Cairn Terrier

Infobox Dogbreed

image_caption = Two Cairn Terriers showing variations in coat color.
name = Cairn Terrier
country = Scotland
fcigroup = 3
fcisection = 2
fcinum = 004
fcistd =
akcgroup = Terrier
akcstd =
ankcgroup = Group 2 (Terriers)
ankcstd =
ckcgroup = Group 4 - Terriers
ckcstd =
kcukgroup = Terrier
kcukstd =
nzkcgroup = Terrier
nzkcstd =
ukcgroup = Terriers
ukcstd =

The Cairn Terrier is one of the oldest terrier breeds, originating in the Scottish Highlands and recognized as one of Scotland's earliest working dogs, used for hunting burrowing prey among the cairns.

Although the breed had existed long before, the name Cairn Terrier was a compromise suggestion after the breed was originally brought to official shows in the United Kingdom in 1909 under the name Short-haired Skye terriers. This name was not acceptable to The Kennel Club due to opposition from Skye Terrier breeders and the name Cairn Terrier was suggested as an alternative. The Cairn Terrier quickly became popular and has remained so ever since.



The breed standard can be found on the [ Cairn Terrier Club of America] website. The current standard was approved on May 10, 1938 and it was adopted from the [ The Kennel Club of Great Britain] . According to the American standard, dogs should weigh 14 pounds and stand 10" at the withers. Females should weigh 13 pounds and stand 9.5" at the withers. A Cairn's appearance may vary from this standard. It is common for a Cairn to 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 Cairns 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 Terriers are intelligent, lively, strong, and loyal. Like most terriers, they love to dig after real or imagined prey. Cairn Terriers have a strong prey instinct and will need comprehensive training. However, they are reasonably intelligent and, although willful, can be trained. Although it is often said that they are disobedient, this is not the case provided correct training is applied.

Cairns are working dogs and are still used as such in parts of Scotland. Cairn Terriers generally adapt well to children and are suitable family dogs.


Cairn Terriers should always be hand stripped. Using scissors or shears can ruin the dog's rugged outer coat after one grooming. Hand stripping involves pulling the old dead hair out by the roots. This does not harm the dog in any way. Removing the dead hair in this manner allows new growth to come in. This new growth helps protect the dog from water and dirt.


These dogs are generally healthy and live on average about fifteen years. Yet breeders, owners and veterinarians have identified severalhealth problems that are significant for Cairns. Some of these diseases are hereditary while others occur as a result of nonspecific factors (i.e. infections, toxins, injuries, or advanced age).

Some of the more common hereditary health problems found in the Cairn are: []

*Ocular Melanosis
*Progressive retinal atrophy
*Corneal dystrophy
*Krabbe disease (Globoid cell leukodystrophy)
*Hip dysplasia
*Legg-Calvé-Perthes syndrome
*Craniomandibular osteopathy (Lion Jaw)
*Von Willebrand disease
*Portosystemic shunt
*Luxating patella

Currently, the [ Cairn Terrier Club of America] along with the [ Institute for Genetic Disease Control in Animals] maintain an open registry for Cairn Terriers in hopes of reducing the occurrence of hereditary diseases within the breed. Breeders voluntarily submit their dogs' test results for research purpose, as well as for use by individuals who seek to make sound breeding decisions.

Famous Cairns

"Terry", the dog who played Toto in the 1939 screen adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz", was a Cairn Terrier. Due to 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. Cairn terriers have also appeared in other movies:
*Bright Eyes, 1934(Terry)
* [ Calling Philo Vance 1940] (Terry)
*Reap the Wild Wind, 1942
* [ George Washington Slept Here, 1942] (Terry)
* [ The Uninvited, 1944]
* [ Without Love, 1945]
* [ The Valley of Decision, 1945]
* [ The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, 1947]
* [ Saturn 3, 1980]
* [ Graveyard Shift, 1990]
* [ Hocus Pocus, 1993]
* [ 2 Days in the Valley, 1996]
* [ Twister, 1996]
* [ Dunston Checks In, 1996]
* [ Portrait of a Lady, 1996]
* [ My Summer Vacation, 1996]
* [ The Big Lebowski, 1998]
* [ Lost and Found, 1999]
* [ Children of Men, 2006] (Appears at about 1 hour 6 minutes)

;In Television
*UK TV Presenter Paul O'Grady often features a Cairn Terrier called Olga on his prime time chat show; dark in colour, Olga was a rescue dog.
*Also in the UK, Pauline Fowler actress Wendy Richards in the BBC TV show EastEnders had a Cairn she fondly named "Betty". []
*Fred, the dog from "I Love Lucy" was a Cairn terrier.

