Cairn Terrier: Everything You Need to Know

The Cairn Terrier is one of the oldest Scottish Terrier breeds, specializing since ancient times in catching foxes and rodents. It is an energetic, positive companion dog with a stiff, puffy coat and sharp, erect ears.

The Cairn Terrier is a professional hunter in the past, but in the present, he is a compact, shaggy, merry fellow and a tireless athlete who loves outdoor games. Like all representatives of the terrier group, Kern is overly curious and fantastically passionate when it comes to looking for anything, but at the same time incredibly friendly and sociable. If you want to really make friends with the breed, make it your regular companion. It is difficult to find a happier and more contented creature than the Cairn Terrier, who can accompany the owner on a bike ride, on a mushroom hike, or during a leisurely promenade along the city streets on an equal footing.

Kerns is often called the great-grandfathers of all Scottish terriers since mentions of hunting foxes and badgers with these clockwork cosmetics have been found since the 16th century. At first, all representatives of the breed were called sharp-eared sky terriers – after the name of the Isle of Skye, whose inhabitants preferred small dogs that skillfully caught rodents and small animals. It was decided to replace the root “sky” with “kern” only at the beginning of the 20th century when the question arose about the standardization of animals – the name “Cairn Terrier” indicated that the breed copes well with capturing predators in mountainous and rocky areas.

Despite the fact that the first professional breeder of cores is considered the Scotsman Captain McLeod, who presented the most viable and working line of the breed, dog breeding continued spontaneously for a long time. In particular, every British farmer considered it his duty to conduct a series of breeding experiments, which, in his opinion, could make Skyterriers more grasping and prey helpers.

Official recognition for the breed, like the new name, came in 1910 after the English Kennel Club registered individuals belonging to the breeder Alistair Campbell. Since then, Cairn Terriers have become full-fledged participants in dog shows, although until 1923 they were still crossed with West Highland White Terriers to obtain animals with a glamorous snow-white color.

Cairn Terrier is a combination of amusing appearance and lively temperament. Playful, mustache dressed in shaggy “fur coats” look as if they just jumped off the shelf of a toy store. Add to this a modest weight (only 6-9 kg), a typical low stance for terriers, and an overall compact build – and you have an exemplary representative of the breed, assertive, restless, and terribly curious.

A small head proportional to the body of the animal, with a pronounced hollow between the eyes and a powerful muzzle. The stop is prominent, clearly visible.

Cairn Terriers have large teeth and strong but not weighted jaws with a standard scissor bite.

Black nose, with a moderately developed lobe.
The eyes of a thoroughbred Cairn Terrier are widely spaced and hidden under shaggy eyebrows, which gives the dog a comical and slightly angry look.

Ears are pointed, triangular-shaped ears are always in an alert position (stand upright).

The neck of the Cairn Terrier is moderately long, with a classic set.

A thoroughbred representative of the breed should have an even, medium-length back and a flexible loin. The ribcage of the Cairn Terrier is massive, with well-rounded ribs.

The Cairn Terrier has very strong and strong legs with sloping shoulders, impressive hips, and low hocks. The front paws are much larger than the hind ones, the pads of the paws are elastic and convex. The dog moves smoothly, with a strong push of the hind legs and a uniform reach of the forelimbs.

In a familiar setting, the Cairn Terrier carries its short tail cheerfully and energetically, not dropping it down and not throwing it on its back.

The coat of a dog is almost the defining characteristic of the breed. Double, with an ultra-coarse topcoat and a short, adherent undercoat, it performs a protective function – it does not allow the animal to get wet in bad weather and reduces the risk of mechanical injury.

A purebred individual should have a coat of cream, red, wheat, ash black, or gray. Cairn Terriers with pronounced brindle hairs are also not and are allowed to participate in exhibitions.

Aggression or unreasonable fearfulness of a dog is an unconditional disqualification. Animals with atypical colors such as solid black, white, and black and tan are also not allowed to participate in the competition.

Kerns is the most typical representative of the terrier clan, so when bringing them into the house, get ready for endless curiosity, light courage, instant reaction, and pranks. In addition, it is an extremely contact breed that loves to demonstrate its intellectual and athletic achievements to humans. Whatever tricks and tricks Kern sets, his ultimate goal is the same – to awaken the owner’s interest in the results of his “works”. Yes, often the shaggy “super dog” goes too far in an effort to amaze the owner with his own ingenuity and restlessness, but there is no point in blaming him for this.

The Cairn Terrier is an owner and a creepy curmudgeon who does not recognize the concept of “common property”. He will happily play catch-up with children, willingly chase the ball and bring it, but to any encroachment on personal things (toy, bone) he will answer with a convincing “Woof!” or a warning grunt. At the same time, in other everyday situations, the breed demonstrates quite peaceful behavior. An exception is a threat to the life of the owner, coming from another dog. In such a case, it is incredibly difficult to keep the core, but it is vital to do it – in the heat of excitement, the shaggy “Scotsman” oversteps all boundaries and ceases to soberly assess his own strength.

