- The Cairn terrier is one of the oldest terriers, probably existing since the 1400s.
- They were used on the Scottish Isle of Skye to hunt fox, badger and otter. Their name comes from their prowess at bolting otter from cairns, which were piles of stone that served as landmarks or memorials.
- At one time all the terriers from that region were considered the same breed, so that when they began to be shown in dog shows in the 1870s, the Cairn and several others were grouped together as Scotch terriers.
- In 1881 the Scotch terriers were divided into Dandie Dinmont and Skye terriers, with Cairns in the Skye terrier group. By the end of that year the Skye terrier group was subdivided into Skye and hard-haired terriers, with Cairns in the latter. Eventually the Hard-haired Terriers were again divided into three breeds, which would be come the Scottish, West Highland white and Cairn terriers.
- Around 1912 the breed became known as the Cairn terrier.
- The AKC recognized the breed in 1913.
- The most well-known Cairn was Toto, the dog in the Wizard of Oz movie.
Cairn Terrier Behavior Concerns
- Makes a spirited and fun-loving companion.
- Playful and good with children.
- Bold, clever, curious, and often mischievous.
- Outgoing toward strangers.
- Most get along well with other dogs, but some can be scrappy.
- May chase other household pets, but can learn to get along with cats. Rodents are a poor choice of housemate, however.
- Independent and stubborn. Does best with reward-based training involving food or games.
- Learns quickly and is eager to please, but also bores quickly, and may come up with its own ideas.
- Some tend to bark a lot, which should be discouraged from an early age.
- Many like to dig.
Cairn Terrier Suggested Exercises
- Makes a lively and alert housedog.
- Its exercise needs can be met with a long walk or short run, along with a vigorous game. They also need a chance to sniff and explore in a safe place or on leash.
- They tend to go off hunting and may not come when called.
- Cairns tend to enjoy and do well at dog parks, although care must be taken not to allow them to bully other dogs.
- Games and tricks provide needed mental exercise.
Cairn Terrier Grooming
- Coat is profuse, harsh and straight.
- The coat needs combing once or twice weekly.
- Shaping of the coat by plucking out dead hairs every six months is required to keep it tidy looking.
- Shedding is below average.
Suggested Cairn Terrier Nutritional Needs
- Cairns tend to stay in good weight.
- Adult dogs should be fed a balanced diet, with restricted calories if the dog starts to gain too much weight.