The Cairn Terrier is a hardy, small, solid, and sporty dog, with a rough weather-resistant coat that sheds. The Gaelic word “cairn” means a heap of stones, which is a suitable name for a terrier that goes to ground. This breed is in many ways the classic terrier, exhibiting the same tenacious, sassy, obstinate yet charming personality that is common to this group. He is intelligent, active, and affectionate, often reluctant to cooperate with his trainer and somewhat of a barker. This breed is initially suspicious of strangers and makes a great watchdog. He has a high prey drive toward small animals and will not likely get along with a kitten or a hamster. He is good with children provided he is raised with them from puppy hood, although he does not tolerate roughhousing. The Cairn can be a nipper, especially when he is spoiled. Also, because of his stubborn nature, it is very difficult for him to learn the “Down” command. He is a long-lived dog and is not susceptible to any major medical problems.
Size: The Cairn Terrier stands approximately 9-10in at the shoulder and weighs between 12 and 15lb.
History and origin: The Cairn Terrier was developed in Scotland and was used as a ratter and as a bolter of foxes and otters. His weather-resistant coat allowed him to withstand the cold and windy Scottish climate. It was recorded that James VI of Scotland (James I of England) ordered half a dozen of terriers or “earth dogs” to be sent as a present to France. These were believed to be the forerunners of the present-day Cairn Terrier. In his work “The Popular Cairn Terrier,” Mr. J.W.H. Beynon stated that as far as he could learn, the oldest known strain of Cairns was founded by the late Captain MacLeod of Drynoch, Isle of Skye, which goes back over 150 years.
Feeding: Recommended feeding for this small terrier is ¾ can of high quality dog food or the fresh meat equivalent supplemented with biscuits. This breed prefers to have 2 small meals each day, rather than 1 big meal. He also loves an occasional large dog biscuit to chew. 1 teaspoon of cod liver oil taken once a day will keep him in good health.
Exercise: Apartment living is adequate for this small dog as long as he gets enough exercise. The Cairn Terrier is a very energetic dog and an expert of killing rodents. His ideal exercise would be running in the fields or playing a ball game.
Grooming: As a house pet or a show dog, the Cairn Terrier is an easy breed to groom. His coat should be brushed and combed. Any excess feathering from behind the front legs and tail should be removed. In addition, the long hairs near the ears and on the underside should be removed for tidiness.