Almost all modern Cairn Terriers have “given up” their hunting qualifications and happily live in city apartments, but do not hope that they will forever say goodbye to pursuing instincts. Plowing a newly planted flower bed in search of a mole that once visited it and bringing a wandering cat to a heart attack is a sacred cause for a Cairn Terrier. It is not very easy to reconcile a dog with other pets. This comrade sees in any four-legged creature a direct competitor who must be neutralized as soon as possible. No, the core is absolutely not bloodthirsty, so it will be other methods to “survive” from its opponent’s territory – sonorous barking, lightly biting, and pursuit.

The Cairn Terrier is an intelligent and curious breed, but only until you yell at your pet. Impulsive “Scots” perceive any pressure as an infringement of personal rights, to which they react violently. Moreover, the offending core shows real miracles of stubbornness and disobedience, and it becomes impossible to explain elementary truths to him.

Another characteristic feature of the breed is the duality of behavior. Each individual expresses this quality in different ways. Someone, in the absence of the owners, is lying on sofas and ottomans, but upon hearing the sound of a key turning in the doorway, they immediately transform into an exemplary pet, peacefully dozing at the doorstep. Someone slowly harasses the cat, and then, when the owner appears, pretends to see a meowing creature for the first time.

Cynologists assure that it is not very easy to turn a Cairn Terrier into a well-mannered “city dweller”, but it is real. The main thing is to look for individual approaches and not get hung up on one technique. Assert your own leadership persistently, but without rudeness, restrain emotions, and do not yell at the ward – this will make it easier for the dog to adapt to your requirements. By the way, at the initial training of the breed, experts recommend not to use the command “No!”, Replacing it with the word “You can!”. It is easier for a young Cairn Terrier to accept the approval of his own actions than rude prohibitions. In addition, it teaches the animal to more often look to the owner in order to obtain permission for a specific act.

You can regulate the dog’s behavior not only by voice commands but also by gestures. Cairn Terriers understand them perfectly and react instantly. Moreover, they themselves skillfully express intentions with postures and tail movements. It is easy to guess that the core is ready to play and is about to take off from its place – the animal takes a “low start”, tries to establish eye contact with the owner, and vigorously wags its tail.

The Cairn Terrier should have an isolated corner in the apartment (bed, house), where he could rest and keep his own “treasures”. Be sure to buy several toys for the animal: the cores grow up quickly, they need educational fun with objects. And during the absence of the owners, the pet will have something to occupy itself with. However, you should not overwhelm the dog with gifts either. This breed is very selective and often remains faithful to one ball, gently ignoring other things. Speaking of balls: they must be soft and relatively large so that the Cairn Terrier cannot swallow them.

Owners living in a private house with a garden or a personal plot will have to be extremely prudent, letting the dog “breathe”. It is not a problem for a Cairn Terrier to dig under the fence and escape in an unknown direction. As for the toilet, tiny cores quickly get used to using the newspaper for “wet deals”, and then relatively easily retrained to do the same on the street.

Cairn Terriers only look like unpretentious cosmetics. In reality, pet hair requires systematic care. Firstly, because the cores do not shed, which means that the dog needs to be trimmed, removing dead hair and stimulating new growth. Usually, individuals that do not take part in exhibitions are trimmed 3-4 times a year. The owners “pinch” show-cores every two weeks, once a month they take them out to a professional salon, where the business started by the owner is “polished” to perfection.

Secondly, the undercoat of the breed is prone to the formation of tangles, so if you do not plan to grow a “felt boot” from a four-legged friend, you need to brush it once or twice a week, paying special attention to the armpit area. An important point is a haircut. In fact, it is contraindicated for Cairn Terriers, since it changes the structure of the coat, softens, and things it. However, sometimes you have to use scissors to make the dog’s silhouette more prominent. Typically, the cores are trimmed with hairs in the lower abdomen and form the contour of the paws, simultaneously removing the hair between the toes and under the tail. Tidying up the rest of the body, including the ears, which are usually abundantly overgrown, will have to be pinched.

Do not overuse water treatments. Western breeders are of the opinion that frequent bathing is harmful to the breed, and recommend washing Cairn Terriers only in the most urgent situations. For example, when an animal fell out in the mud or fell. In other cases, “bath days” are superfluous since the coat of the cores does not give a specific smell, provided that the dog is regularly trimmed. Show pets will have to be washed more often – once every 2-3 months and exclusively with professional shampoo for wire-haired breeds.

It is imperative to observe the hygiene of the reproductive organs This is especially true for females which during estrus are advised by breeders to rinse the loop and the area around it with warm water, and also treat with neutralizing sprays that help remove the characteristic odor of secretions. In addition, the soft fur around the reproductive organs rolls off more often than on the rest of the body, so learn to carefully trim the tangles with scissors.

