The Cairn Terrier is an ancient breed but it started being recognized by canine clubs only in the 1900s. This plucky little, ‘all-terrier’ dog hails from the rugged Scottish mountains. The word ‘cairn’ means a heap or pile of stones that were used to mark the graves of Roman soldiers in the highlands. In time, brambles and bushes grew over these rocks and became hiding places for the vermin which were unseen by man. This is the place where the little Cairn Terrier proved his skill and prowess which earned him the name ‘Cairn Terrier’. Let us study some more cool facts about Cairns:
Cool facts about Cairn Terriers
- Cairn Terriers started being bred for their appearance only in the 20th century. The AKC first registered the Cairn in 1913. Today, it is one of the most popular breeds in America and is ranked in the top 100 most popular purebred dog breeds recognized by the AKC.
- Cairn breed was developed on the Isle of Skye similar to the popular Skye terriers. Skye terriers are well known for their geometric heads and caterpillar-like bodies. In the early days of the Cairn Terrier breed, they were known as Short-Haired Skye terriers.
- Cairns make excellent therapy dogs.
- They are also famous for digging up lawns and flower beds!
- These little dogs are extremely possessive and they do not like anyone touching their food or toys, even their humans!
- Many famous people have owned a Cairn Terrier including actors David Hasselhoff, Lisa Minnelli, and Bill Murray.
- These sweet little dogs have made many TV appearances including in shows like George Lopez and I Love Lucy.
- Toto, the brindle Cairn Terrier seen in Wizard of Oz, was named Terry in real life. He also appeared alongside Shirley Temple in the movie Bright Eyes, as well as in other movies.
- Cairns are small compact dogs measuring about 10-13 inches in height and 14-18 lbs (about 6 kg) in weight.
- Like the other terrier breeds, these can have various coat colors – except white. So you might see them in black, gray, red, wheaten, or brindle colors. Cairn Terriers have a double coat. The upper, coarser coat keeps them clean, while the undercoat, which is softer, keeps them warm.
This is a tiny dog with a large personality. Do not let his size fool you; they are extremely brave, alert, intelligent, and curious dogs. Cairn Terriers were bred by Scottish crofters to get rid of vermin that stole their food. These vermin lived inside the grave marker stones piled up on the highlands. Cairn Terriers could easily squeeze in through the gaps in these holes and catch their prey. So do not be alarmed if your little Cairn is able to squeeze in through small openings in fences.
In general, these dogs have a cheerful and merry disposition. They thrive on human attention and affection. They are also lovable, loyal, very swift, and protective of their owners and their property. Despite being territorial, they are not aggressive. A Cairn will take it upon himself to know, day in and day out, what is going on in his property. Being small in size, they do depend on their owners and as a result, they often look upon themselves as equivalents of their owners. This can lead to issues during training.
Where to find a Cairn Terrier
If you have your heart set on buying a Cairn Terrier puppy, then go to a breeder that is registered with a Kennel Club. This ensures that the breeder will uphold all standards and ethics that are required in dog breeding. Registered breeders usually follow all health checks and genetic testing before breeding the dogs and they also avoid breeding lines having defects. They are also concerned about the welfare of their puppies and will ask you several reasons for you wanting to keep a Cairn. You could also consider getting a Cairn Terrier rescue from an animal shelter. Search for a breed-specific rescue shelter; a vet or other dog handlers near you can guide you. The advantage of getting a Cairn Terrier rescue is that he would likely be house trained. The average Cairn Terrier price is about $500 but you can expect to pay anywhere between $500 to $2000 based on the breeder and the puppy’s bloodline.
Training your Cairn Terrier
Starting from your pet’s first day in your home, begin training correctly. Note that your Cairn is also nervous about being away from its dam and siblings. So make him feel comfortable. This is a good time to start him with crate-training. A crate provides a secure, den-like feeling and most puppies feel safe and comfortable in their crate. Crate training and housetraining go hand in hand. Show your pet where it is and isn’t acceptable to eliminate. Young pups need to pee a lot so you must take your pet out several times. Before putting him in the crate for the night, take him out one more time. Play with your pet and then help him settle in the crate for the night. You can leave some blankets with the dam’s smell on it in the crate. Also, leave some toys in the crate to prevent your dog from getting bored.
As your puppy grows older, start teaching him basic commands like “Come, Sit, Stay”, and so on. Be consistent and train him daily for half an hour, at least. End each training session with plenty of praise and playtime; this will help your pup look forward to the training sessions. You could even consider enrolling your pet in obedience classes or agility courses. These courses are physically and mentally stimulating for your pet. You can also buy equipment and set up courses at home.
Regardless of the breed or size, all dogs need some form of exercise. A sedentary lifestyle is as harmful to a pet as it is to humans. The Cairn Terrier is a fairly active breed and they enjoy twice-daily, short walks with their owners. You can also let your Cairn run freely in your yard, provided it is fenced and properly enclosed. For the ambitious owners, daily hikes and swims with your Cairn are highly enjoyable. Never over-exercise an obese dog as that could unnecessarily put a strain on his joints. The same applies to young puppies as well: do not allow your young Cairn to jump from a height. Also, gradually increase your puppy’s exercise time as he grows older.
Exercise is not only necessary to help maintain your Cairn’s weight but also his mental well-being. Bored dogs tend to indulge in unwanted behavior like digging, excess barking, etc. In this sense, exercise is essential for the owner’s and the pet’s well-being as well.
Whether you decide to show your Cairn Terrier or not, he needs a certain amount of regular grooming to look presentable and tidy. The Cairn’s coat, as far as terrier coats are concerned, is quite easy to maintain. Simply brush it a couple of times a week using a natural bristle brush. You must also bathe your pet using a vet-approved shampoo to keep him smelling fresh and clean and also to keep parasites like ticks and fleas away. Check your Cairn’s ears for foul odor, infections, etc. If you notice any, get them examined by a vet. Don’t forget to brush your pet’s teeth regularly to prevent dental problems.
This is a dog breed that does not shed too much. However, professional groomers still encourage pulling your Cairn’s old hair out once in a while. This will not hurt the pet and can actually help new hair grow in its place. Since the Cairn does not shed too much, they are hypoallergenic and hence suitable for people with allergies.
The Cairn Terrier is relatively a healthy dog with very few health issues. However, like all breeds, they are prone to certain genetic problems like hip dysplasia, lens luxation, and calcification of the joint between lower jaw and skull (craniomandibular osteopathy). Just like the West Highland Terriers, this breed is prone to Krabbe’s disease, a lethal blood disorder which causes lack of coordination and hind leg stiffness. The lifespan of the Cairn Terrier is 12-15 years.