Cairn Terrier – Basic Health Problems, Physical Features & More


The Cairn Terrier is active, playful, and intelligent. A loyal and affectionate breed in general, these dogs also have a very independent streak.


Cairn Terrier Temperament

Although intelligent and curious, the dog’s stubborn streak can make it difficult to train in some cases. Although these dogs need discipline, owners must be careful not to be harsh with the Cairn, as this breed has a very sensitive streak. Although the Cairn is loyal and loveable, he can also have a very naughty and spirited streak. The Cairn may get on well with other dogs and is known to be patient with children, but has a low tolerance for other pets and strangers.

Cairn Terrier Physical features

The Cairn Terrier has a double coat, which consists of a downy, soft undercoat, and a shaggy, harsh overcoat. The coloring of the Cairn can vary between red, brindle, black, sand, and one of several shades of grey. The body is compact, with a good, sturdy bone structure. This dog has a broad head, with deep-set, hazel eyes. The small, erect ears are pointed, and overall the dog sports something of a fox-like appearance. The height of the Cairn Terrier is around 9.5-10 inches and the weight around 13-14 pounds.

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Is he right for you?

You may find that if you have cats or other pets the Cairn Terrier is not the right choice for you. These little dogs do tend to get on okay with other dogs in normal circumstances, and are patient with children, but are not overly tolerant with strangers, so if you tend to have guests around a lot, then bear this in mind. The Cairn will be fine in apartment living as well as a house, although regular exercise should be provided in a safe area if there is no yard or garden.

Cairn Terrier Health Problems

The Cairn can suffer from allergies to fleas, and can also be prone to weight gain, which means keeping a close eye on food portions and treats.

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Cairn Terrier Grooming Requirements

To keep the outer shaggy coat of the Cairn in good condition it is best to brush it several times a week to avoid matting. The dog can be bathed regularly too, say once a month, and the coat brushed whilst drying to keep it free of matting and in good shape. Nails should be clipped regularly.

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Cairn Terrier History

The Cairn has been around since the 1500s but started to gain popularity in the 1930s. One of the original Scottish terriers, the Cairn was bred to hunt out small animals.


The Cairn Terrier ranked 48th in popularity out of 155 in the AKC register in 2006. The previous year, in 2005, the ranking of this breed was slightly higher, at 41st out of 155.

Dog group

The Cairn Terrier comes under the AKC Terrier group.


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