Basics of Dog Breed : Cairn Terrier

Posted on September 30 2018

Basics of Dog Breed : Cairn Terrier

Breed Information:

Origin: Britain
FCI Group: warren
FCI number: 4
Longevity: 12 years
Hair type: Half-long
Shape of the head: Carree

Race history

The Cairn Terrier is one of the oldest terrier breeds. Originally from Scotland, it is mentioned as early as the 12th century. It is likely to come from the cross between the West Highland Terriers and the Bassets introduced by the Vikings, like the Swedish Valhund. In any case, traces of its existence are attested in written documents dating back to the 18th century. It has long been considered too rustic and primitive for its breed to be officially recognized by canine institutions. The Cairn Terrier was originally bred to flush out and eliminate badgers, foxes, rodents and other pests. Little by little, he was adopted as a pet dog. The standard of the Cairn Terrier breed was established on June 24, 1987.

Physical characteristics

The Cairn Terrier is a small dog, strong, compact and rustic. He is short-legged, but not basset. His body and legs are very muscular. The step of the Cairn Terrier is clear, with an impression of ease in its pace. 

His hair: hard, thick and plentiful for the cover. Short, soft and tight for the undercoat. The set gives the dog good protection against bad weather. 
Its color: cream, golden, red, gray or almost black (black, white and pure fire are not allowed). Brindle is allowed, whatever the color. The dark ends (ears and muzzle) are particularly sought after. 
Its head :wide (in proportion), small and well proportioned to the body. The stop is marked. 
His ears: triangular, pointed, small and well erect. 
His eyes are medium in size, dark hazel in color, moderately sunken in their sockets and well apart. 
His body: muscular, with straight back and medium length, strong and supple kidney, ribs well arched and down. 
His tail: short, fairly furnished and carried cheerfully, but without curling towards the back.

Weight and size

Weight Cut
Female Between 6 kg and 7 kg Between 26 cm and 30 cm
Male Between 6 kg and 7 kg Between 28 cm and 31 cm

A Cairn Terrier dog is classified as a small dog .

Behavior and character

The Cairn Terrier is a very active, playful and very intelligent dog. But he is also known for his particularly strong personality. Stubborn, it can become difficult to manage if it has not been properly educated. He is also criticized for his often confrontational attitude toward his fellow men of the same sex. Curious and cunning, he sometimes has a tendency to run away. He is not reluctant to show his natural sympathy for human beings, even those he does not know. In this, the Cairn Terrier is not the best of the guard dogs. It is also not the ideal companion for younger children, as its turbulent side can be worth some accidents with these.

Education ...
The Cairn Terrier must receive a firm education (without rushing it) to temper its natural ardor and obstinacy. He is also one of the dogs most in need of socialization from an early age. Its dominant character and its almost perpetual willingness to fight with its rivals risk, in fact, to complicate its cohabitation with other dogs. The Cairn Terrier is therefore a dog to take in hand early and for which it must clearly establish the limits not to exceed.


A robust and selected dog, over generations and crossbreeds, to withstand the most difficult climatic conditions, the Cairn Terrier does not present any particular health problems. However, you must watch your dress and skin as you age: with age, it can develop seborrheic dermatitis, a disease known as "fatty hair". Regular care must be taken to prevent infections.

Maintenance & Hygiene


The Cairn Terrier  needs to keep a hair and undercoat in good condition so that they can properly perform their protective function. The maintenance of this dog does not require to be pushed. It should not be shorn, as this may cause hair to appear too soft.

Outings ...
The Cairn Terrier needs a good frequency of exercises and long walks twice a day to allow it to exteriorize all the energy that animates it. 

Hygiene ...
It is recommended to brush the dog every 10 days or so, not before. Brushing is done with a card and a metal comb. Baths are not necessary unless the dog lives in a polluted urban environment, but these baths must remain casual.

Living conditions

The Cairn Terrier  is more in its element in rural than in city. This dog has a great need for release and an insatiable desire to explore that make him prefer the wide open spaces. However, if he has received a good education and can often walk around, he can very well adapt to urban life. The Cairn Terrier is aimed at people who have experience and know how to educate them in a balanced way.

Price and budget

Minimum Maximum
Buying price 800 € 1000 €

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