;In Books
* In the Maximum Ride book series Total the talking dog is a Cairn Terrier.


The following articles are available in the files section of the CairnTerrierHistory Yahoo!Group:

1. 1852 The Dog Youatt describes Scotch Terrier

2. A Bonnie Fechter excerpt Ishbel MarjoribanksChildhood 'Cairns'

3. c 1865 "A Summer in Skye"

4. Jan. 31, 1879 "The Terrier From The North"

5. Nov. 1885 Harper's Magazine Robert D. Somers /An Otter Hunt In theHebrides

6. Oct. 1907 Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine "Working Terriers" - preCairn date of publication

7. 1909 THE DOG BOOK: [The Terrier, The Dandie, The Skye, The Scottish] JAMES WATSON

8. Aug. 14, 1909 Country Life UK "Letter to the Editor by Ishbel Aberdeen"

9. Aug. 14 1909 Campbell, J. A. Country Life UK

10. 1910 Dogs and All About Them Robert Leighton

11. Country Life in America Mrs. Williams-Campbell/ArticleTitled "Cairn Terrier"

12. Feb. 1915 Country Life in America James Watson/"The Terriers of Scotland"


14. Mar. 1918 Country Life in America Dyer/"The Terriers of Scotland"

15. Jul. 1920 Country Life Hon. Douglas H. Cairns/Article Titled "Cairns"

16. 1920's (date unknown: 20's-30's?) "The True Cairn Terrier" Kate L. Stephen

17. 1920's "Anatomy and Its Influence" W. L. McCandlish

18. 1922 Cairns and Sealyham Terriers Mrs Byron Rogers [photos]

19. Sept. 1922 Country Life (London) A. Croxton Smith/"The Terriers of Scotland"

20. Mar. 1924 The Complete Book of the Dog Robert Leighton

21. Jun. 1924 Country Life in America Eva H. Turnbull/"The Canny Cairn"

22. 1928 The Scottish Terrier Dorothy Gabriel/A Book with aChapter on Cairns by Kate L. Stephen

23. circa 2800 Burton in Beynon The Popular Cairn Terrier (an excerpt)

24. Mar. 1928 et seq. AKC Gazette "Scottish Dogs in Song and Story Part III" Freeman Lloyd

25. Aug. 1928 AKC Gazette Arthur Fredrick Jones/"How a Sky-Line Kennel Makes Good" (Tapscot Kennel)

26. Apr. 1929 AKC Gazette Arthur Frederick Jones/"Cairmore Blazed a Trail"

27. Jun. 1929 AKC Gazette F Lloyd [Non Cairn] Freeman Lloyd "Some Dogs I Knew In My Youth"

28. Jun. 5, 1931 Theo. Marples Bio

29. Jan. 1933 AKC Gazette "Win or Lose, It's a Great Game" Elizabeth H. Anderson

30. Jun. 1933 AKC Gazette C. Brewster Macpherson/"Cairns Are Working Terriers"

31. Oct. 1934 AKC Gazette [Mrs. Byron] (Alice [Lang] ) Rogers and Corinne S. W. Ward/"Why We Needed a New Standard"

32. 1935 Hutchinson's Dog Encyclopedia

33. Dec. 1935 Our Dogs T. W. L. Caspersz/"The Evolution of the Cairn"

34. Dec. 13, 1935 Our Dogs Knight-Bruce

35. Feb. 1936 National Geographic Magazine Lloyd Freeman Lloyd Discusses the Cairn Terrier

36. Nov. 1, 1936 Jones, Frederick Arthur. "Cairndania Wants Its Fnest Dogs Of The Show Ring To Be True Pals" AKC Gazette November 1, 1936

37. 1937 Ross The Cairn Terrier "Ch 5 Interbreeding of Cairns and West Highland White Terriers"

38. 1937 Highland ponies, and some reminiscences of Highlandmen by John M. Macdonald

39. May 1938 AKC Gaz "Pinefair Believes" Arthur Frederick Jones

40. Sept. 1938 AKC Gazette FP/Breed Column Quotes 'Recent' Issue of Our Dogs

41. May 1939 AKC Gazette Arthur Frederick Jones/"Noted Cairndania Danes and Cairns"

42. May 1940 AKC Gazette FP/Comments of Theo. Marples

43. 1949 Kennel Encyclopedia entry for Cairn Terrier [See Photo Section.]

