Breeds 101

Cairn Terrier


The Cairn Terrier may have originated on the Scottish Isle of Skye and the Highlands of Scotland, where since at least the time of Mary Queen of Scots, it worked the cairns, searching for hiding foxes.

The Cairn Terrier was originally grouped with Scottish and West Highland White Terriers; the breeds began to be separated in the early 1900’s; The Cairn was the most popular of all Great Britain’s terriers.

The Cairn Terrier was skilled at hunting prey such as fox that lived in the ledges and rock piles that dotted the farming countryside; A working Terrier, the Cairn likes to be busy; today’s dogs excel in agility and tracking trials.

In the early 1900’s breeders were careful to retain the Cairn’s natural shaggy coat, sturdy body, and terrier abilities. The breed is equally at home in town or country; It makes a good watchdog, and is easier to obedience train than many other terriers.

Males of Cairn Terrier can be bossy, and should be monitored when meeting children for the first time; the terrier temperament is always there.

The Cairn’s small size, good health, and lack of stubbornness make it a delightful companion.


Small; Females: 9 inches, 13 pounds; Males: 10 to 12 inches, 14 pounds.


Cream, wheaten, nearly black, grey, red.


Intelligent, spirited, curious, stubborn independent; good with children; may be aggressive with other dogs; enjoy chasing and digging.

Energy level:

High, but not high strung.

Best owner:

Active owner with active family.


Daily exercise; leash; secure fencing, obedience training; weekly brushing.

Life expectancy:

12 to 15 years.