Breed of the Month: Cairn Terrier

Description: The Cairn Terrier has small erect ears, dark hazel eyes, a shaggy weather resistant coat that comes in a variety of colors like, red, brindle, sand, black, and grey.

The Cairn Terrier is double coated with a thick soft undercoat and a tough water resistant exterior coat. The Cairn is considered hypoallergenic and sheds very little.

History: The Cairn Terrier finds its ancestry in the Highlands of Scotland and the Isle of Skye. I had a hard time coming up with an exact date when the Cairn Terrier, as we know it, came to be. It appears that there were dogs similar to the Cairn, the short-hair Skye Terrier, running around the Scottish Highlands around the seventeenth century. The Cairn Terrier first made its appearance in the United States in 1912.

The Cairn Terriers gets its name from the Irish word carn (plural cairn) for the man-made stone piles that were erected for various purposes such as the marking of paths, borders, and graves. The Cairn Terriers were used as ratters, chasing and hunting vermin from the cairns.

Size: Males:10-13 inches at the withers, weighing 14-18 pounds. Females: 9-12 inches at the withers, weighing 13-17 pounds.

Temperament: Cairn Terrier are alert, fearless, and curious by nature. Although Cairns are little, looks are deceiving; this isn’t a dainty lapdog. The Cairn has large teeth, a strong jaw and big paws with claws for digging up prey. Since Cairn Terriers were bred for ratting, they have a strong prey drive and are prone to chase small animals like squirrels, rabbits, cats, and other dogs.

The Cairn has proved itself at being a master hunter, but they also have a soft side and love their families dearly. Cairn Terriers are notably exceptional with children as the Cairn has a tolerance for being stepped on and played with by children but, it should be noted that they do not tolerate mistreatment.

Cairn Terriers are very curious and intelligent dogs and have the ability to learn quickly. While Cairns are smart, they are strong willed and have a propensity to test the boundaries with their owners so, obedience school is highly recommended.

Cairn Terriers do not typically have issues barking incessantly but, will bark if bored or lonely.

Health: The Cairn Terrier is generally a very healthy dog with few health issues compared to other dogs. Cairn Terriers tend to be susceptible to cataracts, allergies to fleas, and they can gain weight easily so, daily exercise is a must.

Lifespan: The Cairn lives an average life of 13-15 years with relatively few health issues.

Trivia: A Cairn named Terry played Toto in Wizard of Oz. Also, in the TV series, I Love Lucy, Little Ricky had a Cairn Terrier named Fred.