Brushing your teeth is a necessary procedure in the life of a Cairn Terrier. Ideally, the pet’s oral cavity should be treated three times a week, but in case of an acute shortage of time, the number of cleanings can be reduced to two. Find the right finger brush and paste to suit the core’s taste. Excellent prevention of tartar in dogs is the use of natural juices, such as lemon or tomato. They can soak a napkin and clean the animal’s oral cavity, carefully rubbing the juice into the tooth enamel. And do not forget, from 4 to 6 months old Cairn Terriers change their milk teeth, so for this period, it is better for four-legged mischievous people to buy a toy-chew, which will help distract and massage the gums.

Check your Cairn Terrier eyes daily to remove any damp lumps and debris. To do this, use a clean cloth moistened with boiled water or phyto-lotions from a zoo pharmacy. The ears of the cores are cleaned once a week with a damp cloth or rag. It is strongly not recommended to use hydrogen peroxide for hygienic treatment of the auricle, which causes skin irritation. It is more correct to replace it with chlorhexidine.

An adult Cairn Terrier is not a bad runner, but usually a walk two times a day is enough for him to emotionally and physically discharge. At the same time, he loves outdoor games and sports. So, taking your pet out into the street, give him the opportunity to retire to the maximum – make him run after the ball, involve him in catch-up games and search for objects, teach him to comprehend the basics of agility.

It is allowed to lower the score on a walk from the leash if the shaggy rascal has perfectly mastered the commands from the UGS course and responds correctly to the call. Otherwise, get ready to run after your pet to re-attach the strap. Well, a little about the favorite pastime of all terriers – digging. In no case do not let the dog ruin other people’s beds and garden beds, but do not pull it back if it digs in the wasteland in order to get edible roots and insects – it is vitally important to give an outlet to the animal’s instincts.

The average Cairn Terrier gives the impression of an eternally hungry creature in a permanent search for food. So if you succumb to the constant begging glances of your pet, you run the risk of growing a fat bump, which will then have to be treated by a nutritionist. At four months, a Cairn Terrier puppy is completely ready to switch to three meals a day, and at six, the number of feeds can be reduced to two. Don’t worry, the dog won’t die of hunger. In any case, if the baby has worked up a brutal appetite, it can be encouraged with a small snack.

If things are exactly the opposite, and the Cairn Terrier does not finish eating a portion or does not touch lunch because it does not meet his expectations, it is useful for him to “unload” and skip one meal. As for harmful products, for cores, it is pork, fatty lamb, sweets, and smoked meats, bones, and veins. Sometimes a doggie can be treated to a regular sandwich with butter or cheese, or cottage cheese – such “human” food will not bring harm. In addition, from an early age, the Cairn Terrier must be taught to eat fruits, berries, and vegetables – they are more useful than vitamin supplements from the pharmacy.

The approximate diet of an adult: 40% – meat and its waste, 30% – cereals, 20% – fermented milk products, 10% – fruit and vegetable purees and salads. If the owner is limited in time and does not have time to prepare individual meals for the pet, industrial feed and canned food can be considered as an alternative, provided that the owner is ready to spend on brands of at least a super-premium, but preferably a holistic class.

The ancestors of the Cairn Terriers, despite their more than modest build, could boast of iron health and tremendous endurance. Their descendants are also not frail creatures, but the breed is more susceptible to hereditary ailments. In particular, like all representatives of the terrier clan, cores are often diagnosed with Perthes disease, the course of which is accompanied by lameness and is caused by genetics.

Poor blood clotting (von Willebrand disease) is also a genetic disease that is inherited from sires to offspring. In addition, like any small breed dog, Cairn Terriers suffer from a dislocated patella. An unpleasant phenomenon is directly related to the size of the animal and does not depend on the quality of pet care. Of the specific diseases inherent in cores, veterinarians most often note allergies, obesity, and cataracts.

How to choose a puppy?

  • Get a Cairn Terrier puppy in a monobreed kennel – so there is a greater chance that you will come across a knowledgeable breeder for whom breeding is not a commercial goal, but a matter of life.
  • Visit the nursery several times to see how the puppies behave in everyday life: whether they are playful, how they react to the presence of a stranger, whether they eat with appetite.
  • Hanging ears of a puppy are not at all an indicator that they want to cheat you. In thoroughbred Cairn Terriers, the ear sheet rises in the 5th week of life, but more often this process takes months.
  • The coat color of newborn Cairn Terriers is different from that which the animal will acquire when it grows up. So if you are afraid to make a mistake, wait until the babies are 12 weeks old – by this time their real “color” will appear. By the way, with age, the shade of the dog’s “fur coat” may lighten (typical for wheat cores) or darken – this is normal.
  • Getting a promising puppy with whom you can conquer exhibitions and dog shows is problematic since interested breeders keep the best Cairn Terriers from the litter. If the seller decided to give the future “show star”, scrupulously study the exhibition diplomas and pedigrees of her parents to make sure that you are being sold an animal with genetic potential.
  • Ask the breeder if the puppies have been tested for hereditary pathologies – patella, heart disease, cataracts. If so, ask for the results of the survey.
Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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