Bred over 200 years ago for the purpose of routing vermin from beneath large rock piles (called cairns), the Cairn Terrier is a tenacious little dog, with a loyal heart and mischievous personality. Originally bred for his working ability, rather than his looks, this hardy little dog sports a coarse all-weather coat, a compact and low-set body and the fierce belief that, no matter how outmatched he is, he is the biggest dog on the block. A tough little creature, the Cairn Terrier was definitely the ‘man for the job,’ able to take on rats, badgers, and any other little creatures that didn’t belong on the Scottish farmlands.
The ideal Cairn Terrier is an active and hard working little dog of the short-legged class. Hardy and compactly built, while still remaining agile, they are broad of chest, with a powerful-looking stance. The Cairn Terrier also has a shorter and wider head than other terriers, and it is commonly said that they have fox-like faces. Always seeming to have a comical expression about them, these adorable little dogs have attentive and large, bright, twinkling eyes.
Cairn terriers should be between 13 and 14 pounds when fully grown, with a height of no more than 10 inches at the withers (top of the shoulder), and a length of 15 inches maximum. Originally referred to as the “short-haired Skye Terrier,” a Cairn Terrier is double-coated, protecting him from the elements. The harsh outer coat helps to repel water, while the dense fuzzy undercoat is soft and close, designed to keep him warm and snug. While he does not require as much work as fancier breeds, such as the Yorkshire Terrier, a Cairn Terrier still needs a good brushing every couple of days, to keep mats to a minimum.
Is a Cairn Terrier the right dog for your lifestyle? This is always an important question to ask, whenever you decide to get a new puppy; Cairn Terriers are no exception to this rule. The Cairn is a fiercely independent and active little terrier, rather than a pampered lap dog. While he may tolerate being picked up, it is usually only a matter of minutes before his insatiable curiosity has him wriggling and trying to get down, so he can go exploring.
When outside, the Cairn Terrier must always be kept on a leash or supervised while in an enclosed yard. The Cairn Terrier is a notorious digger and, like many terriers, he fails to realize that he is a small dog. Quite often, they will run off and try to take on dogs that greatly outsize them, risking severe injury. Additionally, Cairn Terriers were bred for hunting; they love to run off and chase after cats, squirrels, rabbits and anything else that just might run away from them. For this reason, you should also take your other pets into consideration, as well as the amount of time you will have to supervise your pets.
Are Cairn Terriers good with children? Most are, though there are always exceptions to the rule. Whether or not a dog is supposedly good with children, you should always supervise your pet with infants, toddlers and very young children. Excited hands can often pull tails and hair, poke eyes and hit without meaning to cause harm and may, not only hurt your pet, but also cause him to bite. Never leave small children unattended with dogs, no matter how gentle they seem to be.
Cairn Terriers are wonderful little animals and, should you choose a Cairn Terrier as a pet, you will most likely find him to be a very friendly and loving companion. The antics of this comical little dog are sure to keep the family amused and few can resist their sweet little faces, bright with curiosity and determined to please.