Cairn Terrier

The Cairn Terrier is one of the most sympathetic dogs. His courage is much bigger than his size and he does not hesitate if his own are threatened. He is compatible with all but is perhaps less suitable for the very young. From the age of six or seven, children become his accomplices but before that, he can sometimes have less patience with them. This little hairy guardian should absolutely be discovered for his beautiful qualities and exquisite personality.

Height 26 to 31 cm
Weight 6 to 8 kg
Life expectancy 12 to 15 years
Hair Loss Medium
Excercise Need High
Home country United Kingdom (UK)

Quick Overview of the Cairn Terrier


  • Strong character
  • Joyful and lively
  • Courageous
  • Very clever and stubborn


  • Strong and compact small dog
  • Well-proportioned silhouette
  • Tight, hard and abundant coat
  • Small ears worn straight


  • No pathology affects the race
  • Rarely ill
  • Good life expectancy

Temperament of the Cairn Terrier

The Cairn Terrier has a strong character. He is cheerful, lively, courageous and even enterprising. He is pretty smart and rather stubborn. In spite of his small size, he is a great athlete, kind and very intelligent.

He is sociable except with other dogs, especially those of the same sex. His socialization and education must be adequate to make him an excellent life companion.

cairn terrier personnalité

Breed Appearance

cairn terrier

The Cairn Terrier is strong, compact and has a very well proportioned silhouette. He has the physical aspect of an agile Terrier, fit for work and with a very alert gait.


Between 28 and 31 cm (11.02 to 12.20 inches) for the male
Between 26 and 30 cm (10.24 to 11.81 inches) for the female


Between 6 and 8 kg (13.23 to 17.64 pounds) for the male
Between 6 and 8 kg (13.23 to 17.64 pounds) for the female


His colour can vary between red, grey, sand, pepper and salt and almost black. Sometimes his muzzle and ears are darker, which is quite typical of the breed.


The Cairn Terrier's hair is tight, hard and very abundant. He is shaggy, straight and has a very soft, waterproof, woolly undercoat. His length is generally 6 to 7 cm (2 to 3 inches).


This small dog's large head has a well marked stop. His medium size eyes are a beautiful dark brown color. His small ears are carried upright. His nose is black. His cheerfully carried tail is short and very well proportioned but never recurved.

According to the FCI breeds nomenclature, this breed belongs to group 3, section 2 and is #4

Characteristics of the Cairn Terrier

Does this dog suit your lifestyle?

Every dog breed has its own characteristics. However, the actual character of a dog can vary from one to another within the same breed.

Find out if the Cairn Terrier is your ideal dog breed with our quiz.

That will take you less than 3 minutes!

Take the quiz
Life in an apartment
Good first dog
Tolerates solitude
Tolerates cold weather
Tolerates hot weather
Friendly with children
Friendly with strangers
Friendly with other animals
Hair loss
Drooling level
Easy to care for
Robust health
Easy to train
Tendency to bark
Tendency to nibble
Instinct to hunt
Adventurous spirit
Energy level
Level of intensity
Need for exercise

Price and monthly budget

Price you can expect to pay for a Cairn Terrier puppy: between and
These prices are indicative and may vary from breeder to breeder
Average monthly budget for a Cairn Terrier:
The monthly budget includes the average expenses for food and hygiene products (grooming, anti-parasite...)

Cairn Terrier pictures

Tips About this breed

This great athlete at heart is cunning, affectionate, kind and very cheerful. He is a ray of sunshine for lots of people and is much appreciated by many elderly people for his cheerful disposition and mischief and of course, his small size. Very intelligent, he can easily become an all-purpose dog.

Searching, hunting and companionship are all easy tasks for this sweet little dog. Even circus people appreciate him because he can learn and perform quickly. He is easy to train but since he has a slight tendency to be stubborn, it is preferable that his education be adequate and started very early.

It has to be firm because he can easily take over the house if no one stops him.

He can live anywhere and with everyone, but as he is so full of energy, he must be given regular walks so that he can spend all this wonderful energy. To be happy in an apartment, he will have to go out often, otherwise he will be unhappy and may even get sick.

He will make up all kinds of nonsense inside if he can't get outdoors regularly. Fortunately, once he's grown up, he becomes a little calmer. His socialization must begin very early because he is not particularly friendly with his peers or with the other animals in the house.

The puppy must be trained effectively at this level and he must learn from an early age who is the master of the household.

Health of the Cairn Terrier

No pathology affects the race. This hardy little dog is very robust and is rarely sick. He also enjoys a good life expectancy.


His pretty fur should be brushed at least once a week to ensure a beautiful, healthy coat. Grooming is not necessary  because his fur is naturally beautiful, however brushing is essential. His self-cleaning coat requires only about two baths per year. No other particular maintenance is necessary in his case.

History of this breed

Originating from Great Britain with the Skye Terrier, Cairn Terriers are the oldest of all Scottish Terriers. Known since the 16th century, Cairn Terriers are thought to be the origin of the West Highland White Terrier and the Scottish Terrier.

This little dog already existed at the time of James VI and his mother, Mary Stuart. Some writings about him date from the 18th century, proving his existence for some time already. The name Cairn comes from the Celtic word cairn which describes the rocky talus with crevices that served as hiding spots for harmful vermin which are typical of Scottish regions.

As the little vermin were been hunted by this Terrier, the name Cairn Terrier was then obvious for this small hunting dog with an inexhaustible ardor.

He remained a hunter and working dog until the 19th century when he became a very popular companion dog. For a long time he was considered a mongrel by cynological authorities.

Fortunately, a few enthusiasts took on the task and he became, thanks to them, the fifth and last Scottish Terrier to receive official recognition only in 1912, despite his seniority.

The famous Toto from the great classic "The Wizard of Oz" brought him his present great notoriety. He is, nowadays in Europe and especially in France, the most popular Scottish Terrier after the West Highland White Terrier.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

best fresh dog food 5 brands

We Tried 5 Fresh Dog Food Brands

Is all the marketing hype worth it? Did our dogs enjoy them? Here’s our dogs’ totally honest review.

Free ebook: 10 signs your dog needs a diet change

Get this free vet-approved ebook and change your dog’s life!