The Cairn Terrier: A Complete Guide

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The Cairn Terrier is a working terrier. It’s hardy, game, and active. It is short-legged, and longer than it is tall.

Its build enables it to fit into close quarters in pursuit of its quarry. It has a shorter head that is wider than the heads of other Terriers, giving it good jaw strength.

It has a weather-resistant coat, a soft undercoat, and a harsh outer coat. Furnishing around the face adds to its somewhat foxy expression.

The Cairn Terrier courageous, bold, spirited, curious, clever, scrappy, and stubborn. It is responsive to its owner’s wishes and tries to please. It’s surprisingly sensitive.

This breed can be a good house pet as long as it is given daily physical and mental exercise in a safe area.

The Cairn Terrier loves to play with kids and is tough enough for a little roughhousing. However, it can get aggressive with other dogs and run after small animals.

It loves to sniff, explore, and hunt. It’s loyal to their humans, curious, and brave. They are excellent companions for families of all shapes and sizes and can even be useful vermin exterminators on farms.

Even if they are great family dogs, small kids and Cairn Terriers are not a good combination.

This breed doesn’t have a lot of patience and has been known to bite. Children who are too young to know when to leave a dog alone do not mix well with this breed.

Cairn Terrier Puppies – Before You Buy…

Cairn Terrier looking serious
The Cairn Terrier is one of the characters from the movie The Wizard of Oz.

What Price are Cairn Terrier Puppies?

The price of Cairn Terrier puppies is approximately $700 to $1000.

How to Find Reputable Cairn Terrier Breeders?

The best way to find reputable Cairn Terrier breeders is to get in touch with national breeder clubs who can point you in the right direction.

You can also visit dog shows to see the Cairn Terriers up close and speak with the breeders themselves who are usually present ringside.

You can also get referrals from veterinarians in your area or other Cairn Terrier owners.

3 Little-Known Facts About Cairn Terrier Puppies

  1. It’s in the Cairn Terrier’s nature to bark, chase, and dig. These can be reduced with training, but they can’t be completely eradicated.
  2. They are intelligent and curious dogs. They have a mind of their own, and they will challenge your authority. If you want to own a Cairn Terrier, you must be able to establish and maintain your role as pack leader, otherwise, he will get the upper hand.
  3. The Cairn Terrier loves the attention of his humans. They don’t like being alone for long periods of time and can become destructive.
Cairn Terrier on the couch
The Cairn Terriers don’t need much exercise.

Physical Traits of the Cairn Terrier

The most famous Cairn Terrier of all time is ‘Toto’ from the movie The Wizard of Oz.

Cairn Terriers are small, sturdy little terriers with shaggy coats, giving them a scruffy look that comes in gray, sand, brindle, or red.

They are small dogs with wide heads which are also shorter and wider compared to other Terriers. They sport bushy topknots.

Cairn Terriers have small, erect, pointed ears, and short tails that sit high on the body and carried gaily.

The double coat of the Cairn Terrier is wiry on the outside and soft and plush underneath, giving them their distinctive scruffy appearance.

It is difficult to tell what color an adult Cairn Terrier will be because the coat can change colors several times as they mature.

How Big is a Full-Grown Cairn Terrier?

The ideal weight for female Cairn Terriers is 13 pounds and 14 pounds for males.

Females stand approximately 9.5 inches at the withers whereas males stand slightly taller at 10 inches.

What is the Life-Expectancy of the Cairn Terrier?

The life expectancy of the Cairn Terrier is 14 to 15 years.

Intelligence, Temperament and Personality Traits of the Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier posing for a photo
The Cairn Terriers tend to bark at every noise.

When most people hear the word Terrier, they picture Toto, the Cairn Terrier in the movie The Wizard of Oz.

This strong little dog is everything a Terrier should be: strong, courageous, and spirited.

The Cairn Terrier loves to play and needs his daily walks. But he is adaptable to any home in which he can be a full participant and where his bold Terrier traits are kept under control by a confident owner.

