Cairn Terrier Dog Breed — Anything But Boring

cairn terrier closeup

Named after a pile of rocks used as memorials or road markers, cairn terriers are anything but boring. The most famous cairn was Toto from The Wizard of Oz. And, in case you’re wondering, Toto was a female dog named Terry in real life.

Do Cairn Terriers Bark a Lot?

Yep, like other fellow terriers, cairns can find plenty of reasons to bark up a storm. They are a high-energy breed that requires daily activity and mental stimulation, or they will find other activities to keep themselves busy (most likely digging up your yard).

Because of their attachment to family members, cairns don’t do well at home alone for long periods. They can suffer from separation anxiety, causing them to bark a lot and become destructive. Although the cairn terrier personality is friendly, they have no problem barking when they sense a stranger or intruder approaching their territory.

cairn terrier outdoors

If your cairn terrier feels hurt by your behavior correction, they may become defensive and growl or snap. The key to reducing any unnecessary barking from a cairn is to immediately redirect the dog when it starts barking. Consistency in your training methods will help ensure this breed learns appropriate and unacceptable behavior. Cairn terriers are highly food motivated. However, you must offer small pieces of healthy treats instead of giving your dog a whole treat as this breed is known to have issues with obesity. They do well with our peanut butter flavored training treats.

Facts About Cairn Terriers

Originating from the Western Isles of Scotland as early as the 1600s, the cairn terrier was formerly called the “short-haired Skye terrier” after the breed’s founder, Captain Martin Macleod of Drynock, Isle of Skye. Cairns have a tiny stature and large front paws (compared to their back paws) to help them when digging, which is a terrier’s best-loved activity. For their size, tenacious cairns also show fortitude and have no problem going up against squirrels, moles, or larger dogs.

  • Size: 9.5 – 10 inches tall and 13 to 14 pounds
  • Life expectancy: 13 15 years
  • Coat: Medium length, wiry, double coat
  • AKC group: Terrier

Are Cairn Terriers Easy to Train?

Yes and no. Like with a lot of breeds, cairn terriers have pros and cons.

possible cairn terrier mix

Cairn terriers are very intelligent and can catch on quickly. However, like its terrier cousins, this breed is independent and stubborn, which could prove challenging. Positive reinforcement training is the best training method for cairns, as scolding and harsh correction can easily hurt this sensitive breed. While cairns can learn unlimited commands and tricks, you should only train a cairn in a securely fenced area as they are quick to chase cats, squirrels, rabbits, and even other dogs. They are also known for their digging and barking.

Do Cairn terriers make good pets?

Cairn terriers make excellent pets and, in general, get along with children or other dogs in the house, given your cairn terrier is well socialized and properly trained. Cairns can be possessive of their toys and food and may react quickly to teasing by children. Due to their size, cairn terriers can adapt to apartment living.

Does the cairn terrier have a good temperament?

Happy, cheerful, friendly cairn terriers love nothing more than to spend time with their families. This breed does, however, have an independent streak and plenty of curiosity. When it comes to training tips, cairn terriers do very well with positive reinforcement.

Do Cairn Terriers Need Grooming?

The cairn’s coat is easy to groom and only requires weekly brushing and bathing once every three months (unless needed). Although trimming the coat is necessary, you should only do so two or three times a year.

Note: Cutting the cairn’s coat will soften this breed’s naturally coarse coat. Be sure to brush your cairn terrier’s teeth and trim his nails routinely, especially if your dog doesn’t spend a lot of time outdoors on hard surfaces, like concrete that naturally files down a dog’s nails. Most breeds do well with a guillotine-style nail scissor, which can be hard to use if your dog has black nails (because you can’t see the quick) or even better with a nail grinder.

A lot of people ask if cairn terriers are hypoallergenic. Cairns are hypoallergenic in that they are a low-shedding breed and they don’t drool a lot. They do shed somewhat, but they’re considered low shedders.

Cairn Terrier Mixes

What’s cuter than a cairn terrier? How about a cairn terrier mix. While there are no guarantees on what you’ll see in your dog in adulthood, you can get an idea of what to expect with both parents’ physical characteristics and personalities. Here are some popular cairn terrier breed mixes.

+ Bichon frise = Kashon

+ Chihuahua = Toxirn

+ Dachshund = Doxie cairn

+ Jack Russell terrier = Jacairn

+ Maltese = Cairmal

+ Miniature schnauzer =  Carnauzer

+ Poodle = Caimoodle

+ Shih tzu = Care-tzu

+ Welsh corgi = Cairn corgi

+ Yorkie = Carkie

Resource Links for More Cairn Terrier Info

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