Breed Highlight: Cairn Terriers

cairn terriers

While the Cairn Terrier may be small, he is an active family member who wants to play and play. This breed is smart, if somewhat independent. Cairns have a foxy expression and a tough, weather-resistant coat that can be any color but white. We will discuss this breed to help you determine if it is ideal for you and your family.

The Cairn Terrier

Vital Stats of Cairn Terrier

Vital stats of this breed include the following:

  • Dog breed group: Terrier
  • Height: 9 to 10 inches at the shoulder
  • Weight: 13 to 14 pounds
  • Lifespan: 14 to 15 years

Physical Characteristics of Cairn Terriers

Cairn Terriers

The Cairn Terrier is everything a working terrier should be: active, hardy and mettlesome. You can find this breed’s coat in a variety of colors. His coat is also weather-resistant, comprising an abundant and harsh out coat and close, soft undercoat. Cairns have face that resembles a fox-like expression.

This short-legged breed has a build that allows him to squeeze through close quarters while also chasing his quarry. He has powerful jaws due to his wide and short head.

Care for Cairn Terriers

Cairn Terriers

Cairns require daily outdoor exercises, which can be in the form of a game, an on-leash walk or an expedition in a secure area.

The wire coat requires combing once a week and stripped of dead hair twice a year. While this breed prefers to sleep in the house, he can live outdoors in cool climates.

Health of Cairn Terriers

The Cairn Terrier is a fairly healthy breed. However, similar to any other breed, he is prone to specific health problems. This breed can suffer from an enzyme deficiency that leads to nerve cell death known as globoid cell leukodystrophy, or lysosomal storage disease. There are genetic testing options available to identify carriers of this disease.

Smaller breeds, including Cairns, can suffer from Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease (LCPD), a bone disorder that requires surgery, as well as portosystemic shunts, a liver defect that typically requires surgical correction. Screening tests are not available for these conditions.

Other conditions that can affect this breed include the following:

  • craniomandibular osteopathy
  • allergies
  • diabetes

History of Cairn Terriers

Cairn Terriers

Cairn Terriers descend from small, rough-coated terriers living in the Scottish highlands, in particular, the Isle of Skye. They kept farms and barnyards free of rats and other vermin. Additionally, this breed would hunt foxes, otters and badgers. They were often referred to as shorthaired terriers or little Skye terriers in the 18th century, This probably resulted from crosses between the now-extinct white terrier and black and tan terrier. Theses dogs were often entered into dog shows as Scotch Terriers.

In 1873, the Scotch Terrier group was divided into two distinct breeds: the Skye Terrier and Dandie Dinmont. In 1881, the group was further split into Skye and Hard-haired Terriers. Later, the Hard-haired Terriers were separated into the West Highland White, Scotch and the variety later known as the Cairn. The Cairn Terrier name was adopted in 1912.

The majority of earlier Cairns were completely white, and crossing with West Highland Whites was abolished when the American Kennel Club recognized the Cairn in 1913. This breed gained popularity in England, and also made its mark in America when the dog chosen to play Toto in the Wizard of Oz was a Cairn Terrier.

For more information on the Cairn Terrier or other dog breeds, don’t hesitate to contact us here at All Pets Veterinary Medical Center with the link below!

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