Known as “the Scottie Dog”…
These little dogs have a well-earned reputation for being a hard-working, “scrappy” dog breed that isn’t afraid of anything (think Wizard of Oz and the wicked witch!) They’re also a brilliant dog breed who will quickly become a loyal family member soon after being adopted and brought into the home.
For these reasons…
We at IndulgeYourPet think they’ll make a perfect addition to just about any home. However, we must warn you that we’re also guilty of having a particular “sweet spot” for these amazing little guys, so our following review may seem a bit “biased”!
But don’t fret, Because the last thing we want to have happen is for one of these little “rock stars” to go to the wrong home. And a “wrong home” means a home that isn’t best suited for their needs.
While the Cairn Terrier is a fantastic dog breed, it may only suit some. This is why in this article, we will try to cover both the pros and cons of owning a Cairn Terrier so that ultimately you can decide for yourself if getting one is the right choice.
Origin of the Cairn Terrier
The Cairn Terrier is an old dog breed dating back to the 15th century on the Isle of Skye just off the West coast of Scotland. For this reason, you’ll likely encounter folks calling Cairn Terriers by all sorts of names. Names such as:
- Sky Terriers,
- Short-haired Sky Terrier
- and Scottish Terriers as well.
It wasn’t until 1912 that the Cairn Terrier received its official title from the American Kennel Club.
Now the good news is…
When a dog has such a long history, we can use this history to understand better what “kind” of dog they will be for you when and if you decide to adopt a Cairn Terrier puppy. After all, these dogs were bred for 100’s of years for a particular purpose, and in the case of the Cairn Terrier, that purpose was to hunt small game and vermin in the Highlands of Scotland.
Cairn Terrier Mix
Cairn Terriers and their close cousins the White West Highland Terriers, commonly known as the Westy, were bred in northern Scotland to have high prey drives and keep vermin off farms.
Both breeds are small, no more than thirty-three centimeters high, have a dense clump of wiry hair with a fine underbelly, and have the naturally bred instinct to chase everything, regardless of how many legs it has.
The Cairn can come in black or ‘Highland’ white, brindle, tan or grey – the West Highland Terrier is always white, having been bred to be that way. Perhaps the most famous Cairn Terrier Mix was the brindle who played Toto in The Wizard of Oz… real name: Terry (until 1942, when they changed it officially to Toto after the film’s success!)
Cairn Terrier Temperament
The Cairn Terrier is quick-witted and has an intelligence level akin to a four-year-old toddler. Their ability to remember and retain information is rivaled only by the Collie, which is why they make excellent dogs to train.
Cairn Terriers are also extremely loyal and are often a perfect addition to any household. Plus, as a bonus, Cairn Terriers are great dogs for those with younger children, so you typically won’t need to worry about them getting along with any youngsters already running around the house.
But it would be best if you were warned Cairn Terriers do tend to like to bark, which means that the Cairn Terrier might not be the best dog to keep around other dogs. Especially larger dogs as this may cause them to begin barking incessantly!
If you live in an apartment or a house with neighbors, remember that they may not find your Cairn Terrier as cute as you do, mainly if it’s barking all day at everyone and everything that passes in front of your door.
Taking care of your Cairn Terrier
As we’ve mentioned already, your Cairn will likely be a loving, attentive ball of fluff that is eternally by your side (or under your feet) so… it is essential to know how to give your new Cairn terrier puppy or rescued Cairn Terrier the best treatment you can.
First of all, you’ll need to pay particular attention to their coat. The outer jacket of your Cairn Terrier puppy will be rough and wiry, while the undercoat will be soft and fluffy. This can result in tangling as new hair, old hair, and the two different textures collide. This is why you’ll need to remove the dead hair from the coat at least once a week with Cairns. Otherwise your wee doggy will suffer.
Because this breed hails from a wet and windy land, the coat is designed to keep it warm even when wet, and grooming this breed as one might a poodle, for example, will ruin your dog’s skin. So don’t take the clippers or scissors to your Cairn Terrier.
Instead, it would be best to use ‘hand-stripping,’ whereby the old, dead hair is pulled straight out of the skin. While this sounds painful (and can be if done incorrectly) this is the best way for a Cairn Terrier to retain a healthy coat.
The best advice we can give you…
It is to have the hand-stripping done professionally until you learn the technique properly and are sure you won’t hurt your pup!
Also, it’s important to remember that your Scotch Terriers AKA Cairn Terriers will also require daily walks. While this is true of most dogs, remember that these dogs are highly intelligent.
This means that…
These dogs will chew up your shoes if left alone all day or ignored, so make sure you commit to daily walks. With the Cairn Terrier the need for walking is less about exercise and more about boredom. The more intelligent the dog, the more likely it is to need training to keep it entertained.
We here at IndulgeYourPet have also found that if you want to keep you’re Cairn from getting too bored, you may also want to try and buy them a “puzzle ball” for its treats or provide a fresh supply of dog toys to keep them entertained.
Apartment Living and Cairns.
While it’s true that Cairns can live just about anywhere, a small apartment is no bother due to its small size. We advise you to have a fenced yard wherein your puppy can run free. If not, please commit to regular leash walks so your dog can get the best out of life.
Cairn Terrier Mix Health Concerns
Like many heavily bred dogs, the Cairn Terrier does have its share of potential health problems.
Health Problems such as:
- Ocular Melanosis, a disease of the eye that causes fluid to build up and can cause Glaucoma.
- Craniomandibular Osteopathy, a disease that typically strikes between 3 and 8 months, causes the new and old bone growth to gnarl together.
- Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy, a horrible degenerative disease that affects the nervous system and can lead to death.
- Patellar Luxation is another common disease in the Cairn breed and is a fancy term for a loose or ‘floating’ knee cap.
- Elbow and hip dysplasia.
Now at this point…
You may be saying to yourself:
“Wow, Cairn Terriers can suffer from many health issues!”
And to be honest with you, you’re right! But the fact is that just like every other dog breed, your pet will run the risk of getting sick or injured.
This is why we here at IndulgeYourPet like to discuss what potential issues your new loved one may have later on in their life because we want to drive home just how serious of a commitment it is to decide to adopt a new pet!
You should also remember…
You can take steps to avoid some of the common issues that tend to plague Cairn terriers. First you can remember to avoid any puppy farmers of “dodgy” dog breeders. When buying, approach the American Kennel Club or the Cairn Terrier Club of America; both of which will be able to provide you with a list of vetted (excuse the pun) and reputable breeders.
If you are buying your dog at a pet shop, ensure that the shop only stocks up to two or three breeds. A pet shop filled with differing species is a hint that they may not be sourcing their dogs responsibly.
You can take the additional step of protecting yourself and your loved one by deciding to purchase a pet insurance policy so that if your Cairn Terrier does get sick or injured in the future, you can rely on your pet insurance policy to help you pay for the care that they may need!
For more information about how pet insurance works and who we here at IndulgeYourPet offer the best pet insurance policies, please check out our article Best Pet Insurance Companies.