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Cairn Terrier Breed InformationSelect a Breed
Quick Facts
Life Span:12-15 years
Litter Size:4-6 puppies
Color:All colors are acceptable with the exception of white. Brindle, black, tan, sand, red and gray are often found in the same litter.
Hair Length:Medium
Shedding:Lite Shed
Male Height:10-13 inches
Male Weight:14-18 pounds
Female Height:9-12 inches
Female Weight:13-17 pounds
Living Area:Indoor with regular exercise.


The vivacious, active little Cairn Terrier is a small, hardy, spirited large dog that lives in a little dog’s body. These loveable, merry little Terriers have a fox-like expression and an intelligent, mischievous look. It has a bushy topknot on top on its broad head, a powerful, strong, somewhat pointed muzzle that is not heavy, and a robust skull. Cairn Terriers have longer hair on their erect, pointy, small ears, which they carry upright. It has a black nose, eyes that are deep set and dark hazel in color with thick, shaggy eyebrows. The Cairn Terrier is very intelligent and never misses anything going on around him.

With approximately fourteen inches from the back of the Cairn Terriers hindquarters to fore-chest, this compact, short dog has excellent bone structure and appears strong but never thickset or heavy. These dogs back feet are a little smaller than their front with straight, short, feathered legs. These vivacious, peppy little Terriers have a short tail that never seems to stop wagging.

Coat Description

Cairn Terriers have a shaggy looking double coat with an outer coat that is wiry and an undercoat that is soft. Their straight, medium length coat comes in several colors including grey, sand, black, brindle, and red.


In the fifteen hundreds, the Cairn Terrier hunted in the Isle of Skye area in Scotland. Designated as a breed in 1912, the name ‘Cairn’ came from heaps of little stones that people used to mark graves and Scottish farm borders. Vermin often hid in these stone piles and it was the Cairn Terrier’s job to hunt these small rodents for the farmers. Today the Cairn Terrier is primarily a beloved companion dog. He excels at agility, watch dogging, competitive obedience, Earthdog trials, hunting, and other completive sports.


Cain Terriers are perfect for people or families that want a loyal, spirited, lovable, merry small dog that is friendly but also independent. These little Terriers believe that they are really ‘big dogs’ and may take on a larger dog in a fight protecting his property or family, sometimes with very sad consequences. It is extremely important to keep the Cairn Terrier away from bigger dogs. Although bold and fearless, they are very playful, curious, wonderful with children, and easily trained. Always ready to learn new tricks and show off their old ones, Cairn Terriers love to be the centre of attention.

Properly socialized and trained, these adorable little dogs learn how to get along with other pets and dogs. It is important to keep your Terrier in a fenced area or on a leash because they are sometimes chasers running off to hunt.

Cairn Terriers love meeting people and are cheerful, happy, alert, tough and independent. Like most Terriers, Cairns love digging, chasing and barking. Although Cairn Terriers are friendly dogs that do not make good guard dogs, they make excellent watchdogs, alerting their master and family of any strangers on the property of visitors at the door. Although independent, this small, devoted dog is happiest in the house with his family, playing games, following them around, or snuggling up on his master. They are an excellent pet for children and active families because they love romping, playing games, fetching balls, and just having fun.

An indoor dog, the Cairn Terrier loves its family and does not adjust well to being alone for any length of time or too often. They can become lonely, bored, unhappy, and develop destructive habits such as barking excessively, chewing or destroying furniture and property, or dirtying in the house. It is important to keep the Cairn both physically and mentally challenged and stimulated. They enjoy learning new tricks and skills, working for love and attention. Cairn Terriers love spending time outside getting exercise and playing or running in a fenced area or yard. They also like going on walks to enjoy new smells, sights, sounds, and places but be sure to keep your dog on a leash.

Health Problems

Cain Terriers are normally a sound, healthy dog breed but like all animals, may suffer from certain health conditions such as:

[-]Weight Gain and Obesity – Never overfeed your dog and limit its treats because Cairn Terriers do gain weight easily.[/-]

[-]Skin Problems – Fleas and skin allergies could lead to excessive scratching, licking, and skin rashes.[/-]

[-]Patellar Luxation – The knee joint or kneecap slips in and out of place causing the dog pain. Some dogs with this condition lead normal lives while the disease cripples others.[/-]

Other health concerns include Glaucoma and hereditary eye diseases.


Cairn Terriers require a thorough brushing and combing every few days using a pin brush or stiff bristle brush. It is important to brush both the outer and inner coat to prevent matting. Because Cairn Terriers are prone to skin problems, matting increases the chance of sores, rashes, and infections so regular grooming is extremely important. Use blunt scissors to trim the hair around the Cairn Terrier’s eyes and ears, which helps avoid irritation. When grooming your dog, always look for rashes, sores or other signs of infection such as inflammation or redness. Trim your dogs nails every month to prevent painful tears and check his ears, eyes, and mouth for any signs of medical problems or infection. Brush the dog’s teeth two or three times weekly to prevent tartar buildup. Bathe the dog only when needed using a mild shampoo made specifically for dogs.


Cairn Terriers are very adaptable and do well in city, country or suburban settings, living in small apartments or even huge mansions as long as the dog receives sufficient exercise. They are very active indoors but still require regular exercise. Cairns love to spend time outside, so a fenced yard is ideal for the dog to play with family members, run, fetch, and get exercise. If you have more than one dog, they often play with each other, burning off excess energy.


Cairn Terriers can be stubborn and somewhat self-willed so it is very important to train and socialize the dog at a young age. They require and respond well to positive training methods that are challenging, fun, never boring, where they receive lots of praise.

Company Info
PO Box 15124
1316 Commerce Dr,
New Bern, NC 28562
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