Cairn Terrier – Characteristics and care

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The origins of this little terrier, unruly and very awake, lie in the north of Scotland, more specifically on the Isle of Skye. It was there that farmers first bred the Cairn terrier breed to chase away rats, weasels, and other vermin.

The Cairn Terrier, who movie fans will remember for appearing in the movie The Wizard of Oz, is a dog with courage, tenacity and intelligence, but also cheerful and friendly. A great companion that perfectly fulfills the role of family dog.

From Dogsis we offer you all the information about this fabulous breed that will love you with its peculiar qualities.

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Index of contents

  • 1 Cairn Terrier Character
  • 2 Physical characteristics of the breed
  • 3 How to educate a Cairn Terrier?
  • 4 Recommended care

Cairn Terrier Character

The Cairn Terrier is a friendly and affectionate dog that always seems to be happy and jovial, always delighted to meet new people. It has the classic qualities of a terrier: independent, awake and always alert.

Digging, barking, and chasing all kinds of prey are some of his favorite activities. The Cairn Terrier launches into pursuit of any small animal within its reach, including the neighbor’s cat. At the same time it is a good watchdog that will alert us with its barks of the intrusion of any stranger.

This brave and determined dog is often believed to be bigger than he really is and does not hesitate to stand up to other larger dogs.

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Despite its independent nature, the Cairn Terrier lives totally devoted to his family and enjoys being an active part of it. He likes to be at home, play with the children, follow us from room to room, and go to the door when the doorbell rings. He is also famous for his sensitivity: he doesn’t like to be scolded and is very upset when we show our discontent towards him.


Physical characteristics of the breed

It is a small but robust dog. It has a height at the withers of around 30 cm and an approximate weight of 7 kg. Its ears are small and pointed, while its brown and slightly sunken eyes can sometimes be hidden behind the abundant hair of the eyebrows.

One of the most peculiar physical characteristics of the Cairn Terrier is its “wire” coat, hard and waterproof, ideal for staying dry in a rainy and humid climate like that of its native Scotland. Beneath that waterproof outer layer is another softer, denser layer.

This resistant Cairn Terrier coat can be of many colors, with black, light brown and gray being the most common.

How to educate a Cairn Terrier?

The Cairn Terrier is an intelligent and curious dog. You could say that he has his own opinion on many things, so he will often question our authority. So it is essential reaffirm our leadership role and teach him to obey.

Eliminating the natural instincts of the Cairn Terrier (barking, digging, chasing prey, etc.) is an impossible task, although it can be worked to correct or attenuate them through training. Those behaviors are part of the very essence of this race and we have no choice but to accept them.

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Knowing this, there are really few things that this very intelligent dog cannot learn. With proper training, the Cairn Terrier can master an unlimited number of tricks.

Due to its high sensitivity, this dog does not respond well to continuous scolding and severe corrections. A friendly and positive training is the best method to educate him and obtain good results.


Recommended care

Caring for a Cairn Terrier is not a difficult task, except when it is a puppy that is much more rowdy, like all puppies.

Due to its small size, it is a dog that adapts smoothly to life inside an apartment or flat, although it is also strong enough to enjoy life in the country. In fact, the ideal is to have a small garden where you can dig and do your mischief.

Being such an active dog, you need your daily exercise time. Several daily walks of about 20 or 30 minutes will keep our Cairn Terrier in good physical condition. However, it is important not to let him run off leash in public places, as his drive to chase down any prey is too strong.

The Cairn Terrier’s coat is easy to maintain, just a full brushing once a week and a bath every two or three months. It is not recommended to bathe him too often, because his hair can weaken and even lose its characteristic texture and appearance. It is also necessary to trim the hairs of the eyebrows and ears from time to time using suitable scissors.

Despite being a reasonably healthy breed, the Cairn Terrier can tend to obesity, so it is important to monitor its correct diet. His average life is around 12-14 years.