The Cairn Terrier is a breed of dog of the terrier category. It is one of the oldest terriers, originating in the Scottish Highlands, used for hunting burrowing prey among the cairns.
Cairn Terrier Appearance
Cairns stand between 9 and 13 inches (23-33 cm) at the withers and weigh 13 to 18 pounds (6 to 8 kg). European Cairns tend to be larger than American Cairns. Due to irresponsible breeding, many Cairn Terriers available today are much smaller or much larger than the breed standard. Cairns that have had puppy mill backgrounds can weigh as little as 7 pounds or as much as 27 pounds.
The Cairn Terrier has a harsh, weather-resistant outer coat that can be cream, wheaten, red, sandy, gray, or brindled in any of these colors. Pure black, black and tan, and white are not permitted by many kennel clubs. While registration of white Cairns was once permitted, after 1917 the American Kennel Club required them to be registered as West Highland White Terriers. A notable characteristic of Cairns is that brindled Cairns frequently change color throughout their lifetime. It is not uncommon for a brindled Cairn to become progressively more black or silver as it ages. The Cairn is double-coated, with a soft, dense undercoat and a harsh outer coat. A well-groomed Cairn has a rough-and-ready appearance, free of artifice or exaggeration.
Cairn Terrier Temperament
Cairn Terriers are intelligent, strong, loyal and have some fears. Like most terriers, they are stubborn and strong-willed, and love to dig after real or imagined prey. Cairn Terriers have a strong prey instinct and will need comprehensive training. However, they are highly intelligent and, although very willful, can be trained. Although it is often said that they are disobedient, this is not the case provided correct training is applied. They are excellent with children and make wonderful family dogs. These are working dogs and are still used as such in parts of Scotland. Like most terriers, they require large amounts of exercise. Cairn Terriers are very independent and do not make good “lap dogs”. The image of Cairn Terriers being like “Toto” from the Wizard of Oz is a partial misconception. In reality, these dogs do not always like to snuggle and would heartily object to being kept in a basket. They like to do what they want, and will not make good pets for someone looking for a dog to cuddle with. However, if one wants a true best friend, Cairn Terriers are the choice for them. They are extremely loyal and very amiable.
Cairn Terrier Health
These dogs are generally healthy but many have allergies. Often the allergies take the form of skin conditions. Corn is often the culprit, so an owner of a Cairn Terrier should routinely try to avoid feeding foods and treats that contain corn. Even if the Cairn does not show symptoms of corn allergy, because corn allergies are so prevalent and can show up at any time in the life of the dog, it is recommended to avoid corn even with a healthy dog.
This breed also suffers more frequently than usual from dislocated kneecaps and inherited eye diseases. Ocular Melanosis (OM) is an eye disease that is found almost exclusively in Cairns.
The dog named Toto in the 1939 screen adaptation of The Wizard of Oz is a Cairn Terrier. Due in part to this, and the identification of the State of Kansas with the original story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a resident of Wichita, Kansas, has begun a drive to make the Cairn Terrier the official dog of the State of Kansas.