cairn terrier

Description cairn terrier

Tough, Assertive, Cheerful
The Cairn Terrier is one of the so-called short-legged terriers (FCI Group 3). It is one of the oldest British or Scottish terrier species. A lover of the breed once described these dogs as goblins. And when you look at these little rascals, you can guess why.FCI Group: Terriers

  • Size: Small
  • Weight: 6-8kg
  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Coat Type: Medium Hair
  • Colours: black, brindle, cream, grey, red, wheaten

Character cairn terrier

The small pointed ears sit alert on the head and there is usually an enterprising flash in the eyes. The short, shaggy coat always makes a “Cairnie” look a little daring. Yes, you can see the leprechaun in these adorable dogs!
Their shoulder height in adult animals is only about 28 – 31 cm. The dogs weigh 6-7.5 kg. This makes them one of the rather small and compact dog breeds.

It is important not to underestimate the cairn due to its small size. As a terrier, he has a strong hunting instinct . You absolutely need to know this if you want to get a dog of this breed. This hunting instinct cannot and should not be suppressed, it is in the dog’s blood to a certain extent. However, you can train and control him well with the right consistency.

They were formerly bred to hunt rats, foxes, wild cats and martens. This has given the Cairn Terrier a certain independence in the cradle. Sometimes this gets mixed up and has earned the Cairnie a reputation for stubbornness. However, this is usually not the case.
Dogs of this breed are intelligent and alert.

They make their own decisions when they deem it necessary. But they are also very docile and people-oriented. Cairn Terriers want to please their owners. Despite their independence, they are therefore easy to train with some consistency.
Anyone who has a Cairn Terrier around immediately notices the remarkable cheerfulness of these dogs.

Mostly in the mood to play, always with the rascal in the neck and dashing around quickly. Cairnies are real “good mood dogs”! They are also remarkably sensitive to the mood of their people and sometimes become animal comforters.
Since they are also fun for everyone and are often very good-natured, especially with children, they are great family dogs. But they also feel comfortable with individuals. Their great adaptability makes them the ideal companion dog for almost anyone.

Cairn Terriers also owe their fearlessness and self-confidence to their origins as fox and rat catchers. Despite their small size, they know how to assert themselves. They are by no means aggressive and do not tend to bark too much.
Your shaggy coat gives you a smart look. The coat colors cream, grey, reddish and dark brown are bred as standard.

Often the fur is also brindle. The colors black and white are not desired in breeding, but sometimes occur. A dark mask on the face is typical for all colors.

Diet cairn terrier

In general, Cairn Terriers are very hardy dogs that have a long life expectancy. However, as with many small dogs, there is a certain tendency to luxate the patella . This is what the kneecap is called popping out of the guide. This painful injury can be aggravated by improper diet. You should therefore pay attention to a few points when feeding.

Risk factors for a luxated patella are obesity and poorly developed muscles. Cairn Terriers generally don’t tend towards the former. These dogs are so agile by nature that if they are fed healthily and sensibly they will not become overweight.
Sensible feeding means above all: pay attention to your dog and its needs. No dog is like the other.

Although many Cairnies are very agile, there are also quieter contemporaries. Maybe your dog is already a senior and not quite as agile anymore. In these cases, the amount of food must be adjusted to the level of activity.
The rule of thumb is that the amount fed must be adjusted to the size of the dog. This is especially true when you are a puppy.

To support healthy muscle tissue, you should ensure that you regularly feed protein-rich foods. This includes poultry, offal, dairy and fish.
But the same as with all dogs also applies to the Cairn Terrier. A balanced and varied diet is the basis for health. Taboo is candy for every dog! This damages the tooth structure and can cause problems for the kidneys.


The maintenance effort for a Cairn Terrier is quite low. Their shaggy fur is weatherproof and dirt-repellent. This is due to their original purpose as a hunting dog in the Scottish Highlands. Dogs used there must be weatherproof.
It is sufficient if your Cairnie is thoroughly brushed with a coarse-toothed comb once a week.

This removes any stuck dirt and prevents bugs. Too frequent brushing or combing can actually be detrimental to the coat’s structure.
The cairnies have two layers of fur. Under the rough and robust top coat is a soft undercoat. This warms and protects the dog.

You should avoid damaging this undercoat by brushing too frequently. We also advise against clipping your dog to protect the undercoat!
Your Cairn Terrier’s coat should be trimmed about three to four times a year. This means plucking out dead hair. This does not hurt the dogs. It is necessary for the coat to grow back healthy and beautiful.

If you are unsure, ask an experienced breeder or dog owner. You can easily show yourself the right technique and your dog won’t mind at all. It is important to get the dog used to trimming as a puppy.
Grooming also includes keeping the ears clean. To do this, remove hair that has fallen out if necessary.

Gently clean the ears with a soft cloth. The ear needs to get air, otherwise dogs are prone to ear infections.
You should also wipe dirt off your eyes from time to time with a cloth. This tends to collect in the corners of the eyes and can lead to infections.


The Cairn Terrier is a true Scot. Its name derives from the Gaelic word for cairn. It refers to the fox burrows and rat dens in which he hunted.
It is known that Scottish clans kept small terrier-like dogs as early as the 16th century. Different clans had different breeding directions.

Gradually, this evolved into what we know today as the Cairn Terrier.
It is believed to be the oldest of the four Scottish terrier species. It was not until 1911, however, that they were the last of these four to be officially recognized as a breed.
Around 1910 these dogs also became fashionable in neighboring England. The then King George V brought a Cairn Terrier back from holiday in Scotland.

The public was enthusiastic and interest in these dogs increased.
At that time there were still white Cairns as well as a long-haired breed. These were later bred as separate breeds for better differentiation. The long-haired Skye Terrier emerged from the Cairn.
And the white West Highland White Terrier is also a relative of the Cairns.

As late as the 1920s, white Cairn Terriers were “sorted out” from a litter and registered as West Highland Terriers. Both forms and colors are now bred separately.
Today, cairns are common and popular across Europe. They have been known and bred in Germany since the 1920s. In Canada and the USA there are also lovers and clubs dedicated to the smart little Scotsman.

cairn terrier Accessories

Cairn Terriers are smart and smart dogs that love to play. You can get an assortment of toys that will keep your dog mentally fit. Your cairnie could also enjoy clicker training. The very docile little dogs want to please their people.
Cairn Terriers like to play little hidden object games.

You need the regular brain work to feel fully utilized. As a reward for success, you can get a basic stock of healthy treats.
A special dog brush with wire bristles is sufficient for grooming. A coarse-toothed comb rounds off the equipment.

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