44. 1952 Naperville Sun Grace Newcomb

45. Apr. 1954 AKC Gazette CWH/Comments of Betty Hyslop on Trip to UK and the Purchase of Redletter McRuffie

46. Mar. 1956 AKC Gazette CWH/Comments of Miss Frances Porter

47. Dec. 1956 AKC Gazette FP/Comments of Miss Frances Porter on Early History

48. Nov. 1958 AKC Gazette LSC/Comments of Carl Brewer on the AKC Breed Standard

49. Nov. 1959 AKC Gazette LCH/Comments of Mrs. Drummond of Blencathra

50. Jan. 1963 AKC Gazette LCH/Comments of Lydia Coleman Hutchinson on "Living Legend Breeders" 51. Mar. 22, 1968 Bradshaw Dog World Revision and the "Motherless lamb"

52. Apr. 4, 1968 Dog World F Hamilton on Fault Judging

53. Apr. 19, 1968 Bradshaw Quotes Whitehead 1936 Comments

54. Apr. 26, 1968 Dog World /Bradshaw/Comments on CTCA Proposed Revisions

55. May 31, 1968 Dog World/Whitehead Obituary

56. Jul. 1968 AKC Gazette GAJ/Comments of Bradshaw, Whitehead and F. Hamilton on Proposed Revision of the Am Standard

57. Sept. 1970 AKC Gazette GAJ/Comments of Walter Bradshaw in Reply to M. Jennings of England

58. May 1972 AKC Gazette GAJ/Comments of Mr. A.K.M. Meiklejohn of Cornton Cairns

59. Feb. 1976 Thistle Talk Brown, Thelma/"Proper Movement in Short-legged Terriers"

60. Jul. 1976 AKC Gazette July 1976 TC/Comments of Taylor Coleman on the First Days of Wolfpit, i.e.,Jan. 1939

61. 1982 Proudlock, Hyslop, Henderson "et al." gleanings on Redletter's Influence

62. Jul. 9, 1982 Wilson Bradshaw Rose Dog WorldPeggy Wilson tribute to Bradshaw; Quotes Rose

63. Mar. 1984 Dogs Monthly Proudlock "The History of the Cairn Terrier" with Proudlock C.V.

64. Mar. 1988 AKC Gazette "A History of Scotland's Smallest Terrier"

65. Dec. 1994 AKC Gazette Earthdog

66. Aug. 1998 "A Winning Way Hyslop"

67. Cairn Terriers at the Westminster KC Dog Show ~ Best of Breedand Group Winners 1914 - 2004

68. 2005 Spring Cairn Capers Sean Albert "Breeding the Old Working Terrier of Skye and the West Highlands, Now Known as the Cairn Terrier"

69. 2005 Summer Ryan Cooke "What is a Cairn" (Geologically Speaking)

70. 2005 Summer Cairn Capers Fred Lanting Earthdogs - Size and Proportion

71. Jun. 2005 "Brace Yourself" Andrew Brace on McCandlish

;Highly Recommended But Not Available for Republication:

Peggy Wilson, "The Modern Cairn?," CAIRN 85: an illustrated souvenir publication donated to the South Wales & West of England Cairn Terrier Club, ed. Graham Peers, (UK: Privately Published, 1986 [?] ): 45-46.


Beynon, J. W. H. & Fisher, A. (1963; 1961). The Cairn Terrier 3rd ed. rev. New York : Arco. Accession No: OCLC: 2546448.

Beynon, J. W. H. & Fisher, A. (1961). The Popular Cairn Terrier 3d ed. rev. London, Popular Dogs. Accession No: OCLC: 1432158.

Beynon, J. W. H. & Fisher, A. (1969). The Cairn Terrier 4th ed. rev. London, Popular Dogs. ISBN 0090614526. [Previous editions published under title: The Popular Cairn Terrier.]

Beynon, J. W. H. & Fisher, A. (1970). The Cairn Terrier Rev. ed. New York: Arco. Accession No: OCLC: 8025355.

Beynon, J. W. H. & Fisher, A. (1974). The Cairn Terrier Rev. ed. New York : Arco. Accession No: OCLC: 1654828.

Beynon, J. W. H. & Fisher, A. (1974). The Cairn Terrier 5th ed. New York: Arco Pub. Co. Accession No: OCLC: 1168868.

Beynon, J. W. H. & Fisher, A. [revised by Wilson, P.] (1974). The Cairn Terrier 5th ed. London: Popular Dogs Pub. Co. Accession No: OCLC: 1559851.

Beynon, J. W. H. & Fisher, A. [revised by Wilson, P.] . (1977). The Cairn Terrier 6th ed. London : Popular Dogs Pub. Co. ISBN 0091293405.

Beynon, J. W. H., Fisher, A., Wilson, P. & Proudlock, D. (1988). The Terrier. Place of Publication Unknown: Popular Dogs. ISBN 0091581508.

