Cairn Terrier

The Cairn Terrier is, perhaps, one of the most well-known dogs in the world and that is owing exclusively to the film The Wizard of Oz – that’s right, Toto was a Cairn Terrier. The Cairn Terrier is a very confident and intelligent dog that is as suborn as it is independent. Despite its size, this breed is fearless and in charge, so it is important that it is properly socialized and taught obedience. Because it is so intelligent, The Cairn Terrier is a very fast and successful learner of tricks and can be easily trained.

Cairn Terrier Breed Information

This breed is over 200 years old, and it originates in the Isle of Skye. As the rest of the terriers, the Cairn Terrier was first known as a Scotch Terrier, later to be divided into two different types: Skye Terrier and Dandie Dinmont. Cairns were included in the former classification of Skye Terrier. Cairn Terrier was recognized as a breed in 1912, with a name that took after stoke piles that marked memorial sites in Scotland. The terriers were originally used to sought out vermin in houses, barns and on general property. The Cairn Terriers to first step into the United States were brought by Mrs. Byron Rodgers and Mrs. Henry F. Price in 1913. The Cairn, as well as the West Highland White were generally interbred in England and in the United States up until 1917. That year, the American Kennel Club stopped registering the dogs resulted from their interbreeding. Thus, AKC gave membership to the Cairn Terrier Club of America.
The Cairn Terrier is known to be an extremely happy and friendly dog who loves people, whether they are its families or strangers. As a very active dog, it is always chasing some animal, playing with something, barking, digging, and generally running around and having fun. Its independence is a strong trait, but the Cairn Terrier is also a very loyal dog who truly enjoys the company of its family. This dog will follow you around, hang out with you and greet visitors at the door, announcing them with excited barking. This makes the Cairn Terrier an excellent watchdog.
  • Activity level: 5/5 (a very energetic animal who is always chasing something)
  • Intelligence level: 5/5 (extremely intelligent and independent)
  • Curiosity: 4/5 (quite curious and playful)
  • Friendliness: 5/5 (this breed makes for a very loyal and affectionate pet who is friendly towards all humans)
  • Vocal: 1/5 (does not howl or bark for no reason)
The Cain Terrier is small but mighty. One of its most attractive physical traits is that it can change colour over the course of its life. For example, it can become more silver as it gets older, but it can also become blacker. Kennel clubs generally do not accept white, tan and black and pure black Cairn Terriers, and white Cairn Terriers must now be registered as West Highland White Terriers.
  • Fur: The coat of a Cairn Terrier is special, because it changes color. Generally, this breed’s fur is grey, black, red, cream, sandy, or wheaten. Its outer coat is harsh, but the undercoat is dense and soft.
  • Eyes: Hazel eyes that are deep and wide-set, often covered by shaggy eyebrows.
  • Body structure: Small and scruffy, with short legs and a strong, but well-proportioned build.
  • Facial features: The Cairn Terrier can have a fox-like face, with a medium-length nose which ends with a strong muzzle and black nose.
  • Weight: The Cairn Terrier weighs about 14 pounds, if it’s male and around 13, if it’s female.
Health and Care
This breed is generally healthy and does not typically suffer from any health issues. However, there are some diseases an owner needs to be careful about and keep a lookout for: Hypothyroidism, Craniomandibular Osteopathy, Portosystemic Liver Shunt, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, Cryptorchidism, Patellar Luxation, Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy, and Ocular Melanosis/Secondary Glaucoma.
We have gathered this information from our breeders based on their experience with this breed. However, remember that each animal is different with its own personality and needs (just like people!), so use this information wisely. Do you know more about this breed and want to share your knowledge with us? Send us an email at
Cairn Terrier Breeders: