Everything You Need to Know About the Cairn Terrier Dog Breed

Out of many dog breeds, the AKC (American Kennel Club) ranked the cute Cairn Terrier in 69th place. Although it isn’t everyone’s favorite kind of dog breed, the little pooch has won the hearts of many people all over the world. If you are considering getting yourself one, then there are a few things you need to know about this cheerfully active doggy.

Everything You Need to Know About the Cairn Terrier Dog Breed


Terriers originate from Scotland, the most popular being the Scottish terrier. There are many different terrier breeds and crossbreeds. Some are already extinct, while others are still very present in modern-day homes. The Cairn, specifically, only became a fully noted name back in 1887.

Even though they were only recognized as a breed in the late 1800s, they actually trace back to the 1600s. During this time, they dwelled on the Western Highland plains. Read this article for more on this cute little pooch’s origin.

Even though the breed wasn’t as recognizable or as popular, a lot of attention was drawn its way in 1939. This year the famous movie “The Wizard of Oz” made its appearance and a Cairn terrier named Toto was chosen to play the dog character. Since then, this cute little doggy became a household name.

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Physical Appearance 

Resembling their cousin, the Scottish terrier, the Cairn has short legs with long shaggy fur. The females can weigh up to 13 pounds as fully grown adults and will measure 9.5 inches in height. Compared to the males who are a little bit bigger and can weigh up to 14 pounds as fully grown adults. Males are a little higher than females at 10 inches high.

Both males and females are expected to live between 13-15 years. This is an average life expectancy, though some dogs have lived even longer than that. Making them a great addition to a family.


Not all dogs and cats get along, luckily, this isn’t the case with this little pooch. They adore all other animals and don’t mind sharing a living space with other pets. Although, this is also dependent on the cat or dog that is sharing the space. As they don’t tend to quite like other pets with aggressive tempers. The Cairn terrier isn’t scared to defend its owner or its territory.

They are so protective that they can become quite talkative. Cairn terriers tend to bark a lot at any strange noise that they might not recognize. Therefore, you should consider whether you want to introduce a baby into the home or not. As your furry friend might bark at strange sounds coming from the baby’s room. It’s recommended that parents only get a Cairn when their children are a little older.

Once kids are a little older, this breed can’t wait to run around and play with them. Since they are very active and loving of nature, they enjoy the company of a young child. Children love this breed too since it’s always up for some new activities or learning tricks. Cairns is very playful, active, and filled with energy.

Another benefit of getting a Cairn is that they are great watchdogs. Because they are so vocal, they are the perfect alarm systems for families who need extra protection. This is the kind of dog that won’t let anything slide, especially not something that seems out of place.

Even though they are small in stature, Cairn terriers aren’t lapdogs. They don’t necessarily enjoy cuddling or being held too much. They also don’t like being held captive on a lap. They enjoy being free and will happily roam around the house and find their own comfortable sleeping space. If you are looking for a cuddle buddy, then, unfortunately, this breed isn’t for you.

Health and Illnesses

As with many breed dogs, they tend to be more prone to certain diseases. These include problems with liver and bone diseases. This doesn’t mean that it is inevitable that they’ll do get diagnosed with one of these illnesses, but the way they’ve been bred makes them more prone to it.

Make sure that you remain vigilant to your little terrier’s behavior and eating habits. These dogs are prone to a variety of medical conditions and should be taken care of carefully. It’s important that you take them on regular routine checkups by the vet, put them on a healthy diet, and ensuring that they get enough exercise.

Learn more about cairn terrier specific health conditions here: https://cairnterrier.org/index.php/Static/health.  GROOMING AND CARE

For most dogs, grooming is an essential part in their well-being. Not only to make sure their coats remain shiny, but also to make them feel good. It’s also a form of hygiene to help your dog stay clean and bacteria-free.

Because Cairn terriers have thick shaggy coats, it’s important to groom and comb them at least once a month. More preferably, every other week. Wash them with dog-friendly shampoo, clip their toenails, and comb that can remove their undercoat.

Loose and old hair within the undercoat can mat together and create a stinky mess. It’s important to comb out all loose hair, this will also help keep your home and couches hair-free. As an extra treat, you can take your Cairn to the dog groomers for a haircut every other week.

Cairns are friendly and if you decide to get one for your home, you’ll have endless fun.