Beynon, J. W. H. & Hutchison, J. H. (1930). The Popular Cairn Terrier. London: Popular Dogs Pub. Co., Ltd. Accession No: OCLC: 10576671.

Beynon, J. W. H. & Fisher, A. (1969). The Cairn Terrier 4th ed. revised. London: Popular Dogs. ISBN 0090614526.

Birch, B. & Birch, R. (1999). Pet Owner's Guide to the Cairn Terrier. Sydney : Ringpress ISBN 1860541119.

Camino E.E. & B. Co.Cairn Terrier Champions, 1952-1986. Camino, CA: Camino E.E. & B. Co. ISBN 0940808471.

Carter, C. (1995). The Cairn Terrier. Neptune, NJ: T.F.H. Accession No: OCLC: 34877430.

Caspersz, T. W. L. (1957). The Cairn Terrier Handbook: Giving the Origin and History of the Breed, Its Show Career, Its Points and Breeding. London: Nicholson & Watson. Accession No: OCLC: 6756006.

Cooke, R. & Cooke, C. (1997). The Cairn Terrier in Canada. East St. Paul, MB: R. & C. Cooke. : ISBN 096831760X (v. 1).

Gordon, J. F. (1987). All About the Cairn Terrier. London: Pelham Books. ISBN 0720717868.

Gordon, J. F. (1988). All About the Cairn Terrier. London: Pelham Books ISBN 0720717868.

Jacobi, G. A. (1976). Your Cairn Terrier. Fairfax, VA: Denlinger's. ISBN 0877140391.

Jamieson, R. (2000). Cairn Terrier. Dorking: Interpet. ISBN 1902389344.

Lehman, P. F. (1999). Cairn Terriers. Hauppauge, NY : Barron's Educational Series. ISBN 0764106384.

Marcum, B. E. (1995). The New Cairn Terrier. New York : Howell Book House. ISBN 0876050739.

Marvin, J. T. (1975). The Complete Cairn Terrier. New York: Howell Book House.

Marvin, J. T. (1986). The New Complete Cairn Terrier 2nd ed. New York: Howell Book House. ISBN 0876050976.

McCormack, E. (1965). How to Raise and Train a Cairn Terrier. Neptune, N.J.: T.F.H. Publications. Accession No: OCLC: 1485681.

McCormack, E. (1983). How to Raise and Train a Cairn Terrier. Neptune, N.J.: T.F.H. Publications. ISBN 0876662629 (pbk.).

McCormack, E. (1965). How to Raise and Train a Cairn Terrier. Neptune, N.J.: T.F.H. Publications. ISBN 087666262.

Patten, B. J. (1996).The Terrier Breeds. Vero Beach, FL: Rourke Corp. ISBN 0865934584.

Ross, F. M., Burton, N. L. & others. (1932). The Cairn Terrier. Manchester, England: "Our Dogs" Pub. Co. Accession No: OCLC: 19603882.

Schneider, E. (1967). Know Your Cairn Terrier. New York: Pet Library. Accession No: OCLC: 2579232.

Walin, D. (1983). The Cairn Terrier and West Highland White: Breed Standards, History, Care and Grooming. Place of Publication Unknown: Oster Professional Products Department. Accession No: OCLC: 14081415.

Whitehead, H. F. [edited & revised by Macdonald, A.] (1976; 1975). Cairn Terriers. New York: Arco Pub. ISBN 0668039671.

Willis, J. R. (1993). Genetic Anomalies of the Cairn Terrier: A Reference Manual for Conscientious Breeders. Howell, MI: The Cairn Terrier Club of America. Accession No: OCLC: 41363972.

cientific Articles

Zaal, M D ; Ingh, T S G A M van den ; Goedegebuure, S & A ; Nes, J J vanTitle: Progressive neuronopathy in two cairn terrier littermates;Source: The Veterinary quarterly. 19, no. 1, (1997): 34 (3 pages)Additional Info: Published for the Royal Netherlands Veterinary Association by Nijhoff.Alt Journal: Key Title: The Veterinary quarterly PrecedingTitle: Tijdschrift voor diergeneeskundeStandard No: ISSN: 0165-2176 CODEN: VEQUDUOCLC No: 5393794

