Cairn terrier

2.9 / 5
48 reviews

The Cairn Terrier could repel families seeking tranquility. It must be said that despite his great tenderness and his good nature, this dog has the annoying habit of showing his moods by untimely barking. This is the only flaw of an intelligent, lively and agile canine, who is constantly looking for his master and his adoptive family. The Cairn Terrier is a small, strong, compact and hardy dog. He is short on legs, but not basset hound.



Photo: Cairn Terrier dog on Woopets

Hypoallergenic breed Hypoallergenic breed

Hair type Half-long
Origin Britain
Template Small
Head shape Square
Weight and size
Sex Weight Cut
Female From 6 kg to 7 kg From 26 cm to 30 cm
Male From 6 kg to 7 kg From 28 cm to 31 cm
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History of the breed

The Cairn Terrier is one of the oldest breeds of terriers. Originally from Scotland , it is mentioned as early as the 12th century. It is thought to be the result of a cross between the terriers of the West Highlands and the bassets introduced by the Vikings , such as the Swedish Valhund. In any case, traces of its existence are attested in written documents dating from the 18th century. He has long been considered too rustic and primitive for his breed to be officially recognized by canine institutions.

The Cairn Terrier is first popular for its hunting instinct. The name of Cairn comes from these heaps of collapsed stones. The Cairn Terrier was originally bred to track down and eliminate badgers, foxes, rodents and other pests. Gradually he was adopted as a companion dog. The Cairn Terrier breed standard was established on June 24, 1987.

Cairn Terrier Pictures

Photo of Kyo, Cairn TerrierPhoto of Libby aka grasdal glamor queen of malonowa, Cairn TerrierPhoto of Wolf, Cairn TerrierPhoto of MOSKA, Cairn TerrierPhoto of Balto, Cairn TerrierPhoto of Look, Cairn Terrier

View all Cairn Terrier photos from Woopets members

Physical features

His hair: hard, thick and abundant for the cover. Short, soft and tight for the undercoat. The set gives the dog good protection against bad weather.
Its color: cream, gold, red, gray or almost black (pure black, white and tan are not allowed). Brindle is allowed, whatever the color. The dark ends (ears and muzzle) are particularly sought after.
His head: large (in proportion), small and well proportioned to the body. The stop is marked.
His ears: triangular in shape, pointed, small and well erect.
His eyes: medium size, dark hazel in color, moderately set in the sockets and set wide apart.
His body: muscular, with a straight back of medium length, a strong and supple loins, the ribs well sprung and deep.
Its tail: short, rather thick and carried cheerfully, but without curving towards the back.

Behavior and character

Barks / howls

Behavior with others

Cohabitation with children
Sociable with other animals
Love strangers

The Cairn Terrier is a very active, playful and very intelligent dog. But he is also known for his particularly strong personality. Stubborn, he can become difficult to deal with if he has not been properly educated. He is also criticized for his often confrontational attitude towards his fellows of the same sex . Curious and cunning, he sometimes has a tendency to run away. He is not reluctant to show his natural sympathy towards human beings, even those he does not know. Subjects may tend to bark often. He is a happy, cheerful dog, always on the move .

In this, the Cairn Terrier is not the best of guard dogs. He is also not the ideal companion for very young children, as his rowdy side can be worth a few accidents with them. He remains an excellent hunting dog who generally gives satisfaction to his masters in this area.

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The Cairn Terrier must receive a firm education (without rushing it) to temper its natural ardor and stubbornness . He is also one of the dogs that most needs to be socialized from a young age . His dominant character and his almost perpetual desire to do battle with his rivals risk, in fact, complicating his cohabitation with other dogs. The Cairn Terrier   is therefore a dog to be taken in hand early and for which it is necessary to clearly establish the limits not to be exceeded.

Living conditions

Suitable for apartment living
Good for new masters
Love it hot
Love the cold

The Cairn Terrier is more in its element in a rural environment than in the city . This dog has a great need to let off steam and an insatiable desire to explore which makes him prefer large natural spaces. However, if he has received a good education and can walk around often, he can adapt to city life very well. The Cairn Terrier is more for people who have experience and who know how to educate it in a balanced way. He can thus live with an entire family or with just an elderly person alone.


Ease of gaining weight

Hypoallergenic breed


Litter size

Between 2 and 6 puppies

To protect yourself from these risks and insure your companion in the event of health problems, Woopets recommends a Cairn Terrier dog insurance .

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Life expectancy

Minimum: 14 years old

The life expectancy of a Cairn Terrier is, on average, over 14 years.

Calculate the human age of your Cairn Terrier!

To choose… 1 year 2 years 3 years Four years 5 years 6 years 7 years 8 years 9 years 10 years 11 years old 12 years 13 years 14 years old 15 years old 16 years old 17 years 18 years old 19 years old 20 years 21 years old

Maintenance and hygiene

Ease of maintenance
Cost of maintenance
Hair loss
Drool level
Ease of grooming

The Cairn Terrier needs to keep a coat and an undercoat in good condition so that they can properly perform their protective function. The maintenance of this dog does not however require to be pushed. Above all, it should not be clipped, as this could cause the hair to appear too soft.

It is recommended that you brush the dog every 10 days or so, not before. Brushing is to be done using a card and a metal comb. Baths are not necessary unless the dog lives in a polluted urban environment, but these baths should be kept occasional.

Price and budget

Purchase price

800 €
1000 €

The purchase price of a Cairn Terrier is between 800 € and 1000 €.

Annual maintenance cost

400 €
800 €

The annual maintenance cost of a Cairn Terrier is between € 400 and € 800.

No name is currently proposed. Use our tool to find the name of your Cairn Terrier!


The Cairn Terrier eats mainly an industrial diet, based on high quality kibble . Its ration must be adapted to its daily energy expenditure. Do not hesitate to contact a veterinarian to adapt your ration.

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Physical activity

Energy level
Potential to play

Agility is a sport that suits the Cairn Terrier perfectly. The latter needs to exercise daily through dog sports or long walks in the city or in the countryside .


Master character <span class="btnTooltip qTip2" title="- Calm: the master must be gentle and know how to show patience.
– Active: the owner must be energetic and dynamic to live in harmony with his dog.
– Hyperactive: the owner must be stimulating and very restless to suit the temperament of his dog.”>

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