Cairn Terrier​ - Terrier Group

Cairn Terrier

Breed Group: Terrier Group

Size Group: Small Dog Breeds


Height: F: 9″-13″, M: 10”-13”

Weight: 13-18 lbs

Color: Black, brindle, cream, gray, red, wheaten, cream or a combination of these (never white). Cairns coat often changes as it matures. It can be impossible to tell what color your pup will end up being.

Lifespan13-15 years

Temperament: Courageous, tenacious, intelligent


Cairn Terriers are wonderful family pets. They love to snuggle, play fiercely out on the lawn, and dig and dig and dig…. Did we mention the love to dig? These little pups were bred in the Scottish Highlands to root out foxes and rats in the cairns (the rock piles for which they were named). The terrier instinct in these pups is strong so you always need to make sure you keep your Cairn leased to prevent a runaway pursuit.

As with some small dog breeds establishing yourself as dominant early on is extremely important with Cairns. They are intelligent and determined, so if they see your leadership as timid, they will take charge. With the proper chain of command established in your house everyone will be cozy and content.

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Fun Facts

  1. Toto from the Wizard of Oz was a Cairn terrier and was a female dog


Cairns have a flea allergy. You should always be sure to keep your pup free of fleas. Cairns are relatively healthy pups. Other not so common concerns include:

  • Luxating patella: Luxating simply means out of place or dislocated. Patella is a kneecap. A Luxating patella is a kneecap that chronically moves out of its normal position.
  • Liver shunt: The portal vein carrying blood bypasses the liver. While most commonly a birth defect, liver disease such as cirrhosis can also be a cause.
  • Cataracts: A dog develops a cataract when the lens in its eye clouds. The clouding is caused by changes in the water balance or proteins in the lens.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy: Atrophy is a wearing or wasting away of a body part. In this case, it is the retina in the eye, which eventually leads to blindness.
  • Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia: This condition is when the socket joint in the hip isn’t large enough, or more often too shallow, for the femoral head.

While you always hope your pet will live a long and healthy life, it is always a good idea to invest in pet health insurance.

Keeping your dog’s mouth clean and problem free goes a long way to your pup’s overall health. Dental hygiene can be the cause or can be the byproduct of other serious health issues.

Visual inspections can be performed to keep track of the signs of potentially waning oral health. These signs can be anything from bad breath to abnormal chewing to loss of appetite.

Keeping ahead of these warning signs can pay dividends. A preventative approach can delay and stop many of the common dental problems from arising.

Oral health can be tackled in five basic steps:

  1. Brushing your dog’s teeth to prevent an undesirable buildup of plaque
  2. Feed your dog a diet where the high quality dog food has dental benefits
  3. Regularly give your dog dental toys and treats
  4. Use mouthwash, to help where brushing misses
  5. At the sign of any abnormalities, consult a vet. You can even do it virtually, from the convenience of your home.

Dogs are just like humans in that they can experience anxiety. The degree to which they are susceptible to anxiety and how they deal with anxiety is breed specific. Left unchecked, initial signs of anxiety could give way to an anxiety disorder. The symptoms of anxiety disorders can lead to a myriad of behavior issues.

Knowing the signs and symptoms will best equip you to keep ahead of it and to nip it in the bud at the earliest signs. There are options available to help with anxiety.

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You can help your Cairns looking and feeling its best with weekly brushings with a pin brush or comb. Their coat is naturally waterproof, so frequent bathing not recommended as it can remove naturally occurring oils. Hand stripping should be done several times a year to keep the hard coat harsh and dirt proof.

Be sure to keep hair around the eyes clipped short to avoid irritation. Regularly check their ears to make sure they are clear of debris. As with all dogs, keep your pup’s nails clipped and brush their teeth several times a week.


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Cairns need about an hour of activity a day. A brisk leased walk combined with some play is ideal. Always keep your pup on a leash while out, they cannot resist the impulse to give pursue to any small animal. These pups were bred to hunt and chase.

Their extra padded front paws make them exceptional diggers. If you have a fenced in yard, your pup will still require some supervision while in it. Many owners decide to get a sandbox to prevent their pups from destroying flowerbeds.


Most Cairns consume between ½ and 2/3 cup of food a day with a couple of treats. You dog’s exact amount will depend on age and activity level.


We’ve taken a look at some premium dog foods, high in nutrition here.

Are You Feeding Your Dog The Best Food?

hypoallergenic Barbet

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As with all dogs, early socialization with people and other dogs is important. This little pup should start obedience training early. Cairns should never doubt who is in charge or they will start to attempt to take over. Always have a firm but loving response to discipline.

Crate training is highly recommended for Cairns especially if you have children in the house. Crates are a safe space for your pup when traveling and to have some desired alone time.

Proper training is essential to ensuring the safety of your dog and those around you. Having your dog come when they should, and in general having them listen is something you want to address early in your pup’s life, as it will pay dividends down the line. There are many tried and true training programs to accomplish this training – faster and better than you might think!

Unless you’re living on a farm, or have the space, a yipping dog, or one that barks all day when you are gone could be an issue with the neighbors and/or landlord. Historically, dogs would bark to communicate with the rest of the pack when hunting and bark as a warning shot to predators eyeing up their flock. Barking is deep rooted in dogs and manifests itself in many ways and for a variety of reasons.

Just like any habit or instinct, there are effective ways you can train this issue away.

The Best Dog Vitamins and Supplements To Keep Your Pup Healthy. Period.

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A solid Glucosamine Supplement for hips and joints will go a long way to helping your furry friend.

Other helpful supplements include full-spectrum hemp oil or CBD oil. Fish oil skin and coat supplement.

Ensuring a comprehensive preventative vitamin and mineral plan is essential to keeping your dog healthy. Truth is, there are vitamins and minerals that your dog needs, but doesn’t produce naturally. While many of these vitamins and minerals can be found in your dog’s current diet and dog food, the question becomes, are there enough vitamins to ensure they aren’t deficient.

Poor nutrition can lead to some of the most common health issues, such as weak joints, compromised immunity, increased allergies, and low energy.

Vitamins play a vital role in your pet’s health and overall life expectancy. Here are some multivitamin and joint relief options.

As regulations around marijuana have eased, the emergence of CBD oils for humans and dogs have sprung up.

Just to begin to dispel the negative stigma, CBD extract comes from Hemp, marijuana’s cousin. Unlike its cousin, there are no psychoactive qualities in CBD oil. An emerging number of clinical and institutional studies have shown the wide variety of healing qualities in CBD, including pain management, and the containment of seizures and epileptic episodes.

Explore this remedy further to see all the health benefits that have transformed the lives of so many dogs to date.

Have You Tried CBD For You Dog's Health?

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The Good

Great with kids if supervised
Low maintain grooming

The "Ruff"

Prone to digging and chasing
May try to assert dominance if not properly trained
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Other Dogs Like Cairn Terriers

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Dogs NOT Like Cairn Terriers

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Annual Vet Bills: $1,500+

Be Prepared for the unexpected.