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Cairn Terrier Dogs

A young adult, light coated Cairn Terrier standing tall A beautifully trimmed adult Cairn Terrier sitting neatly A short coated, wiry, young Cairn Terrier puppy A young Cairn Terrier puppy with a short and thick coat An adult Cairn Terrier with a beautifully kept long coat A Cairn Terrier on a West African stamp A beautiful, little black Cairn Terrier sitting neatly on a step A beautiful little Cairn Terrier puppy, standing tall A close up of a Cairn Terrier's wonderful sharp ears and long, wiry coat A lovely, little Cairn Terrier playing on the grass


The Cairn Terrier is believed to be one of the oldest of the terrier breeds. It originates from the Highlands of Scotland and was used to hunt quarry between the cairns in the Highland regions. Originally called the 'Short-Haired Syke Terrier' the name was changed by the Kennel Club in the early 1900's.


Cairns are active, feisty little dogs, who can be bossy, yet fearless. They are intelligent and do well at obedience, agility and competition trials. Quite a small dog, but with a typical large terrier personality, they need early/firm training to let them know who is boss. They have lots of energy and need to expel it; a long walk and lots of playing will help them use it up. They are inquisitive by nature and like to explore their surroundings. Digging is great fun for this little dog, so a sand pit in the garden will save your flower borders. For all their bravado, Cairns are sensitive dogs who love to be around people and will happily cuddle up on the sofa with you. Cairns make good family pets and are tolerant of respectful children. Due to their terrier nature, they sometimes don't get on well with cats, but this is down to the individual dog. The same applies to small furry animals. They are people orientated dogs and like to be close to you. If trained, they are fine being left alone for a few hours, but left for too long they will become bored and may be destructive. Cairn Terriers are assertive dogs, but rarely aggressive. They are usually fine with strangers and other dogs if properly socialised from an early age. They are quick learners and pick things up at an above average rate. Keeping them mentally stimulated helps maintain a content dog. They are reasonably quiet and generally only bark for a reason; a good watchdog. As long as they receive a daily walk and interactive play, Cairns are suitable for owners without a garden.

Cairns shed little fur and should be stripped rather than clippered. This will protect the wire coat which repels water. They need brushing a few times a week. Cataracts can be a problem with the breed.


Cairn terriers have a hardy and spirited temperament. They love the outdoors and will always be game for an adventure. These adaptable little dogs will fit into almost any home although they can be aggressive towards other dogs.

The most common complaint from Cairn owners is their persistant barking to announce almost anything but through early training this should be possible to minimise.

Health Problems

Health problems that may affect Cairn terriers include canine hip dysplasia (CHD), luxating patella (dislocation of the knee cap), eye problems and jaw problems.

Breed Details

  • Status: Common
  • Life Expectancy: 12 - 15 years
  • Weight: 6 - 8 kg
  • Height: 9 - 13"
  • Rare: No
  • Coat: Medium - Hypoallergenic
  • Grooming Requirements: More than once per week
  • Town or Country: Either
  • Minimum Home Size: Flat
  • Minimum Garden Size: Small to Medium Garden
  • Breed Type: Pest Control Dog
  • Size: Small
  • Energy Level: High
  • Exercise Required: Up to 1 hour

Cairn Terrier Pictures

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