Older Cairn Terriers can be friendly or unsociable with strangers, but they are always sharp and quick to announce guests.

This breed can be scrappy and bossy with other pets but will co-exist with them more readily than some other Terriers.

However, strange animals may be a different story because the Cairn Terrier was bred to hunt and will chase anything that moves.

He is very inquisitive, so a leash or a fenced yard is essential.

Assertive but cheerful, with typical Terrier stubbornness, the Cairn Terrier must be shown that you are in charge. But he does respond well to consistent discipline and lots of praise.

Cairn Terriers can be possessive of their food and toys. And being respectable Terriers, they are enthusiastic diggers and barkers.

The Cairn Terrier’s personality is sensible, alert, cheerful, and confident but not belligerent.
They are not scrappy towards other dogs.

They enjoy children and can usually tolerate some accidental rough handling from youngsters.

The breed carries an independent streak and training them not to chase squirrels or anything else that runs away will be a Herculean task.

Because of this, Cairn Terriers should be walked on a leash or exercised in fenced areas only.
Their training requires consistency, patience, and lots of treats.

Discipline is wasted on the Cairn Terrier as they will just stop listening to you altogether.

They must be trained early on to understand who is in charge and that the leaders mean what they say. Barking is the biggest complaint owners have of the Cairn Terrier.

Like other Terriers, Cairn Terriers bark at every noise and usually won’t stop until they are good and ready. Their bark is shrill and can annoy nearby neighbors.

Cairn Terriers can be aggressive. People may think that a dog as adorable as Cairn Terriers cannot be aggressive, but they are not patient animals.

If badgered, they can snap, snarl, or bite. They are very possessive when it comes to their toys and food and they will not be easily intimidated by bigger dogs.

The Cairn Terrier’s Diet

The recommended daily amount of food for Cairn Terriers is 1/2 to 1 cup of high-quality dry food a day, split into two meals.

Keep your Cairn Terrier healthy and fit by monitoring his food intake and feeding him twice a day.

How Much Exercise Does a Cairn Terrier Need?

Cairn Terriers don’t need a lot of vigorous exercise and can happily dwell in an apartment or condominium. A daily walk and some time to get out and run in a yard will be more than enough.

They should always be on a leash or in a fenced-in yard because of their tendency to chase after small animals and ignore your calls to go back home.

You can also join an earth dog club where Terriers are encouraged to dig and tunnel after small critters.

Cairn Terrier Health and Conditions

Cairn Terriers are healthy, but they’re still prone to some health conditions like other breeds.

Not every Cairn Terriers will get these diseases, but it’s important to know about them if you’re considering owning this breed.

Members of this breed are hardy and have long lives, suffering few health complications.

Some puppies may suffer from craniomandibular osteopathy, a non-cancerous thickening of the bones of the jaw or leg that usually resolves itself by the time the dog is fully grown.

My Final Thoughts on the Cairn TerrierCairn Terrier guide

The Cairn Terrier is very curious and quick to learn. He’s stubborn and independent.

He should know who is in charge or he will automatically take charge.

Early socialization and obedience training will help resolve this.

In spite of his independent nature, the Cairn Terrier is a sensitive dog. He doesn’t respond well to scolding or harsh corrections.

Kind, positive training is the best method for teaching the Cairn Terrier.

There is little this smart dog can’t learn. With the proper and right amount of training, they can master a lot of tricks and commands.

The Cairn Terrier loves kids and will patiently bear their boisterous ways. It’s a family dog, and he needs to live in the house with his family.

He loves being showered with attention, and he dislikes being left alone too much. He can get bored, and this can lead to annoying or destructive behaviors like chewing, digging, or barking.

A Cairn Terrier is a wonderful family companion. He’s fun and entertaining, He’s a great pet for anyone who wants an independent and alert companion with a take-charge attitude toward life.

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