Friendly
Is Cairn Terrier good as an apartment dog? Can they live in a flat?
Cairn Terriers are not the best choice for an apartment lifestyle, but they don't mind being inside if you walk them several times every day.
Are they adaptable and easy-going?
Cairn Terriers adapt to lifestyle changes and different living environments quite okay usually.
Tolerates Being Left Alone
Can you leave this breed home alone?
Cairn Terriers tend to have separation anxiety when their owners left them alone at home because they bond very closely with them.
Fighting Dog
Where Cairn Terrier dogs used as a fighting dog in the history?
Not really
In history, this breed was not really used for combat dog.

Cairn Terrier Good With

Stranger Friendly
Are they friendly with strangers?
Cairn Terriers are average friendly towards strangers.
Child Friendly
Are Cairn Terrier dogs kid-friendly? Are they good with young children? Cairn Terrier and children:
Cairn Terriers are kid-friendly dogs. This breed is a good choice if you have children.
Cat Friendly
How well do Cairn Terrier dogs get along with cats? Are they good with kittens? What is this fido's temperament with cats?
Cairn Terriers are average friendly towards cats.
Dog Friendly
Is Cairn Terrier good with other dogs? Are they dog-friendly dogs? How well do Cairn Terrier dogs get along with other dogs? What is this canine temperament with other dogs?
Cairn Terriers are average friendly towards other dogs.
Office Friendly
Are Cairn Terriers good office dogs? Do Cairn Terriers make good office friendly dogs? Can Cairn Terriers be office dogs?
Cairn Terrier is one of the best dog breeds for office environment
Senior Citizens Friendly
Are they senior citizens friendly dogs? How well do Cairn Terrier dogs get along with the elderly people? What is the Cairn temperament with senior people? Are Cairn Terrier dogs good for elderly owners?
Cairn Terriers are usually recommended for elderly people.
Pet Friendly
Are they pet-friendly dogs? How well do Cairn Terrier dogs get along with other pets? Are Cairn Terrier dogs good with pets? What is this canine temperament with other pets?
Cairn Terriers are generally with other pets.
Good For First Time Owners
Is Cairn Terrier breed good for first-time owners? Do they make a good dog for novice owners?
Cairn Terriers are good for novice owners, due to their easy-going personality.
Service Dog
Are they good as service dogs? Can Cairn Terrier be a service dog?
Not really
This breed generally not used as a service dog. A service dog is a term used in the USA to refer to any type of assistance dog specifically trained to help people who have disabilities, such as visual impairment, hearing impairments, mental disorders, seizures, mobility impairment, and diabetes. Service dogs are protected under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Cairn Terrier is not the best breed for service purposes.
Therapy Dog
Are they good as therapy dogs? Can Cairn Terrier be a therapy dog?
Not really
This breed generally not used as a therapy dog. A therapy dog is a dog that might be trained to provide affection, comfort, and love to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and to people with anxiety disorders or autism. Cairn Terrier is not the best breed for therapeutic purposes.
Detection Dog or Sniffer Dog
Are they good as detection dogs? Can Cairn Terrier be a sniffer dog?
Not really
A detection dog or sniffer dog is a dog that is trained to use its senses (mostly its smell) to detect substances such as explosives, illegal drugs, wildlife scat, currency, blood, and contraband electronics such as illicit mobile phones. Cairn Terrier is not the best breed for detection purposes.
Search and Rescue Dog (SAR)
Are they good as SAR dogs? Can Cairn Terrier be a search and rescue dog?
Not really
The use of dogs in search and rescue (SAR) is a valuable component in wilderness tracking, natural disasters, mass casualty events, and in locating missing people. The Cairn Terrier is not the best breed for SAR purposes.
Boat Dog
Are they good as boat dogs? Can Cairn Terrier be a boat dog?
Not really
Cairn Terrier breed usually doesn't like being on a boat.
Cart Pulling or Drafting Dog
Are they good as cart pulling dogs? Can Cairn Terrier be a drafting dog?
Not really
A drafting dog or draft dog is a dog bred and used for cart pulling. Dogs bred for this work have strong builds and qualities that are needed, strength and determination. Cairn Terrier is not the best breed for drafting purposes.

