The Cairn Terrier is a small yet sturdy terrier with a rough, no-fuss appearance. The head is broad and the face has a fox-like appearance. The triangular ears are upright and covered in short hair. The coat colors may be cream, wheaten, sandy, red, various shades of gray, and brindle. The brindle coats may change colors throughout the lifetime of the dog, becoming more silver or black. The coat should be hand stripped twice yearly for best results. Clipping the coat may ruin the weatherproof properties.
The Cairn Terrier is one of the oldest terrier breeds. It originated in the Highlands of Scotland and the Isle of Skye. Originally the Scottish Terrier, The Cairn, and the West Highland White Terrier were all considered Skye Terriers but began to be bred separately and are now classified as separate breeds. "Cairn" refers to the rock piles and dens where rodents, foxes and badgers would reside. The brave little terriers would enter the dens and bark and corral the animal until they could be dispatched by the human hunter.
The Cairn Terrier is not a lapdog despite their size. They are active, inquisitive, intelligent, and can be stubborn. They are brave, loyal and tough. Obedience training is recommended for this breed to ensure the dog knows his place. They have a strong prey instinct, so care must be taken to train them around cats and other small animals. They must have an enclosed yard or be on a leash as they will take off after squirrels, cats, and other dogs. They are big dogs trapped in a small dog's body, so care must be taken to ensure they do not take on a much larger dog and come out on the losing end. The Cairn Terrier requires a number of sturdy chew toys as they are known shredders, but can be taught which items are for chewing and which are not.
Breed Club Links: The Cairn Terrier Club of America
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Photo courtesy of Rune Mathisen.