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Cairn Terrier: Origin, Temperament, Training, Exercise

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About Cairn Terrier

Country of Origin, History of Cairn Terriers

The Cairn Terrier, one of the oldest terrier breeds in the world, has been a contributor to many of Scotland’s terriers. The Scottish, West Highland, and Cairn developed from the same stock, originating in the highlands of western Scotland. The three often were found in the same litter, distinguished only by color. Named for the piles of small stones used to mark farm borders, landmarks and memorials, the Cairn’s job was to rout small animals from their lairs in these stone piles.

Cairn Terrier Tools

Breed Selector Tool - is the Cairn Terrier the right breed for you?

Is the Cairn Terrier the right breed for you and your family?

Find out by using our Free Dog Breed Selector Tool

Check Your Cairn Terrier's Learning Style

Are you aware dogs also have a learning style that can greatly affect their ability to housetrain as well as be trained correctly. Evaluate your Cairn Terrier's learning style and personality using our free Learning Style tool so that you are better able to provide him with the proper Cairn Terrier training methods.

Is your Cairn Terrier dominating over you?

Does your Cairn Terrier bark unnecessarily? Does your Cairn Terrier come to you when you call? Download a FREE Report on Dog Dominance for you and your Cairn Terrier and learn how to control your dog.

Do you make these mistakes with your Cairn Terrier?

Are you inadvertently snow-balling bad behavior in your Cairn Terrier? Evaluate your Dog Training Style from our Free Tool and learn how best to deal with your dog.

Cairn Terrier Calorie Calculator

Do you know how many calories your Cairn Terrier needs every day and how many cups of food you should be giving it every day? Click here to use our Cairn Terrier Calorie Calculator.

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A General Appearance of the Dog

The Cairn Terrier is a very shaggy-looking little terrier whose face has a fox-like appearance. A very compact body type, the length of the back is only about 14 inches. The Cairn’s head is broad and he has a bushy topknot and eyebrows. His ears are small, pointed and erect. He has a short but hairy tail.

Coat Color

The coat of the Cairn is red, brindle, black, sand, and various shades of gray. Any color except white is acceptable but should have dark points (ears, eyes and muzzle). Adult coat color is hard to predict from puppy coat as the color often continues to change for several years.

Coat Type

The outer coat of the Cairn Terrier is profuse, hard and weather-resistant. The inner coat is short and soft.


Males: 10 – 13 inches, but ideally 10 inches
Females: 9 – 12 inches, but ideally 9.5 inches

Length of the body from the front of the chest to the back of the hindquarters should be 14.25 to 15 inches


Males: 14 – 18 lbs, but ideally about 14 lbs
Females: 13 – 17 lbs, but ideally about 13 lbs

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Free Cairn Terrier Training Secrets

Free Course on Cairn Terrier Training & Obedience
Stop All Bad Behavior, Excessive Barking and Biting

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Cairn Terrier Personality Traits

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The Spanish Water Dog is an extremely intelligent, fearless, ever-active, strong, attentive, happy and well balanced versatile working dog with strong herding, hunting and guardian instincts. It is a devoted companion. It is reserved, not shy, with strangers. They can be protective and territorial.

Are they suited to families with kids?

Most of them are good with children and other animals if properly socialized.

Cairn Terrier Activity Level

How Active is the Breed?

This is a very active breed, but they will get much of their activity from playing with toys indoors.

How Much Exercise Does the Dog Need at every stage of its Life?

The Cairn Terrier likes to run and play (and dig) outdoors, but must be supervised and inside a secure fence. He is a very energetic little dog who can get much of his exercise from playing with toys indoors.

He can live in an apartment if he is taught early not to bark excessively and if he is taken on a couple of daily walks. An occasional romp in a secure area will satisfy him.


The shaggy coat of the Cairn Terrier can quickly become a horrible, matted mess. To keep this from happening, he needs to be brushed daily, but his undercoat should not get overly much attention. Once a month he will need a bath. Then his coat should be brushed out carefully and completely when it dries. A monthly trim around his eyes and ears and feet and a monthly nail trim will keep him looking and feeling his best.

Professional grooming 4-5 times a year will shape the coat and eliminate dead hair that does not shed.

Cairns shed very little.

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Free Cairn Terrier Training Secrets

Free Course on Cairn Terrier Training & Obedience
Stop All Bad Behavior, Excessive Barking and Biting

Sign Up Here

Health and Care

Genetic Problems

One of the biggest problems with Cairns is that they beg and they are great charmers, so they tend very easily to be overweight. Limit treats severely and make sure your Cairn gets plenty of exercise.

Cairn Terriers have severe allergies to fleas.

Life Span: Cairn Terriers live 12-15 years.

National Breed Clubs

National Breed Clubs

British – Cairn Terrier Association –
Cairn Terrier Club –
US – Cairn Terrier Club of America –


Rescue Link:

Group: Terrier Group

AKC Popularity Ranking: 69

Also Known As: Cairn.

Train Your Cairn Terrier To Listen To You

Get Instant Access to Your Training Now - For Free

Sign up for our Free Cairn Terrier Mini Course to have a housebroken, obedient dog that happily comes to you every time you call.

You'll learn new commands to obedience-train your dog as well as how to housebreak your dog in 6 days or less.

You'll also learn how to eliminate bad habits like barking, nipping or biting, jumping, or pulling on the leash.Here's just s small fraction of what else you'll learn in the course:

  • How to lead and think like a pack dog - the new psychology.

  • 3 dangerous mistakes that most Cairn owners make when they are trying to potty train their dogs.

  • The 2 main reasons why your dog barks excessively and how to control its excessive barking.

  • How to obedience train your Cairn Terrier to permanently end behavioral problems like Jumping, Aggression, Pulling on Leash.

  • A surprisingly easy way to teach your dog cool new tricks.

  • How to improve your dog's lifespan and keep it from getting overly heavy with a healthy and nutritious diet.

  • Getting Pro help fast - how to get access to our expert trainers when you need them most.

  • One hidden psychological trigger that all Cairn Terriers have... that practically allows you to "analyze" and "control" your dog's every action.

  • Priority access to the free online seminars conducted by our training experts.

Whereas other dog training related web sites and books offer generic information for dogs in general, ours is the ONLY web site that offers Cairn information specifically, from a renowned panel of experts - because as you probably know, Cairns have their own special training requirements that other dogs don't have.

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Our Dog Experts

The Cairn Terrier training information you will read here was developed by a panel of renowned dog training experts whose combined wisdom represents nearly 100 years of specialist experience training dogs.

Here are a few of our experts:

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