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Cairn Terriers Make Great Pets!

Updated on February 26, 2013

Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terriers

Cairn Terriers

Well the name of this breed pretty much describes their history and behavior. Cairns being piles of rocks which were often handmade to mark areas or memorials in Scotland, were where this breed of dog went through to hunt vermin. Being small they were easily carried on fox hunts. Cairns have the courage to chase out a fox, and the tenacity to face rats in obscure places such as cliffs and ledges.

A Cairn terrier is a big dog in a small body, usually weighing about 14-16 lbs, and has the spirit and loyalty their family and owners will never forget. They are hardy little dogs with bristly fur and I found mine never shed like most dogs do, and they are in fact hypoallergenic. Cairns are stripped rather than cut or sheared which is just a matter of pulling the old dead hair out by hand rather than ruining their outer coats.

Expect your Cairn to chase squirrels in the park, so do keep them leashed since they were bred to chase vermin, the same thing goes for having them in your yard with no fence. With proper training they will listen, but won’t resist what comes naturally. The best idea is to put up a fence where you can let them out to play. They do need exercise if you don’t have a yard, so take them for walks. The extension leashes work great, where you can keep them close to you or let them extend the leash to run and play.

The Cairn can be pretty head strong; mine always wanted to fight dogs from the car when passing them, but face to face with another dog she was fine. She lived up to her heritage, and loved to ride in the car. It wasn’t a fox hunt on a horse but the next best thing, and I couldn’t go anywhere without her. Seeing she loved to ride in the car so much, when we passed dogs outside the car she would gnash her teeth against the window even when faced with a German Shepherd. I only could think she was possessive over the car, since it was the only time she did this.

From her ferocity to her loving nature you will see here a picture of her being pampered, and she loved sitting in a baby swing chewing on her rubber toy. Now that IS part of your family, and a memory I will never forget.

From hunting vermin, to riding in the car they are in fact part of your family, and do remember their loyalty far proceeds most breeds. If your living situation isn’t desirable for a large breed dog, check out the Cairns as they have all the traits of a larger breed in their small little bodies.

They do tend to love to eat, and can become overweight, so start them out young with a proper diet so this doesn’t occur and make sure they have exercise. Rawhide chews are great to clean the Cairn’s teeth and it satisfies them from begging for more food.

Don’t be foolish like I was and begin feeding them from the table with scraps, because you will wind up eating your meal with a chorus of non-stop barking.

Cairns are clever little dogs and usually very friendly, and if properly trained great with children. Since they do behave like a large dog in a small dog’s body teach your children to handle the Cairn properly because if treated rough they could develop problems with their legs with sprains. I remember mine jumping off and on the ottoman playing and she sprained her leg doing it so much.

Toys are great to throw to play fetch if your dog doesn’t have a lot of room to run outside, and the rubber tug toys with double sides to hold in your hand and have the dog tug on the other end is one of their favorite toys.Yes that's right those rubber tug toys big dogs like.

Health wise Cairns don’t have many issues, maybe cataracts when getting older, but they are a healthy breed of dogs. Do check in with Cairn Rescues and put your name in shelters if you decide to adopt one. I put my name into an Animal Shelter looking for a blonde Cairn terrier one year old and housebroken. Who would think I would find one within a month, but I did.

The shelters and rescues are happy to take names for looking to adopt, and when I received the phone call a month later I couldn’t believe it, since blonde Cairns are a color less likely to find.

Do support your shelters, after my first Cairn passed away I found another one much smaller, an abuse case, and I volunteered to take the dog home until they found someone to adopt him. He was about seven at the time, and would cower from everyone, and wasn’t housebroken because they had tied him out in the deep snow even. Cairns love affection and in two weeks he was housebroken from just praising him, with no crate training and wound up as part of my family for another nine years.

I vote Cairn as that special breed!

Copyright/All Rights Reserved B. A. Williams

Cairn Terrier



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    • B. A. Williams profile image

      B. A. Williams 6 years ago from USA

      Yes Cairn's come in all colors, the bottom dog is a mix breed but mostly Cairn, but the top on in the swing is a pure bred blonde Cairn.

      Jack Russels are very cute too though. Check out the Rescues for the breeds you want, they need homes and are usually pure bred, before buying one.

      Good luck they are awesome dogs.

    • profile image

      Melinda Regner 6 years ago


      So that's a cairn terrier dog? I thought it was a Jack russel terrier.

      Goodness! Looks like i need to inform right away my friend. I ask him to buy a puppy. I said jack russel terrier instead of cairn.. :(