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Life span: 12-15 Years

Height: 25-33cm (Male); 23-30cm (Female)

Weight: 6-8kg (Male); 6-8kg (Female)

Cairn Terrier breeds are fearless, active and energetic dogs which can be better furry companions. They are working dogs and can be easily adopted for family environments. You can spend your leisure and exercise time with Cairn dogs as they could be your fitness trainers. They are a bit mischievous, and you must trot with them in playful sessions. Cairn Terrier dogs originated from Scottish Highlands can do shed hairs.

Physical Characteristics

This dog is small, with a sturdy and well proportioned body. Their ears are small and erect, with a small bend at the end, and their tail is short and usually carried high, although not quite erect. Its eyes are brown with a black nose. Their double coat is made up of a rough overcoat and a dense undercoat. The overcoat might sometimes be wavy and may be black, grey, brown, light brown, red and cream colored, but must never have pure white.


Their name is a reference to what they were originally used for, hunting. They would pursue the prey and trap it in rocky holes, or cairns, in which the Cairn Terrier would later squeeze into, barking incessantly until their owner showed up to finish the hunt. They were first considered to be the same breed as the Scottish Terrier and West Highland Terrier, until the 1900s, when these began being seen as separate breeds. In 1909, the Cairn Terrier was officially seen as a breed of its own, and began starring in multiple movies. The breed was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1913. However, it was not until 1930 that their popularity truly rose, when the breed was represented by the little puppy that played Dorothy’s Toto in the movie “The Wizard of Oz”.


This active breed is loyal, loving and protective of their families. They adore children, but may not be all that tolerant of them, and so it is better to keep them supervised while playing. They need an owner that establishes dominance as the leader, without being harsh, just firm but still loving. If the owner does not gain the dog’s respect, this might develop destructive behavior and become extremely loud. Training is done easily, as they love to learn new tricks, and they are active dogs, but none of it will matter if they spot a small animal to chase. They should always be kept on a leash when outside or within a fenced yard.


These dogs may suffer from many diseases, including:

Hypothyroidism, a disease that affects the thyroid gland, its symptoms are ear infections, skin infections, hair loss, lethargy, and depression.

Legg-Perthes is a disease caused by the lack of blood reaching the femur bone, causing the cartilage around it to crack and for the bone to eventually collapse, affecting the hip joint, and noticeable through the dog limping.

Luxating Patella, in which the kneecaps may dislocate or move from its proper place.

Cryptorchidism, in which one or both testicles may not descend, meaning the testicle will not be functional and may eventually cause cancer.

Portosystemic Shunt, which is a congenital disease in which blood vessels let the blood bypass the liver, causing it to not be cleansed properly by the liver. It can be noticed through lack of appetite, hypoglycemia, urinary tract problems, etc. Surgery is recommended.

Ocular Melanosis, or Secondary Glaucoma, is an inherited condition in which there is pigmentation on both eyes that accumulates and eventually affects the ability to drain fluid from the anterior chamber of the eye, leading to increased pressure in the eyes. It is very painful.

Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy, or Krabbe’s disease, is a degenerative disease that affects the brain’s white matter and the spinal cord. Dogs with this condition tend to die young.

Craniomandibular Osteopathy, in which the bones in the dog’s skull grow larger than normal, causing pain and inconveniences for the puppy. It usually stops and may regress when the dog is a year old, but many are left with jaw problems and may require surgery.


Despite what their hair may suggest, these dogs are easy to care for. Weekly brushing and constant hand stripping are all that is required to keep their coat healthy. Their nails should be trimmed regularly, as well as their teeth brushed and ears checked for any dirt to prevent infections. They need daily exercise, although not as much as other breeds, and can adapt to any type of household, including apartments. Training should begin at an early age, especially obedience training, along with socialization. Although they are relatively easy to train, they may attempt to see where you draw the line, so be sure to establish a firm yet loving hand when training them.


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