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Cairn Terrier

Country/Date of Origin: Scotland (developed in 17th Century but refined in 19th Century)

Bred on Scotland's lonely Isle of Skye, the Cairn Terriers were used to hunt vermin. One of the oldest of the British terriers, it was developed over the course of several centuries and recognized as a pure breed only in the twentieth century. The dog takes its name from the cairns, or heaps of stones, that are found on its home isle. Cairns were accepted for registration by the AKC in 1913.

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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Short-haired Skye Terrier

AKC Group: Terrier

Breed Club: Cairn Terrier Club of America

Rescue Club: Cairn Terrier Club of America Rescue

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Body Type:

  • The quintessential shaggy go-to-ground terrier
  • Height: 10-12 inches (at shoulder)
  • Weight: 13-14 pounds
  • Erect ears are not altered
  • Short tail carried up is not altered


  • Upbeat and happy go lucky characters
  • Always busy with self appointed jobs
  • Feisty, especially with other dogs. Death to cats
  • May need supervision around very young children


  • The harsh, wiry double coat is especially weather resistant
  • Very little shedding
  • Requires only minimal grooming
  • Any color other than white is allowed although the most popular are black, gray, red and wheaten. Dark ears, muzzle and tail tip are desirable on light coated dogs

Health Concerns:

  • Problems with blood clotting - notably von Willebrand's disease
  • Hot spots and skin allergies
  • Progressive neurological disorders
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • A Cairn isn't a Cairn without a "foxy expression"
  • Toto from THE WIZARD OF OZ taught us that the Cairn will stand up to almost anything (ie, tin men, scarecrows, lions, etc.)
  • Cairns are yappy and many owners have them "debarked" of which allpets and most up-to-date veterinarians STRONGLY disapprove. If a potential owner is not prepared to properly train this dog using humane positive reinforcement methods, or is not prepared to listen to a very vocal dog, this is not the right dog for them

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