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Cairn Terrier Dog Breed Profile

Cairn Terrier

Other Names
Dog Group Kennel Club
Breed Classification
The Cairn is a member of the terrier group. They were originally used for fox hunting and as ratters; today are companions.  
Cost of Ownership
Average Food Cost
< £4 per week
Feeding Requirements
Feeding of this little dog is relatively easy, however care must be taken that they do not become overweight.  
Other Expenses
The average puppy price is £350. 
9 - 15 years
Cairns can be expected to live until they are 14 or 15 years old. 
Average Litter Size
The Cairn generally has litters of between 4-6, although litters of 8 are not unheard of. 
General Physical Description
Short-legged and strongly built, Cairn Terriers have a foxy expression, hard coats and small, pointy ears. Whilst not heavily built, they are well-muscled, workman-like little dogs that stand well forward on their front paws. Their double coats are weather resistant, with hard, profuse outer coats and short, soft, close undercoats.

Height Min Max
Bitch 28cm (11") 31cm (12")
Dog 28cm (11") 31cm (12")
Weight Min Max
Bitch 6kg (13lbs) 7.5kg (17lbs)
Dog 6kg (13lbs) 7.5kg (17lbs)
Size Category
Weight Height Range
Both dogs and bitches measure between 28-31cms at the withers and weigh between 6-7.5kgs. 
There are a few breed-specific problems and choosing a pup from healthy stock will reduce the possibility of these arising. These problems include dislocating kneecaps and hereditary eye problems such as Ocular melanosis and glaucoma. 
Common Ailments
Susceptibility To Illness
Cairns are natives of the western islands of Scotland and, in particular, the Isle of Skye, and have been known since the 1500’s. The breed was named after the rocks (cairns), which were erected to mark a boundary or grave. These rocks became the favourite hiding place for foxes and other pests and a small but fearless terrier was required to rout out the vermin. From a large variety of terrier type dogs, four distinct breeds slowly emerged: the Cairn, Skye, West Highland White and Scottish. Until Cairns were accepted by the Kennel Club of Great Britain in 1910, the breed was virtually unheard of outside its home circles. When first exhibited, Cairns were called ‘Short Haired Skye Terriers’ since Skyes were already established, but the Skye fanciers were outraged, hence the name ‘Cairn’ came into being. They reached American shores in1913. 
These can be independent and stubborn dogs; therefore, training must be done gently and firmly. < 
Show Characteristics
The head is small with a decided indentation between the eyes and a definite stop. The muzzle is powerful and the jaws strong with a complete scissor bite. The eyes are wide apart, medium in size and dark hazel in colour. The ears are small, pointed, erect and well carried. The neck is well set on and not short. The back is level and of medium length. The front legs should be of medium length with good, but not heavy bone and covered with harsh hair. The thighs are strong and muscular. The front feet are larger than the back, with thick, strong pads. The tail is short and carried gaily but never over the back. 
Country Of Origin
Famous Examples
Toto in the ‘Wizard of Oz’ 
Records Held
Overall Exercise
40 - 60 minutes per day.
This breed is bursting with energy and must be given time to run and play. However the hunting instinct is so strong, they will take off. Their terrier nature implores them to dig – be it in the fields or in your favourite rose garden!  
Distress if Left Alone
Personal Protection
Guard Dog Suitability
Risk of Sheep Worrying
Tendency to Bark
Level of Aggression
Compatibility With Other Animals
Suitable For Children


General Character And Temperament
This is a cheerful, alert, lively and extrovert breed and makes ideal friends for children as they can tolerate rough play and have great senses of humour. They will also get on with other dogs, although some will stand their ground. They must, however, be taught at an early age to accept cats and other household pets as they will give chase once older. 
Coat Length
Grooming Requirement
> Once a week 
Requires Professional Groomer
They should be brushed and combed once a week. During moulting, which usually occurs twice a year, the coat should be hand stripped to remove the dead hair.  
Cairns come in cream, wheaten, red, grey or nearly black with brindling in all colours. 
Suffers From Allergies

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