Cairn Terrier Health Factors

Health Issues
Is it a healthy breed? Do Cairn Terrier dogs have health problems?
Cairn Terriers tend to have more and frequent health issues than other breeds. Regular vet check-ups are needed.
Health Problems
What health problems does the Cairn Terrier breed have? What are the health issues and concerns of the Cairn Terrier breed? Health risks of Cairn Terrier:
CataractsCraniomandibular OsteopathyCryptorchidismGlaucomaGloboid Cell LeukodystrophyHypothyroidismLegg-perthes DiseaseLuxating PatellaMicrovascular DysplasiaPortosystemic Vascular Anomaly (PSVA)Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
Life Expectancy
How long do Cairn Terrier dogs live? What is the average lifespan of this breed? How old can a Cairn Terrier be?
12-15 years
Is the Cairn Terrier breed hypoallergenic?
Cairn Terriers do well with allergy sufferers by causing fewer allergic reaction. However there are no 100% hypoallergenic dogs in the world, there are a variety of breeds that are considered to reduce or minimize the possibility of an allergic response. Coat type isn't necessarily relevant, because most people are allergic to dander (flakes on the dog's skin) or saliva, not actually to dog hair.
Energy Level
How much energy does the Cairn Terrier have?
Cairn Terriers are high energy dogs. Active lifestyle makes them happy.
Exercise Need
How much exercise does this dog need? How much exercise do Cairn Terrier dogs require per day?
Cairn Terriers need quite a lot of exercise. Daily walks should be on schedule. If you live an active life, this breed can be a good choice for you.
Sleeping Need
How much sleep does this fido need?
Cairn Terriers don't need too much sleep. They are energetic and desire to live an active life. If you think naps are overrated, this breed can be the best choice for you.
Avg. daily food consumption
How much food does the Cairn Terrier need? How often should I feed my canine? What dog products should I buy?
0.5 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.
Weight Gain Potential
How easy to gain weight for this dog? Cairn Terrier risk for obesity:
Average. The Cairn Terrier has an average risk for obesity. Daily walks should be on schedule. To make your dog happy and fit, feed him with quality dry dog food and live an active life together. Try to find the happy medium between exercise and feeding. If you notice any weight gain, consult your veterinarian and make a diet plan. Reduce unhealthy food and snacks, and measure the Cairn Terrier's weight regularly.
Weather & Climate
Which weather condition is preferred by this dog? Can they tolerate hot and cold weather & climate?
Prefers average to cold weather conditions
The Cairn Terrier can adapt to well to cold weather conditions, some dogs even can be a good mountain dog.
How stinky is this dog? Why does it smell bad and how to get rid of the smell?
The Cairn Terrier has an average chance of bad smell. Top reasons for dog stinkiness: infection of bad tooth/ear/skin folds, gas attacks.
Drooling tendency
Does the Cairn Terrier drool?
The Cairn Terrier is a perfect example for very low drooling tendency. If you're disgusted by slobber spots on your clothes, the Cairn Terrier could be a perfect choice for you. Drooling is the unintentional saliva flowing outside of the mouth. It can be completely normal or a sign of a health problem. Certain dog breeds drool minimal compared to others, just like the Cairn Terrier. If you notice any change in your dog's drooling habit, you should contact a vet as soon as possible.

Cairn Terrier Reproducibility

Gestation Length
How long does this dog's pregnancy last? How long does this dog pregnant? How long does it take to have puppies?
60-64 days
Reproductive cycle of the female Cairn Terrier: The first period called Proestrus lasts for about 9 days. During this time the females start to attract males. You can notice by swelling vulva and bloody discharge. The second part is the Estrus when the bitch is receptive for the male. It lasts for about 3 to 11 days. The sign of the proestrus part is the soft and enlarged vulva. The discharge decreases and lightens in color. The third part is the Diestrus. Normally, it occurs around day 14. In this period the bitch’s discharge changes for vivid red and coming to its end. The vulva returns to average, and she will no longer permit mating. The fourth part called the Anestrus. The time frame between heat periods normally lasts about six months.
How often can the Cairn Terrier have a litter? Once a year.
More frequent breeding is not healthy. It is very important not to buy a dog from a puppy mill, where the needs of the pups and their mothers are ignored. It's an inhumane high-volume dog breeding facility, where puppies born several times a year.
Litter Size
How many puppies can the Cairn Terrier have? What is the average litter size of this fido?
2-10 puppies

Cairn Terrier Pros & Cons

  • Intelligent Rank: Smart: Cairn Terrier's has great intelligence.
  • Trainability: Cairn Terriers are easy to train.
  • Hypoallergenic: Cairn Terriers do well with allergy sufferers by causing fewer allergic reaction.
  • Drooling tendency: The Cairn Terrier is a perfect example for very low drooling tendency.
  • Watchdog Ability: Cairn Terriers are good watchdogs.
  • Child Friendly: Cairn Terriers are kid-friendly dogs.
  • Office Friendly: Cairn Terrier is one of the best dog breeds for office environment
  • Senior Citizens Friendly: Cairn Terriers are usually recommended for elderly people.
  • Good For First Time Owners: Cairn Terriers are good for novice owners, due to their easy-going personality.
  • Health Issues: Cairn Terriers tend to have more and frequent health issues than other breeds.
  • Tolerates Being Left Alone: Cairn Terriers tend to have separation anxiety when their owners left them alone at home because they bond very closely with them.

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Cairn Terrier Comments, Reviews & Questions

  • Sofia

    Feb 23, 2021, 10:54:22 PM:

    Got three myself. Absolutely amazing dogs, all three have completely different natures. The boys are a lot more affectionate than the females. Nevertheless, a pal for life. One of the most underrated terriers out there

  • Sofia

    Feb 23, 2021, 10:51:43 PM:

  • Cheryle

    Nov 28, 2020, 7:40:25 PM:

    Highly intelligent dogs. A beautiful personality. Gets along great with strangers and dogs way more than most dogs do. Very playful and affectionate. They are great with kids and any age group.