Cairn Terrier

AKC Group: Terrier

Cairn Terriers were originally used as ratting dogs, hunting on farmlands on Scotland’s Isle of Skye in the 1500s. The Cairn Terrier is considered to be the closest ancestor of the Scottish Terriers that came from the area. The Cairn was named after its ability to push itself through the rocks that formed cairns or stone fences. They excelled at pushing large animals or rodents out of cairns and hunting and killing small animals.

Size: 9.5 to 10 inches tall; 13 to 14 pounds

Color: All colors except white. They usually have dark ears, muzzles and tail tips.

Life span: 12 to 15 years

Health problems: Cataracts, glaucoma, Legg Perthes, luxating patella, blood disorders, kidney disorders, progressive retinal atrophy, craniomandibular osteopathy, seizures, allergies, thyroid problems.

Cairn Terriers are small dogs that rose to fame in the 1930s when a Cairn starred as Toto in The Wizard of Oz. Cairn Terriers have a weather resistant coat and an alert expression. They have double coats: A long, harsh outercoat protects a soft undercoat.

Cairn Terriers make excellent companions. They are bold, inquisitive, gentle, energetic and playful. He is a dog that loves to be involved in your activities. If you can believe it, Cairn Terriers make decent watchdogs because they do bark to sound the alarm when needed. Cairn Terriers are up for anything. They can be quite stubborn and a little too assertive at times.

They do love kids but seem to get along better with older children (because older children won’t let them get away with murder). He should get along quite well with other pets too, but will boss them around. (This is a breed that doesn’t realize how small they really are.) Cairns tend to be aggressive towards other male Cairns. Regarding strangers, his natural personality will determine his reaction: Some are reserved while others are friendly. Cairns love to dig (sorry, gardeners).

Cairn Terriers should be brushed twice a week and rubbed down with damp towels when necessary. Normally a low shedder, he does experience seasonal shedding. Have his coat clipped frequently and regularly check his nails and teeth.

Training will require consistency and creativity. Overcome his independence with praise and positivity. Repetitive training methods will eventually fall on deaf ears; they need you to shake it up to avoid boredom. Obedience classes is never a bad investment for them. The best method to employ when your Cairn acts up is to ignore and remove your attention briefly. Cairns pick up tricks and commands easily. They are very intelligent and love to learn new things. Don’t be surprised if they seem to know what you’re thinking about. To overcome their possessiveness, they should be trained as puppies to relinquish their stuff. Teaching them to cease their barking on command during puppyhood can help to quell excessive barking later in life. If digging becomes a problem, you’ll have to provide him with a spot where he’s allowed. Unfortunately, Cairns can’t just stop; it’s what they were born to do. Otherwise, socialization as a young puppy is important for him to learn what’s acceptable behavior and what isn’t.

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