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Cairn Terrier

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More than 200 years ago on the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Highlands the ancestors of today’s Cairn Terrier were bred and put to use eradicating rats and other vermin from the rock piles (called Cairns) that were scattered over the Scottish agricultural land. These early terriers were bred for their working ability not their appearance. Qualities such as courage, perseverance and intelligence all packed into a small solid body and dressed in a weather resistant coat and armed with big teeth in strong jaws – were sought after for generations.

Today’s Cairn Terrier
From these original dogs in Scotland the first Scottish terrier and West Highland White Terrier and later the Cairn Terrier were developed. The Cairn Terrier is the breed that most closely resembles the original working terriers of Scotland.

A popular little Terrier

Today’s Cairn Terrier is a sensible and confident little dog who is independent but friendly. Today the Cairn Terrier can be found in families living in everything from apartments and suburban homes to large farms. Attentive, intelligent and long lived the Cairn Terrier remains playful and active well into the dog’s teenage years making the Cairn Terrier popular with children.

A shaggy little dog that can handle almost anything
The Cairn Terrier can have many different coat colors. It can be hard to predict what color the adult Cairn Terrier gets by looking at a puppy. Color changes can occur in many years and the coat may become lighter or darker. The Cairn Terrier is about 25 cm. tall and weighs approx. 6 kg. The Cairn Terrier is a big dog in a small package. By this is meant that the dog is small enough that the owner can easily carry it or have the dog on his lap but sturdy enough that it can play and romp with children and other dogs. The Cairn Terrier’s robust appearance makes it the most “macho” of the little dogs.

Temperament and training
Each Cairn Terrier is unique with its own personality and character but all Cairn Terriers are independent by nature. A typical Cairn Terrier puppy will sit on your lap for a short while but soon fight to be put down again to explore the surroundings. The Cairn Terrier’s intelligence makes the dog breed curious and a very quick learner. It is important that you teach your Cairn Terrier that you’re the pack leader right from the start if not the dog will try to fill the role of pack leader itself. Firm and consistent discipline, exercise and affection are necessary to obtain the best relationship with your Cairn Terrier.

The Cairn Terrier is good with children
A Cairn Terrier seems to almost have a natural affinity for kids. The Cairn Terrier is physically strong and generously forgives unfortunate situations when the dog is accidentally hurt by a child. The Cairn Terrier will react strongly to being teased or mistreated by children, so close supervision with small children and puppies is important. Puppies may need time alone and away from even the dearest children, your puppy should have access to an undisturbed area where it can relax until your puppy is ready to play again.

Keep the leash on
A Cairn Terrier should generally always be walked on a leash as it is an almost impossible task to learn a Cairn Terrier to resist its urge to chase squirrels, cats, rabbits, other dogs and other interesting scents (remember that the Cairn Terrier was bred to hunt small vermin).

Longevity and maintenance

A Cairn Terrier can reach an age of up to 15 years. The Cairn Terrier’s shaggy appearance is easy to maintain with a weekly brushing. The Cairn Terrier sheds very little if brushed weekly.

Should you choose a male dog?
If the Cairn Terrier is neutered or spayed there is no great difference whether you choose a female or male. Many Cairn Terrier breeders feel that the male is more affectionate. Females have a tendency to be a little bit more independent.

If you are considering getting a Cairn Terrier you should consider the following:

Would you like a dog that is:

  • Small but tough and hardy.
  • Has a natural appearance.
  • Only needs moderate exercise.
  • Bark when strangers come.
  • Doesn’t shed much.
  • Gets along better with other pets than many other terriers.

This can be negative depending on your personal preferences:

  • The classic terrier temperament.
  • Cairn Terriers can be stubborn.
  • Has a “what’s in it for me?” attitude to training.
  • Likes to bark at even the slightest movements or sounds.
  • Loves to dig holes everywhere in your garden.
  • The coat needs a trim every three months.

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