Gorke, B. ; Rentmeister, K. ; Peters, M. ; Siegert, F. ; Tipold, A. ; Hewicker-Trautwein, M. GermanTitle: Progressive neuronopathy in the Cairn terrier: two cases in GermanySource: Wiener tierärztliche Monatsschrift. 88, Part 7 (2001): 183-186Issue Id: Part 7Alt Journal: Key Title: Wiener Tierärztliche MonatsschriftPreceding Title: Tierärztliche zeitschrift Succeeding Title: Deutsche tierharztliche Wochenschrift Berliner und Münchener tierärztliche Wochenschrift Tierärztliche rundschau Tierärztliche zeitschriftStandard No: ISSN: 0043-535X CODEN: WTMOA3OCLC No: 1696180BL Shelfmark: 9316.000000Article Type: Article

Schaer, Michael ; Harvey, John W. ; Calderwood-Mays, Maron ; Giger, UrsTitle: Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency Causing Hemolytic Anemia with Secondary Hemochromatosis in a Cairn Terrier. Diagnosis is made from a liver biopsy and confirmed with electrophoretic and immunoprecipitation studies.Source: The Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association. 28, no. 3, (May 1992): 233-240Alt Journal: Key Title: The Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association Preceding Title: Animal hospitalStandard No: ISSN: 0587-2871 CODEN: JAAHBL

Fiction for Children

Kuklin, S. (1988). Taking My Dog to the Vet. Bradbury Press: U.S. ISBN 0027512347 (lib bdg). Abstract: "A little girl takes her Cairn Terrier to the veterinarian for his annual check-up. The vet is gentle and explains to Minal what he is doing to her dog and why. He checks Silver's weight, eyes, mouth, ears, breath, and heart, along with his skin, hair, hind parts, and temperature. He takes a blood sample and gives Silver two shots. The dog is in perfect condition, except for 'some extra Silver': 'Dogs often become overweight, so be careful,' cautions Dr. Kuhlman. Preschool to grade two."


American Kennel Club. (1986). The Cairn Terrier. New York: American Kennel Club 1 videocassette (20 min.) + 1 pamphlet. Accession No: OCLC: 18777187.

American Kennel Club The Terrier Group. Raleigh, NC: American Kennel Club. Videocassette. Accession No: OCLC: 29245653.

Walin, D. [narrator] . (1988). Grooming the Short-Legged Terriers: Cairn, West Highland White, Scotties. Produced by Kluge Communications, Inc. Videocassette (39 minutes). Accession No: OCLC: 32606555.

External links

* Clubs, Associations, and Societies
** [ Cairn Terrier Club of America]
** [ Cairn Terrier Club of Canada]
** [ The Kennel Club (UK)]
** [ Southern Cairn Terrier Club (UK)]
** [ Midland Cairn Terrier Club (UK)]
** [ North Ireland Cairn Terrier Club]
** [ Cairn Terrier Club of Norway]
** [ Cairn in Italy]
** [ Col Potter Cairn Rescue Network]
** [ Cairn Rescue League]
** [ An Amusing Look at Cairn Terriers]
** [ Cairn Terrier Forum]
* Pictures
** [ Cairn Terrier coat color illustrations]
* Additional Cairn Information
** [ A site for Cairn Terrier enthusiasts]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cairn Terrier — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Cairn (homonymie). Cairn Terrier …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cairn-Terrier — FCI Standard Nr.4 Patronat Großbritannien Klassifikation FCI Gruppe 3: Terrier Sektion 2: Niederläufige Terrier …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cairn Terrier — FCI Standard Nr. 4 Gruppe 3: Terrier Sektion 2: Niede …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cairn Terrier — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Cairn Terrier Cairn Terrier Nombres alternativos Cairn …   Wikipedia Español

  • cairn terrier — n. [said to be so named from its burrowing in cairns] a small, shaggy Scottish terrier …   English World dictionary

  • Cairn terrier — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Cairn (homonymie). Cairn terrier …   Wikipédia en Français

  • cairn terrier — noun small rough haired breed of terrier from Scotland • Syn: ↑cairn • Hypernyms: ↑terrier * * * noun Etymology: so called from its use in hunting among cairns : a small compactly built hard coated terrier of a breed originating in Scotland * * * …   Useful english dictionary

  • cairn terrier — one of a Scottish breed of small, short legged terriers having a rough coat of any of several solid colors except white. [1905 10; said to be so called because they are found in areas abounding in cairns] * * * Breed of terrier developed in… …   Universalium

  • cairn terrier — Raza de terrier que se desarrolló en Escocia para desalojar a predadores de animales de caza. Las características de la raza moderna siguen meticulosamente el patrón del ancestro, un terrier del s. XVII de la isla de Skye. Es paticorto y tiene… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • cairn terrier — cairn′ ter′rier n. dch one of a Scottish breed of small, short legged terriers with a broad head and a rough coat • Etymology: 1905–10; said to be so called because they are found in areas abounding in cairns …   From formal English to slang

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.