Cairn Terrier

Dog Breed Profile
Cairn Terrier

Email us a Photo of Your Dog to be Posted on this Page
*just include your dogs name and breed

• High energy level
• Medium exercise needs
• Moderately playful
• Moderately Affectionate
• Friendly towards other dogs
• Shy around other pets
• Shy around strangers
• Easy to train
• Great watchdogs
• Not very protective
• Moderate grooming requirements
• Medium tolerance to heat
• Medium tolerance to cold


This working terrier by nature is a hardy dog breed, and will even enjoy rougher play with children. The Cairn Terrier does tend to push the limits, so in order to keep their spirited nature in check obedience training is required. When given enough exercise each day he makes a loving family pet, able to learn quickly and he is usually sensitive to his master’s wishes.

The Cairn Terrier is bold and inquisitive and may run if given the chance, possibly to chase other animals. He can be somewhat aggressive, and even scrappy, which serves him well when in pursuit of quarry. The Cairn Terrier has a double coat that requires regular brushing.

  • Cannot be expected to live outdoors
  • No health conditions that need to be tested for
  • Grooming needs include at least weekly brushing and stripping every six months
  • The Cairn Terrier is an affectionate and friendly, playful animal that is easy to train
  • Has a great relationship with family members, young and old, not very protective but do make great watchdogs
  • The average size of a male is 14lbs and 10 inches tall
  • The average size of a female is 13lbs and 9.5 inches tall

Care & Health:

Despite his short legs and smaller size, the Cairn Terrier needs a good workout every day to keep him fit and happy. Although his coat makes him suitable to living outdoors in temperate weather, he’s happiest being able to sleep indoors near his family.

He needs a brushing once a week and stripping dead hair every six months.

Major Health Concerns:

– none

Minor Health Concerns:

– globoid cell leukodystrophy and occasionally vWD, Legg-Perthes, patellar luxation

Test for:

– none

Life Span:

– 12 to 15 years

Breed History:

With lineage dating back to the 1400s, the Cairn Terrier was first bred on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Named after the rocky dens that they were very talented at hunting in, the Cairn breed could hold their prey in place in until the hunter arrived.

When they finally entered the show rings in 1873, they were included in the Sky terrier group, and then this group was divided again in 1881 into Skye and hard-haired breeds. Another division of the hard-haired resulted in three breeds, one of which was the Cairn, although this name did not stick until 1912.

The Cairn Terrier’s popularity grew in England and in America and was even the little pooch who played the part of Toto in the Wizard of Oz.

  • Family history is terrier
  • Originally from Scotland
  • First bred in the 1400s
  • Original purpose was small vermin killing
  • Today they are used for earth dog trials