We’re very much a Scottish dog, hailing from the Highlands and the Isle of Skye. We were bred for hunting otters, badgers and foxes. These days we’re somewhat surplus to requirements in that regard but we have remained popular as a house pet. We were introduced to the show ring in the early 1900s but our origins trace back over 500 years. More recently, you may have seen us in a rather famous film? Fighting a wicked witch, in the company of my wonderful owner and three rather strange creatures, walking down a yellow brick road…
What do I look like?
Now we’ll be the first to admit that we look somewhat unkempt! Wiry, straggly and generally looking like we’ve just been pulled through a hedge backwards. But then the Highlands and Islands of Scotland don’t tend to worry about such cosmopolitan aesthetics! So in essence we’re a game little dog, sturdy but small. We have pointed ears, a compact body with a deep chest and a level back. Short legs, strong bones and a tail covered with as much hair as our body. Our coat is thick and harsh with a close undercoat. Colours are cream, red, wheaten, grey and off-black. Our muzzle and ears are often darker than the rest of us.
What do I need from you?
We are a very outgoing and confident dog. So much so that we often don’t realise how small a dog we are! This means we will often attack much larger dogs in our role as protectors. So your vigilance around larger dogs is appreciated to keep us safe. A natural hunter, we will always chase and therefore need to be kept within a fence or on a leash to prevent us from running off on a hunt. We are a breed that loves people so cherish regular contact. We do not respond well if left alone for long periods of time or kept in a kennel. Bored or lonely Cairn Terriers can quickly develop destructive or problematic habits such as constant barking or problem digging. Consistent, positive training and challenges are needed to help keep us stimulated, mentally and physically. Despite our natural good humour and slightly independent attitude, we are a breed that responds particularly badly to punishment. We are sensitive to reprimands and changes in our owner’s voice, so care needs to be taken to avoid speaking in harsh tones or raising your voice with us.
What I will give in return
We’re a typically Scottish terrier – fearless, alert and rugged. This means we’ll make a great guard dog. Yet we also make a great house pet. We’re endearingly mischievous, affectionate and love being out and about. We love exploring hedge-growths and all manner of terrain and equally like a walk in town. Us Cairn Terriers love to be involved in children’s games and play, run and romp. Our energy is boundless – chasing balls and playing fetch are some of our favorite pastimes! With proper socialisation we can be an excellent companion for other dog breeds as well as non-canine pets. Lesser known dog fact: we are usually left-pawed! This has been shown in dogs to correlate to superior performance in tasks related to scent.
How big will I get?
We grow to around 12in (30cm) and weigh around 14lb-16lb (6kg-7.5kg).
How long should I be around for?
We have good longevity – typically 12 to 15 years.
How big is our litter?
Litters are about average for a terrier breed which is 4 to 6 puppies.
The great Liza Minnelli no less! Spot the link to our famous film appearance?
Disclaimer: the views expressed on this page and any comments below are only a guide to typical traits and views on the breed. Individual circumstance and traits will always vary so we can be in no way responsible for any of the information provided.