Cairn terriers are one of the more intelligent dogs one can have as a pet. What they lack in size, they more than make up for in spiritedness, fervor and playfulness. These traits make them good companions and playmates for children, but of course parental supervision is still needed so that accidents could be avoided. Cairn terriers are loyal to their owners and are usually standoffish when strangers are present, such as guests and the like. This attitude makes them ideal guard dogs they would bark if there is someone present in ones territory that they are not familiar with. But with proper socialization, Cairn terriers can and are very friendly dogs.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) categorizes dogs into 7 groups:

  • herding
  • hound
  • non-sporting
  • sporting
  • terrier
  • toy
  • working

Cairn terriers are recognized as small working terriers with a very distinguished, bossy air about them, much like most terriers possess. These dogs are naturally curious and inquisitive, and would often roam ones house or yard, looking for something interesting to do or chase. That being said, Cairn terriers are known diggers, and can do a number on ones yard if left unattended outside. They also like to go after vermin such as mice and rats and would often go out of their way to get one should they manage to catch their scent. Training these dogs in not that difficult, but owners should possess a strong mind and authority over them in order to foster and hone discipline. This is due to the fact that Cairn terriers are independent dogs and would often be headstrong and obstinate to their owners if their owners are passive. If their owners are headstrong, these dogs can and will be easy-going and calm. They are highly adaptable dogs they can live in apartments with no qualms and can be active even indoors. But an owner should let the dog know who the boss in the household is or else the dog would be prone to exhibit destructive behavior and excessive barking, behavior that is not conducive especially in an apartment setting, where other tenants are in close proximity with each other.

Owners of Cairn terriers describe the traits of their dogs as:

  • loyal
  • bossy
  • independent
  • smart
  • playful
  • courageous
  • mischievous
  • foxy
  • animated
  • hardy
  • curious
  • friendly
  • lovable
  • companion dogs
  • self-assured
  • spirited
  • affectionate

Cairn Terrier History

The Cairn terrier is one of Scotlands original terriers, alongside the Scottish terrier and the West Highland terrier. Originally named Skye terrier, Cairn terriers got its name from the dens that foxes and badgers call home. The dogs would often chase the foxes and badgers all the way to their rock dens that are located along the countryside of Scotland, often followed by their owners, and would corner them inside the dens, also known as cairns, until their owners show up and kill the badger or fox. Initially presented in 1909, Cairn terriers became popular in the 1930s; the American Kennel Club (AKC) formally acknowledged the breed in 1913. In the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, Dorothys canine companion Toto was a Cairn terrier.

A foxy, loyal companion

A Cairn terrier, being of the terrier class of dogs, is small in stature. They are strongly built and usually well-proportioned. Their heads and faces usually have a foxy impression. Their muzzles are medium in shape compared to other terriers. Their eyes are wide-set as well as their ears, with the latter spread apart evenly on the side of the dogs head. Their outer coats are weather-resistant while their undercoats are soft. They come in a variety of colors save for white a variety of gray, reddish, sandy, and blackish; their coats are hard to determine because they can change the color of their coats quite a number of times during several years. Their height is usually ten to thirteen inches for males and nine to twelve inches for females; the males normally weigh fourteen to eighteen pounds for males and thirteen to seventeen pounds for females. Their life expectancy is normally about twelve to fifteen years.

These dogs are very independent, attentive and active dogs. Their independent air usually translates into their foxy nature strong-minded and naturally curious, these dogs would set off and explore every nook and cranny they can squeeze themselves into. They are generally great with children, but they will not stand for any form of mistreatment. Much like Toto, Cairn terriers are extremely devoted to their families and would protect them courageously from any danger that presents itself. They do not shed that much, making them ideal pets for allergic people.

Truly, this dog exudes the saying, good things come in small packages!