The Cairn Terrier – What kind dog is it?

  • By: Mick Whitefield
  • Time to read: 2 min.

A small scrappy terrier dog with centuries of history. Generally just 10inches ( 25cms) tall at the withers and light at about 14lbs (6kgs).

Toto With Dorothy
Toto with Dorothy

Toto a female dog actress who’s real name was Terry was a Cairn Terrier.

Cairn Terrier Dog

Origin: ~ Scotland.
Bred for: ~ Killing vermin.
Coat: ~ Harsh, straight. Short to medium length.
Colour: ~ All colours except just white.
Height: ~ 9 to 11 inches or 23 to 28cms.
Weight: ~ 1 to 14lbs or 5.8 to 6.5 kgs.
AKC Registry – Terrier Group.

History of the Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terriers have been recorded since the 15th Century on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Their primary purpose at that time was to hunt fox, badger and otter. A pile of stones known as a “cairn” served as landmarks and memorials, the dogs were adept at bolting otters from their cairns.

They were known to have a variety of coat colours from white to to grey and red. In 1873 the differing breeds of Cairn terriers were divided into Dandie Dinmonts (now a rare breed) or Skye terriers sometimes refferred to as a Shorthaired terrier and was finally given the distinction as the Cairn terrier in 1912.

Perhaps the most famous Cairn terrier was “Toto” who was Dorothy’s dog in The Wizard of Oz.

Temperament and Upkeep of the Cairn Terrier

As you might expect these dogs are plucky bold and spirited little dogs. Inquisitive, clever stubborn and seemingly fearless. They can be aggressive to other dogs and household pets. Known to dig up the garden and often bark at strange noises, making good alarm dogs.

Cairn Terrier
A Cairn Terrier

These are lively little dogs that need daily walks and exercise at a moderate level.

The fur is a little harsh to the touch and may need combing if allowed to grow and may need stripping every few months.

Generally quite healthy living to about 14yrs of age. Because of breeding you may need to investigate glaucoma and they may have an underbite or other small jaw problems, but not normally something to get concerned about.

King Charles Cavalier

Previous Post

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel-What sort of dog is it?

Next Post

A Border Terrier – What kind of dog is it?

Border Terrier Side View