The Cairn Terrier is one of the longest-established terrier breeds. It originated in the Highlands of Scotland and was used to hunt quarry in and around cairns - stone mounds - in the Caledonian uplands. Originally called the Short-Haired Syke Terrier, the current name was adopted in the early 1900s.
Cairns are active, feisty little dogs, who can be bossy and fearless. They are intelligent and do well at obedience, agility and competition trials. They are small, but with a typical large terrier personality. They need early and firm training to let them know who is boss. They have tons of energy and need to expel it through long walks and lots of play.
Cairn terriers are inquisitive and like to explore their surroundings. Digging is a favorite pastime, 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. They make good family pets and are tolerant of children, as long as they are respectful and don't tease. Due to their irrepressible terrier nature, they don't usually mix well with cats, but this is down to the individual dog. The same applies to other pets and potential small furry prey. They are people-orientated dogs, but if trained they are fine being left alone for a few hours. If left for too long, however, they become bored and sometimes destructive.
Cairns are assertive, but rarely aggressive. They usually get on well with strangers and other dogs, if properly socialized from an early age. They are quick learners, and keeping them mentally stimulated helps maintain a contented dog. They make good, vigilant watchdogs. As long as they receive a daily walk and plots of play, Cairns can be kept by 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 are hardy and spirited. They love being outdoors and will always be game for an adventure. They are happy indoors too, though, being adaptable little dogs that fit into almost any home. They tend to be aggressive towards other dogs, but early socializing and training helps.
The most common complaint from Cairn owners is their persistent barking to announce almost anything they have seen/heard/scented, but through early training this can be minimized.
Cairn terriers are prone to canine hip dysplasia (CHD), luxating patella (dislocation of the knee cap), eye problems, and jaw problems.
- Status: Common
- Life Expectancy: 12 - 15 years
- Weight: 13 - 18 lb
- 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
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